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> GM School: Course 1, How to design the opposition, and why?
Paul
post Feb 2 2005, 03:00 AM
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QUOTE
I do want to agree with the above poster who said the average sec guards shouldn't be a challenge for any competent shadowrunner.


I took this quote from Bit Basher in the "Printed Runs" thread discussing the power level of NPC (More specifically a security guard for my example, and my thread here.) opponents in published adventures.

I completely agre with Bit Basher, and I have a feeling he'll agree with what I plan to say in just a second here. First let me establish my credentials, as they were.

I am a former Marine Infantry man, and currently I work my states correctional system. I have played Shadowrun for over a decad and a half-since its introduction in 1989. Okay now we all know I love me, lets get to this:

Security guards are not designed to be a one on one match for your average runner. That's why they operate in teams, with sound tactical doctrine. (Relatively anyways, right?) And hopefully with superior firepower, or at least some solid training with the tools available to them.

Lets examine a variety of situations here.

For the sake of arguement, and discussion, lets say that you have a team of five-one street sam, one mage, one physad, one rigger, and a decker. That way we cover all of our bases here, obviously in reallife we all will have different groups of player chaarcters to deal with, at varying power levels.For our discussion we'll assume they are each archetypes, from 110 to 130 points.

Now after being hired to knock over the local stuffer shack our team makes the smart play and scopes the place first. They discover in the process that the stuffer shack has been knocked off one time too many for the regional manager, so he's decided to hire a couple of security guards to bolster physical security. Now he can't afford too many guys, so what he does is hires one for each shift, a total of three guards right? But he will also need somebody to cover their days off, unless he can skimp on coverage at certain times of the day (Say Mondays thru Thursday during daylight hours, when the place has never been robbed, and has the most traffic.) so that means he needs two more guys. (It's 1.5 for each position for anyone doing the statistics out there...)

So he hires five big guys, real bruisers who are just barely legal (They have priors, but nothing that would keep them from getting liscensed as a Stuffer Shack cop.) and gives them each a 2 hour brief, a retractable baton and says have at it. Now the to hour brief basicly consisted of "Don't kill anybody and make me liable, but don't let these street pukes rob me either!" Obviously not the best set of marching orders right? But as long as they continue to provide cheap, and relatively effective security, who cares?

Now the runners are on the J.O.B. here, and figue out that these guys worked a relatively simple rlief schedule-they work a straight eight, with shifts starting at 0800, 1600, and 0000 with one minute overlap for reliefs. They each wear a basic set up of a leather jackets emblazoned with "Security" on the back, and the retractable batons.

Our team is wise and decide to hit the place at three on a Friday, when the guy who only works as relief on the weekends for part time beer money works. He's also the smallest guy of the bunch.

Obviously we're looking at real one sided fight right? Our team should walk away from this feeling bad about kicking the three legged blind dog with no tail named Lucky.

Now lets move on to example two in my next post.
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Paul
post Feb 2 2005, 03:38 AM
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Now in example #2 here, our team (I keep crucifying your name dude, sorry!) is fresh off their successful stuffer shack job, and looking for something juicey to sink their teeth into now. So after getting in touch with their fixer (We'll assume our team is just starting out and still doing it this way, instead of making their own biz!) she hooks them up with a pretty decent piece of work-they need to extract a research/patents lawyer from a local Transys Neuronet subsidiary.

Again our team is on the ball and decides to do some leg work. after some basic checking on the matrix, and public grids they are able to easily find a few articles on their target, and his employeer. After reviewing these they decide to have their Decker take a virtual crack at it.

After a lucky run on the joint, their Decker manages to dig up some good scoop for them. The local subsidiary is pretty small potatoes operation in the grand scheme of things, but still enough to make them sweat a little.

The target works at a fifteen story building that basically archives patents, and records for various Transys affiliates and subsidiarys. Security is three pronged this time-Magic, Matrix and Physical.

On the Physical Front this time they have to worry about alot more. The stuffer shack had a pretty easily subverted security system that consisted of a single camera that was suppoed to have a good view of the place, some windows (In the vain hopes that maybe being visible from the street would stop somebody from committing whatever crime it was they wanted to commit.), low shelving with few obstacles and good but cheap lighting.

Not this time. The building is constructed solidly, with a smart layout. Windows are polarized to prevent anybody from snooping and pooping, an discreet barriers prevent anybody from just walking up to the place. (Besides the fence, which looks decorative, but is really a barrier too.) Plus our team finds out from their virtual incursion that the building uses alarms ont he windows, doors and throughout the building in conjunction with a CCTV system that is monitored. During the day guards man the single entry point(Also a security measure) and a few are on standby just in case. (2) At night however guards patrol the building. One guard for every three floor, patrolling randomly.

