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> Storm Front sorta rant
Mantis
post Aug 25 2016, 11:39 PM
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So when they were writing Storm Front, did the devs look at a map? I'm talking about the first chapter dealing with the Aztlan/Amazonia war.
Why was Cali such an important place that Sirrurg would hit there and for that matter why would Aztlan use it as a staging area? Is it possible the devs mixed up Cali with, oh somewhere that makes more sense, like Cartagena? It's not even a port city. If Sirrurg is fighting Aztlan why the hell is his base in Roswell? That is about as far from Amazonia as he can get. It seems absolutely ridiculous that he would travel from there to hit Cali. I mean he crosses all of Aztlan territory north to south to strike this city? And no one notices his strike force on the way? I get that the satellites the Aztlan forces were using were compromised but still, radar is a thing and it works. So do eye balls.

Then the FMC moves in with amphibious forces to Cali to help the UN end the war, which is located 80km from the Pacific Ocean. Where is the FMC located again? Oh yeah, the Gulf of Mexico...sorry Aztlan. So how the hell did they move an amphibious force from the gulf to the Pacific with neither side noticing? The FMC can't use the Panama Canal since that goes right through the heart of Aztlan territory and if they went around South America they would be noticed by Amazonia. Not to mention that the CAS apparently have a carrier battle group in the area too. Why? They have no territory to defend anywhere in the Pacific.

Then the FMC starts an overland 300km march to Bogota across 2 mountain ranges to clean up there too. How exactly? Did they fly? Cali is located about 1km above sea level while Bogota is located about 2.6km above sea level. These troops are used to being at sea level. They are going to be sicker than dogs after that little junket. If you are invading a mountainous country like Colombia you don't go over mountains with your forces, you go up the valleys, following terrain. There are only a few passes across those mountains and those are easy to defend. Yet for some reason all the mercenary units involved all chose this city as their staging area.

And then there is the fact there are no rain forests around Bogota to fight in. It's a damn high mountain plateau. It is a páramo ecosystem. From wikipedia, this means the following:
QUOTE
The páramo is the ecosystem of the regions above the continuous forest line, yet below the permanent snowline.[1] It is a "Neotropical high mountain biome with a vegetation composed mainly of giant rosette plants, shrubs and grasses".
No friggin rain forest.

Is it really that hard to crack open Wikipedia and Google Maps when writing something to make sure what you have written is actually possible?
So yeah. This bugs the hell out of me and makes it very difficult to, never mind enjoy, but even believe this as the story of how Aztlan won the war. Troop movement and objectives just don't make much sense. Geography and climate don't make sense. How does this stuff even get printed? Do they just hope no one looks up anything on a map? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/sarcastic.gif) End Rant.
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binarywraith
post Aug 26 2016, 05:03 AM
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No, I can't say they probably did. Remember the mini-sub out of Bogota?

Who wrote that bit, anyway? I'd be very curious to know what the direction they were given was, and how much of that was 'we need a plot like this in this area, give me 2k words on it'.
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Mantis
post Aug 26 2016, 08:02 AM
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I do indeed. I was hoping they had learned from WAR! but it seems not.

The thing is it isn't even really a game plot. It's just exposition on what happened given as an after action report. There isn't anything in the Aztlan/Amazonia wrap up for a GM to use for his own stories. We already know how it ends so why bother with the plot hooks in the game section? It's the usual problem of all the cool stuff was done by someone else off screen. I miss the old adventures where the plot was advanced by things the players did rather than by what NPCs do. Why not make this an actual adventure series instead?
Remember when books like Aztlan came out? They drop all these hints and plot hooks for the GM to use and players to wonder about. That is what these books should be, not stories about all the cool shit NPCs did. Also get the damn geography right.
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lokii
post Aug 26 2016, 08:10 AM
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To play devil's advocate on a few of these:

QUOTE (Mantis @ Aug 26 2016, 01:39 AM) *
Why was Cali such an important place that Sirrurg would hit there and for that matter why would Aztlan use it as a staging area? Is it possible the devs mixed up Cali with, oh somewhere that makes more sense, like Cartagena?
The old Aztlan sourcebook had Cali (along with Cartagena) as an important military base.

QUOTE (Mantis @ Aug 26 2016, 01:39 AM) *
If Sirrurg is fighting Aztlan why the hell is his base in Roswell? That is about as far from Amazonia as he can get. It seems absolutely ridiculous that he would travel from there to hit Cali. I mean he crosses all of Aztlan territory north to south to strike this city? And no one notices his strike force on the way? I get that the satellites the Aztlan forces were using were compromised but still, radar is a thing and it works. So do eye balls.
I haven't looked up what kind of forces were involved in the attack. Sirrurg was allied with other dragons and dracoforms. Like him they had probably means of masking their travel (it's an interesting questions how closely dracoform flights are monitored in general) or could simply descend on Cali or the targets in Aztlan's northern border region from various directions instead of traveling as a group. If his other allies were involved, I can only assume we are talking two separate forces. Sirrurg likely used his power base in Amazonia to strike at Cali and had gathered a separate fighting force around his horde in Roswell, with the dracoforms moving between the two theaters.

