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Bull
I moved this out from the Runner's Companion thread, since it was a serious Tangent.

QUOTE (Rotbart van Dainig @ Aug 30 2008, 11:02 AM) *
Squatters won't run around with laser rifles just because the PCs do so. Ares Firewatch though might, even if characters didn't even dream of them.

That may piss off most of the gangers out there, but it's not usual for them to compete directly.

Transformer Enemys are a great way to stomp fun. Mostly because the world itself goes offbalance.
That's why SR4 has 'fixed' grunt levels.

Congratulations, you got yourself an arms race that makes no sense at all and leaves the game world in shambles.
PCs simply don't have enough impact to influence such decisions on such a scale - sure, they can go after more powerful targets no, but that's their decision.


Wow, I think you're completely missing the point. That, or you have a decidedly not fun group to play with.

First off, there's no way for the world to go off balance, since *I* set the balance. I choose the enemies, I pick their stats and gear, and I choose how smart or dumb they act.

I like SR4 a lot, but that don't mean that I let the rules dictate the game to me. The rules are simply there to give me a framework to tell a story within and to provide the PC's and myself with a way to randomize the results of their actions. Nothing more. And that framework is incredibly flexible. I haven't managed to break it yet.

There's a certain amount of logic... Usually, Squattors won't have Panther Assault Cannons, and Ares Firewatch Teams won't usually show up without armor and only carrying Tiffani Defenders.

And I'm not saying the threat is automatic. JUST cause one tool shows up with a SNiper Rifle doesn't mean that automatically every enemy has one. Just that it can come up, when appropriate. I have a Houngan player who has a lost magic point that can attest to that. But I'll also point out that he not only had fun in that game session, he got to smack the munchkin who insisted on having a Sniper Rifle in the head and say "I TOLD you so". smile.gif

The fact is, maybe I'm just lucky, and I have players who trust me to tell a good story and run a good game. And I'm lucky that most of my players are willing to put up with my little quirks (All of which *I* learned from my original Shadowrun GM, who was one of the best GMs I've ever played under) and can roll with me so that, together, we tell a good story, have fun, and have a great game.

My Mantras for Running a game:

1) In My World, Jet's Fly Backwards.

Aka, I'll bend the laws of physics if I have to, roll with it.

2) Put On A Good Show And Fate Will Smile At You.

I'm not here to kill the players. I want them to have fun. So if they try something incredibly daring and stupid, but are roleplaying their asses off and having a good time, who am I to stop them. They may not succeed, but I'm unlikely to severly punish them for trying.

3) A GMs Dice Are For Sound Effect Only

This goes along with number 2. I'm not about to kill my PCs over a bad roll on one of our parts. Dice are there to enchance the game, not run it. So when needed, I'll gladly flub a dice roll every now and then. I'l also, on rare occasions, flub a players roll as well. I've said "I didn't see that, roll again" on a few occasions.

4) Anything You Can Have, I Can Have Too.

The Mantra we've been discussing.

5) If I Kill Them, My Fun Is Over.

The game is about the PCs, and a story that involves those PCs. It's poor storytelling to kill the main protagonist(s) partway through the story. Besides, why kill them, when there are so very many more evil things you can do. My favorite was and is giving that PC a "real life". Friends, Family, Love. Ties that bind, and Bind so hard they Chafe. But killing? Bah. Too easy. Though that's not to say I won't kill a PC, but it takes a lot of effort on their part to actually get killed, usually involving some seriously gross stupidity. Or wanting to change out characters. Then the death becomes part of the plot.

Like I said, I do this with my player's full understanding, and in most cases, blessing. They trust me not to be a complete dick, and I trust them to help me build a good game. In the end, we both win. That was how I truly learned to GM, and how I've passed it on to others since.

