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> Dilemma, Build advice / suggestions please
UmaroVI
post May 8 2012, 11:16 PM
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QUOTE (Caadium @ May 8 2012, 06:39 PM) *
After I tweaked it a little bit, here is what I've got.

Human Chaos Mage that grew up on the street and pulled from bits of pieces of other traditions to hone his magic.
Bod 3
Agi 2
Rea 3
Str 2
Cha 2
Int 3
Log 5
Wil 5

Magic 6
Edge 2

-------------- All of the above is unchanged from his original concept

Magican
Focused Concentration x2 (He originally wanted Focused Concentration and Aptitude Spellcasting)

Astral Beacon (His only chosen negative quality)
Uncouth
Bad Rep
Poor Self Control Braggart
(I added the last 3 for points and because I was thinking like Pax regarding Uncouth, the player loves to brag about game successes, and he didn't want to take social skills)

Arcana 2 (He wanted 4 so he could to his own spells, I hadn't had the chance to explain how long that actually takes when we last met)
Assensing 1 (I added this)
Binding 4
Counterspelling 4 (He originally was torn between taking this separate or as a group. Given the street concept, and his original desire to get Aptitude Spellcasting I broke it up and left off Ritual Casting, which another player in the group will have)
Dodge 3
Perception 1 (I added this)
Pistols 1 +2 Semi-Automatics (A suggestion he took from me instead of pistols 3)
Spellcasting 6
Summoning 4

Armor
Combat Sense
Heal
Levitate
Physical Barrier
Power Bolt
Stunball
Trid Phantasm
(All of the above were his choices, with some input from me. The drain value of some and the number of sustained combat spells was part of my concern for the character. I added the following)
Increased Reflexes
Manna Barrier
(These seemed inline with what he was already doing, and for a combat mage Increased Reflexes is SO useful)

His original approach left him with 2 bp for money/gear and the free 8 bp I give my players for contacts. My changes freed up a few points which I then bought and bound 3 Rating 3 Sustaining foci for him in addition to the 2 bp left for other gear. If he's determined to buff himself for combat purposes, I figured go a little crazy with foci so he can sustain some and try to keep him from the negative dice pool spiral I saw him headed towards.

Having help sustaining things, increasing his spellcasting, and his focused concentration should help him out a bit and isn't far removed from his original idea. If some of you see other ways to tweak or modify it, then those are other examples I'd use. I also want to try a sample or two where he's maybe done a point of ware. Perhaps one that augments things like his drain stat and other bumps that help in being a true combat mage. Another I'm thinking is a point of other ware and perhaps go with his desire to cast buff spells and make him a gun user that buffs up as an example. These are just brainstorms though.


If you want some examples of combat mages that aren't bad, look at the first link in my sig and the Burnout Combat Mage and Magical Rocker for cybered and non-cybered examples. They do use power foci, but you can remove them if you want (although it's not actually a good idea); if you do you should probably increase Summoning some at the very least.

For an example of a gun-user that buffs themselves, check out the Transhuman Mystic.

Not having a mentor spirit is a very, very poor choice no matter what type of mage you are.

Focused Concentration is very inefficient; it's overpaying for a little more drain resist.

Being a non-cybered logic mage is moderately inefficient.

I think you have more than 35 negative quality points. Uncouth is a really painful quality; it also makes you automatically lose in opposed social skill checks. Uncouth isn't Jayne, it's Rainman. If you want Jayne, that is Incompetence(Etiquette).

When do you see this character actually using pistols? He is really not good with them and he's focused on combat spells. If you really must carry around a nonmagical weapon, Heavy Weapons and an ArmTech MGL-6 with Airburst Link loaded with stuff like Flashbangs, Thermal Smoke, and DMSO+Narcoject chem grenades is a better move since it's far more effective in the hands of someone who isn't very good with weapons.

Armor, Physical Barrier, and Mana Barrier are not good spells, for the following reasons:

Armor makes you glow. This is asking for it.

Physical Barrier is just not very good at doing its job. It's very easy to shoot people right through transparent barriers. Metal Wall is a much better spell because it is opaque (although it is more drain).

Mana Barrier is just super narrow in application.

A combat mage without Stunbolt is a very bad idea. He should really know stunbolt. It is the bread and butter combat spell.

If you want to replace Armor, Increase Reaction is a much much better buff spell in every way.

Being a "combat mage" with an initiative of 8 and a body of 3 is not a really good plan. Going first is highly important. So is not dying when everyone shoots you.



