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> What's up with Weapon Mount legality?, ...it's gotta make sense to somebody.
MikeKozar
post Jun 17 2010, 12:26 AM
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My group is starting a new campaign, with the players older and wiser in the ways of the 'verse. We're ramping up law enforcement and cracking down on illegal gear to try and head off power creep. So far, so good - the GM's decree that we will not start with any gear at Availability F required some careful analysis, and I noticed something: for the most part, F-rated gear falls into a few simple and logical categories:


Military-Grade Firearms: All sniper rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, grenade launchers including those mounted on assault rifles, Grenades (Frag, HE, and White Phosphorus), ammo that increases damage or armor penetration, and assault cannons are F-grade. Flamethrowers and Mortars are Forbidden, as are High-Velocity SMGs and Assault Rifles. Laser weapons are Forbidden.

Military-Grade Augmentation: All bone lacing and all retractable blades. Damage Compensators. Pain Editor. Adrenal Pump, Suprathyroid. Cyberarm Gyromount. Grade 3 Move-by-Wire. Powered Military-grade armor systems.

Breaking and Entering: All jammers and EMP devices. Anything that duplicates a fingerprint, palmprint, voiceprint, or retina. Thermal Camoflage. Stealth Rope. Explosives more powerful then 'commercial grade'. Silencers, Surpressors, and subsonic ammo. Keycard copiers, Maglock Sequencers, Maglock Passkeys. Tag Erasers. Weapons and ammo designed specifically to defeat scanners. Fake Licenses and Fake SINs.

Illegal for a Good Reason:Monofiliment weapons. BTLs. Tailored Pheremones. Deepweed, Gamma-Scopamine, Seven7, K10, Laes. Cranial bombs and self-destruct devices. Hot-sim modded VR gear. Vibroswords.

What really caught me off-guard was that my Rigger had assumed that most good stuff was F-rated, and it turns out that almost all street-level gear can be had with the right license, no sweat. Your Troll can roll in with an Assault Rifle, Body Armor, and a Smartlink Goggle rig, and just explain that "I have a permit for dis." Mostly, I agree with the gear above being cop bait. There are only two things about the Availability rules that confuse me:

1) Chameleon vs Thermal Camouflage. Optical camouflage is legal with the right permits, but thermal camo is classified with the military gear? This suggests that there is some sort of major advantage to Thermal that puts it in the same class of breaking and entering gear as retinal duplicators. Does anybody know why it scares the Corps so bad?

2) Security Drones vs. Modified Drones. The Steel Lynx and company can be had with the right licenses, and assuming you mount them up with legal assault rifles you're golden. On the other hand, if you want to mount weapons to a drone that doesn't normally include it, the Weapon Mount itself is forbidden. This could be worked around by sticking to the official security models or getting your GM to approve something similar as an 'off the shelf' model, but...what about a modified and armed Rotordrone makes it so much more illegal then a stock armed LEBD-1?

For what it's worth, I'm not trying to complain about the letter of the rules, I'm just interested in the spirit of them. If there's a good reason for this in-world, official or not, I'd really like to hear it. Also open to thought about how you guys handle Forbidden items in game.
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Falanin
post Jun 17 2010, 12:41 AM
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Keep in mind that what gets an "F" rating is fundamentally arbitrary. It's whatever the lawmakers of your present jurisdiction (be it UCAS, corporate, whatever) decide to make illegal. Note that which items are illegal changes by jurisdiction. Consult your law library (GM) for more details.

In other opinions, how does your GM expect you to carry out crimes as sinless runners if you can't have fake SINs? Similarly, a LOT of the equipment you mentioned is either fairly easy to come by (low availability numbers) or is otherwise nearly essential to running at a competent level. Were I your GM, I'd lower the max availability number that you can obtain at character creation, rather than making F items unobtainable.