QUOTE (Mantis @ Aug 26 2016, 01:39 AM) *
The FMC can't use the Panama Canal since that goes right through the heart of Aztlan territory and if they went around South America they would be noticed by Amazonia.
The Panama Canal Zone is controlled by the Corporate Court which is also behind the United Nations. There has to be a protected corridor to and from the Canal or the whole thing would be useless. Anyway Aztechnology is on the Court, Amazonia is a permanent Security Council member, Aztlan probably a member at the time, so even before intelligence comes into it I think the idea that any of two would not be appraised of the FMC movements doesn't work.

Though no disagreement here:

QUOTE
Then the FMC starts an overland 300km march to Bogota across 2 mountain ranges to clean up there too. How exactly? Did they fly? Cali is located about 1km above sea level while Bogota is located about 2.6km above sea level. These troops are used to being at sea level. They are going to be sicker than dogs after that little junket. If you are invading a mountainous country like Colombia you don't go over mountains with your forces, you go up the valleys, following terrain. There are only a few passes across those mountains and those are easy to defend. Yet for some reason all the mercenary units involved all chose this city as their staging area.

And then there is the fact there are no rain forests around Bogota to fight in. It's a damn high mountain plateau. It is a páramo ecosystem. From wikipedia, this means the following:
No friggin rain forest.
(Shameless plug follows.) That's why one of the maps I made after War! came out had the topography of the region in it: http://shadowhelix.pegasus.de/Datei:Azt-am...gion_relief.png

(As a side note the map places Cali in Amazonia because I used the SR4A border. A corrected version would probably look more like this: http://shadowhelix.pegasus.de/Datei:Aztlan...f-Korrektur.png)
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Beta
post Aug 26 2016, 03:36 PM
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Part of the fine SR history of odd geographic decisions and declarations (and political, and economic, and ….). There are not many regions where someone who knows the area won’t look at the SR timeline and scratch their head at the oddities. But simply put, some of this was written before the web made research easy, and even in the days of easy Wikipedia look-ups, writers get paid by the word written, not by the word read. They won’t get more work if their quality isn’t there, but quality of writing and game-play will always be the most critical elements. So in many cases they just aren’t going to be all that expert in areas they are writing about.

Note that this is a lot easier when writing for a game of high fantasy or far future science fiction, where you don’t have to be expert on the game as well as actual geography, history, culture, customs, and art. But are we willing to pay a lot more for this game because it is set in something close to our world?
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Mantis
post Aug 26 2016, 07:16 PM
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QUOTE (lokii @ Aug 26 2016, 01:10 AM) *
To play devil's advocate on a few of these:

The old Aztlan sourcebook had Cali (along with Cartagena) as an important military base.

Fair enough but Cartagena still makes more sense both to reinforce Bogota (up the valleys rather than over the mountains) and as a place to strike though I guess if Sirrurg's power base is next door in Amazonia it would be easier to strike Cali if distance somehow plays a factor for the dragon. Still doesn't explain why all the merc units stage out of there, especially the ones working against Aztlan.
QUOTE
I haven't looked up what kind of forces were involved in the attack. Sirrurg was allied with other dragons and dracoforms. Like him they had probably means of masking their travel (it's an interesting questions how closely dracoform flights are monitored in general) or could simply descend on Cali or the targets in Aztlan's northern border region from various directions instead of traveling as a group. If his other allies were involved, I can only assume we are talking two separate forces. Sirrurg likely used his power base in Amazonia to strike at Cali and had gathered a separate fighting force around his horde in Roswell, with the dracoforms moving between the two theaters.

I guess my question is how do these dracoforms commute from Roswell (north of Aztlan) to Cali (southernmost bit of Aztlan at the time) with no one noticing? Concealment sure but the Azzies have to have their own spirits hanging about doing recon. The only thing that makes sense is if the Azzies let the dragons strike to build sympathy for their cause but that seems a hell of a lot of resources (city of 2.5 million) to let go up in smoke for a little sympathy, not to mention losing what is supposed to be an important military base.
QUOTE
(Shameless plug follows.) That's why one of the maps I made after War! came out had the topography of the region in it: http://shadowhelix.pegasus.de/Datei:Azt-am...gion_relief.png

(As a side note the map places Cali in Amazonia because I used the SR4A border. A corrected version would probably look more like this: http://shadowhelix.pegasus.de/Datei:Aztlan...f-Korrektur.png)
I know you did this one after WAR! but was it also made after Storm Front? If not, then they could have easily checked and made some changes though Google Earth and Maps are both a thing that has existed since long before either of those books were released.
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Mantis
post Aug 26 2016, 07:23 PM
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QUOTE (Betx @ Aug 26 2016, 08:36 AM) *
Part of the fine SR history of odd geographic decisions and declarations (and political, and economic, and ….). There are not many regions where someone who knows the area won’t look at the SR timeline and scratch their head at the oddities. But simply put, some of this was written before the web made research easy, and even in the days of easy Wikipedia look-ups, writers get paid by the word written, not by the word read. They won’t get more work if their quality isn’t there, but quality of writing and game-play will always be the most critical elements. So in many cases they just aren’t going to be all that expert in areas they are writing about.

Note that this is a lot easier when writing for a game of high fantasy or far future science fiction, where you don’t have to be expert on the game as well as actual geography, history, culture, customs, and art. But are we willing to pay a lot more for this game because it is set in something close to our world?

