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NightmareX
I lurk more than post here on Dumpshock, but I've noticed in the past year or so a trend that I see in my gaming group too. Perhaps it's the influx of new people (no offense guys). But in any case, it seems alot of folk think the only solution to dealing with a "rules object" (ie a spell or bit of 'ware or adept power or whatever) is to counter it with a different rules object - I blame this on WotC in a way. Likewise, it seems that the general trend is to meet force with force - PCs having a tendency to use the kick-the-door guns blazing method of problem solving, or GMs solving the "problem" of well stated PCs by throwing piles of NPCs at them.

While this is fine and dandy, it leads to an arms race mentality which, IMO, is not the point of SR.

Shadowrun is, IMO, all about balance of power. A PC has Move-by-Wire III, has a maxed out commlink and programs, or can cast a Force 10 Fireball without breaking a sweat? Big deal. There's plenty of folks in the world that can equal or surpass them, and organizations (corps, governments, etc) can always, always out gun, out man, and out spend them and hunt them down like dogs if necessary. That applies to the corps, mobs, and governments too - they may have the power to seriously make their opposition's day a living hell, but the opposition can do the same to them. Balance is achieved.

In such a situation, it is not how big your gun or fireball is, how l33t your skills are, how hot your 'ware is, or how high your attributes are that means difference behind success and failure. It is how well, how smartly you use the advantages you have.

It is thus my opinion that the point - other than having fun - of Shadowrun is to be a devious, evil bastard...and be very, very cool doing it smokin.gif This is what I miss, I realize, about old school running from previous editions, and why I miss the sage advice of Blackjack cool.gif

Thoughts?
deek
Well, I think the main response I want to make to this is, the "point" of SR is different for every gaming table. I've played in groups where everyone was about their stats and gear and trying to have the highest dice pools to throw...and the GM was there just to present challenges that we had to really work hard to overcome...not my favorite kind of group, but it can be fun with the right people.

Other tables focus on the challenges the GM puts up and the stories s/he brings to the table. Taking a look at many of those char gens would make most min/maxers laugh, because they are pretty weak by comparison, but if the whole group is balanced, then its all relative and therefore the GM doesn't have to throw piles of NPCs at them, because the power level is toned down and just a couple well-built NPCs could present a tough challenge.

I guess I have never felt that SR is about being a devious, evil bastard...to me it has always been about running the shadows in an abysmal, high-tech, high-magic world, where daily life sucks, but out in the shadows, you feel alive, make some good nuyen and don't have to worry about where next month's rent is coming from. And because all the megacorps are corrupt, getting paid by their losses is doing the world a good deed!
Prime Mover
I think its all in style and skill of the GM, I'm always trying to outwit and outscrew my players and they now it, its the nature of there job as shadowrunners. And they've come to expect no less then a good challenge not just good firefight. It always helps to really keep a backstory alive to, deadbeat relatives, exwives, kids etc.... I think this keeps there lives in perspective and can help ya set your tone away from "Me kill now" attitude.

But don't get me wrong some days its just damn fun to kick in the door guns blazeing and pull a neo.....but they better damn well not think there just gonna walk out back door/sewer/parachute off roof and not ever have to worry about retaliation or roundabout payback. "For every action in the shadows theres an equal or greater then reaction."


Players lives in begining should be hard,gritty and a challenge, as there "game" improves so should there chances but not because of firepower...because of smarts earned from a hard knocks life in the shadows.
Fuchs
We started with the "us against the GM" style, all professional, all maxed out, always trying to be a step ahead of the GM. Over the years, I burned out, as player and as GM, of trying to match wits every week.

These days, our campaign is more about a couple of less-than-perfect runners trying to survive the troubles and whacky situations they end up in. For planning, I use an NPC leader, and the players know they won't be punished for screwing up a plan or run.

As long as all have fun you're doing it right.
Whipstitch
QUOTE (Fuchs @ Aug 3 2007, 12:07 PM)
As long as all have fun you're doing it right.

