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> GM Help, Balancing Game, Need a little help
Renfield
post Feb 26 2005, 03:58 PM
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This is a message to my fellow over-worked GM's.
I started running SR again after a two+ Year Hiatus and while the game started nice and low-powered as Ganger/street-level PCs it has recently escalated in power several notches in the course of the last few sessions, particularily with the addition of a new player and character, a Cyber-Troll from hell (Bod-19, Strgth-17 you know the drill).
Now I initially though I could handle the Troll; Panther Cannon and Dikoted Poleaxe included. Problem is, that to have something to counter HIM I over-powered the villain a fair degree, but if I hadn't he wouldn't have lasted 1 single initiative pass against the party...even with his Mooks drawing fire or shooting them full of holes...or at least trying real hard. The party is currently VERY heavy on the magic end with two full mages in the party (One Shaman and One Heremtic so they cover the spectrum) as well as a Phys Ad Sniper. Both the casters are Grade 3 now and the Phys ad is Grade 2. The 5th characetr is the only semi-reasonable character, a Bio-ware Monster who is very speedy and slightly insane (Has a flat-screen movie obessions and beleives life should eb like the movies, big explosions etc...). And HE has an obscene amount of dice for shooting Pistols with.
SO my basic problem is finding worthy challenges that won't paste the PC's all over the floor, something about their power-level. With two folks chucking 16S and 18D for firearms damage and one with a Sheep-ton of success for a 9m pistol Armor becomes a big issue unless there are otherways to negate firearms that I'm missing?
And Two Full Mages who can BOTH summon fairly nasty spirits (Average force of 8, last night saw a 10!).
I have two upcoming missions semi-planned;
1 - A trip to a Humanis Policub secret underground Lair underneath an abandoned Military airfield to stop a Gemocide Plan.
2 - A Trip to Transylvania to look for a cache of Ancient Magical Artifacts (Earthdawn-era stuff they'll never be able to use anyway) as well as locating the long-missing brother of a Friend.
#1 Has the potential for Military-grade weaponry, maybe old-tech, but that will surely be a killer even if I use old-tech on them. Though it has some potential for fun.
#2 Is going to be a heavy-magic adventure.
Either way could get them killed very quickly. So again the problem of Balance.
One of my options might be to re-start the game again and really play up the the street-angle. BUt if I do that I may lose some players.
Really could use some help on this, as I've gotten rusty with disuse.
Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Other Questions:
Quick Question while I'm thinking of it: Does APDS affect Spirit Immunity to Normal Weapons, I've been saying YES, but ti means they buthcer spirits now. Curious to know the official ruling on that. IF not it means I can use lesse power spirits and have them sticka round a bit.
Also Where/What are the rules on using a Spell-lock/Quickened/Anchored spell cast on another to ground spells to the Original caster? I Know Ritual Magic requires a Material Component, which a Lock would Qualify for, but what about Quickened and Anchored Spells?
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Charon
post Feb 26 2005, 04:20 PM
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QUOTE (Renfield @ Feb 26 2005, 10:58 AM)
Other Questions:
Quick Question while I'm thinking of it: Does APDS affect Spirit Immunity to Normal Weapons,

Also Where/What are the rules on using a Spell-lock/Quickened/Anchored spell cast on another to ground spells to the Original caster?

1 - No

2 - It's not done anymore. You could destroy an active focus from astral, but not ground a spell.

As for your problems : Cannon and APDS are hard to come by. I can't believe that your group could go from low powered to shooting APDS ammo like water. It's availability 14, for crying out loud! You should be lucky to have a few clips reserved for special occasions.

The cannon is availability 16, so the new PC shouldn't have started with it. And he sure shouldn't be using it as a sidearm. In my first campaign, once the Troll got his Assault Cannon, he could find only 1 occasion in 13 run or so to use it.

Personnally, I consider the cannon to be designed for use against car or larger target so I up the TN when it's used against smaller target but even by canon rules you are talking about a massive, unconcealable weapon that can't be the default weapon you carry.

Anyway, items with an avilability higher than 8 can't normally be bought at creation. That rule should be tightened, not relaxed, if you are running a low power game.

As for dealing with the troll, for his brain with a mana bolt.

Final advice ; You could decide to wrap up this campaign and tell your players you want to start fresh with a better (or let's just say different) handle on balance and common sense. I started playing when I was 15, and let me tell you that my idea of what makes sense in the game world evolved in 11 years. The last campaign might as well have taken place in alternate universe, so different were the law of causality. Doesn't mean the first campaign was crap, just that it's no longer the way I want to run things.
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Austere Emancipa...
post Feb 26 2005, 04:22 PM
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They are really good at what they do. Consequently, they get offered really tough jobs which other people just can't do. Remember that there's a whole lot more to shadowrunning than combat, and that there's a whole lot more to combat than just standing around and shooting.