Why do we have to pay a lot more for authors to do basic research? If you are writing for sci-fi or fantasy you still base your cultures and geography off something so research is still done. For a game set on Earth you need to do a little research to learn about the places you are setting your story. Research is a given. It took me about 15-20 minutes of looking at Google maps and Wikipedia to realize the geographic and climate details of the whole Aztlan/Amazonia war around Bogota were crap and I wasn't being paid to do it. I just wanted to know how close Roswell and Cali were since Sirrurg was running back and forth between the two places tossing fire and brimstone about. That's what led to this little rant.
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binarywraith
post Aug 26 2016, 09:25 PM
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QUOTE (Betx @ Aug 26 2016, 09:36 AM) *
Part of the fine SR history of odd geographic decisions and declarations (and political, and economic, and ….). There are not many regions where someone who knows the area won’t look at the SR timeline and scratch their head at the oddities. But simply put, some of this was written before the web made research easy, and even in the days of easy Wikipedia look-ups, writers get paid by the word written, not by the word read. They won’t get more work if their quality isn’t there, but quality of writing and game-play will always be the most critical elements. So in many cases they just aren’t going to be all that expert in areas they are writing about.


Storm Front was published in the terrible dark ages... of 2013. For reference, the Wikipedia article on Bogota was created in 2002. That's a decade, man, and my foggy memory tells me that there were such things as primary sources back in the distant past of the 1990's. I'm not asking for expertise, but basic at a glance background research for plausibility.

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Nath
post Aug 26 2016, 10:27 PM
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QUOTE (Mantis @ Aug 26 2016, 01:39 AM) *
If Sirrurg is fighting Aztlan why the hell is his base in Roswell? That is about as far from Amazonia as he can get. It seems absolutely ridiculous that he would travel from there to hit Cali. I mean he crosses all of Aztlan territory north to south to strike this city? And no one notices his strike force on the way? I get that the satellites the Aztlan forces were using were compromised but still, radar is a thing and it works. So do eye balls.
From what I remember, the first mention of Sirrurg presence in Roswell area takes place in September 2073. By October 2074, Aztlan forces found a Sirrurg lair there, but it's not stated if that lair was established just one year ago, or if it was an older lair. All great dragons are known to have several lairs, with one of them usually described as their primary one - Running Wild gave Santos in Amazonia as the location for Sirrurg primary lair at the time (July 2072). So the Roswell lair may also have been promoted from secondary to primary lair during the war.

Sirrurg only appear in Cali during the first battle of Cali on January 18th, 2073. From then on he is moving up north, reappearing on March 21st in Managua (or Monterrey, depending on he page you look at, because editing error), then in Purto Rico on April 18th, 2074, and the series of attack between April 25th and July 11th on several cities around Roswell.

However, the fact that he showed up on October, 1st on Aztlan west shore heading north suggests he may be returning from Cali or nearby on that day. But that would just require him to travel once from Roswell to Cali.

QUOTE (Mantis @ Aug 26 2016, 01:39 AM) *
And then there is the fact there are no rain forests around Bogota to fight in. It's a damn high mountain plateau. It is a páramo ecosystem. From wikipedia, this means the following:
No friggin rain forest.
I disagree here. Bogota is located on the south-eastern side of the plateau. Your description is right west and north-east of Bogota. But the landscape changes if you go east into the eastern cordillera, rising from 2500 meters to 3000 meters, with actual altitude rain forests. The cordillera is about 100 kilometers wide, before you're down to the south-eastern tip of the Orinoquo plains.

But otherwise, I concur. It's kinda telling that I first spend the time to write my own background reference document and now no longer open Storm Front.
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Mantis
post Aug 27 2016, 03:26 AM
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QUOTE (Nath @ Aug 26 2016, 02:27 PM) *
But otherwise, I concur. It's kinda telling that I first spend the time to write my own background reference document and now no longer open Storm Front.

Well I'll just bookmark that for future reference (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) . You are obviously more bothered by the errors in Storm Front and WAR! than I am.

My main dispute with the rain forest description is the plateau where Bogota lies includes only part of the cloud forest you reference. While you can find these forests about half an hour from the city you can also find desert like conditions near the city and about the same distance. So all the fighting takes place in the cloud forest? They totally ignore the other terrain around the city and make it sound like it is in the middle of the Amazon rather than on a mountain plateau in the Andes.
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lokii
post Aug 27 2016, 08:04 AM
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QUOTE (Mantis @ Aug 26 2016, 09:16 PM) *
Fair enough but Cartagena still makes more sense both to reinforce Bogota (up the valleys rather than over the mountains) and as a place to strike though I guess if Sirrurg's power base is next door in Amazonia it would be easier to strike Cali if distance somehow plays a factor for the dragon. Still doesn't explain why all the merc units stage out of there, especially the ones working against Aztlan.
Well, goes to the greater problem, that the objectives of the two warring parties were not really clear. To me anyway, though I haven't really gone into the details. Is that Robert Derie speaking in my mind or was the war actually about trees? (I guess with Amazonia it always is to some degree.)

QUOTE (Mantis @ Aug 26 2016, 09:16 PM) *
I guess my question is how do these dracoforms commute from Roswell (north of Aztlan) to Cali (southernmost bit of Aztlan at the time) with no one noticing? Concealment sure but the Azzies have to have their own spirits hanging about doing recon. The only thing that makes sense is if the Azzies let the dragons strike to build sympathy for their cause but that seems a hell of a lot of resources (city of 2.5 million) to let go up in smoke for a little sympathy, not to mention losing what is supposed to be an important military base.
There is the possibility that Aztlan did not expect to perform so poorly in defending Cali.