I'll grant that this argument fails if you're playing a game where the characters are law abiding citizens... but criminals can get forbidden items. Carrying F items around with you openly isn't advisable in many SR games, since you can and will get busted. DON'T get caught. It's another thing to have to worry about, especially if you want to operate in a more secure area of town.
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Xahn Borealis
post Jun 17 2010, 01:14 AM
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I think the weapon mount thing is justified, from the devs perspective of course, by saying that putting a weapon mount on something makes it automatically more dangerous, as your average drone might easily be recognised by someone in the know, or a police drone, but a Westwind with an LMG on it would not be automatically recognised. That probably doesn't make sense, but it's two in the morning, leave me alone. Weapon mounts could probably do with having a mini size for holding tasers, which seems legally justifiable to me. If you're some infirm person who wants to carry a taser for self defence but can't shoot to save your life, having a microdrone with one would make sense to me. Although, it may require some more licenses, and maybe permission from the cops to use it, possibly by a teleoperating rigger. Which will never happen. It's a tough world, omae.
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Hand-E-Food
post Jun 17 2010, 01:24 AM
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QUOTE (MikeKozar @ Jun 17 2010, 10:26 AM) *
Your Troll can roll in with an Assault Rifle, Body Armor, and a Smartlink Goggle rig, and just explain that "I have a permit for dis."

Licenses are generally only available to people who have a legal reason to use the equipment, and who register though the appropriate governing body. A weapon license would not be granted without a letter of recommendation from a security corporation. Fake licenses are available at a tenth of the cost of a fake SIN (SR4A page 331) but are still subject to possible scrutiny.

Licenses are linked to a SIN. Anyone who extracts the serial number from a restricted item will trace it back to a SIN, assuming the item is licensed legitimately. While your SIN may be fake, you still use it for daily activities, such as purchases and most (if not all) matrix activity. If the cops are looking for your specific SIN, they will find you. They best way to avoid this is to buy equipment on one SIN, and live your daily life on another.

After using their restricted equipment in a botched run, stop them for a random inspection. When they use the phrase "I have a permit for dis", ask to see the license. If they have a legitimate license, this will raise an alarm as their SIN is now registered as fake or criminal.

With removing all Forbidden equipment from sale, this can be explained that crooks are too scared to sell it right now. Check out Black market Goods in SR4A page 312. Increase the availability rating and the cost of Forbidden items by 50%. Or, if they really want a specific piece of equipment, make the shadowrunners show their loyalty to a big-time black market operator before he'll sell them the goods.
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Hand-E-Food
post Jun 17 2010, 01:28 AM
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QUOTE (Xahn Borealis @ Jun 17 2010, 11:14 AM) *
If you're some infirm person who wants to carry a taser for self defence but can't shoot to save your life, having a microdrone with one would make sense to me. Although, it may require some more licenses, and maybe permission from the cops to use it, possibly by a teleoperating rigger. Which will never happen. It's a tough world, omae.