Matrix security is extremely tight, especially given the contents of our building. Our team decides not to even bother with this for now, as they hoping not to even step a foot in the building.

Magical security is sort of lax, which is a stroke of luck for our team. As none of the security staff are magically active, and few of the staff are either, it's an area that's overlooked often. A single spirit is bound for back up, in case of emergencies, and they have a few areas protected by couple of types of specially altered ivy and wards.

Our team however hopes to avoid this nest of death, and bad juju completely. The target commutes, with a small security detail. After looking at his home, and deciding security was too tight there as well, they decide the best bet is tohit him in transit, or as he is exiting/entering work. (As a last resort that last bit.)

Our team manages to subvert a local traffic grid, reroutes the Targets car to a spot they choose, and hit. After a brief fire fight they make off with the target and leave his security detail maimed and dead.

Enough to make you as the GM pull your hair out right? I mean they avoided your carefully built dungeon of doom, right?

That's where we as Game Masters have to start thinking about the totality of circumstance. I mean would you hav walked in there? No, right? So why would you expect them to?

Well if you're like I was, because damnit that's the run I wrote, and by the gawds we'll be playing that if we want to game here! Right?C'mon now, some of you are definitely chuckling in agreement right? Not all, this isn't for everyone obviously, but some of us needed help getting started right?

What I hope to cover here is some loose guidelines, ideas and concepts that will help you free form your games a little easier, and deal with those little loop holes or unexpected NPC deaths that will almost certainly arise.

It's my fervent hope that those of you with experience will chip in here, and cover what I miss, or even teach me what I never knew, or would never have thought of. It's my hope this thread will benefit those of you eho might need this kind of asisstance.
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Kagetenshi
post Feb 2 2005, 03:49 AM
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Why would that make me pull my hair out? First run I ever GMed was a delivery job. The runners had to take an attaché case from an observed meet at a McHughes and bring it to a location across town without being followed there. I planned for a lot of circumstances, but because I was new I neglected to think of one of them going in separately (I thought of that half of it) and then them doing a swap in the bathroom. I was overjoyed and gave them extra karma for outwitting me. I had a deathtrap like the above one with people inside the runners needed to kill, and my current Saturday group just set the place on fire and waited for people to come out. Admittedly I was expecting them to use explosives, but hey. After a while, though, you just start knowing what sorts of things will be difficult without having to specifically plan on the runners going that way. Target moves? Unmarked security car nearby. Stuff like that.

One big piece of advice, though: unless its absence makes no sense, never add a counter to a specific method the runners are using after the run starts. It just frustrates people.

~J
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kevyn668
post Feb 2 2005, 03:49 AM
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The problem I see so far is that your team is smart.

They did everything the "right" way. They should be rewarded for pulling off the runs so smoothly. That's the point, right?

Mebbe I'm not understanding something here...
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Paul
post Feb 2 2005, 03:56 AM
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So when I am designing a run the first question I ask myself is what? What is going to happen here. (Don't get me wrong here, I ask the five W's and H right off the back, but we'll take this slowly.)

I take my ideas and write a synopsis:

For example one it would have read like this:

QUOTE ("Synopsis")
The runners knock over a Stuffer Shack, and mix it up with a few toughs.


I run with the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) Principle. When I said write, I meant write. Write your ideas down somewhere-a piece of notebook paper, graph paper (My posion of choice in the day), in a word file, on note cards-whatever works for you. Don't be afraid to keep copious amounts of notes-being a GM is tough work. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. (Now that doesn't mean everyone needs to do it my way, obviously some of you are beyond that, or even prefer not to. That's fine too.)

From your synopsis develop outward. Decide on who the team will be facing, and the why. Figure out who is hiring them and why. A lot of this information may never even reach the players hands, ever. It's for you to keep track of. Why? why keep track of all this stuff?

Well lets say six runs down from this stuffer shack you need something to do, and you're fresh out of ideas. You need something to run. You flip back through your notes and realize way back in run number one the players killed one of the security goons in the stuffer shack (Sure a change from our example a little, right? So sue me! :D ) Whoops, turns out that guy was in heavy with the Cutters (A Larger than average Go Gang for those who don't know.) and they want a piece of the people who offed him. After a few runs our team has a little street rep going for them, so suddenly it's easier for the cutters to locate them. (Whoops, our team always seems to operate out of Seattle's Southside. They're getting a little sloppy aren't they?)