QUOTE (Mantis @ Aug 26 2016, 09:16 PM) *
I know you did this one after WAR! but was it also made after Storm Front? If not, then they could have easily checked and made some changes though Google Earth and Maps are both a thing that has existed since long before either of those books were released.
No, as you can see on the Shadowhelix page, I uploaded the first version 18 December 2010. And actually they had their own map of the southern border in an adventure, Colombian Subterfuge I think. So somebody must have had a look at the map in the meantime.
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Wakshaani
post Aug 27 2016, 03:19 PM
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Sirrurg's travel from Cali to Monterrey to winding up in Roswell's shown above ... he wa smoving north as he struck, then wound up in Roswell. Once in Roswell, he was striking at Azzie targets some, but much more he was sniping at both the PCC and the CAS (Or, well, Texas), stirring up trouble ... both of those nations were calling on Aztlan to do something about "their" dragon and were getting pissy about it. There was a good chance that one, or both, would invade in order to remove him themselves and, if that happened, they might just keep going Super Friends and rolling on some Aztlan units as well.

The Rio Gambit took that threat out and, as it passed Roswell to the PCC, gave them some diplomatic cover. A quiet talk between Aztlan and the PCC allowed for Azzie forces to move in to Sirrurg's lair later, with those forces then rtreating afterwards, leaving the Gambit fully in PCC hands. That the PCC allowed the Azzies into Denver afterwards is probably a quid pro quo, but that's never been confirmed.

Also note that there are still some Sirrurg loyalists out there. None have been seen doing things directly yet, since the Loremaster rounded up their boss, but, Sirrurg had *followers*, and the ones that lived are unlikely to have given up on his ideals so much as begun plotting for the future.
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Mantis
post Aug 27 2016, 06:18 PM
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QUOTE (Wakshaani @ Aug 27 2016, 08:19 AM) *
Sirrurg's travel from Cali to Monterrey to winding up in Roswell's shown above ... he wa smoving north as he struck, then wound up in Roswell. Once in Roswell, he was striking at Azzie targets some, but much more he was sniping at both the PCC and the CAS (Or, well, Texas), stirring up trouble ... both of those nations were calling on Aztlan to do something about "their" dragon and were getting pissy about it. There was a good chance that one, or both, would invade in order to remove him themselves and, if that happened, they might just keep going Super Friends and rolling on some Aztlan units as well.

The Rio Gambit took that threat out and, as it passed Roswell to the PCC, gave them some diplomatic cover. A quiet talk between Aztlan and the PCC allowed for Azzie forces to move in to Sirrurg's lair later, with those forces then rtreating afterwards, leaving the Gambit fully in PCC hands. That the PCC allowed the Azzies into Denver afterwards is probably a quid pro quo, but that's never been confirmed.

Sirrurg's gambit here makes no sense though. Why would he expect the PCC and the CAS to blame Aztlan for his attacks? He is a citizen of Amazonia. If they were going to blame someone it would be Amazonia since he is one of their generals. If anything his attacks would drag the PCC and the CAS into the war but it wouldn't be against Aztlan but rather Amazonia. The whole Roswell situation is just damn weird. Laying out the objectives of both sides would make this thing much clearer but that isn't done. It's portrayed as all clever tricks and feints by both sides that make little sense either strategically or logically.
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Nath
post Aug 28 2016, 09:31 PM
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QUOTE (Mantis @ Aug 27 2016, 05:26 AM) *
My main dispute with the rain forest description is the plateau where Bogota lies includes only part of the cloud forest you reference. While you can find these forests about half an hour from the city you can also find desert like conditions near the city and about the same distance. So all the fighting takes place in the cloud forest? They totally ignore the other terrain around the city and make it sound like it is in the middle of the Amazon rather than on a mountain plateau in the Andes.
To be fair, both War! and Storm Front repeated use of the term "jungle", along with the scarcity of toponyms, suggest none of the authors involved ever bothered to research much information on the area. Seriously, I remember just three places in Colombia named: Bogota, Cali, and you get a free cookie if you can find about Yopal without the PDF search function. They did dump lists of every neighbourhoods in Bogota, never to actually describe nor refer to them. No mention of Rio Cauca, Villavicencio or the eastern Cordillera. They didn't even bother to look at the name of the place an amphibious landing near Cali could take place.

It was basically like writing about the Iraq war as "fightings in the desert surrounding Bagdad, and there was a big battle in Fallujah once" without ever mentionning even once Ramadi, Basra, Tikrit, Mosul, Arbil or the fact there are rivers.

What really makes it look like no author ever really gave a fuck about the plot is how every small Texan towns one of Sirrurg dragon ally attacked was named, as someone hijacked the plot for the sole purpose of moving the action into a location he cared about.
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Mantis
post Aug 28 2016, 10:01 PM
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QUOTE
What really makes it look like no author ever really gave a fuck about the plot is how every small Texan towns one of Sirrurg dragon ally attacked was named, as someone hijacked the plot for the sole purpose of moving the action into a location he cared about.