And if that means Cybered Bandersnatches that only take a Light Wound from a Panther Assault Cannon, even after dumping in my entire Combat Pool and blowing Karma, well... So be it. I have a great story, fond memories, and lost my first arm on that adventure smile.gif

Bull

PS I should also note, this is just my own preferred gaming style, and I've been lucky that most of my players like this style of gaming too. But as with everything else, there's a lot of different ways to game. And I've seen and played with groups that my style wouldn't mesh with. And I wouldn't force that on them. If everybody isn't having fun, you're doing it wrong, no matter the style you're running.
Rotbart van Dainig
Sure, most of the things come down to prefence, and we seem to agree that universal transformer enemys are a bad idea, but there are some points that are no that clear to me:
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 06:35 PM) *
And I'm not saying the threat is automatic. JUST cause one tool shows up with a SNiper Rifle doesn't mean that automatically every enemy has one. Just that it can come up, when appropriate. I have a Houngan player who has a lost magic point that can attest to that. But I'll also point out that he not only had fun in that game session, he got to smack the munchkin who insisted on having a Sniper Rifle in the head and say "I TOLD you so".

Honestly, I don't see the points here.
First off, if it's apropriate to come up - does it matter at all if the players have it or not?
Second, why exactly is it 'munchkin' to have a sniper rifle?
And, mostly - are we talking SR4 at all?
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 06:35 PM) *
My Mantras for Running a game:

Allow me to supplement mine. wink.gif
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 06:35 PM) *
1) In My World, Jet's Fly Backwards.

In mine, jets mostly fly downwards if you are not careful.
Reality hits hard - it hits even harder if you are stupid.
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 06:35 PM) *
2) Put On A Good Show And Fate Will Smile At You.

Fair enough.
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 06:35 PM) *
3) A GMs Dice Are For Sound Effect Only

Let the dice fall how they do - there's Edge to fix it.
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 06:35 PM) *
4) Anything You Can Have, I Can Have Too.

Anything I Can Have, You Can Have Too - if you manage to get it... and keep it.
It's a mean world out there - better keep the edge.
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 06:35 PM) *
5) If I Kill Them, My Fun Is Over.

In SR4, it's pretty much impossible to get killed as long as you have Edge to burn.
So I think this is a non-issue. wink.gif
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 06:35 PM) *
Like I said, I do this with my player's full understanding, and in most cases, blessing. They trust me not to be a complete dick, and I trust them to help me build a good game. In the end, we both win. That was how I truly learned to GM, and how I've passed it on to others since.

Of course, trust and cooperation are a pure necessity. Otherwise, why bother?
toturi
My mantra's for GMing:

1) Have fun. If anyone is not having fun, it is the GM's fault and no one else's. The rules say you get to be god, so deal with it.

2) I run games as RAW as I can. If something is not RAW, then that deviation is a house rule.

I do not expect the GM to set game balance. What the players expect as fun sets the game balance, see rule 1. If that expectation deviates from RAW, then see rule 2.
Bull
QUOTE (Rotbart van Dainig @ Aug 30 2008, 01:16 PM) *
Sure, most of the things come down to prefence, and we seem to agree that universal transformer enemys are a bad idea, but there are some points that are no that clear to me:

Honestly, I don't see the points here.
First off, if it's apropriate to come up - does it matter at all if the players have it or not?


Because I'm likely to NOT up the ante to that point without good cause. If the PCs run into an ambush by a Lone Star SWAT team, it would make sense for them to have a Sniper or two. But if the biggest thing the PCs are packing is Armor Jackets and Heavy Pistols, the ambushers likely won;t be much better armed. I like a "fair" fight, and it's easier to dodge doing mass amounts of damage to my players that way smile.gif

But, if some of them have Heavy weapons and/or Armor (WHich I generally count a Sniper Rifle as), well, that Same SWAT team would have better equipment to match. I feel less badly about doing grievous damage to a well equipped character.

QUOTE
Second, why exactly is it 'munchkin' to have a sniper rifle?


By itself, it's not. But, a lot of players take things like Sniper Rifles based almost solely on the Damage Codes and the "Kewl" factor. The latter is forgivable, the former isn't smile.gif

QUOTE
And, mostly - are we talking SR4 at all?