Exactly. Some people like RP at the expense of all else. Others want to play Monty Haul games, ever tweaking their character towards some ideal state ala Diablo. Others view RPGs as an excercise in collaborative problem solving. Whatever floats your boat.

[Edit]
And for the record, I think there's plenty of ways to give people meaningful choices in SR4 without boiling things down to an arms race. It's a pretty flexible system that hasn't been around long enough to truly suffer from meaningful sourcebook powerbloating. If powerbloat isn't a problem in your SR3 games, than I'm really curious as to how it could be a problem in SR4.
Caine Hazen
QUOTE (Whipstitch)
QUOTE (Fuchs @ Aug 3 2007, 12:07 PM)
As long as all have fun you're doing it right.

Exactly. Some people like RP at the expense of all else. Others want to play Monty Haul games, ever tweaking their character towards some ideal state ala Diablo. Others view RPGs as an excercise in collaborative problem solving. Whatever floats your boat.

Wait...what?!?!?

Actually why I got rid of the guys in my group who would argue a rules call for hours on end. It was too much like being here on my game day rotfl.gif
Moon-Hawk
QUOTE (Caine Hazen)
Actually why I got rid of the guys in my group who would argue a rules call for hours on end. It was too much like being here on my game day rotfl.gif

HA! biggrin.gif
PlatonicPimp
Fun? FUN? Running isn't 'sposed to be fun! You're commiting highly illegal acts for dirty cahs because you're desperate, all kinds of nasty people are trying to kill you in new and creative ways, and and if your lucky you get out with the goods and your hide intact, with only one or two good friends left for dead, and after getting double crossed by your Johnson, still managing to grab enough money for repairs, reloads and a can af beans before your fixer calls with another suicidal job offer. Does that sound like fun to you?!
Fuchs
Playing Shadowrun is supposed to be fun. If it is not fun, then one needs to change how one plays, or stop playing.
PlatonicPimp
Bah. Fun is for hippie commies. You're not a hippie-commie, are you?
Fortune
QUOTE (PlatonicPimp)
Fun? FUN? Running isn't 'sposed to be fun! You're commiting highly illegal acts for dirty cahs because you're desperate, all kinds of nasty people are trying to kill you in new and creative ways, and and if your lucky you get out with the goods and your hide intact, with only one or two good friends left for dead, and after getting double crossed by your Johnson, still managing to grab enough money for repairs, reloads and a can af beans before your fixer calls with another suicidal job offer. Does that sound like fun to you?!

Yep! Sign me up! biggrin.gif
Ol' Scratch
I think the original poster is just confusing discussions about various rules, gear and powergaming with how people actually play the game. There's a huge difference between the two.

I'll be one of the first people to jump into a discussion about what is better than what and why, conversations about obscure and weird rules and what pages you can reference them on, potential problem areas in the rules and how they can be abused, and all that sort of thing. But when it comes down to it, I almost always play a down and dirty character with crappy stats and even crappier gear because I find it far more entertaining to play in that fashion than being a "perfect' character with no chance of real competition (well, without the GM and me going through some kind of dick-waving exercise). Even though I could create such a character, I'd be bored to death playing him.

Conversely, knowing all those little loopholes and quirks in the system means I have a better chance of finding away around such things when they do crop up, both as a player and a GM. That's probably the biggest advantage of those discussions.
Kyoto Kid
QUOTE (NightmareX)
In such a situation, it is not how big your gun or fireball is, how l33t your skills are, how hot your 'ware is, or how high your attributes are that means difference behind success and failure. It is how well, how smartly you use the advantages you have.

...this is a very good point.

A little story...

[ Spoiler ]
toturi
QUOTE (NightmareX)
Shadowrun is, IMO, all about balance of power. A PC has Move-by-Wire III, has a maxed out commlink and programs, or can cast a Force 10 Fireball without breaking a sweat? Big deal. There's plenty of folks in the world that can equal or surpass them, and organizations (corps, governments, etc) can always, always out gun, out man, and out spend them and hunt them down like dogs if necessary. That applies to the corps, mobs, and governments too - they may have the power to seriously make their opposition's day a living hell, but the opposition can do the same to them. Balance is achieved.