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Caadium
post May 8 2012, 11:39 PM
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QUOTE (UmaroVI @ May 8 2012, 04:16 PM) *
If you want some examples of combat mages that aren't bad, look at the first link in my sig and the Burnout Combat Mage and Magical Rocker for cybered and non-cybered examples. They do use power foci, but you can remove them if you want (although it's not actually a good idea); if you do you should probably increase Summoning some at the very least.

For an example of a gun-user that buffs themselves, check out the Transhuman Mystic.

Not having a mentor spirit is a very, very poor choice no matter what type of mage you are.

Focused Concentration is very inefficient; it's overpaying for a little more drain resist.

Being a non-cybered logic mage is moderately inefficient.

I think you have more than 35 negative quality points. Uncouth is a really painful quality; it also makes you automatically lose in opposed social skill checks. Uncouth isn't Jayne, it's Rainman. If you want Jayne, that is Incompetence(Etiquette).

When do you see this character actually using pistols? He is really not good with them and he's focused on combat spells. If you really must carry around a nonmagical weapon, Heavy Weapons and an ArmTech MGL-6 with Airburst Link loaded with stuff like Flashbangs, Thermal Smoke, and DMSO+Narcoject chem grenades is a better move since it's far more effective in the hands of someone who isn't very good with weapons.

Armor, Physical Barrier, and Mana Barrier are not good spells, for the following reasons:

Armor makes you glow. This is asking for it.

Physical Barrier is just not very good at doing its job. It's very easy to shoot people right through transparent barriers. Metal Wall is a much better spell because it is opaque (although it is more drain).

Mana Barrier is just super narrow in application.

A combat mage without Stunbolt is a very bad idea. He should really know stunbolt. It is the bread and butter combat spell.

If you want to replace Armor, Increase Reaction is a much much better buff spell in every way.

Being a "combat mage" with an initiative of 8 and a body of 3 is not a really good plan. Going first is highly important. So is not dying when everyone shoots you.

All of that is exactly why I came here for other examples. I've said from the get-go that this guy is trying to put something together that isn't going to be very functional at the role he's shooting for.

I tried to explain stunbolt. I only got him to drop pistols to 1. He didn't want to take off focused concentration. I prefer real armor to armor spell. I understand that going first, and more often is FAR more important than Combat Sense, but that was ignored advice. The player wouldn't even look at mentor spirits. In some ways, the idea of 'he did it all himself and doesn't need outside help' is similar to the way he takes advice on characters. If I can show him his concept, next to my slightly tweaked version of his concept, next to actual solid combat mage concepts I think I can get him to tweak and build something that he will enjoy playing.

In truth, I could be open to the idea of him taking a Power Focus, the issue is that the other mage, one with a well rounded fully thought out character has one and a reason for having it. I didn't want to make that player feel like this guy is just playing the combat only version of his character since he has put some thought and work into his concept. Perhaps I can look to see if I can get the other character a Restricted gear version so that this guy can also have something as well.

I will look into your samples.
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UmaroVI
post May 9 2012, 12:03 AM
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The issue with power foci is that bonding foci after chargen has totally different costs than bonding one during chargen. Buying a force 4 power focus, including bonding, restricted gear, and nuyen, is 29 BP. After chargen, it costs 32 karma just to bond it, and you still have to afford (and find) it. Sustaining foci have different ratios (2x rather than 8x karma multipler) (and there are really good reasons to want a higher-force sustaining focus) so it's more useful to start with the power focus and buy the sustaining foci later (although one for Increase Reflexes is still a good plan) rather than vice versa.
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thorya
post May 9 2012, 12:51 AM
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QUOTE (Caadium @ May 8 2012, 07:39 PM) *
All of that is exactly why I came here for other examples. I've said from the get-go that this guy is trying to put something together that isn't going to be very functional at the role he's shooting for.

I tried to explain stunbolt. I only got him to drop pistols to 1. He didn't want to take off focused concentration. I prefer real armor to armor spell. I understand that going first, and more often is FAR more important than Combat Sense, but that was ignored advice. The player wouldn't even look at mentor spirits. In some ways, the idea of 'he did it all himself and doesn't need outside help' is similar to the way he takes advice on characters. If I can show him his concept, next to my slightly tweaked version of his concept, next to actual solid combat mage concepts I think I can get him to tweak and build something that he will enjoy playing.

