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> Shadowrun - Great Game, Great Problems, One GM's opinion of a great game
SamVDW
post Nov 13 2008, 12:58 PM
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Shadowrun - Great Game, Great Problems

In 1989, FASA came out with a game that is in my personal Top 5 roleplaying games of all time, Shadowrun. The world is great, the art is great, and the game is great. But the current setup in 4th Edition contains so many issues, I have had to force myself to even try and GM it for my players. So I thought about it for a little bit and came up with four of my biggest issues I have with 4th Edition Shadowrun.

1 – Characters start out too powerful – This actually is more of a gripe for my players. When you create your character, if you know the system well you can start out with pretty much everything you need to be powerful. There isn’t a lot of room for growth. Sure, you could upgrade the quality of your Street Samurai’s cyberware. Or, you could start making money and acquiring karma for those new foci your Mage needs. But bottom line, your main attributes and skills can easily start out at, or near, their max. If you take a character that has five sessions under their belt and compare him to what he started out at, often you’re not going to see a lot of change with the power level.

2 – Initiative passes – Although unique, the combat system is based around a system that can contain up to four initiative passes. Characters with one initiative pass are about 25% as effective as a character with four initiative passes. Not to mention the fact that a player with a character that has one initiative pass can pretty much go do laundry after his turn. By the time initiative pass two, three, and four are complete and he can actually do something again, that first load of laundry should be done. This pretty much makes cyberware or magical gifts that enhance your initiative passes a necessity. My players and I developed a one initiative pass combat system to test out. Every character received one ‘turn’ and those with multiple initiative passes from cyberware or magic received a dice pool award each turn, depending upon how many passes they were supposed to get. It actually turned out great and everyone loved it, but it required a complete retooling of the combat system.

3 – Being able to get 100+ armor – Okay now hear me out. This is more of a problem with too many modifiers than an actual armor issue. But when I read about this in the forums I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.? Now, the thought of a character sitting inside a vehicle, wearing full riot gear, holding two riots shields, with Gel-Packs, and various magic spells on him does seem ridiculous and completely implausible in a game where the GM has any control. However, I have had two different players in my campaigns each make characters (one Street Samurai, one Physical Adept) that consistently had between 35-45 dice to resist damage, depending on the circumstances. Each character was by the book and were plausible to encounter in the Shadowrun world. This can make it very difficult for a GM to challenge his players in normal combat, not to mention the issues with rolling 35-45 dice.

4 – Character play styles that don’t mix – This thought process is a little more abstract, but I think is one that is starting to go away with revisions in the game. Basically, having a group like a Technomancer, Street Samurai, Street Shaman, and a more normal character, say an Investigator. This seems like it could be a balanced group. However, the Technomancer wants to get lost in the Matrix and solve problems that way. A Street Samurai is going to want to muscle or shoot his way through everything. The Street Shaman may just go into astral space and do some scouting around while everyone else is busy. And the Investigator (or any other ‘normie’) doesn’t have the abilities or cyberware to follow any of these characters where they are going. Instead of being a well-balanced team, this can turn into four individuals trying to solve a problem four different ways just because of the way the system is setup.

With all of this being said, Shadowrun still remains one of my favorite roleplaying games of all time. I’ve owned every edition of the game since it came out years ago. I have dozens of gaming books and have read most of the Shadowrun novels. But as the game continues to grow, the game seems to be growing more convoluted and problematic.

I’d love to hear how other GMs and players have dealt with some of these issues in their campaigns!
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Fuchs
post Nov 13 2008, 01:32 PM
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1) Availability plays an important role. A number of things - high-level programs as an example - are above the chargen availability cap of 12. Skills too are capped at chargen. You advance slower than in other games, but the progress is there.

2) Never was a problem for us - it doesn't take much time for the sam and adept to roll their actions. If you have players who think 5 minutes per action, then you have problems - but that doesn't have to be the case. Some time limit maybe a help. Also, if something is really important, and players take their time deciding, then it0s usually done with input from everyone.

3) Talking with the players, and banning stuff helps a lot. You do not have to use every optional rule, and every optional piece of gear.

