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> From Player to GM - Tips Needed
Briggan
post Jan 26 2011, 04:57 AM
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Hi Folks

I'm a long time Shadowrun fan & player. I'm up to date with all the current publications and am pretty heads up on all the rules. However for the nine years I've enjoyed Shadowrun I have been a player; never really getting the chance to GM but always wanting to. There have been a couple of occassions where I have run scenario's that people have enjoyed but I stuggle to progress them to the campaign stage.

At the moment I have finally got a player base of four individuals. All but one of them have never played Shadowrun and know nothing of the setting, the one guy knows the setting on the surface and has played one of my scenario's but is still essentially a beginner. One of the newbies wants to play a hacker and the guy who knows a little is going to be a street samurai, as for the others they are unsure; neither are interested in magic. Now although I have a player base I am struggling to design run's/a campaign around such a small group of runners because the games I have played in have always revolved around a much larger group (6 to 7 players) and have therefore always covered Physical/Matrix/Magic. As such my experiance of missions have always encompassed threats/challanges in all areas. I feel this is not going to be entirely possible with my current group. Not only that but the games I've played in have always contained people who know a fair bit about the settings and as such I have never needed to approach it blindly.

I need some tips on:

A> Running for a group made up of purely beginners
B> Running for such a small team
C> Designing missions that suit the setting but also avoid areas my players have no help in (e.g. Astral/Magical defences with no Mage)
D> Keeping to the setting yet allowing them to get the most out of the game.

Any help would be much appreciated as I want to finally run a Shadowrun game and make it as rewarding as possible in the hope that they will wish to continue playing in future.

Cheers
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Mardrax
post Jan 26 2011, 05:59 AM
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Don't go avoiding threats they're not equipped to deal with ideally. Because they're equipped to deal with anything, it'll just take more intelligent play. Just spread the challenges out. You can't keep true to the setting if you're dropping the wagemage on staff, the parolling spirits. And really, anyone with a high enough shooting dp and s&s rounds can take care of both.

I tend to find that for the best liked campaign, you want to find a fine balance between easy and hard challenges. Between those challenges where you keep in mind what they can do, those where you don't pay too much attention to it, and those where you blatantly disregard all the holes in their character creation. Balancing challenges out like this will move them around between the "we're just bloody awesome, aren't we?" of cakewalking through a horde of goons and other easy stuff, to a real feeling of accomplishment when doing something that seemed impossible beforehand.
If they're stalling on not knowing thse setting/system too well, introduce it piecemeal. Have NPCs engage in namedropping, which gives you or more familiar players a chance to parenthical explanation for common knowledge, or incite data searches otherwise. The same applies to ability usage. Be aware of what each group member can do. If they're not making full use of those abilities, have an NPC use what they're omiting, triggering the "right, I can do that too" thoughts. If they're slow in that, politely remind them of their own skills. It's a large, sometimes convoluted system. Be kind on slow learners.
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onlyghostdancesw...
post Jan 26 2011, 06:31 AM
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another good thing; in addition to the above comments is that you can fill out gaps in their team by including NPCs that can volunteer reasonable info to the team during planning sessions ie commenting on viability of going down that 1' ductwork at the top of the factory attached to rusty suspension. Also, suit their knowledge to the characters, not just the players as in giving them the common sense quality (or at least one of them) for free just so you can fake a roll and say hmm the tingle at the back of your mind says danger will robinson etc.

I've also had great sucess when Gming of figuring out the players personal habits (if you have the luxury of knowing the OOG and in other games), that way you can send them on missions that are A) up their alley and B) really are tailored to (mostly) be on target for the team (remember a Johnson wont hire a team without making sure that they can do the job... unless ofc the job is really supposed to be screwed up etc. <-- That last bit is a great plot hook too btw to get them to the next session, basic plot is they get hired to do recon of a humanis club chapter HQ, (the seattle one ofc as its a great way to introduce the concepts of metavariants and attitudes/politics towards them in SR), "find" the incriminating data and then find out that what they just turned over to the local trid channels was footage of murderous trolls (or other propaganda) threatening safe humans.

This can have several tags of oh shit we got paid but are now hated (since ofc you will tell them (via an npc conversation they overhear at a bar) about this terrible propaganda attempt by criminals x,y and z who were caught on tape by vigilantes and protectors of metahuman rights. Oh and those runners just happen to closely resemble the team.

To sum up they get the idea of intrigue without being mauled by the underside of SR, they get the expanding worldview that makes it really fun as well as get to experience a fairly smooth and not too difficult/ not too hard first run. Then, depending on response you can go pretty much anywhere from there.