In such a situation, it is not how big your gun or fireball is, how l33t your skills are, how hot your 'ware is, or how high your attributes are that means difference behind success and failure. It is how well, how smartly you use the advantages you have.

There are as many folks that can equal or surpass them as the GM can create as Equal or better NPCs. You have to assume that your opposition is going to be able to be as smart as you are. In such a situation, it is not only how well or how smartly you use the advantages you have, but how big your gun or fireball is, how l33t your skills are, how hot your 'ware is, or how high your attributes are that means difference behind success and failure.

I was playing in a Spycraft game and there was a spread of levels from 8-14. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the lower level PCs kept getting badly hurt(because the higher levels kept having to save their asses) despite the IC smarts they were displaying. When the players asked why certain tactics work for the higher level PCs and not for them, the GM simply pointed to the character sheets and said that their PCs talked a good fight but were outclassed and didn't know they were in over their heads.

When there are game mechanics to dictate the success of IC tactics, being "smart" might turn into liability. For example, if you do not have Tactics(or some similar skill) and you try to lure an enemy into an ambush, chances might be that you screwed it up and the enemy beats down your supposed ambush.
Talia Invierno
There are as many ways to play Shadowrun as there are groups.

That being said: every single response to the original post thus far seems to assume that once a given group establishes a style of play, that style remains for the most part static. It is seen as possible to learn more of "proper" play, to grow to take one's understanding of playing within the SR world beyond two-dimensional newbie innocence: but entering a slippery slope hasn't once been considered.

What NightmareX is saying has nothing whatsoever to do with game balance, or one group's style of play as opposed to another's. Rather, it is that the tone in NightmareX's group has changed, and that the direction of the change seems to be similar to an observed change in the way the most vocal Dumpshockers approach challenges.

I've noticed the same thing.

Unfortunately, once an arms race is established (or once the preferred reaction starts to become force in all situations), we never yet have had a resolution that didn't involve something giving way.
Fuchs
We solved that in talking, and starting a new campaign. Same players, different characters and setting.
imperialus
QUOTE (PlatonicPimp)
Bah. Fun is for hippie commies mutant traitors. You're not a hippie- commie, mutant traitor are you?

FiFY
PlatonicPimp
No, friend citizen, you have it wrong. Fun is mandatory. You WILL have fun. you don't seem to be having fun. please report immediately to the happy fun time correction center and pharmacy.
l33tpenguin
Player style can also be a reflection on how the GM runs the game. I've experianced games where the min maxer was the one who shined, even though the GM could barely stand the player/character. However, ever time we went up against a challenge, it was the min/maxer with the uber powerful character that was the hero. This was a fault of the GM. Any time other players tried to use methods besides brute force to accomplish tasks, we were met with min/maxed npcs that were impossible to defeat with out a min/maxed application of brute force. Try to bluff our way in? Test numbers too high, we fail, bad guys are onto us. Try to use stealth? Not enough successes to sneak past the bad guys, we fail, combat results. Indimidation? Nope, that doesn't work either. Each time we said we gave up on other methods, but we kept trying them anyway, only to have them thrown back in our faces because we couldn't get enough successes. Then the GM just put us up against harder and harder opponents in an attempt to beat our min/maxer 'by the books' which left the rest of us in the dust, acting as background noise while he guy won the day over and over. Since the GM ALSO wouldn't do anything like... oh, kill someone off. So, not only would we be unable to use anything but brute force to stop the NPCs, if left to the rules, these same NPCs would have killed us each time if the GM didn't fudge some rolls.
I remember getting hit once and the GM told me the damage. I just looked at him and was like "I'm dead" he says "What?" and I show him, "I can take X damage, MAX, you did X^2" he says "oh, well, you are just unconcious."

yeah... so.. that whole run on sentence/paragraph is really a rant... but still should be considered.
Glyph
Like the Doc said, there's a big difference between how posters discuss rules issues and how they actually play the game. But even in those threads, the "arms race" posters are only a vocal minority. There are also posters who advocate discussing game balance issues OOC with the players, those who advocate focusing the game onto other areas if one character is dominating one single area, and those who advocate tactics over power-bludgeoning from the GM.