I'd say that an infirm SINner would have no trouble receiving a license for such a device. That said, all of the drone's activities would be logged and monitored. Any abuse caused by the drone would revoke the license immediately, not to mention the owner would essentially be carrying a government sponsored tracking device.
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Gamer6432
post Jun 17 2010, 01:28 AM
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I've often wondered about the weapon mount myself. Best I can figure is to assume that all those R and F assignments apply to the UCAS, specifically Seattle, only. Elsewhere, like just across the border in the Salish-Shidhe Council, things are different. When all else fails, just give your GM a good argument for something being different from the books. That's the beauty of table top gaming, GMs and players can tweak the rules to suit them if the RAW doesn't make sense or things would just be more fun another way.
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Whipstitch
post Jun 17 2010, 01:36 AM
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Personally, I would have preferred to see the legal "stock" drones come with a specific and limited number of weapon options that are compatible with their mounts and autosofts. For example, maybe stock LEBD-1s can come equipped with tasers or an SMG class weapon system but require a weapon mount modification and new software to pack more heat. That way custom weapon mounts would make sense as being illegal due to their potential-- A weapon mount being used for a taser today could very well be used for an assault cannon tomorrow, and at that point it would definitely make more sense for the authorities to put their foot down when they see your li'l wannabe OmniMech.
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Mantis
post Jun 17 2010, 05:23 AM
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If you have access to any of the older location source books, like London or Tir Tairngire, those books have legality charts for a wide variety of gear and this was generally different from Seattle (the default location and therefore default legality benchmark for Shadowrun). It would be fairly easy to convert those old tables to the new system of R or F gear and then have different legalities for different locales.
I think thermo camouflage is listed as forbidden because it makes it easier to bypass thermo optics in things like drones, security cameras and those trolls you're paying to patrol the grounds. With visual camouflage you can still spot them with thermo but with thermo camo, if they've hidden themselves from optics already, well that just takes away the corp ace in the hole. Now they have to rely on magic or something like radar to spot sneaking intruders.
The reason I'd say certain drones with weapon mounts aren't forbidden but a weapon mount is, is because those drones can be viewed as security drones and so to own one you would (supposedly) need a proper security license to own and operate it. This would also include things like background checks and such. In other words the corps already know who you are and that you have the drone and the potential to mount weapons on it. With a weapon mount though, anyone could mount any kind of weapon on anything. No security check or anything. Who knows what would happen then? Chaos! Dogs and cats living together!
Basically the idea is if its security (armed) they know who has it due to the license, etc needed to get it while putting a weapon mount into a civilian vehicle is just asking for trouble. No control.
I know this doesn't hold true for all drones (the doberman for example) but its a good place to start.
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Sengir
post Jun 17 2010, 10:09 AM
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Just compare it to real life: Modifying a weapon in a way which puts it into a different legal category (gas pistol to live ammo, semiauto to full auto) is straight out illegal in most jurisdictions, even when you would be allowed to buy a weapon which does what the modified weapon does off the shelf.
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Dakka Dakka
post Jun 17 2010, 10:50 AM
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Just to fortify the argument that legality in the books is pretty arbitrary, look at the FN P93 Praetor (just a high tech SMG) and the M22A3 (an assault rifle with an underbarrel grenade launcher). The former is forbidden and the latter is restricted.

For the weapon mounts from Arsenal it may be the possible concealability. In the US there seems to be a difference between carrying weapons openly and concealing them.
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Gamer6432
post Jun 17 2010, 12:32 PM
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QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ Jun 17 2010, 02:50 AM) *
Just to fortify the argument that legality in the books is pretty arbitrary, look at the FN P93 Praetor (just a high tech SMG) and the M22A3 (an assault rifle with an underbarrel grenade launcher). The former is forbidden and the latter is restricted.

<snip>

Yes, but anything more than a Flash-bang or Smoke Grenade is Forbidden. Incendiary, however, is only 6R according to Arsenal.
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Daddy's Litt...
post Jun 17 2010, 12:51 PM
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To support something someone else already said, just because you can have something with a permitt does not mean you will get the permitt. It is legal in New York to have a hand gun, with a permitt, but getting the permitt is pretty difficult. Also once you have that set up, then you have to remember there is a record of you having it and having an interest in the item.

"A troll was seen with an M-16." The police will check the trolls with permitts before looking for others. It is just easier for them.

One of our players has a legal permitt for a handgun but on runs she also carries and SMG for which she does not have a permitt.
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Yerameyahu
post Jun 17 2010, 12:54 PM
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They are a little random, these availability codes. Just screw with them if your game wants to. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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Doc Chase
post Jun 17 2010, 03:23 PM
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IIRC, thermal camo is dangerous because it masks your heat signature as well as your visible form, whereas optical is only masking your visible form.
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Xahn Borealis
post Jun 17 2010, 03:29 PM
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What's thermal camo? You mean chamleon suit with thermal masking mod?
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Doc Chase
post Jun 17 2010, 03:33 PM
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QUOTE (Xahn Borealis @ Jun 17 2010, 04:29 PM) *
What's thermal camo? You mean chamleon suit with thermal masking mod?


I just saw the term in the OP and decided to comment. I would assume it's the thermal masking mod - I need to start bringing my books to work.

Heh.
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Mäx
post Jun 17 2010, 07:00 PM
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QUOTE (Gamer6432 @ Jun 17 2010, 03:32 PM) *
Yes, but anything more than a Flash-bang or Smoke Grenade is Forbidden. Incendiary, however, is only 6R according to Arsenal.