As you can see it, it's pretty easy to tie it all together. Realism is important to my players, and therefore to me. While we keep in mind that we're playing a Science Fantasy Action roleplaying game, we also strive to make portions of our game as life like as we can. We choose the parts of life that are fun to play of course, after all not many of are interested in a roleplaying game about house hold chores or doing the taxes right? As a Game Master its incumbent on you to make the ultimate choice-how is my game going to be run?

If the bad guys, as it were, or the opposition is one dimensional or lack luster it's my fault. If the game is slow, it's because I let it happen. I move the game forward as it needs it. But anyways, enough back patting and kudos lets get back to designing the oppostion shall we?
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Kagetenshi
post Feb 2 2005, 04:00 AM
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What's there to design? With the Stuffer Shack, add a Panicbutton™ to the guards and the cashier, and maybe a biomonitor if you really want to get fancy (I remember them being pretty cheap).

~J
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kevyn668
post Feb 2 2005, 04:03 AM
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QUOTE (Kagetenshi)
What's there to design? With the Stuffer Shack, add a Panicbutton™ to the guards and the cashier, and maybe a biomonitor if you really want to get fancy (I remember them being pretty cheap).

~J

There was a Panicbutton™ in "Food Fight."

IIRC, PanicButtons™ are pretty much everywhere.
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Paul
post Feb 2 2005, 04:04 AM
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QUOTE (kevyn668)
The problem I see so far is that your team is smart.

They did everything the "right" way. They should be rewarded for pulling off the runs so smoothly. That's the point, right?

Mebbe I'm not understanding something here...

We'll get there, slowly. I want to take my time and do this right.

You are indeed correct that the reward for being smart, in a perfect world, is a game that runs smooth. I want to highlight what happens when things go wrong, but this thread is dedicated to the oppostion, and design. Unfortunately the process isn't something we can just surgically seperate from the whole of the game.

QUOTE ("Kagetenshi")
Why would that make me pull my hair out?


I did mention this might not fit everyone right? :) Some of us will obviously be better suited for something like this than others. SOme of us had it easier as a SR GM than others-whether it be natural talent, or prior experience-which is what I am guessing you had. (Prior experience as a DM, or GM in some system.)

QUOTE
First run I ever GMed was a delivery job. The runners had to take an attaché case from an observed meet at a McHughes and bring it to a location across town without being followed there. I planned for a lot of circumstances, but because I was new I neglected to think of one of them going in separately (I thought of that half of it) and then them doing a swap in the bathroom. I was overjoyed and gave them extra karma for outwitting me.


Absolutely. I don't mean to say we have to follow a route script, I am simplely pointing out that in the begining a lot of us do. And when we deviate from the script we may get nervous or upset. Especially afetr putting a lot of time into developing the script.

I'm sure you can understand that.

Now that said, have I ben there and done that? Absolutely. One of my favoite runs was a campaign that was culminating with the cliche confrontation between the team and the big evil bad guy. They killed him in the first turn by being smarter than me. What else could I do but laugh?

QUOTE
One big piece of advice, though: unless its absence makes no sense, never add a counter to a specific method the runners are using after the run starts. It just frustrates people.


I agree, and I hope you will see as I go how I do things, and how I think it works. (Which is to say, in my mind well.)
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Paul
post Feb 2 2005, 04:06 AM
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QUOTE (Kagetenshi @ Feb 2 2005, 12:00 AM)
What's there to design? With the Stuffer Shack, add a Panicbutton™ to the guards and the cashier, and maybe a biomonitor if you really want to get fancy (I remember them being pretty cheap).

~J

Can I say again if this thread isn't for you, then don't worry? If you're obviously not getting anything from it, then don't get bent out of shape over it. Maybe stuffer shack 101 is your thing, but not every user at DSF is you, or at your skill level.
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Sabosect
post Feb 2 2005, 04:15 AM
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So far, nothing challenging actually posted.

This is a challenge:

You're group is attacking an Ares gun production plant. This is the place where they make the toys you so love to have. This place is considered highly classified, so naturally everyone and their brother on the Matrix knows about it. If they know about it, ten to one someone's tried to hit it and quite possibly someone's succeeded.