QUOTE (Renfield)
Does APDS affect Spirit Immunity to Normal Weapons

No. This is stated in SR3, p. 264, under Immunity. APDS, AV etc are all treated as normal ammunition against the Immunity to Normal Weapons spirit power.

QUOTE (Renfield)
Also Where/What are the rules on using a Spell-lock/Quickened/Anchored spell cast on another to ground spells to the Original caster?

In an older edition of the game. In the third edition of ShadowRun, ie. as of 1998, Grounding spells from the Astral into the physical world is no longer possible, nor is it even mentioned in any of the 3rd edition books.

Although I'm not completely sure if that's what you're asking. As for Ritual Magic, any focus bonded to the target functions as a Material Link as per p. 37 of Magic in the Shadows. Also, Spell Locks (like Grounding) no longer exist.
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Cynic project
post Feb 26 2005, 06:20 PM
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For killing spirits the only rounds that make your guns better are EX,EX-EX and Dig D's tempers.
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Renfield
post Feb 26 2005, 06:28 PM
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Actually the PC's don't have much APDS. I think one of them has like a clip of it.
I did not actually know about the restrictiosn to begining PC's on Availibility, but since he joined the game late, letting it slide seemed to be the way to go.

I will start using the APDS as normal ammo rule for spirits, makes them a lot nastier thanks.

Thanks for the help so far.
Unfortunatley re-starting at this point isn't terribly fair to the Player who just joined two sessions ago, or maybe it is. We'll see.
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tisoz
post Feb 26 2005, 06:47 PM
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An average size troll has a Body of 8, is 2.8m tall and weighs 225kg. This guy is almost 2.5 times as big. It is not inconceivable that he is over 3m tall and maybe 300kg. That's about 10 feet tall and 660 pounds. He should have trouble getting in and out of vehicles, walking through regular size doors, and walking down residential hallways. Be sure to multiply all his gear purchases by the troll modifier or give him some penalties for using the wrong size gear.

Add TN modifiers for levitating him. If he has invisibility cast on him, it doesn't cover up the noise he makes bumping into doorframes or the the resulting dings and dents. It also doesn't quiet the noise his big troll size boots are making or the sound of the stressed floor supporting him. He will make floorboards creak. In old run down buildings he has a good chance of falling through the floor, especially if he is jumping around or moving vigorously during combat with his polearm.

He should have difficulty maneuvering a polearm or assault cannon in any kind of restricted environment. And he needs to keep them concealed when transporting them. Supposedly an assault cannon will fit in the trunk of a Ford Americar (DNA/DOA), but not a 2m polearm. Don't let him take them everywhere without getting hassled by Lone Star, having them confiscated, getting arrested or on the Lone Star most wanted list.

For all the gun bunnies be sure to use all the TN modifiers. The GM screen lists them and is a free download. There's visibility, movement and cover plus wound modifiers. Oh yeah, using that assault cannon is going to be LOUD. It should draw attention. Ditto burst firing shotguns. Assault cannon rounds are 90 :nuyen: a piece with SI.

When you send them to Transylvania make them have a real good plan for transporting their weapons or make them leave them behind.
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hahnsoo
post Feb 26 2005, 07:34 PM
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QUOTE (Austere Emancipator)
Also, Spell Locks (like Grounding) no longer exist.

Well, they have "evolved" into Sustaining Foci, which are simply spell locks with expanded rules.
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tisoz
post Feb 26 2005, 08:40 PM
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Oh, just remembered the Big Body killer. Check CC.14, caltrops. They do (Body)L damage, require a quickness test to avoid stepping on that :nuyen: 100 unexpectedly in a dark room may just kill said troll. Successes on the throwing test can stage damage up or add to Quickness test TN to avoid. Unless character is wearing heavy or armored boots, armor does not apply. If armor does apply, would it be impact like other weapons in that section? Dikoting them should increase damage to (Body + 1)M for each.

For :nuyen: 100, the troll could find himself making at least a Quickness 20 test to avoid 19L damage until he is out of the room. Dikoted he is looking at 20M damage.

Make it more fun and throw in some slip spray, M&M.114, it should modify the quickness test by +4 to +8, plus if they fall they should land on more than 1 caltrop. Coat them with cheap stuff like Pepper Punch for another 12L Stun to get both condition tracks into play. Hyper is a bit more expensive, but will raise TNs.

