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> Paranioa, ...does it still exist?
Rusted Scrap Met...
post May 20 2009, 03:53 PM
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I'm exhausted, I haven't slept in 3 days, so pardon me if this rambles a bit.

We started a new SR game about 6 months ago, using the SRII stuff we had laying around in boxes from years back. Everyone read what they thought they needed, and away we went.

Now, I'm old. Almost 40, and my wife is too. I worked in a pretty paranoid area for a long time, where Soviet intelligence knew who I was because of my job and who I was, and after the Soviet Union fell apart, we found out that there were honest to God KGB agents around where I worked and that the local control agent (who is who got rolled up) had a pretty large data compilation on all of us. I was in West Germany at the time, and I remember the posters that said such stuff as "Ivan Says Hello To Grandma!" to remind us that every phone was to be treated as if it was tapped. Where codes and locks and keycards were swapped out every 30-60 days, earlier if there was a suspected security breach.

It wasn't paranoia. They were really out to get us. My wife dealt with that kind of stuff, even though she was medical.

At the time SR came out, we were naturally paranoid just from our jobs. (Half the players and the GM worked in Military Intelligence, and 1 was a Ranger who was part of the detachment that provided security and overwatch for our unit and the MI unit, the other half were from my unit, meaning that if paranoia was an energy source, you probably could have lit up Bug City just from our gaming room) Shadowrun was perfect for us. Everyone was out to get you, and the only thing that people respected was just how bad you could hurt them if they came after you.

So, when I look at Shadowrun, when I make the characters, I immediately move back into OPSEC mode. Mission planning, research, probes, recon, the whole nine yards. During a run my character is constantly on edge, constantly keeping a lookout. The smallest detail out of place that gets noticed might move my character up a DEFCON level. My paranoia immediately returns to be manifested in my characters.

The other three players, two are in their 20's, and the other one in his early 30's. The one in his early 30's worked in a factory on an assembly line after college, so while he gets that it was a paranoid time, he wasn't immersed in it.

All of them started out snickering at my paranoia.

For example, during our very first ever run, my character comes out to find some ganger bent down looking under his Americar. Strontium Cowboy runs up, grabs the guy, slams his head against the pavement, and starts yelling "What did you put on my car? What were you doing? Who hired you!" and in general hammering this guy into mush. Everyone thought it was funny that he refused to get in his car until he checked it over for any "surprises" that the ganger might have left.

They thought it was stupid that I prepaid several months of several different lifestyles, all in different areas of Seattle, and had two fake SINs for my character. My character had gone to the point of even having different vehicles at each of the 3 different lifestyle dwellings that supported a garage. Different clothing styles, different jewelry, different vehicles, different apparent interests, stuff like that. Even to the point where he kept a chip loaded up with all the details on each of the cover identities in his pocket, so that he could avoid making simple mistakes.

They thought it was weird that I wanted to figure out who would benefit from the run, wanted to try to find out who had worked for this particular Mr. Johnson before, find out everything I could about the mission, and that while they were perfectly fine waiting in an alley for a fixer they didn't know to hand over some Grade-A Bang Bang, I wanted to do exchanges in places like wide open parks, underground parking garages, and stuff like that, always being careful to make sure that if I couldn't have the upper hand, nobody else could either. I had no problems with blind drops, codewords, phased or staged drops, etc.

Every time we did a run, I assumed that the opposing side had knowledge that we were on our way, had hired a team of runners to target us, or had put security on us, that we not only had to pull off the mission, but avoid getting the full weight of the target to drop on us.

Then, I started reading these boards awhile back, and started wondering...

Is the paranoia still as prevalent in the newer editions as it is back in SRI and SRII? Is it a way of life?

Is the fact that the players stay in the shadows the reason they still live? Are the shadows still as deep and dark as I picture them? Is everyone still out to screw each other over for the slightest bit of profit margin or to wrest that corner office away from a departmental competitor? Would Lone Star still hire Runners to frag over Hard Corps Security in order to paint Hard Corps as a bunch of incompetents? Would a Corp suit still hire the runners to act as bodyguards because Sam up in Personnel controls the Corp bodyguards and Sam's little brother Paul has his eye on Mr. Johnson's corner office?