Now, considering it's cheaper to steal guns and bullets than to pay for them, you know Ares is going to have tight security. If hooked up to the Matrix at all, it's a Red 14 or even an Ultraviolet and probably only uses black ice with about two or three dozen security deckers. There's also at least three security riggers and four riggers running drone patrol, maybe more, and they've got the best drones on the market, and maybe a few that the market doesn't know about. For the magical, you can expect two groups of magicians, with one group using spirits and astral projection to patrol the astral while another stays meat and uses spells and ritual magic to help maintain a series of magical defenses throughout the compound. For internal security, expect a combination of gun bunnies and people with enough cyberwear to come close to being zombies on patrol, with them being the best of the best and trained better than most UCAS military divisions, and possibly those groups having magicians as well, depending on the mood of the GM.

That, of course, is ignoring the fact the drones working the production line are likely controlled by an SK from a system completely isolated from the Matrix and said drones having weapons just in case a thief does get in. And also ignoring the possibility the compound has twice as many of everything listed in the previous paragraph on standby in case of an emergency, while the facility itself would be designed to take a nuclear explosion right beside it and only have the paint chipped.

Now, why so much security? This is Ares's lifeblood. The profits of selling these weapons and having so much security would, to any megacorp, outweigh the other option, in which they could become known as having lax security and having every John with a gun or a spell to cast trying to steal weapons from them.

Sometimes, not having the place capable of withstanding a military attack isn't feasible.
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Paul
post Feb 2 2005, 04:21 AM
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QUOTE (Sabosect)
So far, nothing challenging actually posted.

Would saying that I didn't mean this to be a challenge matter at all? Is everyone completely oblivious to the intent of this?

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Dumpshock is completely made up of skilled GM's who know it all.
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kevyn668
post Feb 2 2005, 04:26 AM
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No need to get bent out of shape. You did ask for input.

QUOTE
It's my fervent hope that those of you with experience will chip in here, and cover what I miss, or even teach me what I never knew, or would never have thought of. It's my hope this thread will benefit those of you eho might need this kind of asisstance.


I think we're just trying to understand how your posts are supposed to help new GMs. Don't get me wrong, I like the ideas but I don't see how it helps a new GM.

In the first post, we have team of crack runners that are hired to knock over a StufferShack. They choose the *best* time to do so (almost as rare as a four leaf clover) and make out like bandits.

In the second post, the same team is hired for an extraction that is light years away from the last run on the difficulty scale. They still manage to choose the *best* time to perform the run (even rarer than the afore mentioned four leaf clover). The opposition is tougher but the team never encounters said opposition. They evade that problem by performing like cold, hard, pros. That is something that--judging by the posts here--is rather rare.

Like I said, mebbe I'm misunderstanding something here...
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Sabosect
post Feb 2 2005, 04:31 AM
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QUOTE (Paul)
QUOTE (Sabosect @ Feb 2 2005, 12:15 AM)
So far, nothing challenging actually posted.

Would saying that I didn't mean this to be a challenge matter at all? Is everyone completely oblivious to the intent of this?

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Dumpshock is completely made up of skilled GM's who know it all.

No, I meant that in each case the scenarios you posted are meant mostly for starting runners and doesn't even begin to cover everyone. Top it all off, the posts you make present it in a way that doesn't actually present a challenge to even a starting group, as they are just choosing the best times and grabbing then.

You are accusing us of missing your point, but then you turned around and missed mine. I presented a case where the security force is realistic in relation to the importance of what they are guarding to company profits. It's to show that mnot every time a group of runners is going to be finding something with an easy road to take, but that sometimes it's damn difficult or even requires a miracle to pull off.
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toturi
post Feb 2 2005, 04:39 AM
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Sabosect: The problem is the believability of that. Perhaps you have players that have a higher suspension of disbelief for such things. You might want 50 guys for that factory of yours (your deckers are already 24- 36). Ares has about 20 similar facilities and another 10 research facilities with higher priority. So you'll need about 1500 elite guys. There are about 10 megacorps. So there needs at least 15000 elite guys worldwide. Not counting all the assorted AAs and GDs and countries that offer top dollar for talent.

You live in a world with a lot of talent.
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Typhon
post Feb 2 2005, 04:40 AM
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No Paul I'm sure Dumpshock has its newbie GM's or experienced players who are about to try their hand at GMing , and although I've been Gming for a couple years now it is nice to get some tips now and again . It's good to hear how others run their games so keep up the good work :nuyen:
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Kanada Ten
post Feb 2 2005, 04:42 AM
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QUOTE
You live in a world with a lot of talent.

