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I'll be honest... as much as I try and keep the amount of crap flying around in my games toned down, that same part of me that looks at anything milspec and goes "coooool" bleeds over into the games that I run. If you make it through this post and go "damn, that's not the game I wanna run at all," then hey, you only wasted a few minutes.

What's my image for Shadowrun? DocWagon is truly a force to be feared when they show up for an HRT pickup in their t-bird, miniguns and auto-GLs going full cyclic while the two medics and their sam/borg backups pile out of the rear door. Ares security forces are usually packing something bizarre that's in "field testing" and itching to use it. The occasional high-profile corporate operation going on deep in the Barrens will, likely as not, have t-birds, powered-armored troops, heavy weapons, and indirect fire support if what they want to achieve doesn't involve being friendly to the locals, and usually none of their gear will have logos on it just to avoid cutting into the bottom line if they cack some customer's cousin. Nuclear materials in 55 gallon drums full of concrete. Glass-filled labs full of nasty chemicals and biological agents. Multi-acre heavy industry plants with bubbling vats of flux and acid, completely automated. Electric fences that make your hair stand up from 5 meters away. Often times these will just be scenery, a backdrop to the run actually going on... sometimes they'll involve the runners simply because they've got the bad luck to be nearby and show up on sensors.

This is the dark future, folks, where half the world is interlinked by computers, killer drones float in the skies disguised as adblimps waiting for targets, corporations have free reign on their own property to do whatever they like, and shadowrunners are the gutter-scum disposable operators of the corporate movers and shakers of the shadows. Sure, a bunch of the scum get runs like "sneak into this minor manufacturing facility and hax their computer to stamp out smiley faces," but with so many cool toys just drifting around the world, they're going to brush up against the big stuff occasionally. When they do, it should be deafeningly loud, blindingly bright, bone-jarringly heavy, and impressive enough to get the point across to your runners that they need to think quick and plan smart, if they want to survive.

Classic runners have raw skill, choice gear, small numbers, and Edge on their side... they're quiet, nimble, and quick, like a scalpel. Their opposition should be the opposite; large numbers, reliable gear, group tactics and security plans make them loud, solid, and slow, like a sledgehammer. It honestly doesn't matter how much rockin' gear, amazing skill, raw karma or nuyen you hand the runners, because if the campaign is structured to properly challenge them, the people they're getting hired to work against are hardcore enough that they should need every bit of "overpower" most people would say they've got, as well as some smarts, to come through it in one piece.

You don't hire the elite of the shadows to knock over a mom-and-pop or rough up someone who owes you money. You hire them to go where the security is rock solid, the guards are rough and ready, and their skills will be pushed to the limit because they're the least expensive team the Johnson was convinced could pull the job off... and because if (or when, if you prefer) everything goes straight to hell, they stand a fighting chance of coming out on top because they can hit hard when they need to, and avoid drawing fire when they don't need to. If your player group is rolling around with their skills and equipment redlined and blowing past all the opposition, they obviously should be moving up in the world.

A bunch of the people I run for like putting together powerful characters. "Primary" skills cruising in the 5-6 range at character creation, applicable stats as high as they'll go with cyber/magic/the drug cocktail they call "blood." They're good at their jobs, because the people who aren't don't get hired, or don't survive the run. I tweak the game a little to fix random things that don't sit well with me, and try to run a game with a challenge level aimed at the characters I've got.

A few security guys on the night watch not posing enough of a threat? How about a NAN platoon guarding the silver mine you're trying to sneak into, including a slaved drone gun network, satellite surveillance, millimeter-wave radar, and an opposition runner team somewhere in the same valley, just for kicks? Not worried about the auto-gyro that chased 'em into the building they're in at the moment? How about his backup moving into the area over the next hour or so you spend inside with scoped Panthers on rooftops, heavy weapons teams roadblocking the nearby streets, mortar teams setting up on a nearby building, and elementals cruising around at 500 feet ASL in case they try and make a break for it? As long as players and GM are having fun, you're not railroading the players, the game's a challenge, and smart players can make it through in one piece if they keep their wits about 'em, I don't think there really is such a thing as "too high powered." Too high powered for the campaign you want to run, or for the characters that are in it... but never too high powered simply because it is.