4) Coordinating at Chargen helps a lot to get all players on the same page, and build their characters with an eye on playing together.
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Rasumichin
post Nov 13 2008, 01:33 PM
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Let's see...


1 – Characters start out too powerful

I'd like to disagree here.
There's tons of useful gear that is not available at chargen, either because it has Availability over 12 or because 250K of starting cash are never enough to buy all a character could possibly want.

In the case of characters who don't rely that much on cash, you have Initiation or Submergence, which are not available at chargen and offer some highly desirable abilities.

Then, there's characters that are terrible karma sinks.
Any Mystic Adept will require karma in the hundreds to work out right.

Furthermore, having an attribute one step below maximum and a skill at 6 rarely means that you can't improve the dicepool any more.
There's enough ways to gain extra dice after that.

Of course, the power curve is different from, say, D&D, where characters start out as squishy and vulnerable and later become godlike.

You begin with a highly competent character and end up with an extremely competent character, which somehow fits, as SR is not a classic game of heroic fantasy.
If you don't like that, it's hard to change, as you'd have to impose even more severe artificial caps on starting characters.

2 – Initiative passes

Well, at least that got better in 3rd ed.
In SR1 or 2, characters with only one IP would act after characters with initiative enhancements had killed 4-6 enemies each.
That is, if combat wasn't already over at that point.

I see the basic problem, but it actually has not gotten worse in recent editions, but much better.


3 – Being able to get 100+ armor

This is not going to happen.
I don't see how the example in the thread you mentioned should have ever worked out, that was a piece of blatant munchkinism.
If you really stick to the rules, even attempts at theoretical optimization (centaur cyberzombies with 10 limbs and such) will rarely get above 90.

No, seriously :
Of course, armor in the 35-45 ranges is possible.

Keep the following things in mind :
-such DPs practically scream for the rule for buying automatic successes.
-there's ways to bypass armor entirely with called shots.
-there's attacks against which this armor will not protect you at all, such as direct combat spells, various critter powers, toxins...
-there's certain weapons that will easily penetrate this armor even without called shots.

Of course, railguns and the like will not appear in the hand of every corporate guard in the city, so these suggestions have admittedly to be taken with a grain of salt.

4 – Character play styles that don’t mix

The three levels of play are something i consider to be SR's greatest advantage.
It's not just one battlefield, it's 3 of them, with possibilities for complex interactions, giving each character a specific niche to fill.
Of course, that requires some pacing skill on part of the DM.
You have to switch between scenes regularly instead of playing a solo adventure for the hacker for one hour.
SR4 actually has made this a lot easier.

If the team really makes use of the three "worlds", it will facilitate a kind of teamwork that can not be found in any other RPG.
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Blade
post Nov 13 2008, 01:46 PM
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How I deal with these issues:

1. Mages need a lot of Karma. Other characters don't need it that much but can still benefit from it. Actually, I don't have a lot of problem with that, since I don't think that experience and character advancement (stats-wise) is necessary in a game. I'm fine with a character that doesn't get much more stronger than he was. Besides, I think that in Shadowrun it's better to get new contacts and a better reputation than to become the ultimate killing machine.

2. I'm using house rules to simulate synchronous actions in order to get more dynamic combat and also make it a bit more tactical. This way, even a character with one IP can still be useful and won't get bored while the other characters play again and again.

3. I had a similar problem in SR3, less so in SR4 but I think the solution is the same: use armor degradation rules. I don't remember if there are such rules in Arsenal. If not it might be a good idea to house rule some.

4. Well, I don't know. I see where you're coming from, but I've never really felt that problem.
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Ryu
post Nov 13 2008, 02:26 PM
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1) If the players don´t want to grow ingame, they can have all required basics up front. That is a strength of the system, because it enables you to cover your bases and move on to the desired flavour/speciality. The min/maxers will use the freedom of the system to create characters that have tons of room for growth on all sides of the maxxed pools.

2) Best SR version so far. Most characters should have 2-3 IPs per turn, if they care about combat at all. Not much of a difference in spotlight time.

3) First the ingame action, then the rules resolution. For example, mere possession of a ballistic shield should gain you nothing. Actual armor values should be below 20 in almost all cases. Good armor is a way to increase a teams "combat value", so they might get to play with better opposition.