I find it laughable that one can suspend disbelief for all the other crap of SR and the dice in their hands, but not that the characters are no better than 0.000025% of the world's population.
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FrostyNSO
post Feb 2 2005, 04:49 AM
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There is a lot of talent in the world we live in now.
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Sandoval Smith
post Feb 2 2005, 04:50 AM
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QUOTE (kevyn668)
The problem I see so far is that your team is smart.

They did everything the "right" way. They should be rewarded for pulling off the runs so smoothly. That's the point, right?

Mebbe I'm not understanding something here...

I think the point of the example was 'the GM went out of his way to make some wicked badass security, and did such a good job of it that the runners, being smart chaps, didn't want to even go near it.'

The first example was the creamiest of the smooth and creamy milk runs, and... okay, aside from showing the best opposition you'll ever get out of a Stuffer Shack, what was the point of that one? That as well as too hard, you can set up a run that even at its best, is way too easy to be any problem for actual runners?

I think the best rule is to have the NPCs fight smarter, not harder. Your generic security guard is not there to have a stand up gunfight with a team of shadowrunners, nor should he have the abilities to do so. If the GM wants that particular guard to present some sort of challange to the team, he's going to have to do it in some way other than bullets. Like being hooked to a biomonitor, or having some sort of deadman's switch that activates the Oh S**t alarm.
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kevyn668
post Feb 2 2005, 04:50 AM
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QUOTE
Kanada Ten
Posted on Feb 1 2005, 11:42 PM
QUOTE
You live in a world with a lot of talent.

I find it laughable that one can suspend disbelief for all the other crap of SR and the dice in their hands, but not that the characters are no better than 0.000025% of the world's population.

Why not? Look at the percentage of magically active PCs vs. the global average. We have no problem ignoring that. :)

This post has been edited by kevyn668: Feb 2 2005, 04:53 AM
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Sabosect
post Feb 2 2005, 04:53 AM
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QUOTE (toturi)
Sabosect: The problem is the believability of that. Perhaps you have players that have a higher suspension of disbelief for such things. You might want 50 guys for that factory of yours (your deckers are already 24- 36). Ares has about 20 similar facilities and another 10 research facilities with higher priority. So you'll need about 1500 elite guys. There are about 10 megacorps. So there needs at least 15000 elite guys worldwide. Not counting all the assorted AAs and GDs and countries that offer top dollar for talent.

You live in a world with a lot of talent.

Even in the SR world, assuming that only 1% of the people are actually runners or equal to runners has 15,000 people being a drop in the bucket. Assuming current population growth rates, adjusting for disasters and alterations, and pulling a number that doesn't sound too extreme means Earth in 2064 probably has a population in the 7-8 billion range, meaning 1% of the population is 70-80 million people.

15,000 is quite reasonable in comparison.
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mfb
post Feb 2 2005, 04:54 AM
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at a wild, totally random guess, i'd put the number of 'talented' individuals in the SR world at about a million, minimum. probably more. i'd say 1% is way, way to high, though. knock that down by a factor of at least 5,000.
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kevyn668
post Feb 2 2005, 04:56 AM
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QUOTE
Even in the SR world, assuming that only 1% of the people are actually runners or equal to runners has 15,000 people being a drop in the bucket. Assuming current population growth rates, adjusting for disasters and alterations, and pulling a number that doesn't sound too extreme means Earth in 2064 probably has a population in the 7-8 billion range, meaning 1% of the population is 70-80 million people.



You forgot about VITAS.
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mfb
post Feb 2 2005, 04:56 AM
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nah, even with VITAS, the world pop would be 8 billion+ by the 2060s.
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toturi
post Feb 2 2005, 04:58 AM
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QUOTE (Kanada Ten)
QUOTE
You live in a world with a lot of talent.

I find it laughable that one can suspend disbelief for all the other crap of SR and the dice in their hands, but not that the characters are no better than 0.000025% of the world's population.

Aren't your runners from this talent pool? All the other crap, as you put it, is the OOC disbelievablity, this is IC disbelief. I can suspend my OOC disbelief(game mechanics, etc) but putting myself into a PC's shoes, I find that I can't believe that there are so many world class/expert guys in the world. How many Olympic class athletes are there in the world? 10000? 1 million?

I can seperate my IC from my OOC disbelief. My PC can believe people can dance a tutu and shoot the wings off a fly at the same time because the disbelivability is a OOC issue. But he can't believe that there are 15000 world classed guys because that's a IC issue.
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FrostyNSO
post Feb 2 2005, 05:01 AM
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Joined: 8-August 04
From: Usually Work
Member No.: 6,550



Since when does somebody have to be "Olympic Class" to be elite?
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