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> Help, derailed plot!, D&D broke it, can you fix it.
Botch
post Oct 4 2004, 01:15 PM
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My latest mini-plot got a bit derailed, OK, very derailed.

Background.

6 runners (4 newbies and all ex-corp, all magical to some extent) all had to flee their previous lives for the shadows. They where all helped by their lvl 2/3 contacts to hook-up with Ar Bugeila (a fomorian fixer) who a for a large fee would help acclimatise the runner with their new SINless lives. The deal included a new life and neferious training in exchange for 2 runs and a future favour.

The first run was supposed to be a bit of a cakewalk to introduce the SR-style of RPG. The task was to swap a transport container at the docks (partially mob controlled) within the next 72hours, in a subtle manner.

Hooks included - potentially set-up mob contact, infiltrate the dock's matrix presense, find information about the container, find information about Ar Bugeila, and set-up local contacts.

What happened was - infiltrate dock record systems, find out that someone is watching the relevant files and the system as a whole has been placed in "diagnostics" mode, setup the paperwork to bring in the ringer trailer, infiltrate the docks to scope physical security, scout astral defenses, sneak in two containers, park the "getaway" truck in plain sight, start a full-blown automatic gunfire battle with the mob after leaping out of the second container, hang about long enough for the law to be real close by and have to RPG the lead response vehicle.

They didn't even open the container or scan it in anyway. After leaving the job they went and holed up in another city instead of the provided safe-house. After 3 days of discussing whether to backstab the fixer on the comms gear provided by the fixer the session thank-fully ended with the fixer and crew about to burst into the hotel room.

I need someway to get the players back into the fold. The best way would be to link in a mini-run that references action films, as this would probably be a way to emphasis the problems associated with exploding the mob and the law in one afternoon to the 2 RPG newbies. So far I have thought of "Things to do in Denver when you're Dead". Do you have any suggestions?

This post has been edited by Botch: Oct 5 2004, 05:02 PM
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Zenmaxer
post Oct 4 2004, 02:23 PM
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start with reminding them that this is NOT D&D (though it is possible to pull runs off this way, no n00b is gonna build a sufficiently broken char).

Second, how sick a brutalization is required?
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Botch
post Oct 4 2004, 03:21 PM
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Oh I have reminded them it isn't D&D, I especially pointed this out to Number Nine who is has been our D&D DM for 12 years. Four of the group I have been RPGing with for 12 years now, but only 2 of those have experience with SR/C2020/SLA, the other 2 are completely new to pen'n'paper RPGs (IMHO Baldur's Gate on a console doesn't count).

If this was a run of the mill adventure, I would have hosed them 3hrs into the session, but unfortunately we have all invested too much time in character creation/backplot to throw the characters in the bin after the first session. What I am looking for is a little mini-quest that starts off with some good 'ole fighting, but tightens up to a subtle-ish non-combat conclusion. I do not want to kill the runners, but loss of friends/relative/equipment/contacts is fine as long as the runners shit themselves back into line.

Game-time - The runners will be back at HQ with a few weeks of "down-time" before a group initiation. The time is needed for Ar Bugeila to setup the ritual area. During this time the group need to deal with the consequences of completely eradicating a local mob group, destroying a HTR APV and impersonating a level 12 elven ranger/wizard.

This post has been edited by Botch: Oct 5 2004, 05:02 PM
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BitBasher
post Oct 4 2004, 03:44 PM
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Approprately have them suffer the consequences of their actions. Coddle them in the beginning and they will just expect that that is how things work later. Make an exception for them now and you just set the standard for how they will expect these things to work in the future.

What being said, it can take a while for them to get away from that mindset.
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Jason Farlander
post Oct 4 2004, 03:48 PM
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Eh, you should have hosed them anyway. You still can, when the fixer's goons break in. Then, when the start complaining, tell them "now you know how much easier it is to die in this game" and "if you want to survive in the shadows you're going to need to learn to use more restraint." Then, since they did put a lot of time into their characters and you dont want them to quit outright, let them try the run again - just change a few details so they cant rely on what happened last time. Let them know you are changing some things, but dont tell them what you will be changing.

Alternately, if you want to go the blackmail route, you can have the fixer's goons be packing capsule rounds with DMSO/Gamma-Scopolamine, then have them all wake up in a white room without their gear - at which time the fixer gives them a little speech about "learning their place" and how, since they werent going to live up to their end of the bargain willingly, they will do so unwillingly - motivated by the carcerands currently floating around in their systems and the blood samples he gave to a mage friend of his who owes him a favor. At this point he explains their next mission and returns their gear to them.

