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Hello all, I've been a regular lurker here at Dumpshock for a couple weeks since I got the SR4 rulebook. Now I've begun running adventures, with some measure of success, but I feel that some of the skills aren't being given equal opportunity to shine. I was wondering what more experienced GM's do to make sure that skills remain worth their point value in games.

For instance, the last adventure was heavy on hacking, gunplay, and espionage. I know that two characters have good mechanical skills, but they only came into play once during the course of the game. Other skills such as Tasking (Technomancer), and Perception I didn't have them roll at all.

Anyone with suggestions how to keep all characters feeling useful. And as a side note for discussion, do you find yourself rolling everything - or letting characters progress with fewer rolls than the book seems to suggest.
James McMurray
Perception should be rolled constantly. If there's someone behind a door they may get a chance to hear them. If there's some small clue they should roll to notice it, etc.

Mechanical skills don't come into play on runs a lot in my experience, they're usually used between runs to fix and upgrade vehicles and drones. You could have some loot avilable on the run that is worth X amount of cash, but double that if they buy a few parts and fix it themselves. Maybe a broken down drone or two. Having six broken microdrones on a workbench could give the character a chance to collect the parts and piece together 2 functional ones.

I don't even comprehend how you can run a game without a Perception test. It's rolled CONSTANTLY.
Unless the technomancer of the group is going up against other sprites (to decompile them), you shouldn't have to worry about Tasking. If the technomancer doesn't use it, that's their problem.
alot of the skills you mentioned are only rolled by those who really know how to utilize them

Perception should be rolled at all times to see if they notice any opposed enemy stealths... or to notice stuff. Think of it as a Spot/listen/search checks all rolled into one.

Tasking is for sprites = poweful allies, if the techno doesn't use them, then it's a waste...

Mechanics are good for souping up bikes, changing out stolen vehicles plates and RFID tags, and or chopping said vehicles for extra cash... If the runners aren't smart enough to steal vehicles before runs, then punish them for it, by having their cars tracked, and them ambushed (or worse car-bombed).

make them think harder to not go the direct routes, and they will start to use outside skills more. Granted good runners will be relying on espionage, hacking and gunplay... but what if they are outstealthed? outhacked? or outgunned? then what will they do. Have them attempt to free a prisoner from a FBI penitentiary.... see how much espionage, hacking, and gunplay will do for them there! (but don't make it too extreme and draw interest away from the group... but always challenge them to think outside the box...)
Big D
Perception is basically the SR equivalent to Spot and Listen.

Any time that you would roll those in D20 (including hidden rolls), you should also do so here.
James McMurray
Which is excellent advice for anyone that plays d20 and knows when those skills would be rolled. smile.gif

If there's a chance something can be seen, heard, smelled, etc. then roll perception. If there's no chance, don't roll it. And then, every so often, roll perception just to keep the players on their toes.
I've played D&D and the d20 variants for years. I'm not someone that's a roll-monger. In fact when at all possible I *Hate* making people roll. I feel it kills the pace and immersion of the game when I need to stop every 10 seconds for someone to roll 8+ dice and count successes. Alot of what I run is based off a gauge of the character's dice they would be rolling. Then I do the tyrant thing and arbitrarily determine if the invisible roll succeeds.

How often in a car chase would you make someone with a skill of 5 (and reaction of 4) roll again? Obviously if he tries to use a ramp as a jump to land on a higher level of the highway, but I mean if it's just a chase as he's trying to outrun Lone Star patrollers?
The chase combat rules as presented in the book are pretty quick and dirty. I would suggest you use those. I understand where you are coming from, but I would suggest you still roll the dice. I see you're trying to go to a "skill of >= X you succeed, if < X you fail." However, some of the fun is rolling those dice and seem how the randomness comes out.