To me, Shadowrun is a product of the Late 80's, a very very paranoid time. (Just ask some of our German forum members just how paranoid it was) Yeah, the 1980's styles are back for dress (of course, styles just come back around every 20 years or so, so that isn't too unrealistic) and all of that, but the 1980's paranoia should still be there.

However, one of the new players can't seem to wrap his head around the fact that because the Soviet Union didn't fall apart until the 2030's, and even then, it became the Soviet DisUnion rather than the Russian Republic (and all the horrifying projections of what might come out of the collapse of the Soviet Union seem to be Shadowrun reality, rather than just worst case scenarios) and how that, combined with the Balkanization of the world and the struggle of the governments against the Megacorps, create a very real Cold War attitude for Shadowrun.

Or, am I just being overly paranoid? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

(This rant and rambling BS brought to you by too little sleep)
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Screaming Eagle
post May 20 2009, 04:21 PM
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Mostly this is more in the field of "What kind of game do you want to run?"
I love the paranoid feeling in the game and am edging my player into it (all experianced roleplayers new-ish to shadowrun). Its under the surface though. As the team gain experiance they realize that every trick they have the opposition has had the whole time but better. This is most stark with the teams hacker, ex-corp pencil pusher with some hacking talent. As he sees how flimsy typical security is against his modest programs and skill he wonders "who has been watching me and would I even know it?". He sees they could have been traced ALL the time by anyone who cares, easily and he beefs up the whole teams AR cloaking, he's started to demand to know who is profiting from their actions etc. The whole team is pricing those extra ID's you bought at character gen, looking into getting boltholes and weapon stashes, maps of the sewers and finding dead zones.

But its only going this was because I'm making them paranoid, having contacts give biased info etc.. If the GM is not running this way the players won't feel it and its a matter of taste, one of my previous GM's was ALL action/adventure movie about it. Unless we messed up hard we had no worries about the mob, other teams etc. Opposition was present for cinematic chalenge, not long term counter-esionoge. It was a blast, but I didn't feel it did the game or the setting justice.
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Rusted Scrap Met...
post May 20 2009, 04:30 PM
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More sleep deprivation rambling:

So our team meets with the Johnson. Back when we first started, we met in grubby thrash metal or gangsta rap taverns and bars, now we meet at decent restaurants where the meals run as much as our old runs used to net us.

The rest of the group nods along as Mr. Johnson says his piece. They hear the bottom (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) and keep nodding.

Then I want to know: What kind of resistance can we expect? What kind of assets does the target have? Who are the major players? Has there been a team before us? Is anyone else in the corporate or whatever offices in the know about the situation that is outside of the control or communication of Mr. Johnson (In other words, is Bob from Finance going to try to put together his own team of runners?) What is the time limit? Are there any secondary or tertiary targets? Is there anything that cannot be damaged? Is there any other circumstances we need to know about? How much additional information does he have on the target or their allies?

Then everyone looks all aghast when none of that comes our way, the (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) sucks, and Mr. Johnson wants to pull an attitude with us, and I thank Mr. Johnson for his time, wish him luck in his endeavors, and just walk the frag off from it. (Sometimes I take the dinner rolls with me)

To them, it seems like Mr. Johnson is just trying to cover himself. To me, it means either he's dumber than a bag of hammers, or he's setting us up for a royal screwing. Either way, my character doesn't want anything to do with it.

Is it that big of surprise that anything Mr. Johnson tells us is automatically suspect in my eyes? That he's telling us the bare minimum to get us to do the job, and that he'll lie in a hot second if he believes it makes his position stronger and sweetens the deal toward us? That I firmly believe that Mr. Johnson would rent his own mother out to the Helloweeners for a weekend if it'll net him the slightest bit of profit, leverage, or position?

Is it that strange that if I do a run against Ares, and two weeks later, Ares is trying to hire us, that I automatically assume that the whole thing is a setup and all they're doing is getting us into position to get slaughtered while doing damage to a rival and pinning our deaths on those rivals? Is it that odd that when an odd Mr. Johnson comes across our paths, I try to find out who they work for and how they might have managed to come up with the retainer fee for us?