4) The key to multiple dimensions is speed of resolution. SR4 rules require less searches for the last modifier, because it is usually of little concern if you forget to add one die. A threshold raising from 5 to 6 was pretty bad. Less discussion, more playing. The game comes to a stop only if neither GM nor player know how the characters tricks are resolved ingame. Either run rules-light, or know your hymnal. (Pet-peeve: If you didn´t bother to learn your rules, don´t make "common sense" statements as counter-argument to GM rulings from memory. Less looking up, more playing.)
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SamVDW
post Nov 13 2008, 02:55 PM
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Fuchs, Rasumichin, Blade, and Ryu, thanks for responding.

1 - I do agree availability does play a huge role in character generation. It was well said that you begin with a highly competent character and end up with an extremely competent character. That was sort of my point though; that there isn’t a lot of progression once the character is created. You character goes from being a bad-ass to being a bigger bad-ass with slightly better gear.

2 – Even if you have players who are on top of their game and think ahead for their actions, it still doesn’t change the fact that someone with one initiative pass will have issues versus someone with more. That character will always be a small part of combat action until he figures out how to be elite and get that second, third, and fourth pass. Four initiative passes is basically a must have for a character who wants to be competitive (and not bored) in combat.

3 – Banning certain gear and optional rules definitely seems the way to go here. It helps eliminate things that will cause giant-headaches for the GM. However, if you’ve previously allowed a powerful piece of armor in a game and then take it away, players can be left feeling cheated or nerfed.

Also, as Rasumichin pointed out, there are ways to get around someone with high armor, like railguns or called shots. But most people you encounter won’t have that gear or the ability to make those called shots, unless you’re running a high end campaign.

4 – As for the play styles not mixing. After reading your posts it makes me think that it could be an advantage or disadvantage. What determines that is the players. If they equally work together and use their strengths synergistically it is an advantage. But if they individually attempt to play to their characters maximum to solve a problem, it causes it to become a disadvantage.
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Blade
post Nov 13 2008, 03:04 PM
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Even if I agree that any character who wants to be competitive in combat will need at least 2 IP, I don't think you can say that 4 IP is a must have. It costs a lot. It's good to have 2 IP since you can act and go full dodge (or go full dodge then act) if necessary, while a character with 1 IP won't be able to do anything else than dodge. It's still nice to have a third or even a fourth IP but I don't think it's as necessary as you say.

Also don't forget that you can use drugs or Edge to get more IP when you don't have the cyberware or powers.
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Ancient History
post Nov 13 2008, 03:31 PM
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From a game designer standpoint, you have some legitimate concerns. That said, not every table plays the same, and the writers have to work to accommodate as many styles of play as possible. I don't think it is particularly true, for example, that there is "no room for character growth" unless your character has an exceptionally narrow and specialized character concept (i.e. if you can sum the character up to one Active Skill and one Knowledge Skill).
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DireRadiant
post Nov 13 2008, 03:38 PM
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The game is designed to permit a wide range of player choice in style and level. It's flexible.

If you choose to pit the extremes against each other then you should not be surprised at the results. The game doesn't force you to make those choices. The players do.

There are other games designed to be restrictive and relatively even in what choices you have and how you play. It's actually hard to diverge far from the norm in those games.

If someone chooses to not fit into the group playing, either with other PC or the genre or GM, that is not a problem with the game mechanics.

If you got a deck of cards and everyone except one person was playing poker while one person was playing blackjack, would you blame the deck of cards for the problem?
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pbangarth
post Nov 13 2008, 03:41 PM
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In response to the OPs points:

1) There is no requirement to start at the 400 BP suggested start level. Build with fewer points, and your PCs will easily have that 'squishy and vulnerable" feel.

2) IPs are very important in combat. Are your games entirely about combat? Why? If the players and GM want lots of combat, then the IPs become vital. If the focus of the game is elsewhere, then other abilities come to the fore.

3) Points #1 and #2 apply here, too.

4) The very flexibility of the Shadowrun game results in the opportunity for players to design characters that work in different realms. In fact, the avenues available to explore combine what is possible in several other games, eg. D&D, WoD, Cyberpunk, etc. This is a good thing.

