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A matter of curiosity.

In my various and myriad campaigns throughout the last decade or so, I have notably taken a stance towards showmanship over hard rules when it came down to the major showdowns, events, and characters of my games. However, I was pondering the following when it occurred to me, how would you deal (assuming you didn't go straight to the rulebook) with a powerful, willful, influential (in the terms of your campaign) non-awakened NPC (or for that matter, PC, as I've been known to give them advantages at key moments) who was standing toe-to-toe with someone who WAS a super-magic NPC?

Obviously, if you adhered to canon, that character would in all likelihood be mown down by a powerful magical character, but more often than not I find myself wanting either a conflict of characters or types (ie: CyberNPC vs MagicNPC: although this is even MORE problematic in SR4). So it begs the question-how can, or would, you determine a cyber/mundane character to stand up to some magical type of any particular significance? I realize this works directly with your personal feelings as a GM towards your storyline, so those who feel that SR as a GAME would immediately invalidate such a storyline vs. those who see it as more of a exercise in dramatic storytelling (within a setting), but given the relatively huge disparity between powerful Magic vs. powerful Mundane, I was hoping some of the more imaginative players and GMs here who have an equally well internalized knowledge of the rules of SR might chime in with their two...., *ahem*.....2 nuyen.gif
Mundane guy goes first, shoots supah-ninja-mojo-boy in the head twice, wins the fight. Done it plenty of times.
There are limits to what cyber can do and there are limits to what magic can do. In many places they overlap, but at the extremes each has its own advantages. As Critias pointed out, MBW 4 beats Increased reflexes 3 or Improved Reflexes 3 every time.

Such a fight would be centered around exploiding the blids spots in both parasigms. A mundane character with the correct knowledge skills wil know the limits of modern magic and how to exploit them. A magician with the correct knowledge skills will know the limits of modern cyber and ow to exploit them.
What was going on in the conflict leading up to the toe-to-toe battle? Of course, why would you let yourself into a confrontation with the bad guy until you had done something to even the odds.

Say I'm a cybered up street kid who knows which end of a knife to hold, how to find a dry place to sleep at night, and little else. I stumble across a plot by a cabal of corporate magician initiates for world domination that somehow only I can stop. What's the first thing I do? Right, run and hide.

But then I'm gonna call my ganger buddies for protection. Then I'm gonna do some asking around to learn that one of the corp head-honchos sees a call girl that I used to know. Then I'm gonna have a chat with that call girl and learn the corp-guy's address. Then I'm gonna talk a decker buddy into helping me sneak into the place and check out his 'puter. Then I'm gonna find out that there was a member of this cabal that ran away, so I'll go look for him, and he's gonna give me a focus or just some advice that'll let me exploit the achiles heel, and so on....

Now when corp-guy sees me, he'll think he's got it easy, and not try to hard to take down this cyber-kid. but I've really got 20 buddies hiding around the corner to keep his minions busy, magical protection from most of his attacks, and secret knowledge that'll allow me one shot to stop him.

Or maybe that's how you do it, I dunno. If it is, there's nothing wrong with that. Plot devices aren't against canon yet, are they?

Toe on Toe battle... massively cybered guy, deltagrade arms.. vs.. um... A giant stone-covered demon, with a little hole on his throat?

Lots of bouncing around trying to hurt him.. eventually, showdown. He's about to fix his throat.

What does my PC do? Taunt the demon. Tick him off, insult his courage until he agrees to trade 1 shot, 1 hit...
My shot almost killed him. His put me in overdamage (pain editor + high will...) So I reached around and drove a handblade in the hole too. He died. I was calling for immediate medical. I survived.

It.. actually was pretty much hard rolling. Just don't know about the karma side of things.
What do you mean by a "super-magic NPC"? Are we talking Immortal Elf, or just a highly skilled magician with a couple of grades of initiation?

In general, regardless of what the magical character is like, you can't go wrong with boosting the mundanes' Willpower as high as it'll go - it can make them incredibly resistant to the sort of magic most awakened types might think they'll be weakest against.

I play one of those myself, and it's led to at least a couple of amusing situations along the lines of:

GM: "He smiles nastily and turns on you, Blake. *roll, roll, roll* Nothing happens that you can see. He looks frightened. Your action."
Me: "I walk up to him and hit him with a shock glove, full CP." *sound of 12 virtual dice rolling*
Don't forget the Magic Resistance Edge, either.
That edge is a poor choice, given that it nukes friendly magery as well.

Hrmmm. This is what I get for making drunken topics at 2am. Ah well. Having read your posts and thought it through, of course there are ways to take advantage of a seemingly "outclassed" mundane, via the merits of enhanced initiative, marksmanship, strength, numbers, or any combination thereof.

I suppose more to the point of what (I think) I was getting at, how do you balance the fine line between storytelling and gameplay? Should everything be backed up by the rules when you want to have an epic showdown? Would it be defeating the point of the game (in your opinion) if you didn't roll a single die when you described the outcome of a fight?