Maybe Overwatch is even merciful and *only* makes them fulfill their end of the bargain before giving them the antidotes and returning the samples, perhaps he adds in another run or two. Then he cuts them loose, wishing them "good luck" and refusing to deal with them further.
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Botch
post Oct 4 2004, 04:08 PM
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QUOTE
Alternately, if you want to go the blackmail route, you can have the fixer's goons be packing capsule rounds with DMSO/Gamma-Scopolamine, then have them all wake up in a white room without their gear - at which time the fixer gives them a little speech about "learning their place" and how, since they werent going to live up to their end of the bargain willingly, they will do so unwillingly - motivated by the carcerands currently floating around in their systems and the blood samples he gave to a mage friend of his who owes him a favor. At this point he explains their next mission and returns their gear to them.


Unfortunately this is likely to kill the campaign. I need some more subtly than this, I hashed this line out with Number Nine in car on the way back from the session and we are agreed that it would put the players backs out too much. I am looking for an escalating threat that can be tackled with violence at the start, but must be solved with intelligence before death ensues. This group is the proverbial herd of cats.

Of course, if they do it again after all the work I'm putting in they will watch their runners die in a manner each player finds the most gruesome.
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Spookymonster
post Oct 4 2004, 04:18 PM
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Have the Fixer's cyber-zombie hit team burst in through the door just as a flight of Lone Star attack helicopters appear outside the safehouse windows. Meanwhile, what's left of the mob's henchmen fire a handful HEAT rockets into the room from 2 buildings away. Just then, an unearthly portal opens up in the ceiling. Slimy black tentacles crawl forth from the Hellgate and begin wrapping themselves around the character's heads; Cthulu wants to know why shipment wasn't delivered on time...

... and then all of them wake up, safe in their beds/sewer drains, sweating profusely. They've all had a pre-cognitive vision of how badly things can go in the 6th world. Burn any karma they may have had, change the details of the mission, and restart.

[edit]
Or, instead of restarting the whole thing, just reset the clock to the moment where (in your opinion) everything started to go south.
[/edit]
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Botch
post Oct 4 2004, 04:56 PM
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I think you might have it, :sigh:

Rewind time, remove wine, press play.

Its just a bit of a let down, thats all, it would be nice to be able to fix it without writing it all off.
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Nikoli
post Oct 4 2004, 05:05 PM
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Okay, they are backstabbing the Troll (fomorian) fixer who knows a good deal about, if not all about their previous civilian lives. After all, he did set up their new personas, etc.

He doesn't even need to touch them to send the right message.

Rather, let them stew in the "safehouse" as package after package of objects, gruesome and otherwise from their loved ones, their parents, their friends and whoever they took to the prom is delivered every day.
Each time staple a a contact number to each object until they call (or run out of people they love).

Eventually an accord can be met, after all, if you kill them, they won't learn nothin.
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mmu1
post Oct 4 2004, 05:18 PM
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I think a rewind might be necessary if your players can't deal with the consequences of screwing up as badly as this...

But if that's the case, you should really ask yourself if you can run SR with these guys - make sure they understand that not every RPG is meant to be played the same way.

I remember trying to run SR with some former D&D players, and one guy nearly having a meltdown when I warned the team a few times what the unavoidable consequences of some of their actions would be (since this was all stuff any runner, no matter how new, would know - even if the players didn't - and I didn't want to kill off everyone on the first run and have them get frustrated with the game).

"You know that if you drive this Roadmaster into the swarm of nearly 20 gangers on bikes, you guys can probably kill most of them and drive the rest off, but your ride will likely get shot completely to shit, and even if it runs, it'll have so much cosmetic damage no cop will let you go by without stopping?" or,

"You have an armored jacket and almost no combat pool left... I just want to make sure you realize what'll happen if you go charging the guy with the AK standing twenty meters away."

He decided that was railroading and dictating the way I wanted him to role-play his character (even though in each case the situation was open-ended enough that there were dozens of ways of dealing with them aside from suicidal stupidity) and the group came apart amid much bitching and moaning, because people couldn't handle the fact that, unlike in the D&D game they played in before, things tend to have consequences you can only fudge so much and still maintain the SR feel...
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Jason Farlander
post Oct 4 2004, 05:39 PM
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QUOTE (Botch)
Its just a bit of a let down, thats all, it would be nice to be able to fix it without writing it all off.

Well, I mean, the logical consequences of their actions are that either they will be killed or they will be blackmailed. There's no way that fixer would just let this slide - they botched their repayment for his services and openly discussed backstabbing him. Blackmail would actually be the kind thing for him to do, as he could certainly find other people to do the job.