Peter

P.S. DireRadiant makes excellent points.
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ArkonC
post Nov 13 2008, 03:50 PM
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QUOTE (SamVDW @ Nov 13 2008, 02:58 PM) *
2 – Initiative passes – Although unique, the combat system is based around a system that can contain up to four initiative passes. Characters with one initiative pass are about 25% as effective as a character with four initiative passes. Not to mention the fact that a player with a character that has one initiative pass can pretty much go do laundry after his turn. By the time initiative pass two, three, and four are complete and he can actually do something again, that first load of laundry should be done. This pretty much makes cyberware or magical gifts that enhance your initiative passes a necessity. My players and I developed a one initiative pass combat system to test out. Every character received one ‘turn’ and those with multiple initiative passes from cyberware or magic received a dice pool award each turn, depending upon how many passes they were supposed to get. It actually turned out great and everyone loved it, but it required a complete retooling of the combat system.

Actually, I think the problem here is looking at IPs out of context. My current character (which I have been playing for over a year) has 1 IP, and yes, when combat starts I hit the deck and wait for the sam to tell me it's safe. But when the sam lost his arm in an explosives mishap, he didn't ask help from people with 3 or 4 IPs, he asked help from the person with 1 IP and the skills to stitch him back together, me. If you want to do combat, you need more IPs, just like you need a good commlink if you want to be a hacker, or good social skills as a face. Basically you are complaining that combat characters are better in combat than non combat characters...
And then there's also the fact that combat rarely last longer than 2 IPs, let alone going for a 2nd round...
This just seems like a non-problem to me, unless combat is the most important thing in your game...

QUOTE (SamVDW @ Nov 13 2008, 02:58 PM) *
4 – Character play styles that don’t mix – This thought process is a little more abstract, but I think is one that is starting to go away with revisions in the game. Basically, having a group like a Technomancer, Street Samurai, Street Shaman, and a more normal character, say an Investigator. This seems like it could be a balanced group. However, the Technomancer wants to get lost in the Matrix and solve problems that way. A Street Samurai is going to want to muscle or shoot his way through everything. The Street Shaman may just go into astral space and do some scouting around while everyone else is busy. And the Investigator (or any other ‘normie’) doesn’t have the abilities or cyberware to follow any of these characters where they are going. Instead of being a well-balanced team, this can turn into four individuals trying to solve a problem four different ways just because of the way the system is setup.

Again, while this may be a problem, it has little to do with the characters, it's a player issue, our mage coordinates pretty much everything he does with the rest of the team, even though we're just mundanes, I'm the hacker and I also make sure my efforts to achieve our goal are coordinated with everyone else...
If you want to work as a team, you work as a team, independantly of what you can do and, by the same reasoning, if you want to wander off on your own, you can, even though you are in the same field as the rest, if 1 sam goes left and the other goes right, you have the same problem...

My 2 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) ...
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Bobson
post Nov 13 2008, 04:24 PM
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QUOTE (SamVDW @ Nov 13 2008, 09:55 AM) *
Fuchs, Rasumichin, Blade, and Ryu, thanks for responding.

1 - I do agree availability does play a huge role in character generation. It was well said that you begin with a highly competent character and end up with an extremely competent character. That was sort of my point though; that there isn’t a lot of progression once the character is created. You character goes from being a bad-ass to being a bigger bad-ass with slightly better gear.
I've noticed this, but my general suggestion is that rather than think "I'm gaining experience, I should get better at what I do well", you think "I'm gaining experience, I'm less limited to what I can do well" Bring up other skills that may have been neglected in the first place (perception, or stealth, or first aid, or a different type of combat). Buy better contacts, who can do more for you (one run, our face called up one of his contacts who happened to be a mercenary sniper, because we really needed a sniper to make the mission feasible. Another game, my primary contact happened to be the head of lone star for the city, so he was on occasion able to divert pursuit from us, after I assured him we were on the up-and-up). Or go for the few pieces of high-availability gear that could give you that extra edge. The difference between a starting character and a prime runner often isn't ability in the starting character's chosen field, but the fact that the prime runner has so many fields that they're good in. They can engage in melee with the troll with one hand, while taking potshots at the sniper on the roof with the other, rather than being only one or the other. (Admittedly, there's also really specialized prime runners, who are just amazing in their chosen field, but both kinds do exist)