Obviously opinions will vary, and I have no intention of changing mine, but I notice a lot of discussion over how people handle key events and players in their campaigns, so I was curious as to how they handled it.
caramel frappucino
I don't think that everything has to be backed up by the rules, but they still have to be backed up by rules. While it's cool to bend, twist, and break canon for the sake of fun, you'll still need a means of impartial judgement to keep the game fair and realistic.
I fully support seemingly random changes from highly complex rule fests to diceless GM moderated pysdo-combat, and back again. It keeps things fresh. Plus it makes sure your role players get a chance to shine during the combat that normally your roll players shine during.
Eyeless Blond
Here's a balancing idea: people with *really* high Karma generate a background count. Say rating 1 @ about 250-300 karma, rating 2 at about 750 karma, etc etc? It's not aspected toward or against them or anyting; they've just accumulated so much experience that it creates a tangible backwash in the mana around them. So it's actually a bad thing for mages, as it happens to them as well, and it would mean that most IEs are walking around in their own personal Mana Warps, but too damn bad for them. nyahnyah.gif

Or just give the mundane the Astral Hazing flaw. smile.gif
QUOTE (FiveVenoms @ Oct 5 2005, 01:58 PM)
I suppose more to the point of what (I think) I was getting at, how do you balance the fine line between storytelling and gameplay?  Should everything be backed up by the rules when you want to have an epic showdown?  Would it be defeating the point of the game (in your opinion) if you didn't roll a single die when you described the outcome of a fight?

Obviously opinions will vary, and I have no intention of changing mine, but I notice a lot of discussion over how people handle key events and players in their campaigns, so I was curious as to how they handled it.

Not rolling a single die? Well, if there are any PCs involved, I'd say that's definitely a bad idea - it's a game, not a story.

If you're just describing a confrontation between two NPCs, that's another matter.

However, I feel that if you do more than just fudge things a bit to make things more interesting or cinematic, and have the uber-NPCs doing things that the PCs know are impossible, you end up cheapening things the PCs have legitimately accomplished through skill and luck.
Kyoto Kid
Night Angel did it with her lil' ol' Ares Super Squirt (Loaded with Gamma S Base 10D Stun). Darn near used half the the reservoir, but took down a mean nasty mage/adept who was channelling a sprit at the time.

Of course it helped that she had a raging Stealth (Spec: Hide) skill, a few friends along to distract him now & then, and got off a couple of wicked over-Deadly shots (+1 to power of compound/poison per 2 successes over deadly).

Pure rules all the way in my campaigns.

Which is why I make use of house rules to correct anything in the published system I'm not willing to live with.
First, lets pretend its a Grade 1 initiate Vs all-alpha-or-better street sam, no MBW 4 but Improved 2 at least. That gives us a general scope.

Situation one: Now, lets start with the traditional dueling method of taking ten steps, turning and firing. No spells can be cast before this, so no focuses are gonna be active. They turn, draw and the Street Sam fires first. Chances are, he scores, oh....Eight successes? Yeah, poor little mage better have a lot of body and armor.

Situation two: Street sam turns the corner. Gets a surprise test against an expecting mage. Depending on if the mage is standing there, glowing in full magical fashion or if he's partially hidden, its about a 50/50 shot who goes first. Street sam goes, there's a fair chance the mage eats lead. Mage goes first, good chance the street sam's brains are melting from his skull.

Oh, and by the way, the Mage might have any sort of traps prepared, including a TV with a camera that lets him know how fast the Street Sam approaches, so he might walk right into a fireball.

Situation 3: "Hide and seek." Put two people in different areas and let them find one another, Halo Deathmatch style. The Mage might get the drop on the sam since many mages invest their skill points into stealth, or the street sam might scope the mage on a ladder and snipe him, KIA. My money is probably on the mage because he might likely have invis up, as well as armor, all sustaining foci'd. Then its just a matter of time.

So yeah, different scenerio, different logical results.

Of course, I.E. I've always counted as mystical adepts who have natural armor bonuses due to special Adept powers as of yet unidentified by the shadow-worlds.
Space Ghost
This is one thing that can be handled better in SR4. The super-badass magician may be a high level initiate, but it doesn't mean he has Edge. Lacking a "karma pool", a human with the "Lucky" quality might pull through be sheer force of coolness. If you read comics, ask yourself how the Punisher goes toe-to-toe with various super-enhanced badguys. Edge is the answer.

Of course, the magician can max out his edge, too...
Theatre drama is a nice touch, but it really depends on the players and the GM.

Dramatic moments tend to be wasted on das uber number crunchers, hence the question of the group.

Personally, the more relevant the confrontation, encounter, whatever, the more I'll determine from the character's choices instead of the player's dice rolls.

Take the climactic endscene from Halequin's Back, for example. Imagine if they added "All characters who chose to stay at the bridge make a willpower (eight) test. Consult the following table to determine how they feel when they wake up."

Would cheapen it, if you ask me.

Now, I'm not saying ignore the rules. If they wanna do something that requires a dice roll, then of course let them roll. But consider their intentions and what's dramatically appropriate in determining the results of that roll. A big part of a GM's role is to interpret.

And I'm not saying this'll always work to the PC's advantage, either. If a character is dumb enough to go full-frontal with his arch-nemesis before we've had a chance to build the suspense, I can pretty much guarantee that the bad-guy will somehow escape, even if the player is rolling hot. Some folks here will see that as rail-roading, but I see it as an issue of degrees.

edit: smilies when you don't want them.....
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