Also gas grenades, if the toxic used isnt forbiden.
Pepper pucnh, breath taker and neurostun are quite nice and pepper puch gas grenades arent even resricted.
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Yerameyahu
post Jun 17 2010, 07:22 PM
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I think it makes sense, inasmuch as any of the laws make sense: visual camouflage could theoretically be used for hunting (etc.), while thermal masking implies more illegal/military uses. Remember that it only has to be logical to the legislators. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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MikeKozar
post Jun 17 2010, 07:43 PM
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OP here. The main issue we have with the RAW availability rules is that they require an experienced and subtle GM to work properly. The explicit rules that we could find have to do with initially getting the gear - if you want a specific forbidden piece of gear, you need to find a Face with the dice pool to get it. That wasn't really difficult, since most players took a Fixer contact of some sort. During character creation, our team loaded up with every illegal bit of gear their black little hearts desired. Owning, of course, should be different from carrying...

The RAW do not include suggested rules for controlling those illegal items once they are in play. There isn't much we could find about running a police force or using any other method to control the power of the team's gear. It is left to the GM to come up with something. If the GM doesn't, he will have to tune his opposition to resist Assault Cannons, Energy Weapons, etc. This was a problem in our first campaign - we followed the availability rules and then went wild once that initial hurdle was crossed.

This comes down to the Mohawk thing. If you *don't* want to go full Pink Mohawk, then you need to be able to show the players where the line is. With a few exceptions, if the cops spot you with Class F items outside of a war zone, they should arrest you, so that seemed like a good place to start. We're also experimenting with licensing the character, not the item, so that a samurai might have a Security Specialist license that gives him blanket access (within reason) to items with an availability 9R or less. That means he can walk the streets armed until he gets that SIN tied to a crime and needs to replace it. If he picks up a chameleon suit or an automatic shotgun (in the 12R range), the patrolling drones are going to try and scan him, fine him, and confiscate his gear. It also takes advantage of the existing rules for detecting forgeries - all the GM needs to do is determine when a Drone might buzz the party, and have it automatically roll against the quality of their fake SIN/License. Since we've reduced the number of licenses down to one (from one for each bit of gear) this is fairly quick - in fact, Drones are predictable enough you might be able to rely on a rank 4 forgery always working!

There are a few advantages to this - first, with the players aware this could happen they will keep the power level down themselves. Second, the GM can increase the power level of the campaign as the characters advance by having NPC contacts provide higher-ranked licenses. Third, it establishes tension when a job requires forbidden/unlicensed gear - the game is full of ways to beat sensors, and the players will need to use them to get the hardware to the job site. It also allows the GM to do all these things using a simple, predictable system instead of trying to cook up checkpoints to drop into every mission.
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Dakka Dakka
post Jun 17 2010, 08:03 PM
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The problem with this system is that the Availability stat actually incorporates two distinct unconnected properties: One is the item's rarity represented by the numerical value of the stat and the group of legal owners.

A 12R item does not have to be any more dangerous restricted unbalancing or whatever than a 9R item, there are just less stores that carry the former item. An AK-97 (4R) isn't any less legal than an FN HAR (8R), there just are a lot more AKs on the market.

Otherwise checking licenses regularly is a good idea if the item is spotted by security personnel. If I'm not mistaken you use the houserule that the fake document's rating is used as threshold for the scanner, so you won't have to deal with blown covers all the time. To me this practise is just the gameworld reacting logically to the PCs and other people's behavior.

I'd also allow bulk licenses since requiring a license for each and every item and activity is just another money sink.

BTW you don't need a fixer or any other contact to look for gear or fence it.
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RunnerPaul
post Jun 17 2010, 08:24 PM
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QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Jun 17 2010, 02:22 PM) *
visual camouflage could theoretically be used for hunting (etc.), while thermal masking implies more illegal/military uses.