Spend another :nuyen: 130 for an IPE Concussion and IPE Offensive grenades and maybe get some chunky salsa effects. Or get them to jump around some more to dodge or pick up the grenade and throw it back.
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Austere Emancipa...
post Feb 26 2005, 08:45 PM
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QUOTE (tisoz)
Don't let him take them everywhere without getting hassled by Lone Star, having them confiscated, getting arrested or on the Lone Star most wanted list.

In the case of the assault cannon, it would be immediately confiscated and the troll fined 10,000 nuyen if law enforcement gets the slightest glimpse of it. And just to make sure they can confiscate it and collect the fine and stay healthy, they'll call backup (and lots of it) as soon as they see the troll with the PAC.
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Sokei
post Feb 26 2005, 09:02 PM
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QUOTE (tisoz)


For :nuyen: 100, the troll could find himself making at least a Quickness 20 test to avoid 19L damage until he is out of the room. Dikoted he is looking at 20M damage.

Make it more fun and throw in some slip spray, M&M.114, it should modify the quickness test by +4 to +8, plus if they fall they should land on more than 1 caltrop. Coat them with cheap stuff like Pepper Punch for another 12L Stun to get both condition tracks into play. Hyper is a bit more expensive, but will raise TNs.

your evil... but i like that idea.
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Mortax
post Feb 26 2005, 09:15 PM
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QUOTE (tisoz)
Oh, just remembered the Big Body killer. Check CC.14, caltrops. They do (Body)L damage, require a quickness test to avoid stepping on that :nuyen: 100 unexpectedly in a dark room may just kill said troll.


(insert evil GM laugh here) I like you're style. I'll have to remember that one next time I GM.
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Large Mike
post Feb 26 2005, 09:44 PM
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Firstly, many runs have a no-kill clause. Also, I'm fond of making the defenses on a facility so beefy that they *will* kill any PCs making an assault, no ifs, ands, or buts. I just make sure this is known by the characters, and it enforces an out-think mentality, rather than an out-gun mentality. Social situations and legwork hiccups are helpful here.

Now, if you *do* want to outgun them without using things with calibers measured in meters, there's some options. Flash paks and superflash are damned helpful, upping tn#s by up to +6. Smoke grenades are also as helpful as hell. Facility design so that security has cover and intruders don't is *all* kinds of helpful. There was a suggestion in a book somewhere (I believe SotA'63) that pop-up panels could be used by security to get cover anywhere, while denying it to runners. They just press a button and use their handy little proximity beacon, and the get cover everywhere they go.

Also, SuperSquirt with DMSO and G-S works wonders, as does NuroStun grenades (how many runners forget their gas masks at home?). There's also strobing walls and fiber-optics for (semi)remote casting by security mages.

That's all that's falling off the top of my head. Good luck.
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hahnsoo
post Feb 26 2005, 09:47 PM
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QUOTE (Large Mike)
(how many runners forget their gas masks at home?)

They forget only once, and if they live, never again. Gas masks and respirators are now standard equipment for our PCs, as are Chemsealed armor suits.
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Renfield
post Feb 26 2005, 11:23 PM
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QUOTE (tisoz)
Make it more fun and throw in some slip spray, M&M.114, it should modify the quickness test by +4 to +8, plus if they fall they should land on more than 1 caltrop. Coat them with cheap stuff like Pepper Punch for another 12L Stun to get both condition tracks into play. Hyper is a bit more expensive, but will raise TNs.

I must bow to you, you Evil-fi is much eviller than mine...*bows*

Then again I may do fun stuff like coating corridors in superslick substance and the only way down the corridor is via a high-security chairlift thing that is guarded by those rail-mounted drones...or the same drones carrying grease guns and beanbag launchers...

I think they're probably going to do the HP run next so I can have some fun there. The so-called Hidden base is actually controlled by some retired ex-military types, especially old riggers. Base is Hidden below Fort Wingate Air Reservation in the Dakotas... Ft. Wingate is essentially a Boneyard for Military Aircraft and vehicles. So add in a bunch of retired Ex-military techie-rigger types with a lot of free time on their hands and access to that much metal and wiring, coupled with the mentality of Robot Wars fans (The TV series about building robots to fight in areans)....yes a recipe for madness!
I'm picturing lots of kludged-together drones, rebuilt war-robots and lots of firepower.
And some wweeeirdo Drones with chopping propellers, treads etc...should be fun...8)
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tisoz
post Feb 26 2005, 11:34 PM
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Put security guards behind tinted bullet proof glass. Why wouldn't they?