Is it that odd that I'll check over anything that Mr. Johnson gives us to do the job, or that a relatively unknown fixer hooks us up with? That I'll check it over for everything from bioware capsules to microcharges to GPS locators? That any new weapon gets stripped down to the frame and checked from top to bottom, including samples of the polymer sections to check for explosives of micro-fractures to make the weapon screw up?

I'd rather pay off the local gang to leave my stuff alone that try to muscle them out, because that gang has allies, or is a splinter of a larger gang, or if I make good, regular payments, they aren't going to kill the golden goose, but if I find another gang sniffing around my purchased gang's territory I have no problem grabbing one of the interlopers and slinging him against a wall a few times to find out which gang he works for, why he's checking out my neighborhood, and who told him to come down there? Is it that strange that my immediate thought is that either this new gang is going to try to muscle my purchased gang out, or that someone who's running the long game on me is trying to get this gang to come in here and cause havoc so they can bomb my hideout in the ensuing chaos?

When Mr. Johnson offers waaay too much (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) for a simple job, I automatically assume that this is another screwing. That Mr. Johnson is waiting for me to bend over so I can get 16" of Corporate steel sexual appliance rammed up my hoop. That the reason for the massive amount of money was put there so I'd overlook the rest of the details? When he offers strange things, I assume that it is little more than a smokescreen to get me to miss a particular detail. If Mr. Johnson offers me (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) 550,000 each for the run, paid in Ares stock and bearer bonds, I automatically start wondering why he's trying to have Ares' name attached to my payoff and start to wonder if this is part of a run against me orchestrated by a Mr. Johnson somewhere else, and that the Mr. Johnson I'm sitting across the table from is just the man setting up the honey-pot and the evidence trail?

Is it that odd, that when we're trying to figure out how to penetrate NAN or Tir lands, I'm willing to look at off the way entry methods, including Zodiac insertion, HALO insertion, or just plain riding the bus to Portland smelling like urine and beer to visit cousins? But while I'm figuring out how to get in, I'm also figuring at least 3 ways out, including a "we're blown" option?

Or am I just over paranoid?
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Warlordtheft
post May 20 2009, 04:34 PM
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I'll echo that sentiment. Most of my players are relatively new to SR universe. It has been a year since we started. I didn't want to overwhelm them (only the rigger/technomancer is paranoid-go figure). That being said-after reading unwired and the section regarding staying off the grid I know I could by RAW be a real bastich. I don't but I am gradually increasing the pucker factor for the group to get it to that level.

So far the group has torqued off:
Tanamous
Yakuza
Atlantian Foundation
UCAS Metroplex Guard and Salish Sidhe Border Patrol

Umm-some Tir people
Sons of Sauron

I'm propbably missing a few though. Payback-when these groups start catching up will be a bitch.


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Zak
post May 20 2009, 04:35 PM
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Yes it is still alive. And I welcome and encourage this mindset in my games.

But let's face it: Not everyone enjoys constant paranoia, so it usually gets abstracted or moved aside by playing chars who got less reasons to be paranoid (or the smarts/experience to be).
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Ed_209a
post May 20 2009, 05:15 PM
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RSM, it sounds to me like there are actually two games going on at your table. You are playing a Heat/Ronin style of game, while the others are playing a much lighter tone. (no movies come to mind, but maybe the TV series Leverage.)

I'd talk to the GM and see which way their setting actually leans.
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deek
post May 20 2009, 05:19 PM
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My question is, do all these questions bog down the game? If not, and the GM is readily able to answer your questions or give tell you its not important, than no, you are not over paranoid. I have a couple players in my group that question what's the catch if I am handing them something. They expect strings to be attached...and when there aren't, they think that something is going on and may spend a lot of time second-guessing.

At that point, I have to tell them OOC to chill and there's nothing going on.