That is exactly how this read. Which is why I wondered about things like Roswell being so important rather than places that would actually matter in a war in Colombia, like an obvious landing site like Cartegena. No mention of mountain fighting at all either which is what much of it would be. This isn't a country located in the plains but rather one located in some very high mountains. No mention of the effort needed to take and hold mountain passes, no mention of altitude sickness, snow or any other aspect of fighting in the actual terrain around Bogota or the rest of Colombia.
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lokii
post Aug 29 2016, 11:23 AM
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QUOTE (Nath @ Aug 28 2016, 11:31 PM) *
What really makes it look like no author ever really gave a fuck about the plot is how every small Texan towns one of Sirrurg dragon ally attacked was named, as someone hijacked the plot for the sole purpose of moving the action into a location he cared about.
I had a similar thought of maybe this whole focus on Roswell was meant to bring the story closer to where more people play. That still didn't make that much sense as Roswell is geographically closer but would still be quite removed from either the east coast, west coast or Denver and the urban shadowrunning played there. But yes, I guess that could be it, not closer to where more people play but where certain people play. Writing your own campaign into the canon: always perilous.
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Nath
post Aug 29 2016, 08:20 PM
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Sourcebooks credit do not allow to check who wrote which part, but Phoenix also received coverage in War! (as a hotspot completely devoid of actual war and only involved in plain old regular shadowrunning) and Albuquerque region in The Clutch of Dragons (in a chapter titled "Celedyr" that provide no information whatsoever about Celedyr business outside this specific area). That make me suspect the presence a New Mexico or Arizona native playing home among the authors.
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Wakshaani
post Aug 30 2016, 05:23 AM
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QUOTE (Nath @ Aug 28 2016, 03:31 PM) *
What really makes it look like no author ever really gave a fuck about the plot is how every small Texan towns one of Sirrurg dragon ally attacked was named, as someone hijacked the plot for the sole purpose of moving the action into a location he cared about.


Not to my knowledge, no.

The idea with Sirrurg and the attacks over the border was that he was doing 'terrorist strikes' in both the PCC and the CAS, who wanted him dealt with. Aztlan would claim that they were trying, those two nations would be, like, "Try harder!"

Then Sirrurg would fly in and roast a thousand people while setting spirits and lesser dracoforms on the population.

And while Amazonia was saying, "We've officially disowned him! We drove him out of the country! There's nothing more we can do!" citizens of both the CAS and PCC were dying.

In theory, the two could have said, "Screw it, we have to take action" and went in, Superfriends-style, to clean up Sirrurg (who likely would have fought, then fled south) ... and either from chasing him, or from going, "Hell, we're already here, might as well take some land," they'd hammer away at the Azzies.

Which, really, is all Sirrurg was wanting right then. (Now, WHY he was ticked at Aztlan is a whole other story, but) ... so, if Sirrurg could get those two countries to be fighting against Aztlan, even if he got a bit bloodied himself, it'd've been a fair trade.

As for why Texas towns got more detail than the Aztlan ones? That, I couldn't tell you. I only borrowed him a bit near the end. I'd imagin it's because the JackPointers, who serve as our eyes, would be closer to that and would feel the effect a bit more heavily, but that's flat-out guess. The Aztlan-Amazonia war and the leads both to, and from, it are a bit tied in with The Troubles, so lots of the details about it went away when those writers did. Whatever plans they had, the upstairs people couldn't use, so things sometimes take an odd turn. It was a rough couple of years there, and the team's largely turned a corner and trundled off in their own direction now.

That conversation can lead into some places that, really, no one wants to go, so, let me wrap it up by saying that Storm Front was a capstone on 4th edition, designed to wrap up a ton of plots all at once and clean the stage so that new things could happen in 5th. There's a general new direction, new design concepts, and different storyline directions across the board. There's a few things that are dangling (Man, I'd love to do some stuff about Tempo) but, due to The Troubles, certain things are best left where they are and not poked with a stick.

Remind me later to ask y'all about your thoughts on the 5th ed plots that are NOT CFD-related (because I know your feelings on that one!) and see if we've managed to catch some eyeballs there.
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Sendaz
post Aug 30 2016, 06:41 AM
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QUOTE (Wakshaani @ Aug 30 2016, 12:23 AM) *
Remind me later to ask y'all about your thoughts on the 5th ed plots that are NOT CFD-related (because I know your feelings on that one!) and see if we've managed to catch some eyeballs there.

Wait, we have those those?

Just teasing (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)
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lokii
post Aug 30 2016, 08:44 AM
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What's with all these facts over our nice speculating!? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)

QUOTE (Wakshaani @ Aug 30 2016, 07:23 AM) *
The idea with Sirrurg and the attacks over the border was that he was doing 'terrorist strikes' in both the PCC and the CAS, who wanted him dealt with. Aztlan would claim that they were trying, those two nations would be, like, "Try harder!"

[..]

In theory, the two could have said, "Screw it, we have to take action" and went in, Superfriends-style, to clean up Sirrurg (who likely would have fought, then fled south) ... and either from chasing him, or from going, "Hell, we're already here, might as well take some land," they'd hammer away at the Azzies.
Okay, so I get the idea. I have to say though, for a Great Dragon that still seems like a very flimsy plan. Which goes to the criticism I had of Storm Front's (and other books') treatment of the Great Dragons.

QUOTE (Wakshaani @ Aug 30 2016, 07:23 AM) *
(Now, WHY he was ticked at Aztlan is a whole other story, but) ...
See, there I don't need an explanation.
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binarywraith
post Aug 30 2016, 10:00 AM
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QUOTE (Wakshaani @ Aug 29 2016, 11:23 PM) *
Remind me later to ask y'all about your thoughts on the 5th ed plots that are NOT CFD-related (because I know your feelings on that one!) and see if we've managed to catch some eyeballs there.