To go with what Large Mike said, in SSG there are edges and flaws for buildings that give TN modifiers to help defenders and hinder intruders. Incorporate them.

Try to cause them problems using the cheapest, lowest tech ideas you can. It deters the power escalation/arms race. And it is really humiliating.

If the troll is full of cyber, give him swimming lessons.

Have a nature spirit use accident and confusion powers on them. Cause him to accidently fall out a 20 story window. Shouldn't be hard to get him to trip, falls toward window, huge bulk crashes through, damage increases with distance fallen. Confusion will at least add to TNs and may cause them to wander about aimlessly. Combine with accident to get them to wander over by window and resist accident with higher TN modifiers.
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Weredigo
post Feb 27 2005, 02:34 AM
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Honestly if I were you, I'd put that party in between a conflict between an Angel, and a Demon. If not that at least find something to put some fear into them.
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ef31415
post Feb 27 2005, 02:47 AM
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Do something really nasty to them. Make them think. Use those contact, social skills, etc.

Step 1) Given them a simple walkover job.
Step 2) Tell them later that night, somebody nuked the whole place, killing hundreds of innocents.
Step 3) Tell them that video from Step 1, of them raiding the nuked complex, has made it out on the internet. There's a 1M reward on their heads.

Now, they are the target. They have play defense all them time. And their only hope is to catch up with the other team and prove their innocence.

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Dog
post Feb 27 2005, 02:58 AM
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How do they FIND the secret underground lair?
How do they GET to Transylvania?
What do they do when a little, innocent girl stands in front of her daddy, because she doesn't understand things like racism and just knows that a scary man is going to kill him.
Who else wants a piece of them?
What if that troll's granny is going to be heart-broken if he doesn't make it to her place for Thanksgiving dinner?
How securely do they lock up at night?

And most of all: what happens to their karma when they solve all their problems with something as unimaginative as rolling edged weapons skill.
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FrostyNSO
post Feb 27 2005, 02:57 AM
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QUOTE (Dog)
How do they FIND the secret underground lair?
How do they GET to Transylvania?
What do they do when a little, innocent girl stands in front of her daddy, because she doesn't understand things like racism and just knows that a scary man is going to kill him.
Who else wants a piece of them?
What if that troll's granny is going to be heart-broken if he doesn't make it to her place for Thanksgiving dinner?
How securely do they lock up at night?

And most of all: what happens to their karma when they solve all their problems with something as unimaginative as rolling edged weapons skill.

1. they don't have to, they'll just teleport there.
2. parachute from a semiballistic.
3. probably something most other teams have done in the past (GM's know the answer to that one).
4. everyone.
5. he ate his granny a long time ago.
6. they don't, they just wait at the door and windows with their weapons ready. (this is what I've had players try to get me to believe)
7. karma rewards plummit and they complain about the bad GM.
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The White Dwarf
post Feb 27 2005, 11:05 AM
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Simply asking yourself the question:

"How do these characters and all their obviously highly illegal and dangerous gear move around in the world"

For the magical characters:

"What keeps the high force signatures left by their handiwork from being detected"

That should eliminate or hamper 90% of your problems without resorting to *any* game stat or rule.

If that 10% is killing you, tell me why theyre able to survive a single shot from a sniper rifle by an even moderate level marksman. After you run the numbers and realize they cant, find a way to employ them the players will know about before hand, and watch them sweat.
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Renfield
post Feb 27 2005, 12:28 PM
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Again thanks for the help and ideas (Many of which I will use).
I'm not having the problem of the players deliberatley trying to cheese-monger and bully me into having the game they want, but how to present decent challenges for their power level. Ie - Weapons that will hurt them without being over-powered, Armor that will let an important NPC/Villain live to fight and run away without putting them in Military-Grade Armor. Now that I know the rule of APDS vs Spirits, THAT at least gets easier, I can hit them with lower-power spirits that may have a chance of surviving.

Oh I should note one thing; The general issue of walking around armed has not been a big deal to-date because they live in a section of the Barrens I've labelled "Troll-Town" because well, as can be imagined, 90% of the Population is Trolls, with some Orks thrown in. The Remaining portion consists primarily of the Party as the Non-Troll Component...well excpet for the new member. I'll need to get my hands on the newest Seattle book soon and go over the rules and regulations and write-up cards for joe-avwerage lone-star cops in a Squad car. And SInce Troll-town is re-building that means the city will now be able to afford to send Lonestar to start patrolling Troll-Town. Hrm maybe even build a local Precint? Set up a shop to grant SINs to the residents...oh make it a RESPECTABLE place to live...hee hee oh yeah I'm going to have fun.