But, if all your questions do bog down the game and cause the GM headaches, then you are over paranoid. I mean, if the GM running the job never even considered Bob from Finance hiring a second runner team, well, then its not a threat to your job. Sometimes the GM sets something up and its really straightforward and s/he didn't spend a ton of time thinking about every minute detail related to the job.
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paws2sky
post May 20 2009, 05:23 PM
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For my group, the initial contact with a Mr. Johnson is often handled in a public place that offer privacy, such as a restaurant with a "private party room" in back. These meets tend to go through several phases...
  1. Initial offer. Mr Johnson will give very vague details about what he wants done. "I need an object retrieved from a home." He'll give the runners a ballpark figure of what he's willing to pay and a vague time frame. The runners then may pose some equally vague questions.
  2. More specific details are provided once the runner express interest. "The object is a piece of art (or data chip or whatever)." Any potential snags are negotiated here. For instance, if Mr. Johnson wants the runners to kill any and all witnesses to the theft, then that's rather a bit different than just busting in, tasering or stunballing everyone, and swiping the item.
  3. If everyone is in agreement, then Mr. Johnson then offers the really detailed information: names, addresses, and so on. Runners ask detailed questions before. Final price and payment methods are negotiated.


And from there, the run gets underway, usually with independent legwork to confirm the details, just to make sure Mr. Johnson didn't leave anything out.

re: excessive Paranoia

Its funny... back in the day we never really got paranoid unless we knew someone was out to get us. At that point, we got really paranoid; pretty much like you describe. Then we'd get heavy with anyone that looked at us sideways or loitered too long near our current safe house.

I guess it was just a group dynamic. If the GM doesn't want to play up the paranoia, then that's their thing, I guess. Of course, there's nothing wrong with the way your character is acting, IMO... maybe he's just excessively paranoid?

Though they're not really playing it up yet - except for the one guy likely to read this - my group has good reason to be paranoid. They pissed in the Denver Vory's Soy-O's big time last session and they're starting to get a reputation. Since we're using Faction Ratings, and one guy had some negative faction with them to begin with... well, it might get interesting soon.


-paws
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Rusted Scrap Met...
post May 20 2009, 05:34 PM
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Well, the questions don't bog down the game, since the GM thinks in the same twisty way and is usually prepared for the questions or good enough to make them up on the fly.

At first the rest of the group acted like I was a lunatic, until they started noticing that I was catching things they weren't, and wasn't getting caught by things they were.

Examples are:

One PC owns a condo, and was told via telecom call that the condo association wanted to have everyone's wiring inspected. The player was like "Oh, cool!" and his character gave the worker the doorcodes to his condo and then met up with us at the meeting place to start figuring out what to do.

D'OH! Who is that fragging stupid?

"Hi! I work for AT&T, mind if me and my two friends come in to check your phone lines?"
"Sure, be my guest! Don't mind me, I'm planning a run against Renraku."

Then claimed, when the character returned to the house to find it robbed down to the carpet tacks, that "How was I supposed to know that they weren't legit?"

Well, since you didn't call the condo association, or move your firearms to the trunk of your car, or even have us meet at your house just in case... I'd say you got scammed.

Another example:

Mr. Johnson just had us pull of a run that went smooth as glass. In, out, no alarms, no witnesses, no nothing. He offers the group a Westwind, bright frigging red with tinted glass and the whole nine yards. I'm all for hauling it to the mechanic to have it checked out, or at least brought into my garage where I could go over it. One of the players says "No, it's fine! Stop being so paranoid!" I refuse to ride in it, refuse to let it be parked near any of my houses.

Two days later the group parks the limo, goes in to buy high end clothing, and gets ambushed in the clothing store by a professional stealth-kill team. I'm wanting to scream at them, but hold my silence as they keep driving around in it. Cue several more attacks, culminating in a rocket attack where the missile follows them around corners before executing a top down attack on the limo.

"How could it home in on us?"
"Gee, I don't know, a homing device?"
"But why would it have one on it?"
"Because we did a run on a food processing company, and now a whole bunch of tainted baby-food just hit the market, and the public is screaming for blood?"
"But why would the limo have a tracking device?"
>cue beating head on table<

It just took a little while for them to catch up with the type of world it was, which made me wonder...