I'll be blunt : Not really.

The whole CFD thing, on top of Ares' idiotic bug problem and the Excalibur, the Great Dragons openly doing war on metahumanity only to pull a 'whoops, sorry, won't happen again' that is accepted rather than eliciting the natural response has essentially led to me discarding the 5e metaplot and writing my own.
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Beta
post Aug 30 2016, 05:38 PM
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Over its many years, I’ve seen SR use essentially four ways to present big happenings in the world.
• Fairly detailed scripted adventure which brings the players into contact with part of the plot (see Universal Brotherhood or Harlequin’s Back).
• Extensive adventure seeds that will walk a campaign through big happenings, but without the degree of detail seen in scripted adventures (see Artifacts Unbound, or the latter part of Boston: Lockdown).
• Stories (various novels, book and chapter intro fiction, much of the first part of Boston: Lockdown, and some of the Jackpoint chatter … ).
• For lack of a better word, ‘essay’ (although sometimes much shorter than that). Perhaps ‘exposition’ would be a better term? Basically a description or discussion of what is happening with some issue, entity, or corp (see Market Panic, Clutch of Dragons, and a fair bit of Jackpoint chatter.)

I’ve listed those in the order in which they tend to engage me. Ultimately to me SR is a role-playing game, so material which is easily used in game and which is written specifically to involve player characters will always just resonate more (whether or not I ever get to play it, per se). Exposition is OK for setting, but to me plot implies action, and plot in a game world is interesting to the degree in which some of that action comes to the characters. (and in turn, action is most interesting when it triggers character development. How many PCs finished Universal Brotherhood and dedicated themselves to fighting the bugs?)

CFD: you catch it or you don’t, and once someone has caught it there is nothing you can do to get rid of it*. Doesn’t enable direct personal action. There is the question of identity – the body is the same but the mind isn’t – is it justified to kill the body if the mind has been taken over, etc. Or there is the zombie apocalypse version in Boston. There can actually be some good horror movie moments out of either version, but even if you played through Boston and wanted to dedicate yourself to getting rid of CFD (or even to taking care of those with it, or the like), what would you do? (* Boston: Lockdown gave more hope that something could be done, and PCs got to help somebody doing research, but apparently in the end that didn’t lead anywhere. Sure, in SR much of what you do will not have a real point to it, but in such a despair filled situation that was one of the few bright spots, so it kind of sucked to later discover that none of that amounted to anything).

Dragon stuff: Ummm, they kind of made peace? Most of what I’ve read in fifth suggests a lack of runs, rather than opportunities. Again nothing detailing possible runs that I have seen. (honorable exception to Boston: Lockdown which almost gives opportunities involving a couple of dragons). In a kind of related vein: AIs, those ‘dragons of the matrix.’ They exist, they may want stuff, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of plot about it right now that is apparent to me. And still somewhat similar: Shedim. Some are still out there, but the problem seems to be mostly contained.

Monads in spaaaaaaace!: So, Monads may have taken over Mars, where runners mostly don’t want to go. They may head off into a transhumanist future in the farther reaches of the solar system. Which is cool, I guess. Could potentially lead to a few runs trying to get certain monads off planet? But nothing mapped out, and doesn’t seem likely to have much influence on the price of APDS, so sort of an interesting side point, nice to know but not of direct concern.

The AA audit: We are told there are many opportunities for Runs because of this. I don’t think I’ve seen a single one described, even in adventure seed format. And honestly, most Runners probably won’t be too broken up because this or that Mega got put down by the other Mega Corps.

The Bold & the Beautiful (aka goings on of senior people running companies). Um, yawn? Kind of neat as trivia, if slid in amongst Jackpoint chatter, but sometimes it almost seems like these people (most of them names that have been around for years) are the protagonists of the world, which can be dis-empowering to individual games. (To a lesser degree, I feel this way about some of the Jackpointers too. They seem to have some significant and exciting adventures that we get to hear about. We are supposed to be inspired by this, perhaps? More often I think ‘that would be cool, if it was mapped out for play instead’).

The Fall of a Mega!: Any day (month, year …..) now. Really. Apparently feedback from people Boston: Lockdown (both the computer game and pen-and-paper) will be taken into account. This did add some spice to the ending of the Boston scenario, but that spice kind of got stale when nothing had happened by Market Panic. That was the mega-corp book for fifth, so it is hard to imagine another book describing the changes caused by the fall of one them. And other than the Boston stuff, again no actual adventures or detailed seeds thereof.

If there have been other meta-plot threads I guess I pretty much missed them (or didn’t realize that they were supposed to be a big deal).



QUOTE (binarywraith @ Aug 30 2016, 11:00 AM) *
I'll be blunt : Not really.

The whole CFD thing, on top of Ares' idiotic bug problem and the Excalibur, the Great Dragons openly doing war on metahumanity only to pull a 'whoops, sorry, won't happen again' that is accepted rather than eliciting the natural response has essentially led to me discarding the 5e metaplot and writing my own.


Or, in other words, mostly this ^^^^^^ (With a side order of: I'm not really sure where the meta-plot is going or what is supposed to be significant -- even the Boston situation doesn't seem like it is all that big of a deal, in the way stuff is mostly written up.)
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Nath
post Aug 30 2016, 10:32 PM
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QUOTE (Wakshaani @ Aug 30 2016, 07:23 AM) *
The idea with Sirrurg and the attacks over the border was that he was doing 'terrorist strikes' in both the PCC and the CAS, who wanted him dealt with. Aztlan would claim that they were trying, those two nations would be, like, "Try harder!"