QUOTE
2 – Even if you have players who are on top of their game and think ahead for their actions, it still doesn’t change the fact that someone with one initiative pass will have issues versus someone with more. That character will always be a small part of combat action until he figures out how to be elite and get that second, third, and fourth pass. Four initiative passes is basically a must have for a character who wants to be competitive (and not bored) in combat.
Personally, I liked SR3's initative system better. Then, a fast normal might be able to react fast enough to manage two things, and it was variable so you couldn't count on X passes. Another house rule I saw written up staggers the order of the IPs, so it goes 3-1-4-2 or something like that. It solves the "run off and do laundry" problem by spreading out the slower people's actions, although it still doesn't give them more relevance.

QUOTE
3 – Banning certain gear and optional rules definitely seems the way to go here. It helps eliminate things that will cause giant-headaches for the GM. However, if you’ve previously allowed a powerful piece of armor in a game and then take it away, players can be left feeling cheated or nerfed.

Also, as Rasumichin pointed out, there are ways to get around someone with high armor, like railguns or called shots. But most people you encounter won’t have that gear or the ability to make those called shots, unless you’re running a high end campaign.
I built a nigh invulnerable troll for the 800-bp thread. Something like 50 dice to resist damage. The only weapon in the game that really worries him is the gauss cannon that halves armor before applying a -10 AP, and he can probably survive two hits from that. He's also pretty magically resistant, because it was 800 BP (IMG:style_emoticons/default/grinbig.gif) But then I went and built a rigger who, with normal chargen-level purchases, can one-shot him. Ares Roadmaster with a ramming plate. If your characters are highly armored, think outside the box. Explosives, drop buildings on them, or light them on fire. Run trucks over them. And don't forget to throw in the regular guys shooting just so they don't feel like all their armor was for nothing. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)
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Jaid
post Nov 13 2008, 05:10 PM
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1) 3rd edition D&D was designed so that it's something like 14 encounters per level, iirc. after 5 runs, the fact that you've improved at all is vastly superior to "i need to do another 9 runs before i go up a level". and heck, depending on what level it is, it could be next to no improvement at all. D&D is not the model i would choose for any sort of game that wants to even *pretend* to be realistic anyways... the average level 10 D&D character could probably stand there with no armor and ignore something with an HMG firing full auto at point blank range.

2) and? it's not as if anyone is excluded from getting at least 2 IPs. heck, 2 IPs are so cheap, they *give* you 5 BP to gain access to them, if you so choose. and as has been pointed out, multiple IPs are a big deal in combat. so what? it means absolutely nothing when it comes to legwork, infiltrating, negotiation, etc. i can't say that i particularly care how many IPs the party face has when he's convincing the guard to let us through the checkpoint. the simple fact is, shadowrun is not a game where everything can be solved with violence. your street sam is not a level 20 fighter, and he cannot slaughter the entire town guard with impunity. he can't just pick fights with everything, or he will die. fast. this is a game where if you tick off the wrong people, you have to spend 5 minutes checking the toilet for bombs every time you want to take a dump or else you explode, whether you have 1 IP or 4. welcome to a world where not every problem can be solved by inserting large, pointy objects into stuff. a shadowrun done well is one where you don't even get into combat, after all.

3) you seem to have a combat fixation. i suggest you get that checked. anyways, as has been mentioned, there's tons of stuff that can deal with this problem. 30-35 armor can very easily become 15-17 armor, or even 0 armor. there's various spells (which have this effect even at force 1, so don't tell me it's only high-powered stuff), elemental attacks (such as tazers and stun batons, which many security guards will have), various toxins (pepper punch costs a whopping 5 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) by the way), and so forth.

4) as has been said, this isn't a game system issue, this is a player issue. you could have 5 street sams who just go off and do their own thing, or you could have a team consisting of a face, a hacker, a street sam, a shaman, and a mafia enforcer who work together and communicate well.
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Platinum Dragon
post Nov 14 2008, 02:02 AM
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QUOTE (Jaid @ Nov 14 2008, 04:10 AM) *
1) 3rd edition D&D was designed so that it's something like 14 encounters per level, iirc. after 5 runs, the fact that you've improved at all is vastly superior to "i need to do another 9 runs before i go up a level".