Is paranoia still a part of the game?
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Screaming Eagle
post May 20 2009, 05:51 PM
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Out of the dozen or so runs my games team has done 2 were what they appeared to be. The rest were varing levels of getting lied to hard by the Fixer, Mr Johnson or other parties. None of them have been set ups for the party yet, mostly because the team is useful to date (and becuase I want them good and paranoid but ill prepared by the time the screw job actually happens). For the most part these were discoverable if the group had looked harder at the job and less at the pay. The last one which they figured out halfway in was them collecting evidence for a third party to frame Docwagon for some rather horrific killings, it was pitched by their sleezy fixer (they have 3 fixers in different social circles) as a charity run to stop some murders in the slums with a benefactor flipping the bill. They still did the frameup but that also tracked down the real killers (also hired by said third party) and made plans for later, after they get paid. Now they have started asking the questions, slowly it builds, makes them wonder about old job, they slowly dig and have been finding out What They Did!... and I laugh at the expressions on thier faces... they though they were being Nice people.

They have under the pretence of being nice people:
Planted psycotropic black IC, twice.
Destroyed evidence from an organlegging case.
Collected planted evidence to dis-credit a corp.
Aided a criminal sydicates organlegging front.
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deek
post May 20 2009, 06:44 PM
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RSM, in the campaign you are describing, no, you are not being too paranoid. This GM is certainly taking advantage of the players inability to ask more questions and not trust other people. So, you are certainly playing in the same style as the GM...

As to your root question, Is paranoia still part of the game?, to me, that is all GM style. When I used to run 1st edition, we never used magic and really never got much into megacorps. The players were criminals and worked basic criminal jobs. There was no major backstory to any of those runs and the "bad guy" was never more than Lone Star. The players didn't want to get caught by the "law". That was the only paranoia they had back then.

My more recent games in 4th edition, I have added higher levels of paranoia into the game, but I've also given players at least one contact that they trusted and who was loyal enough to not screw them. Other contacts were not so kind, but I always maintain at least some type of trust in a contact.

Seeing I've never actually played SR myself, always GM'd, I don't know any other way.
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Critias
post May 20 2009, 07:18 PM
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Like so much else in the game, it all comes down to the group and the GM. If the GM and the players want to run a game where paranoia counts, patterns of behavior get you killed, back ups of back up boltholes might be compromised anyways, you can't trust anyone, yadda yadda yadda -- great. If the GM and players would rather John Rambo everything, and just count on the dice falling the right way when the bullets start flying, in good old kick in the door and open fire fashion -- great for them, too.

I ran a European saboteur/killer/spy (my brain was fill with Bourne novels and other Ludlum stuff) in a CP:2020 game. He liked information, he cultivated contacts with local gangs to keep him in touch with the goings-on around the group's main hideout (he had three of his own none of them knew about), he was big on surveillance before going into a job, all that good stuff. He was a Solo, but with as many social and perception type skills as raw combat stuff.
The GM was running a balls to the wall, high adrenaline, floor it, full auto, kung fu fighting, pure street, chrome flashing, no brainer action game. My character didn't work out real well, and what's more, he ended up derailing the game later on -- because I asked questions the GM didn't have answers to -- and I eventually scrapped him and just made a chrome-laden street thug instead.

Was he a bad character? Nope. Was it a bad game? Nope, we had lots of fun once we all got more in tune with one another.

But my paranoia and spycraft didn't suit the feel of the game the GM and everyone else wanted. It all comes down to the tastes of those involved.
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paws2sky
post May 20 2009, 07:26 PM
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QUOTE (Rusted Scrap Metal @ May 20 2009, 01:34 PM) *
Examples are:
<snip>

It just took a little while for them to catch up with the type of world it was, which made me wonder...


Well, in those examples, it sounds like the player's didn't really grasp how paranoid they should have been. Mistakes (some really dumb ones) were made.

It sounds like they've finally figured it out... Maybe?

-paws
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Rusted Scrap Met...
post May 20 2009, 07:47 PM
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Oh yeah, once they figured it out, that they had to go into paranoia mode, they've gotten into the swing of things for about the last 4 months, and are having a great time.

They forgot that even after something like "Die Hard" or "The Punisher" there's still the cleanup, and John McClane made enemies from that. It took awhile to get them to remember that just because the run is over, that doesn't mean there aren't any repercussions.

My favorite "gullible" moment with my fellow players had to come when one of the players checked his credstick balance at the local Stuffer Shack and found out he had an extra (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) 10,000 on it. A month went by, another (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) 10,000 and so on, for about 6 months.