Hope that helps
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onlyghostdancesw...
post Jan 26 2011, 06:40 AM
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Alternately if you don't want to dive into the world that quick what with the concepts of planning legwork etc being introduced you can always have them start out Rping how they got some of the small bits of their gear as a team. Aka they just went on a mission and burned some of their SINS (which you give them free at chargen as burned SINS) and must now work their contacts to find the local crime mall for new ones.

They also now have some minor street cred (start them off with a 1 or 2 to jumpstart their payouts so players see nice cash or karma rewards).

If the hacker is trying to really learn to be competent you can intro the idea of hacking for a place to live (they need a safehouse and even blacker cover on jobs because MCT is now quite displeased with their hijinks). The face, if there is one can work on smoothing out issues with the local landlord to get a (somewhat) safe house near the barrens until the hacker can get the rolls to spoof the payments etc and the street sam can provide part-time enforcement for the local gangs/organized crime (which could lead to jobs for them as a team (Yeah sure I know a guy who knows a guy who...).

If they end up wanting to focus on combat etc for a single session have them start as part of an urban "amatuer" brawl team located deep in the barrens etc with chances to advance to "pro" status in the big collesium in Atzlan in a few years etc etc.


As in all things though, keep power level appropriate to the characters and evolve them over time so that its just right.
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Saint Sithney
post Jan 26 2011, 07:13 AM
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Steal ideas.

Read some campaign logs and see what clicks for you.

Just because you're running a campaign of your own, that doesn't mean you have to invent everything.
The best ideas are the ones that've gone through vetting.
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Tiralee
post Jan 26 2011, 12:25 PM
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Steal Ideas
Take notes (Good/bad/fugly/brilliant)
Know that your "plot" will be at most 20 words long. The rest is improv and your players using full autofire rules. KEEP NOTES of: loot, people killed (details) and rep's ruined.
Don't be afraid to start low.
Have shifty types betray them. Nothing like a good hate on to motivate a player to dig himself out of the drek, finish the mission at hand and THEN plan bloody bloody vengence.
Steal their transport! NOTHING dicks a player off more then having their wheels not where they left them due to a go-ganger's need for some hot wheels.
Be violent. "Mommy makes it better" falls to "Get your wounded ass up here, we need a distraction"
Use strong language.
Explosions!
Theme song. If they screw up, play "Yakkity Sax". They will hate you and become better players, just to spite you.
Dangle tempations not "just out of reach" but "No way you could, unless...nahh, it's too risky..."

And look for "Be a bastard DM" ideas. Sure, you like your friends...but how much...?

-Tir
<Cue Evil_laughter.wav">

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Briggan
post Jan 26 2011, 06:31 PM
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Cheers guys, the input has been very helpful.

I'm toying with the idea of having their characters fresh in the Shadows to compliment the fact they are fresh to the setting. Am looking at the first run being a out of the frying pan and into the fire scenario where the team have been chucked together and need to be successful in order to secure a safe lifestyle, SIN's etc. This way I'll introduce the nature of the setting to them in the first run and I intend to have the Johnson in question betray them, thus setting up a campaign Villian. The objective being that once the first run is complete the character's will be set up and on the market for run's, all the time trying to find out the identity and location of the Johnson that screwed them.

What do you think?
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onlyghostdancesw...
post Jan 26 2011, 06:45 PM
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sounds good. maybe let the hacker probe the identity of the johnsons corp sponsor so they really hate that corp etc.
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Briggan
post Jan 26 2011, 07:05 PM
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Brilliant. Never considered that. Thanks
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J. Packer
post Jan 26 2011, 07:45 PM
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If you have time, you could run a little side show first.

Give them each a character from the pregens, either one that's similar to theirs so they learn the lingo and get to go through the motions, or one that's totally not like them so they can see it from another perspective. Start the "adventure" in media res - they're already hired and have done all the legwork.

Then mercilessly kill them.

Then hire the actual party to go and finish the job right this time.

They'll learn the setting, they'll learn the die mechanics, they'll learn about edge, and they'll learn how brutal the world is.
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onlyghostdancesw...
post Jan 26 2011, 08:48 PM
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the above is also great advice. BUT, if you are going to do that screwing them routine and at least 2 of them are metavariants/ non human consider using Brackhaven Investments (under a shell corp that is discovred to be a shell corp ofc) as the bogey man. They make a point of hiring metas as their owner is closely linked to the top of the humanis organization and it makes good PR when the violent metas do stuff to safe humans.

Pg. 75 Runner Haven (if you dont have the book i can copy paste that portion so you can get an idea of their makeup_.
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Udoshi
post Jan 27 2011, 12:27 AM
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QUOTE (Briggan @ Jan 26 2011, 11:31 AM) *
I'm toying with the idea of having their characters fresh in the Shadows to compliment the fact they are fresh to the setting.