Oh here's a couple more questions I thought of:
Do Spirits have armor of anykind vs another spirits attack? Eg - A Fire Elemental chucks a Flamethrower at a City-Spirit, does the City Spirit get to reduce it any?
Also do the Barrier and Armor spells have an Obvious Physical appearance (Ie surrounding the mage in a shiny purple corona?). And What happens if either is permanently Locked/Quickened etc...to a mage? I assume that with Armor there would be little hinderance to moving around, but if one has perma-locked Barrier...does that put a Box of force around them? Would it hinder them walking through Doorways etc?

And lastly (For Now): Someone mentioned the Troll would have to be about 10' tall and over 800 lbs. Is there a way to calculate Height, Weight & Width vs. Body? Granted he has a 19 Bod but a large portion of that is Bioware or Cyberware and at least the Cyber should not contribute to the height.

Another Question that may be relavant; How much Kharma do various GM's reward as average? In a little to no-combat scenario I usually award 4 and with a heavy action/combat scenario I usually award 5-6 maybe even 7. I think I may have been too generous in my rewards and will start scaling back again; Say a blanket 3 for most sessions more for particularily good role-play or acts of heroism etc...though honestly thats the weirder part of the game to imagine. The world setting, the background and everything lends itself to crime and grime, rampant aggression and hostility and the concept behind the game itself does NOT lend itself to heroics. The characters are essentially criminals anyway you cut it, heroics? Not if they don't make money off of it!
Still I suppose thats the dichotomy of the game; Selfless Heroics in the Face of a harsh, Cruel world.
Okay I'll stop with the philosophizing about an alternative world that doesn't really exist.
*sigh*...You know you're a gamer when...

Sorry for all the questions but as I said I hadn't run the game in many years before re-starting, but I missed it terribly. Now of course is re familiarizing myself with the rules. Now to get my Rigger 3 back...*shudder* Drone Rules...*sigh*
Well I gotta start someday...time to start making them paranoid...
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Large Mike
post Feb 27 2005, 03:43 PM
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I generally hand out 3 karma a run. 2 if they've done everything through sheer force of arms. I encourage using ones noodle. I generally give 4 Karma to whoever was most impressive that game, or did the biggest share of the work,
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Critias
post Feb 27 2005, 03:41 PM
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QUOTE (Weredigo)
Honestly if I were you, I'd put that party in between a conflict between an Angel, and a Demon. If not that at least find something to put some fear into them.

Or, instead, he could take the advice of people suggesting things to him that are plausible and possible within the SR game system and rules.
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Austere Emancipa...
post Feb 27 2005, 03:46 PM
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QUOTE (Renfield)
And lastly (For Now): Someone mentioned the Troll would have to be about 10' tall and over 800 lbs. Is there a way to calculate Height, Weight & Width vs. Body?

No. Most attempts at such calculations will break down because the whole idea of trolls averaging 2.8 meters tall and only 225kg is ridiculous. One particularly good way of approaching this issue is found in this article.

QUOTE (Renfield)
Also do the Barrier and Armor spells have an Obvious Physical appearance (Ie surrounding the mage in a shiny purple corona?).

I don't know about purple, but the descriptions of both spells say they create a "glowing field" which to me (and every other Dumpshocker I've ever seen discuss the issue) implies that they have an obvious physical appearance.

QUOTE (Renfield)
And What happens if either is permanently Locked/Quickened etc...to a mage?

Really bad things. With the Armor-spell, it's like always wearing a suit of security armor -- you'll get harassed every single time an LE officer sees you, every time you run into a security guard, and if you don't have all the necessary permits (and I'm betting the character in question doesn't) you'll earn yourself a nice 1 year jail term (a Force 6 spell has a Legality Code of 2P-T).

A Barrier spell, on the other hand, is (AFAIK) immobile. It'll stay where first cast, and if it gets taken down by force it stays down. This is the last damn spell you'll want to Quicken on yourself.
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jklst14
post Feb 27 2005, 04:09 PM
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Your players probably love their toys. And I would give them occasional opportunities to blow things up and cause mayhem with their panther cannons and dikoted weapons.

However, I would throw in runs that require discretion or perhaps don't involve combat whatsoever.

Such as:

Due to their impressive street reputation, a yakuza oyabun approaches the party. His daughter is being married and he requires extra security at the wedding. He is concerned about treachery within his own mob family which is why he is turning towards the runners. However, the runners must be discrete so instead of hardened armor and panther cannons, they must rely on armored tuxedos and hold out pistols.
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