Then, someone who vaguely looked like him gunned down a Lone Star senior detective.

I was all "EEP!"

The Street Sam was all "OH DREK!"

He was all: "What's the big deal? I didn't do it."

Then he checked his credstick balance and found another (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) 120,000 on it.

And wondered why all of a sudden Lone Star was out for him, not the rest of us, just him, with blood in their eyes and mayhem in their hearts.
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paws2sky
post May 20 2009, 08:01 PM
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Good deal. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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Draco18s
post May 20 2009, 09:58 PM
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Last edition was in 2004 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)
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Jhaiisiin
post May 20 2009, 10:49 PM
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And was awesome, for the record. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

Rusted, that's just awesome that a player got nailed like that. After the *first* time I got erroneous money on my credstick, I'd be investigating. There never would have been 6 months of that crap. Got what he deserved I think. Still, well played.
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Kingboy
post May 20 2009, 11:10 PM
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QUOTE (paws2sky @ May 20 2009, 12:23 PM) *
They pissed in the Denver Vory's Soy-O's big time last session and they're starting to get a reputation.


At least I actually earned it this time...stupid Vory expecting you to be able to read minds and all.
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Kerenshara
post May 20 2009, 11:26 PM
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QUOTE (Rusted Scrap Metal @ May 20 2009, 10:53 AM) *
Or, am I just being overly paranoid? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

I can't say if you're being "overly" paranoid or not...

I can say that you're not alone in how you view the shadows. I spent a LOT of Karma on the nuyen needed to maintain alternate lifestyles and the SiNs to go with them. I have a different comlink for each persona, in addition to the one I always have on me. Separate bank accounts. Different clothes, shoes, makeup, ethnicity and the works. I started with Tailing 4 (Tail Evasion).

The shadows is at LEAST that fragged up. At least those of us who remember the older editions seem to think so. I can see where getting a lot of the youngsters (ok, shoot me now if I am calling twenty-year-olds "youngsters") to Grok the mindset is going to be challenging. Most of them seem to wonder what the Cold War was all about, and what we were so scared of. I used to own the poster of the Continental United States, that looks like that "America from space at night" thing, but it was actually projected first-strike impact points and the dots were by predicted megatonnage. Fun map. Wonder what happened to it?

The core books never got into just how ... self consuming the 6th world was. It was the modules and novels that brought that all the way out. And the novels are all way out-of-date for SR4 and even further out-of-print.

Anyway, that's MY opinion, and my GM agrees.

Incidentally, the most important rule in 1st edition is part of my signature, because Grandpa was semi-retired by 2055, and Kerenshara's parents were active runners. He only wanted her to have one rule that he and other very early runners learned the hard way. Notice which part comes first, and not by accident: "Watch your back".
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Heath Robinson
post May 20 2009, 11:38 PM
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Okay, guys, I have a revelation for you. There is no such game as "Shadowrun". There are a number of games that call themselves "Shadowrun" but since they can't even agree on certain simple things like whether you can buy things and actually use them right away they must not be the same game, which means that they're lying about what their name is.

RSM and the rest of his group all obviously thought that they know what Shadowrun is. Some of them have been disabused of the notion (or at least the notion that Shadowrun is what they thought it was) whilst others still labour under such an assumption.
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Telion
post May 21 2009, 03:10 AM
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RSM sign me up for one of your games, thats exactly how I imagine it.
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Larme
post May 21 2009, 04:15 AM
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Never forget the metagame. As much as we might get lost in the fantasy world, we have to remember that Shadowrun is actually a group of people sitting down to play a game. My biggest pet peeve is when someone says "No, we won't do this mission because there is something slightly off about it," and just walks out. That's like a slap in my face if I'm the GM. I went through the time and effort to create a run, and this guy thinks it's just fine if he uses roleplaying as an excuse to rip up all my work and throw it in the garbage. Roleplaying should not waste the GM's time and effort, it should not be an excuse to be rude to the other players by derailing a plot. You need to realize that if your roleplaying shuts down the game, you're doing it wrong and need to make adjustments.