When I first got invited to join a Shadowrun group(i was part of another game, and i was offered a spot in one that was just starting), i did exactly that on purpose. At the time, 4th was lacking in a lot of setting/background info(no 6wa, no seattle 2072, no vice...), and a lot of the other players were more experiened with the setting, that I'd have a lot better luck making someone completely out of his depth, than trying to bluff and improv my way through a session when I didn't really know how the world was supposed to work. (rules are one thing, setting is another).

Thus, teddy, a former corp hacker who accidentally erased his own sin was born, then thrust into the scary world of the shadows, and adopted by a hilarious LA runner team, and managed to not die. Or get fragged by his own team.

But yeah. Noob characters to go with new players is a fantastic way to start a game. Just.... give them a chance to earn the training wheels off.
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Kyrel
post Jan 27 2011, 07:59 PM
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QUOTE (Briggan @ Jan 26 2011, 05:57 AM) *
I need some tips on:

A> Running for a group made up of purely beginners
B> Running for such a small team
C> Designing missions that suit the setting but also avoid areas my players have no help in (e.g. Astral/Magical defences with no Mage)
D> Keeping to the setting yet allowing them to get the most out of the game.


A) Go slow and start out easy on them. Have them play a bunch of rookies, and get the acquainted with the various core mechanics. Let their first couple of "jobs" be low key and low scale operations. Maybe the players got f*cked over by a local gang. Maybe a local gang leader wants them to do a B&E job against a local shop under the protection of a rival gang. Let the players get some experience and let them get to know a couple of NPC's and let them convert them into contacts after using them for some legwork.

B) As long as they have some bases covered, numbers aren't all that important. Unless you want to throw a number of enemies at them at the same time. Of course it will be a bad idea to send them into a situation where it's essential to have a Mage, if they don't have one. Don't send a bunch of individuals with the subtlety of a battleaxe and military mortar to do a B&E job.

C) Get a vision for the target site, then design it. Then go over it and make sure that you haven't put in a type of challenge that absolutely MUST be solved in a particular way that the characters simply can't handle, or which can only be successfully solved in one way. If your players don't have a Mage or similar, then considder just keeping that level out of the first missions. There are only so many mages to go around, and not every site will necessarily have one or more on call. Many sites won't have patroling spirits either, but they might have some astral barriers or the like, in order to keep astral threats out. This can be there without forcing the players to bother with it. As the players gain more experience with the game, begin throwing low level mages etc. at them.

D) Just stay true to the setting with regards to how the world works, but don't build a chronicle that will require the players to have a deep understanding of the setting, in order to be able to successfully navigate it. Keep the feel right, and you won't have to introduce stuff like the metaplot, intercorp politics etc. Keep the game local and relevant to the players characters, and the players can then be introduced to an increasing scope of the setting, as time goes by.


Have fun (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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shon
post Jan 28 2011, 02:27 PM
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QUOTE (Saint Sithney @ Jan 26 2011, 08:13 AM) *
[...]
Read some campaign logs and see what clicks for you.
[...]


Hey, I'd like that! Is there any special place for campaign logs on Dumpshock? I know there's 'welcome to the shadows' but it's more like IC gaming and OOC discussion, right? Or can I find logs there too? Actually, what exactly is a campaign log? I tried Dumpshock search-fu but 'log' is just a three letter word and thus unworthy of search and 'campaign' is quite a popular word around here :)
Or do you just google for 'shadowrun campaign log' and work from there?

Can anybody point the noob (me) in the right direction?

Thanks!
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onlyghostdancesw...
post Jan 28 2011, 10:17 PM
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QUOTE (shon @ Jan 28 2011, 06:27 AM) *
Hey, I'd like that! Is there any special place for campaign logs on Dumpshock? I know there's 'welcome to the shadows' but it's more like IC gaming and OOC discussion, right? Or can I find logs there too? Actually, what exactly is a campaign log? I tried Dumpshock search-fu but 'log' is just a three letter word and thus unworthy of search and 'campaign' is quite a popular word around here (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
Or do you just google for 'shadowrun campaign log' and work from there?

Can anybody point the noob (me) in the right direction?

Thanks!


he means reading through IC threads. Those are the logs that you can see the action in and then cross reference with teh OOC stuff to see how it operated.
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WyldKnight
post Jan 28 2011, 10:25 PM
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Actually some people put logs of RL campaigns on here as well. They're pretty buried by this point though.
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shon
post Jan 29 2011, 09:55 AM
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QUOTE (onlyghostdanceswhiledrunk @ Jan 28 2011, 11:17 PM) *
he means reading through IC threads. Those are the logs that you can see the action in and then cross reference with teh OOC stuff to see how it operated.



QUOTE (WyldKnight @ Jan 28 2011, 11:25 PM) *
Actually some people put logs of RL campaigns on here as well. They're pretty buried by this point though.


Thanks guys, I get it now!
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