The average run is equivalent to 5-10 encounters in D&D terms. Advancement in SR is slow, even compared to, say, WoD.
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Jaid
post Nov 14 2008, 05:28 AM
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QUOTE (Platinum Dragon @ Nov 13 2008, 09:02 PM) *
The average run is equivalent to 5-10 encounters in D&D terms. Advancement in SR is slow, even compared to, say, WoD.

ah. right then. well, in that case, leveling up much quicker would be dumb. like i said, level 10 characters in D&D pretty much kick suspension of disbelief right in the nuts. repeatedly.
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psychophipps
post Nov 14 2008, 05:43 AM
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The one thing my group has found that helps break down the "I'm so bad, I should be in detention!" part of potential character builds is to simply make a slight tweak of the dice engine that is already in the dice engine. We call it "Bonuses are dice, penalties are threshold" and it had seriously helped reduce the effect of initial power creep. It's rather simple as you simply turn dice penalties into increases of the threshold of a task and limit any one external (non-cyber/magic bonus) equipment/warez bonus to 2 dice, or just under one threshold.

"But what about the grunts? They get hosed!" I can hear you say? And my answer is "What about them?" I don't know about you, but I have yet to see a 'Weener, CorpSec goon, or other equivalent last more than a single turn, if not a single die roll. They are hosed anyway unless you toss obscene numbers at your PCs so it's basically a non-issue.
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TheOOB
post Nov 14 2008, 07:29 AM
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QUOTE (Platinum Dragon @ Nov 13 2008, 09:02 PM) *
The average run is equivalent to 5-10 encounters in D&D terms. Advancement in SR is slow, even compared to, say, WoD.


Heres a secret, as a GM you can give the players however much karma you want. I typically go for about 5 karma a session, but in a long running campaign I typically go 3-4(2-3 if I am trying to keep things more street level), while in a shorter campaign(or one where I want the players to be elite commandos) I award between 6 and 8 karma a run.

As long as you stop blatant twinkery(No you can't build a battle suit that gives you 50+ armor) the characters are only as powerful as you let them be. Just make sure your players understand with(and want to play) the power level you have chosen.
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Cain
post Nov 14 2008, 10:00 AM
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1. Characters start out too powerful.
To a degree, this has always been true of Shadowrun. You play the exceptional, not the average Joe; and the commoner with a small gun is not a threat. SR4 does exacerbate this to an extent, allowing for even more inflated dice pools (Search for the Pornomancer for details) and with a flat probability curve, so there's really not a point of diminishing returns. Hyper-specialization is the way to go.
My recent solution for this has been to cap dice pools. Rather than go and nerf a bundle of rules that allow huge dice pools, I simply ask my players to keep their dice pools under a certain level. Once they reach that cap, players stop trying to squeexe the life out of every BP, and can create a more balanced character.

2. Initiative Passes.
First of all, it's not really unique. It's pretty similar to the Champions system, where you buy the ability to have extra actions per pass. Second, you are absolutely right that more IPs multiply your effectiveness in a combat situation. Even if you're a noncombatant, having extra IPs mean you have a better chance of dodging.

3. Being able to get 100+ armor.
I mentioned this one in the last thread. Called shot for -100, then spend Edge on a Longshot test. Suddenly that armor is meaningless, and you have the exact same odds of hitting if you were only at -1.

4. Character play styles that don’t mix .
Hate to say this, but this is a GM and player issue. Shadowrun has always been about teams of specialists working together. If the players aren't willing to work together, the GM will have to nudge the players together.
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MYST1C
post Nov 14 2008, 01:26 PM
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QUOTE (Cain @ Nov 14 2008, 11:00 AM) *
My recent solution for this has been to cap dice pools. Rather than go and nerf a bundle of rules that allow huge dice pools, I simply ask my players to keep their dice pools under a certain level. Once they reach that cap, players stop trying to squeexe the life out of every BP, and can create a more balanced character.