In truth, I could be open to the idea of him taking a Power Focus, the issue is that the other mage, one with a well rounded fully thought out character has one and a reason for having it. I didn't want to make that player feel like this guy is just playing the combat only version of his character since he has put some thought and work into his concept. Perhaps I can look to see if I can get the other character a Restricted gear version so that this guy can also have something as well.

I will look into your samples.


Sounds like he's sticking with his concept even when it's not the most powerful thing. Maybe he's not such a terrible Min/Maxer?

He should definitely take a specialization within spellcasting. Given the character, combat probably makes sense.

I know most people steer away from them, but fetishes/limited spellcasting give a +2 to resist drain from the spells, so it might be nice on some of the higher drain spells. With the two focused concentration dice he's looking at 14 dice to resist drain, so 4-5 hits on average and he won't knock himself out in a pass or two casting stunballs.

Also, since it seems like he's not actually interested in the astral plane at all and didn't even want Assensing maybe he should play a mystic adept? It saves 5 on the quality and 1 point in powers could give him some useful abilities that would make him better in combat and gives him some room for future growth. It's not the most efficient route obviously and it will limit his spellcasting a bit, so he might not like that route. Or he could even just keep all 6 points in magician and just lose astral perception/projection. It would also keep him from stepping on the toes of the other mage in the group astrally.

I think the character you presented will compete just fine if the rest of the group are not playing anything with dice pools over 15. Even a bad mage is pretty competitive.
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_Pax._
post May 9 2012, 01:04 AM
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QUOTE (Xenefungus @ May 8 2012, 06:58 PM) *
Why don't you want him to have a power focus? That would basically be the first advice anyone would give him. 4 free dice to everything!

I think you meant 2 free dice. Power Foci have an availability of "Rating x 5", you can't start with one at Rank 4.
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Caadium
post May 9 2012, 01:19 AM
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QUOTE (thorya @ May 8 2012, 04:51 PM) *
Sounds like he's sticking with his concept even when it's not the most powerful thing. Maybe he's not such a terrible Min/Maxer?


The problem is that when it doesn't function as powerful as he sees it he'll blame the system as being a poor system and he will mope. I'm just trying to help him get the character he wants to play.

QUOTE (_Pax._ @ May 8 2012, 05:04 PM) *
I think you meant 2 free dice. Power Foci have an availability of "Rating x 5", you can't start with one at Rank 4.

You can get rating 4 with Restricted Gear.
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Glyph
post May 9 2012, 03:21 AM
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He seems to grasp the concept of skill + Attribute needing to be high for his main schtick. The missing factor is dice pool modifiers; not as big a deal since you are trying to keep dice pools comparatively low. I can see someone not taking mentor spirit. The power focus, I am a bit dubious about your reasoning. Disallowing it because another mage has one is like saying "No, this street samurai can't have a smartlink too, the other guy already has one!". If he is forgoing a mentor spirit (which I can actually sympathize with - it gives +2 dice, but can also come with annoying disadvantages, and gives the GM a killswitch for your magic if you don't follow certain precepts). If you give him a specialization and let him have a Force: 2 power focus, his dice pool will be 16 in his main spell category, 14 in non-combat spells. That isn't too unreasonable.

The main tweaks would merely be changing his spells around a bit (he needs a low-Drain spell like stunbolt or manabolt that he can use again and again; an area-effect spell would also be a good idea, and improved invisibility and levitate are both almost must-haves). Improved reflexes and some decent worn armor should keep him alive, at least.
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_Pax._
post May 9 2012, 04:54 AM
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QUOTE (Caadium @ May 8 2012, 09:19 PM) *
You can get rating 4 with Restricted Gear.

Think about that for just a moment. A Rating 4 Power Focus costs 100,000 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) - that means, 20BP. Then bind it for 4BP. Oh, and Restricted Gear is another 5BP. So you're spending 29BP for that R4 focus.

Or an R2 costs 50,000 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) (or 10BP) and 2BP to bond, for 12BP total.

You're spending almost 150% more, for those extra dice.

IMO ... not worth it. At all.

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Yerameyahu
post May 9 2012, 04:58 AM
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Opinions differ. I'd never use Restricted Gear, for anything, but if you're trying to 'beat the Karma system', the numbers work out differently. *shrug*
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_Pax._
post May 9 2012, 05:42 AM
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Oh, I'd use Restricted Gear - if it made especial sense, or if the item in question was just too good for the character's "style". Like, if I wanted to make a sniper who was a "mafia hitman" stype, the Ranger Arms SM-4 would be a really good match, just in the sense of "bbreaks down and fits in a briefcase" sense. Yet it's a 16F weapon; either Restricted Gear, or go without. (And numerically, the Ares Desert Strike is so close it's hardly worth differentiating between the two.