Then Sirrurg would fly in and roast a thousand people while setting spirits and lesser dracoforms on the population.

And while Amazonia was saying, "We've officially disowned him! We drove him out of the country! There's nothing more we can do!" citizens of both the CAS and PCC were dying.

In theory, the two could have said, "Screw it, we have to take action" and went in, Superfriends-style, to clean up Sirrurg (who likely would have fought, then fled south) ... and either from chasing him, or from going, "Hell, we're already here, might as well take some land," they'd hammer away at the Azzies.

Which, really, is all Sirrurg was wanting right then. (Now, WHY he was ticked at Aztlan is a whole other story, but) ... so, if Sirrurg could get those two countries to be fighting against Aztlan, even if he got a bit bloodied himself, it'd've been a fair trade.
And that's not a very good plot, because it is not consistent with the setting. There's an entire different debate to have about that, but for the better or worse, Shadowrun setting currently posits that Great Dragons (and immortals) practically unstoppable by mortal forces. That premise of the "Sirrurg in Roswell" plot is that Sirrurg expect both the CAS and Pueblo to blissfully ignore that fact. All the while the plot entirely revolves around the constant demonstration of that fact as Sirrurg can move undetected, cannot be stopped when he strikes, and that Aztlan/Aztechnology need months of preparation and a brand new super secret weapon and suffer heavy loss to simply has Sirrurg failing a Knockdown test.

I also don't like it from more technical reasons. To me, chasing a dragon and conquering territory are two different thing. All the effort put in preparation against Sirrurg attacks or to attack him is going to degrade CAS (or Pueblo) ability to defeat Aztlan forces. Moreover, if Sirrurg contained its attacks within Aztlan territory, he would be more likely to achieve a better result, weakening Aztlan forces, and paving the way for CAS and Pueblo to intervene to protect the population better than the azzies have been proved to.

And finally, the Rio Gambit is silly. That's basically like Germany agreed to purchase from Russia lands in Eastern Ukraine. It has been stated Pueblo/formerly Ute private investors did the purchase, but that should still require the Pueblo government to accept it (that is, with respect due to a sensible international system to define territoriality). It is just weakening their international standing for a track of lands that is devoid of anything except Texan pride. It's also quite inconsistent with the way the UN operations in Colombia has CAS backing all the while favoring Aztlan interests over Amazonian.

The worst thing is, Sirrurg move to the north could actually make sense, if it just had tried to stay more simple. It would have had Aztlan moves up some of its best mages and special forces far from Colombia. It allowed Sirrurg to make a territorial statement, possibly on one of his former lair, against Ghostwalker in Denver, Celedyr in Albuquerque, and also Alamais as he was carving a fied in Northern Italy, and reaffirm he is not Hualpa frontline soldier.

People often try way too hard to give great dragon and the likes convoluted plan so as to display their superior intelligence. That's the chessmaster trope, guessing everyone's move before they did it (which is indeed easy to do for a writer). It's based on the idea that chessmaster must be the epitome of intelligence, while it relies first on a limited number of possibles moves, and remembering most functional strategy available. Which is why chessmaster may lose very quickly to previously unknown strategy. When you closely look at such plot, you realize strongly relies on one very specific course of action from the other and that's it's in fact not clever at all. One character happens to be more intelligent or more stupid than expected, or simply miss one carefully crafted hint (or get eaten by a Hungarian Horntail) and the whole plan falls apart. Real smart plans rather are those who succeed whatever the opposition will choose to do.

QUOTE (Wakshaani @ Aug 30 2016, 07:23 AM) *
As for why Texas towns got more detail than the Aztlan ones? That, I couldn't tell you. I only borrowed him a bit near the end. I'd imagin it's because the JackPointers, who serve as our eyes, would be closer to that and would feel the effect a bit more heavily, but that's flat-out guess.
The writing process may have drastically changed since I quitted freelancing, but I somehow highly doubt any line developper or freelancer ever sat down saying "let's speak less of [subplot A] and more of [subplot B] because Shadowland/Jackpoint shouldn't have so much information." Besides, there are so many freelancers that never hesitated in giving a poster completely unexpected knowledge of a topic that it would be kinda frustrating that the only ones in the entire history of Shadowrun end up in charge of that particular plot, refuse to let the assignment goes to someone else and hijack the plot in a different direction instead.

And if one actually did that, then that'd be really bad news because that's not good writing. I know Shadowrun choice of in-world documents as gaming material is hard one to pull, that can sometimes get in the way of clear plot exposition. But that's what Game Information were for (among other things) ever since Threats. And that was in my opinion one big issue with Storm Front and other sourcebooks such as The Clutch of Dragons, that no one seemed to understand what the purpose of GI chapter was in the older sourcebooks. So instead we got fillers that mostly copy-pasted each other out with NPC stat block, and noteworthy open admission that GI would not give the GM any explanation about the plot. Since Game Information chapter are nowhere to be found in 5th edition I saw, I guess that debate is over.
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binarywraith
post Aug 31 2016, 01:22 AM
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QUOTE (Nath @ Aug 30 2016, 05:32 PM) *
And that's not a very good plot, because it is not consistent with the setting. There's an entire different debate to have about that, but for the better or worse, Shadowrun setting currently posits that Great Dragons (and immortals) practically unstoppable by mortal forces. That premise of the "Sirrurg in Roswell" plot is that Sirrurg expect both the CAS and Pueblo to blissfully ignore that fact. All the while the plot entirely revolves around the constant demonstration of that fact as Sirrurg can move undetected, cannot be stopped when he strikes, and that Aztlan/Aztechnology need months of preparation and a brand new super secret weapon and suffer heavy loss to simply has Sirrurg failing a Knockdown test.

