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More important is the question:

Would you enjoy playing a game where you never grew in power? Never got to see your skills/stats rise, learn new spells, or get some new cyber laid inside of you to make you faster/stronger/etc?

Perhaps that's a bit extreme....

Would you enjoy a game where you knew you'd start out weaker than average (Say as weak as the Archetypes or weaker) and would never get more than 50 karma to spend?

I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever played in any other game. I don't think I've had a character get more than 35 karma total. My longest lived character only lasted about a year, though.

While gamemastering, I don't think I've given out more than 50 karma. All of the characters that are made for my games use the rules for char gen (rating 6, avail 8, etc.) as published in the books subject to my rulings (like I often allow specific, well expained items with availibilities over 8 if asked about them). These characters usually get about 35 - 50 karma, and usually they only tweak skills a small amount before we either (a) make new characters or (b) the year is up and we all break to go home for a while (we play at school).

-- dash --

I don't play Everquest style where my only point in life is getting more ph4t l00t and uber stats. I play to immerse myself in a world, a setting that I can't get enough of. The interactions between shady criminal people, the barely lit foreboding alleys, the intrigue of the GMs plot... Sure it's fun to have that new toy you were drooling over, but it's nothing, really.
I've enjoyed playing a game where I didn't advance in karma at all, but merely opened up bits of the storyline each game session. It was probably my favorite SR game yet.

I also enjoyed a game where I started low-power and advanced slowly. I don't even know if we got up to 50 karma each over the life of the game (@5 months, I think). The story was solid and the characters were interesting. This was probably my second-favorite campaign.

In my first SR2 campaign, I played a VERY powerful character who received tons of karma & nuyen, as well as access to whatever goodies I could find in a book. The game itself was mediocre, though I had constant opportunities for rapid advancement. It was way too much about how powerful you were compared to last session (and compared to the other characters). The game was not anywhere near enough about the storyline or character development/interaction. The best thing to come out of it was that it got me back into the game and it opened my eyes to what I really cared about in a game.

There have been others, but those three are most representative of the debate.
Sphynx - That was not the discussion in the other thread and no one except you stated that development was blocked at 50 or that characters started weaker than average (and btw Archetypes are average not weaker than average by definition and by game mechanics). There are a number of ways players can grow in power without getting a single point of karma and you're the only one who seems to think the two are linked.

The true question is - what would you as a player prefer?

a) a low-karma campaign with a lot of character interaction, story-oriented character development and group dynamics.
b) a campaign where karma/cash advancement is at least as important as character and story development.
c) a campaign where karma/cash advancement is the priority over story-based character development.
Here's a question. What makes the Archetypes in the book weak? Are starting characters weaker than average if they are generated per the rules? How about 50 karma characters? Are those weak too?

I think the confusion here comes from your scenario experiences. If the game difficulty level is tailored to the characters power level, then they aren't weak.

Sure, if your starting characters are trying to take down a top-notch Ares R&D facility that's in the middle of nowhere and packed full of mil-spec baddies, then yes, you are woefully underprepared. But I think that has more to do with gear than with lack of "power".

But not all runs have to be like that.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy spending karma, but it's more fun just using my skills/abilities and being effective. Once you reach the point where you can consistantly accomplish your tasks effectively, karma advancement becomes almost moot.
It dosn't have to be a choice. Anyone can work the money and the karma and the advancement right into the ritch story, if the game is going to be dedicated and long term. If a game is just a one shot, or a pick up game. Who cares anyway?
No. I like advancing.
The question is what advancing means. My characters are streetscum, and by the end of the campaign they're among the best streetscum. As far as major players go (corps, GDs, IEs) they haven't advanced in power; hell, as far as Lone Star is concerned they've barely advanced. However, relative to their fellow streetscum, they've advanced quite a bit.
It all depends on who you're comparing yourself to, and the first standard of comparison I mentioned I believe the characters should never advance on by any noticable amount except in a deliberately high-powered game.

er....this sentence
Would you enjoy playing a game where you never grew in power?
...and this sentence...
Never got to see your skills/stats rise, learn new spells, or get some new cyber laid inside of you to make you faster/stronger/etc?
...are not mutually exclusive.

You can easliy rise in power without increasing any numeric stats. You can increase your sphere of influence in an area, over people and the amount of friends and associates that are willing to back you up. You could run a campaign like this where you go from a street thug to a crime lord where your stats never had to change to advance is obvious power. Furthermore the character could develop personally giving you a sense of accomplishment that could far outweigh the stat increases.

So yes. I would be okay running or playing in a game like this.

And I thought...
Would you enjoy a game where you knew you'd start out weaker than average (Say as weak as the Archetypes or weaker)
...Archtypes were the canon definition of average... I could be wrong tho.
yes I would play a game with no karma awards and no cash more then is needed to sustain your current lifestyle, as long as the story is good.
Archetypes are the canon definition of average.

I'll agree everyone enjoys "advancing" their character in one respect or another, but I also believe that too much or too little can ruin the game.

Too little advancement (in character personality, karma, cash, reputation, etc.) and the player gets frustrated.

Too much advancement (in the same categories) and the game loses the fun of challenge (i.e. Monty Haul).

Too much advancement of one character beyond the rest (often through what is termed "munchkin" style advancement) can make the game fun for one and less for the rest.

I've participated in all of the above and I now prefer a little Buddhist moderation to make the game fun for everyone.
I think character advancement and roleplaying are both important.

Would I enjoy playing in a game where there were arbitrary limits on what the characters could do or how far they could advance? No.

Would I enjoy playing in a low-powered campaign where I started weak and improved sproradically? Yes, if it was done right.