It just strikes me that it's not worth the extra 17 BP to go from an R2 to an R4 Power Focus. At least, not most of the time, yes?
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Caadium
post May 9 2012, 05:51 AM
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QUOTE (_Pax._ @ May 8 2012, 08:54 PM) *
Think about that for just a moment. A Rating 4 Power Focus costs 100,000 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) - that means, 20BP. Then bind it for 4BP. Oh, and Restricted Gear is another 5BP. So you're spending 29BP for that R4 focus.

Or an R2 costs 50,000 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) (or 10BP) and 2BP to bond, for 12BP total.

You're spending almost 150% more, for those extra dice.

IMO ... not worth it. At all.

If you want to break it down to pure numbers:
Rating 2 is 6 bp per dice bonus
Rating 4 is 7.25 bp per dice bonus (125% of rating 2, but also just over 1 bp more).

Compare that to the cost of a dice in spellcasting, summoning, and binding (nevermind the benefit of busting a barrier) at 12 bp per dice and that rating 4 focus with restricted gear is pretty appealing. Just give me a good background reason for that focus and the restricted gear.

Back to original topic, aside from UmaroIV, does anyone have any builds I can use?
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Whipstitch
post May 9 2012, 06:27 AM
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Caadium beat me to it, but yeah, "saving" 1.25 points per die just to go and dump those points into something with a far worse exchange rate is an exceedingly goofy idea and yet people seem to implicitly argue for it all the time when they question Restricted Gear but give taking multiple magic linked skills over 1 a pass. The worst thing about a power focus is that you can potentially lose it and it counts against your focus limit. Beyond that they're just a great value proposition.
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Midas
post May 9 2012, 08:30 AM
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The build you posted seems fairly good to me - with soft-maxed attributes and Focussed Concentration, he has good drain resistance; with Increase Reflexes spell and a (presumably Health-specific) Sustaining Focus he can get 3IP without sustaining penalties; he has a good range of spells, including the single target powerbolt and multi-target stunball as combat options ... what's the problem?
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_Pax._
post May 9 2012, 03:12 PM
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QUOTE (Caadium @ May 9 2012, 01:51 AM) *
If you want to break it down to pure numbers:

Hmm, I had never looked at it in quite that way. Thank you. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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Wraith235
post May 9 2012, 03:30 PM
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honestly your walking a fine Line ... so allow me to provide a completely DIFFERENT Line of Thought ...

IMHO Let him make the character like he wants ... it NEVER works to suggest a different concept to someone who has their mind set on something .... its like teaching a pig to Sing

it frustrates you and annoys the pig

sooner or Later one of 2 things is gonna happen ...

A) hes gonna realize hes nearly useless in the design he wanted

B) he'll overestimate his abilities ... overcast something BIG .... and kill himself

or C) the most optimal case ... he actually Learns to Role play ... and that not every situation can be solved by the barrel of a gun (or the Wrong end of a mana stream)

I assume the sustaining foci is Keyed to Health spells for Increased reflexes ?

Instead of Pistols Id go with automatics .... at worst he could drop sustaining fire when his Fatigue is Really high

also on the Power focus 4 ... 29bp(Cash + restricted gear + Bind) vs 100k+ 32 Karma to bind ... ya
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Whipstitch
post May 9 2012, 05:49 PM
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QUOTE (Wraith235 @ May 9 2012, 10:30 AM) *
it NEVER works to suggest a different concept to someone who has their mind set on something


Actually, I do that really often. It's pretty much my job.

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Wraith235
post May 10 2012, 02:15 PM
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QUOTE (Whipstitch @ May 9 2012, 01:49 PM) *
Actually, I do that really often. It's pretty much my job.


then you must have a really high negotiations pool ... or the people your dealing with don't have a high pool with a specalization in fast talk
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Runeblood
post May 10 2012, 05:50 PM
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I think it was more along the lines of:

"I know the system, here's how to make the concept you have work better in the rules and still be true to your vision."