Now, that's not to say that you could never refuse a job. But if you're going to walk away from the Johnson, it's your job to keep the story moving now. You don't leave the table and then say, "Ok GM, make something happen now!" Maybe you've decided that instead of taking the job, you want to find out the secret underlying it. Maybe you'll try to make money by exposing the J's plans, maybe you'll try to blackmail him, maybe his plans are evil and you'll try to stop him. Whatever it is, make sure that your actions are not just taking a big shit on the GM and the other players. If you refuse to be railroaded, then be proactive and make things happen for yourself. A good GM can ad-lib situations in response to player actions, but there are few GMs alive who can create a totally new story on the spot after the players simply decide that they're not going to play the one the GM has already prepared.

That said, again, don't forget the metagame. If you pepper the J with a bunch of questions that the GM can't answer, you need to ask out of character: is it that the J refuses to tell us, or that the GM has no answers because he's not prepared and can't think of them on the spot? If it's a metagame thing, and the GM simply doesn't know how to answer your question, you need to take that into account with your roleplaying. If your roleplaying is based on the GM's out of character lack of foresight, then that's crappy roleplaying indeed. The thing to do with questions like that is just say "Oh, none of those questions are relevant to the story, and you can't think of answers GM? Then let's pretend my character didn't ask them, and move on." That's called a retcon, and can be used to salvage situations that neither the players nor the GMs can roleplay their way out of.

As for the level of paranoia: I think it's fine as long as it doesn't impede the game. Again, don't let your paranoia torpedo the plot, don't say "I'm not playing because I'm so paranoid I'd never go on a run without a three hour briefing by the Johnson that leaves no fact unrevealed." Don't let your paranoia lead you into killing the other players, especially when they assure you out of character that you're just being paranoid and they weren't out to get you. Again, it all comes down to no using roleplaying as an excuse to shit on others' good times. If you want to have a bunch of lifestyles and IDs and whatever, that's fine for you. Just don't let it turn into a tool you use to destroy everyone's fun.

I would also note, however, that most games take place in some sort of Z-zone, i.e. no law to speak of. To be honest, paranoia doesn't serve you that well in the Redmond barrens. Police and corporate operatives will only search for you in the barrens in the direst of circumstances, because the sprawl is just not safe for them. If you're SINless and you live in a place like Redmond, that pretty much does it -- people who find your DNA will learn that you don't exist. People who search for you will find themselves looking for a needle in a haystack, a haystack filled with devil rats, ghouls, and armed jerkwads. Why have two lifestyles in the Barrens? All that means is that you'll have two faceless shitholes that are almost impossible to trace, rather than just one. One is enough in most cases... To be sure, other locals won't have the same problem finding you that corps and cops would. But that's a problem that can be solved by simply making sure you don't make powerful local enemies. Make sure that your target is the corporate world or bad actors, like gangs who cross the line and don't have support from the other Barrens players, and locals won't have a reason to come after you.

There is also the matter of street cred. I find that paranoia players tend to vastly underestimate its importance. I have met players who think that a shadowrunner has to lack an identity, they have to be nameless, faceless, untraceable -- a ghost. The problem with that is, what kind of retarded Johnson hires a total unknown? Without a rep, the J has no idea how professional you are. He has no idea whether you can get the job done. With no rep, you are limited to two kinds of jobs: suicide missions and milkruns. You're not going to get challenging, good paying jobs unless you make a name for yourself. And you can't make a name for yourself unless you let yourself be known. Again, the lawless nature of a Z-zone means that you're hard to pin down, even if someone does have it in for you. And this makes it safe enough to create a rep without being a man-with-no-name cliche.