Would I enjoy playing in a high-powered shoot-em-up where everyone was always obsessed with their stats? No. I could play a light-hearted high-power game, or an epic quest high-power game, but not a "My character is the toughest one!" game. Those are just tiresome.
As I mentioned to Sphynx here and elsewhere, no one actually denies the need for advancement. It is integral to the sense of achievement and to the development of any continuing story and characters within the universe.

The true question was regarding what players view as acceptable types of character development.

I believe that a large number of players, if not the majority, actually like to play low-karma campaigns where the focus is on story- and background-based character and group development, rather than stat/karma based advancement (an example might be a campaign where no one ever makes it past 50 karma despite playing the equivalent of 8-9 adventures but gain considerable power and/or reputations).

Sphynx on the other hand contends that for players (and he IMHO made the mistake of generalizing) to be happy its necessary for there to be stat/karma advancement, at least to the same level as the story-based character development (feel free to correct me if I misread your posts Sphynx).
Nope, that's pretty mcuh it on the head. nyahnyah.gif

I find it hard to believe that players enjoy games where there is little to no karma award, but are instead rewarded via 'good story'. Maybe I'm too much of a munchkin, but I can't WAIT to get my next load of karma and cash.

Don't get me wrong, I'd quit a game just as fast if the story sucked ass. I love role playing, but between games, while talking about what all happened, I'm also excitedly talking about my plans for the next 6 or 12 karma I get.

Sphynx: now in boxes of 60 from your local Dunkin Donuts wink.gif

I completely agree that I'm always looking forward to what I'll do with my next eighteen karma, but I'm typically looking four or five runs down the line for that.

Dun Fe'Ran
I'd have to say that I enjoy having advancement. Cash/Karma is important and fun to use. Monty Haul campaigns always suck, but if I get enough money to cover my costs and save at least a little bit on the side, and enough karma to think about advancing skills after three or four runs, I find it balanced enough. Plot is very very very important, but I think that if characters never gain new skills, they can't face new challenges (or they face these new challenges at a severe or insurmountable disadvantage...). Oh, well. 'Tis only one man's opinion. nuyen.gif
Dr Komuso
I'd just like to go on the record as saying that Sphynx, I understand your point of view completely. I'm not going to go into to much detail, since you've pretty much stated every reason High Power doesn't mean Low Role Playing far more eloquently than I could, and even trying to argue the point seems to be the quickest path to ridicule.

There's nothing inherently superior, storywise, about a 50 karma campaign as opposed to one with no upper limit. Period. An individual GM on either campaign can be better or worse, no duh. Sure, I'd agree that there's more lame High Powered campaigns out there than Low Powered Ones, but that's mainly because High Powered appeals to younger players just as easily as it does to experienced older ones, while Low Powered doesn't.

Of course, this doesn't mean everyone who plays a Low Powered campaign is playing a good campaign, far from it. Some of the most malicious, dull, cliche-using GM's I've ever seen were firm advocates of never getting above 50 karma/5th level/5th circle, whatever.

So anyway, can a campaign without any form of numerical advancement be entertaining? Sure, if that's what you like. Personally, I like to play, you know, Shadowrun 3rd edition, with it's rules for advancment and stuff. So, a qualified No on the issue in my case, but I can see how others might vote Yes.
I honestly can't say that I've ever heard-of a game without advancement. Perhaps it's just that I've never played in a game with that dammn good a story that I didn't care.

Story is more important though. If I'm running a game than I'd rather the players considered the main event to be defeating the bad guy, not buying more gear using the pay.
When I play Shadowrun I never expect my character to survive to live another day. The game is just too deadly to expect that you'll actually defeat the next 'bad guy' to come your way. That's the way I, me, Kurb, enjoy playing the game. Which makes the story of utmost importance to me.

So when/if I do survive, then yes like everyone else that plays (wait a minute, I'm generalizing), let me rephrase...When/If I do survive, then yes I, me, Kurb, calculate figures in my head for advancement and what gear I might be able to buy, but honestly, when I think of that, I think..."Where am I gonna find somebody to teach me this?" or "How the hell am I gonna get that Ranger Arms SM-3" or something along those lines, because I like to roleplay. That's right I said, and I say it proud. I LIKE TO ROLEPLAY, no better yet I LOVE TO ROLEPLAY! Because that's what Shadowrun is, a RPG, RolePlaying Game. So what if I don't advance, doesn't mean that I, me, Kurb, am going to have any less fun. Doesn't mean that if I don't advance that I, me, Kurb am going to have any more fun. It means that next time, I, me, Kurb, need to roleplay even better!

(I don't mean any offense to anybody, I just wanted to read my own ramblin')
Talia Invierno
That continued playability might depend on reasonable PC advancement as well as a solid story seems to be more or less agreed. That what constitutes "advancement" might vary from group to group and from player to player has not.

Some possible different types of advancement which are not solely numeric have already been covered here to some extent. Ironically, the PC I run who is most focussed on maximising abilities and advancement in all its forms is also the least "advanced" of all my active PCs - and the 1000 pointer PC probably has the lowest directly run-related skills of any active PC controlled by any player in the group. Powerful, yes, highest in the group - and closest to the potential for truly world-shaking power. Conventionally "advanced", apparently not. It's just the way it turned out.

However, to maintain the perception of a steady rate of advancement in a tiered system, numeric rewards must steadily increase: for the consumption of karma or nuyen for a one-step improvement of skill or attribute or item increases geometrically, even (in the case of some 'ware) exponentially. I suggest that a player who emphasises numeric advancement over (I do not say "to the exclusion of") storyline and character development will either find themself in a position of diminishing returns, or require a gaming environment that steadily increases the ratio of karma gained to gaming sessions.
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