I also don't like it from more technical reasons. To me, chasing a dragon and conquering territory are two different thing. All the effort put in preparation against Sirrurg attacks or to attack him is going to degrade CAS (or Pueblo) ability to defeat Aztlan forces. Moreover, if Sirrurg contained its attacks within Aztlan territory, he would be more likely to achieve a better result, weakening Aztlan forces, and paving the way for CAS and Pueblo to intervene to protect the population better than the azzies have been proved to.

And finally, the Rio Gambit is silly. That's basically like Germany agreed to purchase from Russia lands in Eastern Ukraine. It has been stated Pueblo/formerly Ute private investors did the purchase, but that should still require the Pueblo government to accept it (that is, with respect due to a sensible international system to define territoriality). It is just weakening their international standing for a track of lands that is devoid of anything except Texan pride. It's also quite inconsistent with the way the UN operations in Colombia has CAS backing all the while favoring Aztlan interests over Amazonian.

The worst thing is, Sirrurg move to the north could actually make sense, if it just had tried to stay more simple. It would have had Aztlan moves up some of its best mages and special forces far from Colombia. It allowed Sirrurg to make a territorial statement, possibly on one of his former lair, against Ghostwalker in Denver, Celedyr in Albuquerque, and also Alamais as he was carving a fied in Northern Italy, and reaffirm he is not Hualpa frontline soldier.

People often try way too hard to give great dragon and the likes convoluted plan so as to display their superior intelligence. That's the chessmaster trope, guessing everyone's move before they did it (which is indeed easy to do for a writer). It's based on the idea that chessmaster must be the epitome of intelligence, while it relies first on a limited number of possibles moves, and remembering most functional strategy available. Which is why chessmaster may lose very quickly to previously unknown strategy. When you closely look at such plot, you realize strongly relies on one very specific course of action from the other and that's it's in fact not clever at all. One character happens to be more intelligent or more stupid than expected, or simply miss one carefully crafted hint (or get eaten by a Hungarian Horntail) and the whole plan falls apart. Real smart plans rather are those who succeed whatever the opposition will choose to do.


The thing I hate most is that the SR Great Dragons are absolutely not some unstoppable force. They have a great deal of personal power, but the biggest part of why Dunkelzahn made himself into a friendly icon to 'humanize' them (and conversely why Lofwyr has a whole corporate structure dedicated to keeping him too entrenched to kill) is that humanity has the tools to kill them. Sufficient conventional arms firepower will, as demonstrated over the SOX with Feuerschwinge's death, take down a Great Dragon. The only thing really protecting them is self-interest on the part of metahumanity, because going to total war against the dracoforms will be on the level of another world war at best. If they show their hands and make it clear that they are a threat that cannot be negotiated with, then they get to see how long they can soak THOR shots and ICBMs.
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post Aug 31 2016, 05:42 AM
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So can I complain about how dry and boring the chapter Fall of a Dragon is? It goes on and on about dragon hunting groups but only names three of them. Instead of naming others or referencing specific groups to make it interesting (and give GMs something to use) they instead just really, really, really, really, really over use the term 'these groups'. I just sort of tuned out after a while reading that. For a chapter detailing a dragon civil war it is incredibly dull. The next section on the mercs gearing up to fight Alamais is not well written either. I don't know if the NPC reciting this stuff is supposed to only have a high school education but it really reads like it was written by a high schooler. My favorite bit is this:
QUOTE
The dragon guilty of killing the merc was torn apart into pieces before our very eyes in less than a minute.

Either torn to pieces or torn apart. Not both. Things don't improve as you read further.

I know Storm Front is supposed to wrap up a bunch of 4th ed plot points but so far this reads like the people doing the wrap up just don't give a shit. I hate saying that and I hate seeing it in a product. I would hope, especially with how little the freelancers get paid, that the people writing these things do give a shit. That they are doing this as an effort of passion rather than to make a paycheck. This book though, so far, feels like the writers don't really care, they just want to get it over with. Maybe that's the editing or that major points had to be rewritten due to 'the Troubles' (are we Irish now?) but man, it is just so dull and the payoff is missing. The plot hooks aren't really useful since they just cover stuff already detailed in the main sections of the book and if your story goes against the written plot you are off canon (Alamais wins, or Sirrurg wins). I'd rather see the plot hooks be follow ups on the the events in the book rather than a lukewarm attempt to let GMs and players play out the events already detailed. Someone else already got to have that fun and influence the world. As has been mentioned by others, that removes player agency in the game world, which isn't a good thing. Maybe the rest of the chapters are better but having to wade through the previous chapters ... gah .

Betx, Nath and BinaryWraith, you bring up very good points. Nothing I really disagree with in there at all. Wakshanni, I haven't really looked into any of the 5th ed plot points beyond the CFD and, well, you don't need more negative feedback on that. There is a concerted push to detail the Sioux Nation which is nice. It's be good if the other NAN nations got a similar treatment too.
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