Since in your estimation the players would be unable to deal with either of those two possible consequences, it would be best to explain that these are what would have happened, explain why, rewind, and let them try again. Unless you have confidence in their ability to keep IC and OOC knowledge separate, I do still strongly recommend that you change some of the details around.

BUT

I agree with mmu1 - you need to be clear with the players that you intend to enforce what you consider to be reasonable consequences for their actions, and that they need to think things through a bit more than they would in D&D. If you feel that they will be able to handle those consequences, then you either need to loosen your own restrictions and let them play the game as they want to play it, play a different game, or find a new group.
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twofalls
post Oct 4 2004, 05:49 PM
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My suggestion would be that rather than rewinding you should move forward with what you have now. Dish the players out thier lumps (I personally like Jason's subdual concept). But first, have a sit down group conversation about the session before you start the new one. Have a round table discussion and air your concerns, how you felt the last session went, and what to expect from a Shadowrun game. Then let them know that some serious repercussions are in the pipeline from the failed run.

The players need to understand the premise behind the game, and they need to understand it BEFORE they start playing. The reasons for this are many, but the ultimate factor is that if you and the players aren't on the same page about what you want out of a particular rpg the game has a high chance of failing leaving everyone with morning breath. I assume everyone involved is an adult, and is capable of being reasonable... so appeal to them from that standpoint. If they are truely a group of "cats" who can't agree or get along, then the game is doomed anyhow. Shadowrun requires more teamwork and cooperation than any other RPG I've ever run.

Hope you work it out.

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Botch
post Oct 4 2004, 06:02 PM
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I think I will take the rewind route with a few minor changes after explaining a few things about consequences and that I didn't kill/torture them the first time round. The blackmail will be used on the first re-occurence. IC/OOC knowledge isn't a problem with these guys, so that shouldn't matter.

Its just a shame that this happened, the fixer has beautifully warped "favour" up his sleeve, there's pages and pages of character background (from the players), the preparation for the run was almost perfect, and the planning was good. 80% of the execution was inspired, then the last 20% happened.

This time around whilst they wait in their isolated safehouses for the dock foray to begin I shall give them a list of old C20/C21 2D films that the runners can find on the shelf. Any suggestions? I know at least one of the players will go and watch them, I'm starting with,

Things to do in Denver when you're Dead, (Andy Garcia, Steve Buscemi)
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Zenmaxer
post Oct 4 2004, 06:17 PM
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one issue I have with stepping things back and pretending it never happened is that this isn't fun for the players... if they want to run a crazed and explosive campaign, maybe you should let them, just don't go easy on them.
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Wounded Ronin
post Oct 4 2004, 06:26 PM
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You know what? Honestly, I think that one of the better ways to teach newbies how Shadowrun combat works is to have them play a Rainbow 6 series video game.

"Tango down!", heh heh heh.
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twofalls
post Oct 4 2004, 06:33 PM
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QUOTE (Zenmaxer)
one issue I have with stepping things back and pretending it never happened is that this isn't fun for the players... if they want to run a crazed and explosive campaign, maybe you should let them, just don't go easy on them.

Which is exactly why I don't like to rewind either. It also leaves two versions of one event in everyones mind which effects the story.
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Arethusa
post Oct 4 2004, 06:49 PM
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They spent three days arguing over whether or not it was a good idea to backstab the fixer over some communications gear?

Kill 'em all.

Seriously, kill everyone and then have a long chat about how everything they did was wrong. Be constructive, but don't be too nice about it. Spend a couple hours debating, offering constructive criticism, and/or beating them senseless, and then help them build new characters and completely start over. This is the sort of game that is entirely irreparably fucked, and there's no way to patch it up.

QUOTE (Wounded Ronin)
You know what? Honestly, I think that one of the better ways to teach newbies how Shadowrun combat works is to have them play a Rainbow 6 series video game.

"Tango down!", heh heh heh.

After so many people complain about how unrealistically forgiving and generally insane SR combat can be, you want to teach them how to fight by having them play a game that chronicles the adventures of the world's most ridiculously incompetent paramilitary unit? That seems counter intuitive.
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Bigity
post Oct 4 2004, 07:04 PM
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You mean people play D&D this way?

