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I need to make a couple of npc runners to attack my players and am not sure how to go about it. Should I make one good runner loaded with cyber, bio, and crazy, or should I use a small group of more mook like runners? Since we just really started playing should the mook runners be the stock Friends and Foes mooks or custom?

I don't want to kill my group or even one character so I'm hesitant to send a heavily cybered troll with a giant bow and 3 IPs but chances are at least one opponent will be Control Actioned by the shaman. If I send a group then I don't get to make some uber assassin that inevitably gets clobbered by the party because he is outnumbered.
1st question: Are the opposition team specifically targeting the PCs?

If yes, then a little legwork on the PCs and numbers wont be as important. Surprise is a bitch, particularly for the poor shaman. Provided they NPCs can find that info out.
They are targeting the PCs though killing them is secondary. The main thing is to steal an item they have. The easiest way to steal something is if the previous owner is dead though. Meta game wise I want the PCs to win because I don't want to have to have them build new characters until they learn what skills/spells/gear/whatever they actually use or wish they had.
Unconcious is as good as dead for the purposes of stealing the item back.
Now, death among runners and between runners isn't uncommon, but is not necessary most the time. If the PCs go about it professionally they will not hold it to the other runners. Unfortunately, most players can't let it drop and will hold the opposition to a knifes edge, killing them if they have a chance.

That being said, unless the PCs are being extra ordinarilly careful a non-fatal ambush is very easy to pull off. Particularly if the PCs go to their own pads to sleep or hang out.

For that matter, if the PCs have any feelings for each other besides just a hired 'gun' then an exchange could easily be made; item for teamate(s).

If you want to treat the opposition as kill main murder assassins that will stop at nothing to get what they want, then you kinda have your path planned. Sniper round to the brain pan, rinse and repeat until they either get the item, find the item or have a couple of PCs left in which to interrogate (then murder) to get the item.

This has gone a slightly different direction than I intended. I'm being vague about the whole thing because I'm not 100% sure if my players check this forum or not and if they do if all of them know my username so they know to avoid my threads.

I have the setup of how they will attack, basically. What I need to know is what to attack with. With the intention of the players winning but still having felt like they defeated a respectably strong enemy, should I send a group of runners after them so attention can be divided and damage spread out, possibly with no one dying, or should I send one big guy who they would need to kill quickly or at least one of them will go down. They are as I implied earlier starting runners and more importantly starting players.
Given those two options, I'd go with one big bruiser dishing out Stun damage. Gel rounds, Stick 'n Shock, maybe start off with a low Force Stunball and a little chit-chat. ("That was a fraction of my power. Give me the <MacGuffin> and nobody gets hurt.") Spread out your damage a bit to give them a chance to react (newbies can be confused by all the options they're presented with), then start putting them to sleep one at a time. That way, even if they lose, they're alive to play on, and can more easily learn from their mistakes (and, likely beyond your control, take revenge on the bruiser).
IQ Zero
It depends on who's ordering the ambush to retrieve the item. If they have a high budget, then by all means use a good mix of runners, customized even to fit your needs. On a low budget, get a couple of dozen street gangers, arm them with AK98s and armored jackets, lots of ammo, go bang-bang.
I'd start with a Control Actions spell on the shaman, myself wink.gif

Then just get on with the long, wide bursts of Stick'n'Shock ammo to take them down with Stun damage.

I'd go for a few "off-the-rack" runners, myself. Maybe the Combat Mage, Face, Hacker, Gunslinger Adept and Street Samurai, altered to allow both the Control Actions and the less-than-lethal assault.
Simply go with knockout gas canisters.
Almost instant unconcious PC's if they are caught unaware and no collateral damage.

Group Combat Design... I like that.

Use a group of runners with little augmentations, but a coordinated plan of attack. Groups scale better and can do many things at the same time. Single, powerful opponents can easily kill a few runners in the first round - or be killed. Not much suspense in that.

Have the opposition attack at a place that is important for your group. Afterwards, describe how the place looks. Bullet holes everywhere, grenade AoEs, blood, bodies...
They don't have a favorite place yet. Maybe an apartment but it will be pretty dependent on how they spend the "down time" between meets. I'll give them some perception checks to notice they are being watched ahead of time, might trigger an early attack where they have an advantage.

Maybe someone with an ares alpha just to show grenades are useful is needed. No one has grenades.
If the assailants get to surprise the runners, I'd suggest sub-par runners with stun weapons firing and tossing grenades from spread out, covered positions. Their poor skill ratings can be offset using smoke/neurostun/concussion grenades and suppressive fire with stick-n-shock. The visual penalties from smoke grenades and flash-bangs combined with full cover positions will help them survive past the first round and force the runners to do some tactical manuvering.
I've found this to be a fun encounter. Several attackers with 2 IPs from drugs, 8-10 dp attacks (3 skill 3 ability and and +2-4 from smart link specialty, or light augs) and gear that makes them immune to there own attacks ie chucking thermal smoke and relying on Ultra Sound, Astral sight, and Radar. Chem seal and neuro stun works well too. A couple small packs of stealth drones nearly killed some of my players with wide bursts from a machine pistols from surprise. They have delta wear and 50+ karma. What I like about this is that they attackers are really only scary when they have the upper hand. It makes for a really tense pass or 2 when they party is taking fire and initially feel like they are out numbered and out gunned (after adjusting for penalties). In a round or 2 they can likely turn the tables and have a good time with an relatively easy counter attack.
There are many ways<, If you want to "teach" some tactics to your group I would start the ambush by shooting a couple flash bangs + neurostun grenades; this way you start combat with heavy modifiers stacked in your favour; plus, enemies in gas masks and goggles are quite cool; -remember to have them use laser sights so you can have the piercing ray of light effect in the description-

I have performed this kind of situation various times with my hapless players, the last one I remember was with one single enemy (a cyberninja), who totally owned the group, actually the ambush was so successful that he succeded when I actually intended him to fail because it was what I had planned in the story. What can I say? I got excited when two runners where down by the end of pass one and I still had a couple extra passes before the rest of the party arrived; it would have been quite unbelievable if the ninja did not kill his helpless mark in that time (the runners where bodyguarding a Japanese politician)

Conversely, in my last gaming session with a different group, the runners performed this kind of ambush successfully while attacking a secured location in order to retrieve an item. The group pulled off a series of flash ambushes on different groups of security guards until they gained absolute control of the facility. Every time, all opponents were unconscious or dead by the end of the first surprise pass. The players were quite happy.

It's easier to succeed with groups.


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