Where do you place that cap?
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Chrysalis
post Nov 14 2008, 01:31 PM
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Hi

1. I find that mid-level characters are it. But this is not a problem only with Shadowrun there will always be people who can make better characters. Until we have a game system that systematically awards players for creating background, contacts, etc. we will always have players who are interested in "winning the system".

2. I dislike initiative passes and I play the street samurai of the group. With enough IP, combat becomes redundant for those with 1 IP.

3. There is an issue inside of Shadowrun which became apparent in Cyberpunk 2020 as well. And that is correlation of armor vs. weapons. At the moment there is every incentive for players to have 30+ for their armor. Unfortunately there is NOTHING that can penetrate that in the books a MISSILE does 14 damage with -3 AP. The GM has to then create the SUPER ADEPT who lands punches to get armor penetration. It's a major issue in Shadowrun and unfortunately would demand a 5e until it can be fixed.

It's a hard question from a developer's point of view. On one side you want to have Tom Clancy but on the other you want Chuck Norris. Unfortunately you have to make a choice and the current system is a compromise.

4. I find that as players and then by characters we don't communicate. We also have if stages in data transmission. Either we go with the hive mind that everything we do is transmitted by commlink and thus destroy any atmosphere there might be. Or we accept that information has to be specifically transmitted to everyone. I also find that different avenues of research unless made highly abstract demands the GM to clone him or herself.

-Chrysalis
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BIG BAD BEESTE
post Nov 14 2008, 01:51 PM
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Well now, it seems as if most of the flaws you have listed here SamVDW are quite easily resolved by application of a good GM. I've not yet GMed (let alone played) the 4th Edition yet as I'm quite happy running 3rd Ed for my current campaign set in 2055, but I have read through the new rules and find a lot of stuff therein to be a vast improvement in mechanics compared to 1st-3rd Editions.

But to concentrate on your points:
1> Character generation seems to me to be a little more controlled and restricted than previous Editions. IE: having only 400BPs of which only half can be spent on the eight Physical and Mental Attributes means that you've automatically spent 160BPs to have all round average Attributes. Compare that to SR3 where 30 Attribute Points gets you rating 5 in all six Attributes or superhuman levels in practically all if you dumpstat one of them. Now, one character in a thousand or so with those abilities naturally might be believeable, but then having every charcter in your team as a supergenius arnie-awesome simstar? And the 4th Edition addresses this with having to pay a whoppin 50BP for the final ultimate Attribute level. Magic? Well now, you have to take a significant chunk here from useful Skills and Attributes-allocated BP if you want the same starting power levels as previously. And even if you do manage to get a lot of those BPs allocated to where you want them in Skills, Attributes and Magic, you have really little enough left to buy decent contacts - an essential part of any Shadowruner's resources, and ones that can only really be bought here or via gameplay (IE: roleplaying).

However, if you want to crack down on character generation you could always:
A> Reduce the starting BPs available to 300 or even 200.
B> Curtail what items/gear/spells are available by using Availability Ratings or personal GM dictatorship applied to if that character archetype could get hold of/would have access to them.
C> Inrease BP costs on certain areas you deem are too cheap or apply limitations to what skills a character can access to judged on their history/background. IE: Just where would your ex-grad medic have learnt Demolitions 5?
D> Increase the number of skills, both Active and Knowledge, to ensure a broader selection and more rounded characters.


2> Initiative Passes leaving out mundane/basic charactes huh? Well, there's nothing really new about this one. Boosted characters act faster and therefore have more actions which thereby take up more time to resolve in combat. Been the same since 1st Edition. As already noted here, at least a single action character doesn't go last in the Combat Initiative Phase order. IE: Finally get to their only action in time to see all the goons are dead from the enhanced Sammie & Co's handiwork over their preceeding actions. Basic rule of the Universe here - if you want to act more often then find some way to enhance yourself or hang out with a group that isn't enhanced. But don't be surprised in the latter occasion when the opponents outmatch you by using enhancements of their own, after all that's the progressive curve for things to be built better, work faster, and become stronger. Law of the (Neon) Jungle here chummer.