I'd almost buy that except hunting for paranormal critters, many of which see thermo, is established in cannon.
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Yerameyahu
post Jun 17 2010, 09:02 PM
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And you could get a license as a thermo-critter-hunter. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) More critters have normal eyes.
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MikeKozar
post Jun 18 2010, 07:56 PM
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QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ Jun 17 2010, 12:03 PM) *
The problem with this system is that the Availability stat actually incorporates two distinct unconnected properties: One is the item's rarity represented by the numerical value of the stat and the group of legal owners.

A 12R item does not have to be any more dangerous restricted unbalancing or whatever than a 9R item, there are just less stores that carry the former item. An AK-97 (4R) isn't any less legal than an FN HAR (8R), there just are a lot more AKs on the market.


You're absolutely right. The Availability was not intended to be a guideline for Legality. However, if you take RAW, then there are really only three levels of legality: -, R, and F. We find this to be insufficient - a 9mm, a stealth suit, synaptic booster 3 and the Ares Citymaster are all equally illegal. The rules for how difficult it is to license this tech are left up to the GM. Rather then develop a legal code that covers all the items in the sourcebooks in a sensible fashion, we took a little shortcut and used Availability as a general indicator of power level, and thus how hard it needs to be regulated.

This system certainly looks broken when you look at certain examples: Light Pistols range from 4R to 8R, for instance. On the other hand, if you look more closely at the three standard Light Pistols in the sourcebook, they are Stock(4R), Laser-Sighted(6R), and Smartlinked(8R). From a gameplay perspective, the weapon with the higher Availability is significantly more powerful. You can see the same thing in the Cyberware section: Wired Reflexes are 8R, 12R, and 20R for grades 1, 2 and 3. The Availability is not a measure of Legality, but in a lot of ways it is a measure of power.

Our goal with this is to get a handle on the power that player characters have access to. From that perspective, making it difficult to possess higher Availability items seems quite successful. It does at times seem whimsical and unfair, which in my mind only drives home the idea that these laws are made by an oppressive state with a nonsensical legal system.

QUOTE (Dakka Dakka @ Jun 17 2010, 12:03 PM) *
BTW you don't need a fixer or any other contact to look for gear or fence it.


That's true, but if you have a dice pool of 15+ to get restricted gear, there doesn't seem to be much in RAW keeping you from using the highest-end gear at character creation. If this ability were restricted to dedicated Face characters, it might be less gamebreaking, but anybody can get a high-end Fixer contact at character creation for very little work. Some of my players complained after a while that there was nowhere for them to go, compared to other games that start at a low power level and make you earn more. Since our new campaign is supposed to at least start at Street Level, this seemed like a good way to slow down power creep early on.
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Bira
post Jun 19 2010, 02:19 AM
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Why not steal GURPS' legality system? It rates items with a Legality Class that goes from 0 to 4, and also rates governments with a Control Rating that goes from 0 to 6. The more strict a place is with its laws, the larger its CR. A CR of 0 is total anarchy, and 6 is somewhere straight out of 1984. The modern US is said to be CR 4 ("There are many laws, and most benefit the state").

Gear goes the other way. The smaller an item's legality class, the scarier it is, and the more likely it is to be restricted in some form. To find out if it's actually restricted, you just compare the item's LC against the CR of the place you're examining. If it's greater, anyone can own the item. If it's the same, then anyone can own it as long as they're not a convicted criminal or something like that. LC = CR -1 means it requires a permit, LC = CR - 2 means it's restricted to SWAT teams or the equivalent, and LC = CR - 3 or worse means it's the province of the military or black ops squads.

The LC of an item is always the same no matter where you are. Armor and tasers tend to be LC 4, handguns and hunting weapons are LC 3, automatic weapons and hacking programs would be LC2, heavy weapons and most military vehicles are LC1, and stuff like nukes and intercontinental bombers are LC0.

The CR will of course vary from place to place. Police in the UCAS (CR 4) won't stop someone from wearing an armor jacket (LC 4) unless they have a criminal SIN, while no one is likely to bother you for carrying an assault cannon (LC1) in Lagos (CR 0), unless they want to steal it!
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