I have had many memorable moments in SR, all because of goofy things that happened with dice rolls. Don't ignore them, they make the game fun and unpredictable.
yeah like the time in sr3 when i rolled 18 dice and got no successes.. therefore I couldn't burn karma to reroll failures.
Dice rolling is representing how well you do something. Someone who is really good at something can still frag it up big time.
Have people make several rolls in advance. use Xs and Os for hits and fails. Keep a quick-sheet showing what each character's pools are for key rolls you want to keep hidden. (i.e. perception, stealth, disguise, ettiquette, etc) Then refer to the list and mark off the die pool as needed.

Or do what I do and just occassionally pick up the list and make gestures with my pen as if I'm marking off stuff and frown. Then I smile.

I use a dice roller on my Palm Pilot. Quick and easy.
James McMurray
I've made up to a hundred rolls in the past and used those when I needed a hidden roll (perception, surprise, etc.). With a small sheet of PC skills (just the ones you'll roll frequently), you can mark them off as you need them. is great for rolling out tons of dice ahead of time. You can roll 20d6 20 times for a total of 400 dice, then cross them off as they're used.
QUOTE (James McMurray)
You can roll 20d6 20 times for a total of 400 dice, then cross them off as they're used.

That sounds like a pretty nifty tool.

As a guy who plays games like WH40k (where you can get upwards of 100 dice rolling at once), one of the easiest ways to make rolling fast is to keep your dice in batches of a convenient number... for SR4, i suggest 5 or 10. Easy to add or drop a couple, toss 'em and count em, and if you've got a few seconds worth of scene description (or one of the other players is talking) it can go real quick.
I've been using that "dice batch" method since SR3, 10 is my magic number.
The Jopp
You could also make them roll perception as they enter a scene/facility/location and note down their successes (modified by edge if they want to) and use those rolls for possible encounters, thus limiting the need for excessive dice rolling.
Big D
Admittedly, I've done most of my RPGing over IRC where it's mandatory, but I can't praise dicebots enough. A laptop or pda with a dicebot (and maybe some pdfs) is a lifesaver.
I used to do some gaming over IRC. Are people still doing it much?
Well don't get me wrong, they still roll on hacking attempts, combat, and anything that's done with some time constraints generally. But for example, in the last game I ran.

The Runners had uncovered an Ares Armored Van currently being held by local gangers. To make things short, they managed to steal into the factory, hack the van and it's weapon mounts and turn those on the gangers. They then stole the van after a blitzkrieg assault on the building.

What followed was a 30 minute chase sequence of their driver manning the steering wheel (manual vehicle, so hacking it wasn't possible) down a highway at high speed. With Lone Star patrol cars in pursuit. So the twin White Knight, mounted LMG's were firing at the Lone Star patrols through the hacker's hardline connection in the back, while the driver drove and everyone else manned doors and returned fire.

During this entire chase scene I only had the driver make 3 rolls. 1 to avoid a crash when a tire was blown out, a second a couple minutes later to keep control, and a third as they took an offramp at 45mph. The gunners made about 2 rolls each. With the exception of the hacker manning the vehicle mounts, who rolled closer to 5 or 6 times.

As you, more experienced GM's, is that too much or too little rolling?
Did it seem to work for you? Thats the only guideline to work by.
(just sneaking in the reasonableness early for once smile.gif)
Probably the only rolls I would have added would be: driving tests at the beginning of each round to see if your escaping runners could maintain or increase their distance. If you do this as per the SR4 "chase combat" rules its pretty quick and easy.
James McMurray
I would definitely have had rolls at the start of each turn, using the chase combat rules.

We played one of the SR Mission scenarios last week and the chase scene in it worked pretty well. It turns out that it's almost impossible to escape from a bunch of people chasing you, no matter how many dice you have. I have about 17 dice for driving and we were fleeing from 6 gangers with low skill. I had basically no chance of getting away until after we shot a few, and by that point it became clear that we'd have them all dead before the three turns of escaping were over.
Well the armored van managed to plow through a barricade and survive. After that, knowing they had slowed pursuit (had to fit single file through the opening they made) but they couldn't lose it. They went around a corner out of sight and the Technomancer hacked the GPS locator and sent it off signalling that they were still on the highway when they took the forementioned offramp.
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