And you know what? It's a hell of a lot of fun to be the guys in the trenchcoats that half a platoon is trying to find in the maze of burned-out buildings they're supposed to have secured but don't particularly care to maintain, if you're a character that's capable of handling that kind of pressure. It's a hell of a lot of fun to be the guys trying to get 50 kilos of plastic explosives into the superstructure of a building, if there's a challenge to it, and you're not just doing it because it'll "make a good distraction and let me offload all this Semtex" while you try and steal a car across the street. It's a hell of a lot of fun to be the guy who leaps from the back door of the van through the windshield of the armored truck that your buddy just blew out at 90 miles an hour, because that's what it's gonna take to rescue your teammate before they get him downtown to lockup. Sometimes, you gotta be sneaky and cool, getting in and out without anyone being the wiser. And sometimes, loud and flashy's the best way to do it. Often times, it's also the most entertaining.
I think that that picture, is kind of the way SR really started. I mean, they originally had the Rocker archetype.

I think that style of game reminds me of aeon flux, where the enemy troops were killed in the 1000's per episode.
I'd say that's a bit much for me... I'm not sure most shadowrunning groups carry a thousand rounds of ammo smile.gif If the characters decide it's time to flip out and kill people, putting down an entire squad of guys they're properly equipped for and have ambushed should be well within their scope.

But that squad may have biomonitors, those biomonitors may talk to computers, those computers may clue in the five other squads and their "support" squad of guys in powered armor, and the building may go into complete lockdown complete with dropping security doors, motion-activated gas systems, and autogun-packing drones roaming the hallways.

Those aren't good odds. But they're the kind of odds Shadowrunners bump up against as part of the business, and the group's Johnson should know them well enough to know they can handle the odds for where they're being sent. Suppressing both ends of a hallway while your technician mono-saws his way through the wall seperating you from the lab you're trying to break into will certainly keep you on your toes.

If your players are used to the scale of the responses, they'll start planning accordingly. Better plans on the way in, better options for the shit hitting the fan, more assertive actions when the situation gets dicey. All the best money is in the corporation's back yard, where they get to play with all their toys... and I've hardly met a runner yet that didn't want to take a shot at the big scores.
You know, I actually ran a campaign similar to this style, but the setting was different. The PCs were a small group (5 man team) that hired themselves out as a SpecOps detatchment to larger Mercenary groups in different parts of the world. They worked mostly in the Balkans and North Africa, but did end up in some other venues. They did anti-establishment and covert terrorist jobs, as well as doing deep recon and key target neutralization for some of the bigger players.

There were always lots of explosions, incoming fire, armored vehicles, airsupport, and a host of other war-level things going on. In fact, I actually ran them through a sort of "Black Hawk Down" scenario in Marrakech, Morroco. It went REALLY well and was lots of fun. The runners even had to resort to picking up enemy weapons because they used all of their carried ammunition just trying to stay alive.

My only issue with this game style being set in a metropolis like Seattle is that it seems to stretch the plausible. Too much craziness turns the feel of the game from Shadowrun to Rifts. But as always, YMMV.
I really, really like this view. I generally tend toward low-powered, street-level runs, at least until the runners build up the reputation to start working the corps for big nuyen. Once they do, however, I implement a great deal of the over-the-top type of material mentioned here. While I try to temper that a little bit by considering things like cost vs. return from the corp standpoint, I make sure the corps are keeping in mind "potential costs" of letting the shadowrunners escape with all their limbs and grey matter. Extraterritoriality ensures the prevalence of high lethality, leading to high anxiety.

And frankly, even beyond all that, sometimes it's just really fun to pull out all the stops and watch the team under your tender auspices freak the fuck out.
It's just the game I am aiming for. Since my players choose not to be overpowered, and they were pampered by previous GMs, it might take a while.
heh, i had a new player (to SR) of mine start of with a LMG and 200 round of ammo (he is allso a orc and ride a scorpion). he used it to crash a gang hangout, but went full auto and hit nada silly.gif (recoil reduced his pool to two dice, i forgot about the double recoil for heavy weapons).

some day i will hit them with the full force of a megacorp on the rampage wink.gif
Hey, there's nothing that says you can't have huge scary stuff in a lower-level campaign. Trick is to make it more "scenery you have to be careful of" and less "massive amounts of autofire coming their way." Get your players used to the thought of fearing and respecting this stuff early on, and later, when they're feeling ballsier (or find their backs to the wall) let them figure out how to deal with it directly.