I agree that brains and tactics can make more of a difference than raw power, but you're making the same mistake the "roleplaying vs. min-maxing" people make. You're assuming that two unrelated things are incompatible. The truth is, you can be a dull hack-and-slasher whose min-maxing is botched, and you can also be a devious tactician with a brutally-tweaked character.

And tactics may be more effective, but Shadowrun is also a game where it comes down to the cold, unforgiving dice, and if you have more of them to throw down, you succeed more. Tactics can find you an exploitable hole in an installation's defenses, but you will still need to roll stealth, con, electronics, or some other skill at some point.
NightmareX
QUOTE (Doctor Funkenstein)
I think the original poster is just confusing discussions about various rules, gear and powergaming with how people actually play the game.  There's a huge difference between the two.

Very true and highly likely Dr. Also helps that it was getting late (for me) when I posted that wink.gif But basically what bemoaning is that discussion is seemingly overtaken by arms race style solutions, which in a way I think presents a regrettable image of the game to new folk. Don't get me wrong, I think rules discussion is great and necessary too (like about the new Matrix..oi). But I think the style end of things is a tad overlooked at least in public presentation these days. Again, no offense to anyone.

QUOTE (toturi)
I was playing in a Spycraft game and there was a spread of levels from 8-14. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the lower level PCs kept getting badly hurt(because the higher levels kept having to save their asses) despite the IC smarts they were displaying. When the players asked why certain tactics work for the higher level PCs and not for them, the GM simply pointed to the character sheets and said that their PCs talked a good fight but were outclassed and didn't know they were in over their heads.

When there are game mechanics to dictate the success of IC tactics, being "smart" might turn into liability. For example, if you do not have Tactics(or some similar skill) and you try to lure an enemy into an ambush, chances might be that you screwed it up and the enemy beats down your supposed ambush.

But of course - a large part of being smart and thus devious is understanding one's own limitations and not exceeding them. Low stats are limitations. Note I never said having high stats was bad (hell, I min max like no tomorrow as a player) or not useful, rather I was just saying that high stats aren't the end all and be all in a realistic game.

QUOTE (Talia Invierno)
What NightmareX is saying has nothing whatsoever to do with game balance, or one group's style of play as opposed to another's.  Rather, it is that the tone in NightmareX's group has changed, and that the direction of the change seems to be similar to an observed change in the way the most vocal Dumpshockers approach challenges.

I've noticed the same thing.

Unfortunately, once an arms race is established (or once the preferred reaction starts to become force in all situations), we never yet have had a resolution that didn't involve something giving way.

Yup, that's precisely what I'm saying. Now definitely there are those of us that still play old school (so to speak), like KK - sweet story btw wink.gif, but it does seem that a shift toward D&D style play (yuck) be going on. Hopefully I'm wrong.

Personally, in order to stop arms races once started, I think the best way to accomplish such is to approach the problem asymmetrically (as a GM, if your a player in an arms race with the GM, well you can either back down or end up screwed). Instead of just throwing bigger, better, more at the killing machine of ultimate l33t DOOM that your PCs have become, throw challenges at them that make them think, that their uberness is useless (or detrimental) against. But then this too has been said somewhere.

QUOTE (l33tpenguin)
Then the GM just put us up against harder and harder opponents in an attempt to beat our min/maxer 'by the books' which left the rest of us in the dust, acting as background noise while he guy won the day over and over.  Since the GM ALSO wouldn't do anything like... oh, kill someone off.

This is precisely the sort of thing I'm speaking against.
toturi
QUOTE (NightmareX @ Aug 4 2007, 04:37 PM)
QUOTE (toturi)
I was playing in a Spycraft game and there was a spread of levels from 8-14. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the lower level PCs kept getting badly hurt(because the higher levels kept having to save their asses) despite the IC smarts they were displaying. When the players asked why certain tactics work for the higher level PCs and not for them, the GM simply pointed to the character sheets and said that their PCs talked a good fight but were outclassed and didn't know they were in over their heads.