I wouldn't categorize this problem as related to the D&D system, but rather, to the players :) Plenty of D&Ders use subtlety and other SR-esque tones.
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Namer18
post Oct 4 2004, 07:15 PM
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Make them all take common sense as an edge and let them choose a flaw to balance out the points. Try giving them a run that starts with fixing another runner groups mistake where the other group used violence at an inappropriate time. At this point I would either tell them that the first run was a trial to get used to the mechanics they can edit their characters as they see fit and you will start a new adventure with this (might even make the first run clearing up the damage from another runner group that is uncannily similar to their characters :S ), let them run begging back to their fixer, or let them flee the country leaving all their gear behind.
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Zenmaxer
post Oct 4 2004, 07:16 PM
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errr, no D&Der I've ever met...?

more seriously, killing them all is silly too, and will only discourage them from playing with you. And rightly so. You're the GM, you have to make fun and elegantly logical scenarios out of minced lunacy.
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Herald of Verjig...
post Oct 4 2004, 07:25 PM
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Let something save them from the lethal retribution they deserve and offer them an option: "kill stuff where I point you and get some cash, or die."

They can try to kill this too, but shouldn't stand a chance.

These characters will only get slaughter and wetwork jobs. Occasionally toss in an even quality group who try to prevent them from succeeding in the wetworks.

Details are up to you. The benefactor can be anything. The jobs can be tailored to either make them hate their characters or make them want to expand their usefulness. Toss in some cranial bombs or ritual samples as insurance, and you have realistic non-lethal (for now) consequences.
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Arethusa
post Oct 4 2004, 07:31 PM
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QUOTE (Zenmaxer)
errr, no D&Der I've ever met...?

more seriously, killing them all is silly too, and will only discourage them from playing with you. And rightly so. You're the GM, you have to make fun and elegantly logical scenarios out of minced lunacy.

Are you suggesting that the players bear no responsibility for the game?

I advocate killing them all not only because they really (really) deserve it, but because it's a reset button. Killing them all and telling them to make new characters is bad. Killing them all and having a debriefing on why they died and why they so eminantly deserved it (and this has nothing to do with not knowing Shadowrun; this is simple stupidity) is good, as it is, assuming executed correctly, constructive.
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twofalls
post Oct 4 2004, 07:49 PM
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I must respectfully disagree with killing them all, plus, if you would care to reread the opening entries of the thread the GM is concerned about the players loosing interest in the game. Every group is different, and fun is the number one ingredient for success.

It sounds that the group has done a lot of work, planned this all quite well, and that the run went to pot at the end of a carefully orchestrated scenario. It can happen to ANY TEAM. Talking about knifing the Fixer is a bit extreme, but only goes to show that after the lead hit the fan and the runners made it back home they were scared. At least they have the SENSE to be scared.

I further disagree with rewinding the scenario, but I'm not running the game and if the GM feels that its best for his campaign to rewind then its not my business to try to talk him out of it.

Good luck with the group.
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Edward
post Oct 5 2004, 12:11 AM
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The fixer walks in wearing hardened armour they canít penetrate and blows them away with jell rounds.

They come to restrained in the fixers city of residence and he explains to them that if blowing things away was what was needed he would have recommended equipment of that type and explain to them that he has invested a significant sum of money in them and that they can repay him for this farce with a couple more runs (witch they will do right this time) or they will be introduced to an organ leger ghoul friend (which my or may not actually exist). For this negotiation they are on 7-9 boxes of stun. Now use any run you want preferably one where the security has milspec of similar design to the fixers.

Upsides you show them just how uneven combat can be in this game and how easy it is to loos. You donít have to redo character creation, you maintain the plot without making there employer look to week.

Downside. D&D players consider fights they cannot win unfair and May wine a bit.

Under no circumstances should the fixer allow this to pass without response. Otherwise the PCs will just get the idea they can ignore mission parameters all the time. However the runs he assigns to them will likely be the ones where subtly is not a requirement. Just like you donít use a 20 pound sledge to do up the screws in your cyber deck you donít hire blast radius for a delicate run.

Edward

Ps at no point should the fixer point out that he monitors there communications.

Actually I like the dream idea. Make shore you kill them good before they wake up. If you do this make it clear OC that it is a one of event. And even if you donít change anything tell them you will be.

Before you start the next session (or after the repercussions) tell your players about the repercussions and give them options. Rewind, play on. Let them make an informed choice. Tel them the type of rep repeats of this kind of balls up creates and ask them what kind of game they want to play.

Edward



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Mr. Woodchuck
post Oct 5 2004, 12:56 AM
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Never rewind. It does not work and will not teach them anything anyway. Firs swipe the shipment back from the parking lot. Then have all of the electronics the Johnson gave them fail, with the exception of one pocket secratary. The Johnson then calls and tells them to look out the window, where the shipment is no longer at. He tells them that to make up for the serious problems they have caused they have one week to make it back to seatle and complete a suiside mission or their locations will be auctioned off to the corps looking for them. This will give you a chance to fully explaine their stupidity to them and teach them a few SR lessons in trust, professionalism, and lethality.
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