Yeah, that's the vision I have of Shadowrun as well.

I've started out my players at a much lower powerlevel but hope they'll survive long enough to work up to that.
Some of the elements of this work fine at low power levels. A lot of the seemingly "overpowering" aspects (a power-armored trooper, for example) can become an interesting puzzle, if you field them by the handful rather than the platoon. Other aspects like omnipresent surveillance (my players are beginning to learn that in SR4, there's a lot of places where it'd essentially be more expensive *not* to bug something... hell, restaurants even bug their tables sometimes, with a waiter or wine guy on call somewhere in case they start getting thirsty, but are thinking about asking for the check) can be worked in without becoming a major source of player fatalities... it's just a question of adjusting what your antagonists do with what they've got. The *scale* of what they've got is what I like to have be impressive, and the amount of power they can bring to bear when it's appropriate.

Or, to put it another way... if you're running a campaign where a Ganger with an AK-97 and Cram in his blood is lethal to your players, what's the worst that cybered SpecOps troopers in heavy body armor with thermoptic camoflage can do... kill them more?
For starters, I made them fear the Star again.

I like them to roll with several APC and some faster vehicles, still armored and armed, security mage(s) and drone coverage (mostly recon drones, but also some heavily armed ones). Of course they are mostly grunts, but still a serious threat (thanks to SR4 wink.gif).

(Funny thing, I later discovered in the New Seattle Sourcebook that this kind of response is canon biggrin.gif.)
QUOTE (Butterblume @ Apr 27 2006, 03:27 PM)
For starters, I made them fear the Star again.

I like them to roll with several APC and some faster vehicles, still armored and armed, security mage(s) and drone coverage (mostly recon drones, but also some heavily armed ones). Of course they are mostly grunts, but still a serious threat (thanks to SR4 wink.gif).

(Funny thing, I later discovered in the New Seattle Sourcebook that this kind of response is canon biggrin.gif.)

I run the Star in a similar fashion, but starting from a small response and escalating. A lone patrolman or 2-man cruiser rolling up to investigate a call (or witnessing something suspicious). Assessing the situation, you know he's gonna call backup when he realizes a bunch of well-armed, well-trained professional criminals are on the scene, not to mention that shadowrunners have something of a reputation (at least in my games) among the media and such as bloodthirsty psychos. More cruisers appear and start blocking off exits. FRT squads are deployed and Citymasters follow. If the situation gets even uglier, SWAT units are introduced, and that's where the bigger APCs, armed drones, and helicopters start making an appearance.
Any Star officer who's been around for a while (and that's supposed to be at least one of the guys in a patrol car) knows he can't do much to serve the public good if he's got a sucking chest wound. Leaping out of the patrol car and yelling "Freeze!" at the troll with the LMG is going to get you and your partner turned into sushi. It's certainly not going to accomplish anything positive. All the advanced communications, support gear, and tactical response teams in the world won't solve being dead.

On the other hand, calling for backup, staying out of the threat radius, and trying to keep an eye on the hardened criminals until back up shows up? You stay safer, the criminals might get caught, and if nothing else, you get to go home at the end of the day and see your kids. And it lets the GM ( vegm.gif ) break out those high-end HTR teams he so loves...
It's all about what your players want. If they want to be all stealthy and pull runs without every firing a shot (or firing a shot will mean certain doom), fine go with that. The tension will come from those "will we be discovered?" scenes. Other players want big guns, explosions, and lots shooting. That's fine too.

I don't think anyone can say "this is what SR is." Make whatever your players find the most fun. All power to you!
I've actually discovered that having those huge opposition forces, highly advanced security, and major threats hanging out in reserve caters to either style pretty well. It's simply a matter of adjusting the danger level to the characters involved.

Most of the big scary stuff ends up rolled in as scenery, rather than opposition, and it's just my take on the whole thing. But when you're up late at night with loud music going, sometimes you gotta let all that out, you know? devil.gif
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