When there are game mechanics to dictate the success of IC tactics, being "smart" might turn into liability. For example, if you do not have Tactics(or some similar skill) and you try to lure an enemy into an ambush, chances might be that you screwed it up and the enemy beats down your supposed ambush.

But of course - a large part of being smart and thus devious is understanding one's own limitations and not exceeding them. Low stats are limitations. Note I never said having high stats was bad (hell, I min max like no tomorrow as a player) or not useful, rather I was just saying that high stats aren't the end all and be all in a realistic game.

But that is precisely what I am saying. If you have low stats, you might not know your own limitations. High stats can be the end all and be all in a realistic game, especially in a game with rules that exist to cover metagamish situations.

QUOTE
Then the GM just put us up against harder and harder opponents in an attempt to beat our min/maxer 'by the books' which left the rest of us in the dust, acting as background noise while he guy won the day over and over.


And there is the crux of the matter. Unless the rest of you seriously gimped your PCs, the min-maxer won't actually be that much ahead of you. As a GM, when confronted by a challenging PC, there are various methods of dealing with him. You can go strength on strength or you can target his weaknesses and highlight the other PCs' strengths(the other PCs do have their own strengths, right? Right?).
Ravor
Of course some people have come to the conclusion that just because char-gen allows you to literally make characters that are the best-of-the-best-world-class it doesn't mean that it's realistic to create a team of such Runners in anything but a world-class Prime Runner cmapaign.
Kyoto Kid
QUOTE (glyph)
I agree that brains and tactics can make more of a difference than raw power, but you're making the same mistake the "roleplaying vs. min-maxing" people make. You're assuming that two unrelated things are incompatible. The truth is, you can be a dull hack-and-slasher whose min-maxing is botched, and you can also be a devious tactician with a brutally-tweaked character.

And tactics may be more effective, but Shadowrun is also a game where it comes down to the cold, unforgiving dice, and if you have more of them to throw down, you succeed more. Tactics can find you an exploitable hole in an installation's defenses, but you will still need to roll stealth, con, electronics, or some other skill at some point.

...point well taken. In the game at the con, many of the highest level characters were sadly, run by by the "stereotypical" chest thumping ├╝ber-power-gamer. One of them even laughed about the "silly" 10th level ranger I had and how he didn't stand a chance, (this player's character bit it halfway through). On the other hand, there were a few others, (particularly one mage who could have blown just about anything away) who did play very smart and didn't just blast away with fireballs and lightning bolts at every turn. .

Yes, tactics are important, but I agree, you need the skills and abilities to make them work. Sometimes it requires split second decisions like having the Toll Adept with 5 levels of critical strike take the door out because the B&E specialist's' Passkey just scrambled the maglock.

Granted, nobody can predict just what the dice will do, A few more bad rolls on our team's part and the outcome would have been different. But that is part of the suspense for you never know how the dice will come up. In one mission I GMd, a PC with a total pool of 18 dice needing 6s (SRIII) failed to roll even one success. When rolling a force 4 spirit's resistance to a binding attempt once, I got 6 hits on 8 dice while the mage failed to get any.

In SR I have seen some well run Min Max characters who used their abilities when the time was right and didn't steal the thunder from the rest of the team. I have also seen tacticians who were so wrapped up in plotting and planning that they dominated discussions and when things didn't go the way they expected, cried "foul" the loudest.
l33tpenguin
QUOTE
And there is the crux of the matter. Unless the rest of you seriously gimped your PCs, the min-maxer won't actually be that much ahead of you. As a GM, when confronted by a challenging PC, there are various methods of dealing with him. You can go strength on strength or you can target his weaknesses and highlight the other PCs' strengths(the other PCs do have their own strengths, right? Right?).


Right, the other characters in the group DID have strenghts. But any time we tried to exploit those strenghts, we were met with defeat because we couldn't score enough successes on our rolls to defeat the GMs over powered NPCs. I sware, the average corp. night clerk had a dice pool of 30 to defeat our stealth. We'd be seen, combat would errupt, and out comes the guy specificlly designed to simply deal as much damage as possible. Other than that he had 0 contribution to the group. But it always ended up we were in combat.
Marwynn
Ahh, an inflexible GM is just as deadly to a group as a munchie/beardy/min-maxed character.