Keep in mind that Shadowrun is not a game of international espoinage, it's much closer to a game of street crime. If you're a spy, you're an agent of Powerful Entity A, acting against Powerful Entity B. B knows you exist, they want to get their hands on you, and any slip-ups will lead them right to you. As a Shadowrunner, you're not part of any entity, you're a deniable asset. The powerful entities you target largely do not care about you. They might grab you if you gave them the chance, but chances are they have bigger fish to fry and the information they have on you will simply be filed away. Just look at street crime today -- do you think underworld people have such a paranoid outlook that they try to remain invisible at all times? Of course not. Criminals depend on rep more than anything else. The way you know the other dealer is legit, and not a cop, is that you've heard from others that he can be trusted. The way you know you'll get paid is that you've heard from other people this guy has paid on time. If everyone tried to be an invisible ghost, nobody could do business, because business requires a degree of trust, which is based solely on rep, at least between new acquaintances. It's true that the cops are after the bigtime criminals, but if those criminals hid their identities completely, they couldn't be criminals. The cops would never catch them, but then again there would be nothing to catch because nobody will do biz with someone they've never heard of, for whom nobody they trust can vouch.

So, you can't let paranoia prevent you from being a successful criminal. You have to make a rep, or you'll go nowhere fast. And again, keep in mind that the corps do not think of you as their enemies. You are much to small for that. The only thing powerful enough to be the enemy of a megacorp is another megacorp, or an entity of similar stature. As a shadowrunner, you are not an agent of an enemy, you are an asset of the enemy. You're not loyal to them, you're a commodity to be bought and sold. If you hit a corp, and they find out it was you and how to track you, their most likely course of action will be to try and hire you away from their enemy. You're much more valuable in their pocket than six feet under, especially if you're good enough to successfully hit them. Killing you can't restore their lost profits, it can't undo the damage you were hired to do. The only thing it can do is make an example -- but making an example requires spreading the knowledge that you successfully hit them, which is an embarassment they'd like to avoid.

Thus, the main reason for paranoia, staying alive, is pretty much null and void. You live in a Z-zone and you're SINless so you're hard to track in the first place, and also you're a simple free agent who knows little if anything about their employer and can be stolen away with a higher bid. All you can really accomplish by being paranoid is hampering the creation of your street rep, and preventing people with jobs from finding you. That's not to say that you shouldn't be a little paranoid -- of course you should. Definitely be wary of traps set by a J, but also don't be a spoilsport -- maybe you take the job suspecting a trap, but make a contingency plan instead of just saying "Imma take my ball and go home." You shouldn't leave your DNA around for no good reason, or blab your identity to everyone you meet, and you definitely shouldn't get caught. Also, don't let the media turn your run into a big story by being too flamboyant, because then the cops will be forced to track you down so they don't look incompetent. IMO, the proper level of paranoia in Shadowrun is keeping your head down and watching your ass, but still making sure that other shadow folk know who you are and what you've accomplished.
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Rusted Scrap Met...
post May 21 2009, 05:18 AM
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Very true. Our characters have a rep, and the GM is used my playing style, and I'm used to hers. When I say "I just walk on the Johnson" it isn't because he can't answer one simple question, it is when the whole setup stinks so bad he might has well have ordered rotten fish for the dinner. When the pay is insulting, the Johnson pulls a major attitude like you're pond scum he can't wait to get away from, and he expects you to do what he wants without any type of knowledge what so ever, that's when I walk.

Of course, I don't just jump up, either. I usually warn that I'm finding his terms and offer unacceptable, and surely there is a way we can handle our differences.

And I'll admit, I've shot exactly one PC, and that was one that got exposed to something nasty vomited up by a toxic elemental. He was screaming and wailing, and since he was the mage, there was only one choice. *BANG*

I don't let my paranoia ruin everyone's fun, but I also try to avoid the "walking through life with a bag over my head" that some of the new players started out with. They were veterans of D&D, not Shadowrun, of the Forgotten Realms, not Seattle.
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tsuyoshikentsu
post May 21 2009, 06:04 AM
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Congratulations! You're now building characters with 410 BP.

Personal opinion is that do whatever as long as it doesn't bog down play. (I happen to agree: most runners aren't paranoid enough.) But with that said, crack Runner's Companion to page 107 and take a look at that beautiful Paranoid flaw. Any time anyone complains about your behavior, excepting pace things, just toss 'em your sheet (if you feel comfortable with that, no offense) and point to that flaw. If you play a character as paranoid, nu, have him be Paranoid.
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HappyDaze
post May 21 2009, 06:07 AM
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QUOTE
If you play a character as paranoid, nu, have him be Paranoid.

And understand that such behavior does cause social problems among anyone not close to you.
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