I have to do that with my group all the time. Especially with Shadowrun where there are lots of options like that. It was a lot more difficult. We had characters retire after a couple of sessions (one in particular, who played an unenhanced negotiator and an unenhanced redneck dwarf with a bow) and realized that he might need some help to not be bored in combat.
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Whipstitch
post May 10 2012, 06:17 PM
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Yes, it needs to read as advocacy rather than showing off that your shadow-fu is best. There's also definitely some truth to the notion that wraith put out insofar that it's easier to bring someone around to your way of thinking when the person you're advising at least suspects that they're already settling.
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Modular Man
post May 10 2012, 06:23 PM
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First: I'd try really, really hard to talk him into using "Increased Reflexes". It's as simple as that: Does he really want to fire only one spell against a tougher target (say, augmented law enforcement personnel with a gun) who can fire six bullets his way in the same combat round?
Also, stealth. Brute force isn't always an option. Trid phantasm works pretty well in that matter, but without a skill it might still get messy.
Are you really sure about your reasoning abut the power focus? It's not as if those were the exact line between some stupid wizkid and a wizard who has seen the world, especially not in regard of power. That bonus to basically everything is nice, though. But do you really want to not tell the guy with inferior roleplay about a way to improve his character just because of that? As a GM, I'd try to even help building characters I certainly would never like.

My personal opinion: Combat mages are like axes. They can pretty much chop anything down, but that's all they do. Aside from that: All optimizations UmaroIV mentioned, some might fit.
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Udoshi
post May 11 2012, 09:58 AM
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QUOTE (_Pax._ @ May 8 2012, 10:54 PM) *
Think about that for just a moment. A Rating 4 Power Focus costs 100,000 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) - that means, 20BP. Then bind it for 4BP. Oh, and Restricted Gear is another 5BP. So you're spending 29BP for that R4 focus.

Or an R2 costs 50,000 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) (or 10BP) and 2BP to bond, for 12BP total.

You're spending almost 150% more, for those extra dice.

IMO ... not worth it. At all.


Compare the cost of 29bp to the cost of magic 6 @ 25.

While 25bp seems like a hefty chunk, you get WAY better dice pools for only four points more if you do magic 5+power focus 4.
Also, 4bp is a BARGAIN price compared to the cost of binding power foci in play.

Where it really makes a huge difference is for Mystic Adepts. Its basically worth the price on them, because it makes their casting as good as a magicians even if they are power-point heavy.
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Glyph
post May 12 2012, 02:52 AM
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Comparing the cost of a power focus to the cost of magical skills or the Magic Attribute is missing the point. You aren't getting the power focus instead of those things. You are getting it in addition to those things. Sure, those 29 build points have to come from somewhere. But more likely, they will come at the cost of a bit of the character's versatility, rather than his magical abilities. Whether that is worth it depends on the character concept - a focused combat mage would probably take it, while a magical private eye might have too many points invested in other things to contemplate the expenditure.

It may be a moot point for this particular argument, since you are trying to keep this guy's dice pools down to a certain level. On the other hand, a modest rating: 2 power focus, at 12 build points, is probably better than having a hard-maxed Magic rating, and would free up some points, as well.
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Midas
post May 12 2012, 03:07 AM
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Looking at the build again, I noticed a few things:

1) I understand the player doesn't like using social skills so low Cha + Uncouth kinda fits his style, but is he prepared to live with the flip side of being easy to get conned/intimidated/otherwise browbeaten socially?

2) No Infiltration! Makes him more of an overt runner than a shadow runner ...

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Udoshi
post May 12 2012, 03:31 AM
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Also you may really want to stress how terrible uncouth is. It means you automatically fail every test, and will never be able to negotiate for better pay (guess what skill THAT is!)

Its surprisingly really really harsh when you discover what Untrained does, and how often you roll social tests, especially opposed ones.

If you want to play a kind of jerkish asshat, I strongly suggest Incompetent: Etiquette instead and pointing your players towards the runner's companion quality section to make up the difference in points.
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Dakka Dakka
post May 13 2012, 12:35 PM
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QUOTE (Udoshi @ May 12 2012, 05:31 AM) *
If you want to play a kind of jerkish asshat, I strongly suggest Incompetent: Etiquette instead and pointing your players towards the runner's companion quality section to make up the difference in points.
Incompetence: Etiqette does not have much to do with being a jerk. Lacking etiquette simply means that you will never fit into a group you do not belong to. You will for example always bow not low enough to the oyabun, or never bow at all or neglect to wear a hat in a synagogue or whatever. Etiquette is more like social disguise/infiltration than politeness.
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