Does he allow you to roleplay your legwork? Lay it on thick my man.

I find that it is fun to simply roleplay a character that is varied and versatile, but it's quite challenging to do the same with a very focused character. But it's still doable. Gun Bunny Adepts are fairly common, you have someone with 7(9) in Automatics, Adept Powers to increase that, bioware to improve it, and even have agility to boost the overall effect. Plus smartlinks.

How do you roleplay his weaknesses? Tough to bring out.
Glyph
QUOTE (Marwynn)
I find that it is fun to simply roleplay a character that is varied and versatile, but it's quite challenging to do the same with a very focused character. But it's still doable. Gun Bunny Adepts are fairly common, you have someone with 7(9) in Automatics, Adept Powers to increase that, bioware to improve it, and even have agility to boost the overall effect. Plus smartlinks.

How do you roleplay his weaknesses? Tough to bring out.

You need to think how this character feels about his abilities, and what he did to get them. All kinds of roleplaying hooks for someone driven/obsessive enough to become world-class at shooting.

Maybe he has a child-like enthusiasm for guns, and is always spouting the corny ad slogans for them ("It's the street samurai sidekick!"), or babbling on about gun specs in mind-numbing detail. Maybe he's very insecure about his skill, and broods over every difficult shot that he misses. Maybe he is ambivalent about his abilities, both proud of being the best at something and revulsed that that "something" is killing. Maybe he's a bit around the bend, and talks to his gun as if it were a real person. Maybe he lives by a gunslinger's code of honor swiped from old flatvid westerns. Maybe he's always watching over his shoulder for the next punk kid who wants to beat the master gunman.

To me, both high and low skills are the easiest to roleplay. I have a slightly harder time with mid-range skills and Attributes - "average" is harder for me to find a twist to.
DTFarstar
I personally have a tendency to take a concept that I like and roll with it. For whatever reason this is almost never a generalized Mr. Fix-It character. It's been alot of things in alot of games, however I'm well known for having a thorough knowledge of the rules and using that and my brain to my teams(or adventuring party or whatever) ultimate benefit. (Still working on SR rules, people keep stealing my book and play has been intermittent lately.) I love to role-play and I am generally the most active member of the group there as well, to the point of my PCs usually having different voices and such. In fact I often tone myself down because I'm not getting as much group participation as I had hoped. Anyway, just saying I have a tendency to have a very min-maxed character as well thorough knowledge into it's workings, I also role-play, and I use the rules to enhance the game not slow it down. If the GM disagrees, I cite my source and shut up. It's his game. I also do my absolute best to never overshadow any other players either in role-playing or during combat.

For instance, we were in an underground jungle(I know....I know) and the combat Phys-Ad had just gotten jumped(literally a loin-cloth wearing savage jumped down from a tree on him) and I had nothing to do except try and navigate said jungle and find the opposing mage. I just left him to it even though a single stunbolt would have dropped or at least seriously injured the other adept because it was the first time in awhile he had managed to close with an enemy and I know he would want to fight it out himself(very personal progress driven character and player). Just wanted to point out it's not incompatible and that there are some players out there who try to combine it all.


Chris
deek
I actually like it when my players min/max (as well as the "numbers" discussions here on DSF). To me, this puts stress on the extreme end of the rules and gives me, as a GM, a logical idea of where said limits are at. And once I know that, I just feel more comfortable at running anything...

While I understand that everyone wants more of the "non-arms race" discussions from one extent to another, that's certainly not why I come around here. On rare occaision, do I really care about what stories other GMs or players have having. I mean, yeah, its fun to read at times, and I occaisionally share a story from one of our sessions, but really, known that XYZ did this or that in their last session, is really of no consequence to me.

I understand that to a new player/GM, it is more helpful to read some of the fluff from other people, but, I for one, come here because there are a ton of people that are min/maxing and putting stress on the weak points of the rules...which certainly helps me and probably all GMs!
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