3> Blatant munckinism here. As a GM don't be afraid to say "No" and disallow such stacking even if the players say "but its in the rules". You are the arbiter of those rules, and thus have final say. Most importantly though, always consider their arguments, compare it to your game balance, and then sanction your sdecision with a good reason. Don't just say "No" outright without one.

The system may allow it, but should common sense. Apply that most rtreasured trait to your decisions and what the situation is in the gameplay setting. IE: No character constantly walks around in power armour. Going to the bathroom would be a problem, not to mention being bulky, hot, constricting or a deathtrap if say, dropped into the ocean. then there's always the situation of running out of power. There are many ways to turn such rule-lawyering back upon the abuser - be creative.


4> Again, as previously posted, this is nothing to do with the system its the territory of the GM and the rsponsibility of the players to resolve it between themselves. Talk it out with one another, i find its the best way to resolve disputes and "problems".

OK, best of luck with your game SamVDW, I hope this helps you out somewhat.
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Fortune
post Nov 14 2008, 02:04 PM
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QUOTE (BIG BAD BEESTE @ Nov 15 2008, 12:51 AM) *
A> Reduce the starting BPs available to 300 or even 200.


I heartily disagree with this suggestion. The average, run-of-the-mill pedestrian has 160 BPs worth of Attributes alone, given a three in each of the eight basic stats.
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Cain
post Nov 14 2008, 02:36 PM
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QUOTE
Where do you place that cap?

Depends on what kind of game you're running. I'm still experimenting, but it seems like a cap of 10-12 is sufficient for a low powered game; a cap of around 15 seems to be book average; and 20-21 seems to be the cinematic level. Anywhere over that falls into what I consider to be "Over the Top". This is something of a subjective measurement, so YMMV.

The important thing is to back it up in game, by having NPCs and their dice pools scale to fit the opposition. If you're running a low-powered, street-level gang campaign, then Lone Star is a superior opponent, and will have larger dice pools. Against an average opponent, Lone Star will be about equal; and at the cinematic level, Lone Star is clearly outclassed.

If you don't back up this in game, by setting challenges based on comparative dice pools, you're just going to frustrate and overwhelm your players. They're going to want those higher dice pools, and will fight to earn them. It's not fair to restrict them to a dicepool of 10, then regularly throw dicepool 15-20 opponents at them. You'll be encouraging munchkinism, instead of the opposite.

QUOTE
1> Character generation seems to me to be a little more controlled and restricted than previous Editions. IE: having only 400BPs of which only half can be spent on the eight Physical and Mental Attributes means that you've automatically spent 160BPs to have all round average Attributes.

No offense, but are you serious? "Controlled and Restricted" wouldn't allow for Pornomancers, Mr. Lucky's, Hackastack/Agent Smith combinations, or any of the bajillion tricks discovered here on Dumpshock. In all three cases, it's easy to create the pony with more than one trick, and a well-rounded and viable skill set to boot.

As far as attributes go, with the hardcaps in place, getting a 5 isn't what it used to be. A 4 is the new 5. Because you cannot ever exceed your augmented hardcap, the attribute range has been flattened, making them closer together. There's no longer such a huge difference between a 6 and a 4.

I'll agree that they tried to slow down character creation; but what they actually accomplished was to frustrate less-skilled character builders, without slowing down the creative and quick ones. A skilled player can easily get a dice pool into the 20's without trying too hard, while keeping a viable skill set. In other words, the limits aren't limiting.
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Bobson
post Nov 14 2008, 02:54 PM
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QUOTE (Fortune @ Nov 14 2008, 09:04 AM) *
I heartily disagree with this suggestion. The average, run-of-the-mill pedestrian has 160 BPs worth of Attributes alone, given a three in each of the eight basic stats.

Which, given the "No more than half your BP on attributes" rule means they have at least 320BP (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)
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pbangarth
post Nov 14 2008, 04:22 PM
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QUOTE (Bobson @ Nov 14 2008, 08:54 AM) *
Which, given the "No more than half your BP on attributes" rule means they have at least 320BP (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)

Which is the whole point. If you feel your PCs are too powerful at the start, make them less powerful, to the point of being at par with the rest of humanity. Then let natural selection weed out the unfit, after which the remaining PCs deserve to be in a league of their own.

Peter
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