My example with the Cyber-Bandersnatch was under 2nd edition. But the rest pretty much universally applies. So while I'm talking SR4 specifically, it applies to any game I run, including Star Wars and D&D. Granted, harder for a PC to get ahold of a Sniper Rifle in D&D, but... The last game I played in went in some really, really weird directions. (Melting invading cartoons with high proof alcohol from a triceretops-pulled wooden tank with a steam powered high pressure hose attached to it wasn't the strangest thing in that game, by far. But it's a good visual and gets you started smile.gif)

Bull
Ryu
1) In My World, Jet's Fly Forwards. There is such a thing as vector-thrust.

You know how it works, and you can break it. Decide if you want to. The few hours my group was an atomic minipower were fun (And I got to play, yeah!).

2) Put On A Good Show And Fate Will Smile At You.

That can come in surprising ways, but hell yes. If a certain someone ever finds his way here he can relay the experience of becoming a toxic mage wobble.gif

3) A GMs Dice Are Sometimes For Sound Effect Only

There, now it works for me.

4) Anything You Can Have, I Can Have Too.

In the true sense of what those words are saying, yes. We play without availability. Player-choosen balance is heavy pistols + SMGs, despite their characters possession of much more powerful weapons.

5) If I Kill Them, My Fun Is Over.

Nothing against a bit of maiming though.
Rotbart van Dainig
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 07:29 PM) *
Because I'm likely to NOT up the ante to that point without good cause. If the PCs run into an ambush by a Lone Star SWAT team, it would make sense for them to have a Sniper or two. But if the biggest thing the PCs are packing is Armor Jackets and Heavy Pistols, the ambushers likely won;t be much better armed. I like a "fair" fight, and it's easier to dodge doing mass amounts of damage to my players that way smile.gif

But, if some of them have Heavy weapons and/or Armor (WHich I generally count a Sniper Rifle as), well, that Same SWAT team would have better equipment to match. I feel less badly about doing grievous damage to a well equipped character.

Sure in my games, the SWAT team might treat heavily armed people differently - if they know about it. (If those MGL-6 the characters had catches them by suprise, it can as well turn into a disaster for SWAT.)
But that still means that they'll come crushing down with extreme prejudice on people waving guns around. And if the characters want to shoot it out (instead of fleeing/surrendering) with SWAT while only packing handguns... that's pretty stupid and they are most likely royally screwed.
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 07:29 PM) *
By itself, it's not. But, a lot of players take things like Sniper Rifles based almost solely on the Damage Codes and the "Kewl" factor. The latter is forgivable, the former isn't

Why is not acceptable that people choose a sniper rifle because of the fact that it's very precise and tears big holes into things?

QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 30 2008, 07:29 PM) *
My example with the Cyber-Bandersnatch was under 2nd edition. But the rest pretty much universally applies. So while I'm talking SR4 specifically, it applies to any game I run, including Star Wars and D&D.

See, but those games act differently when it comes to PC 'death'.
In SR2, you had one second chance.
In SR4, you got many... that may regenerate over time.
Pendaric
My style?
Benevolent Tyranny.
Aim for perfection, through perspiration and preperation.
Make it personal. Make it make sense. Make it intense.
Cain
There's a lot of good points here. Let me sum up my version of the rules:

Rule 0: We are here to have fun.

This applies to the GM and the players equally. If the GM isn't enjoying the game, thins will suffer.

That being said, there are certain things that I've discovered to be detrimental to having fun. Here's a few examples:

Imbalance between player characters: When one character is clearly superior to others, in multiple niches, you have a problem. In one niche, it's okay; you can get around that by presenting different kinds of challenges. But when one character dominates more than one area, or dominates one area and participates heavily in all the others, you have a problem. That one character will, intentionally or otherwise, suck up spotlight time from all the other players.

How do you solve this? Power Creep is not the solution. If you have a imbalance in, say, combat, upping the opposition to match does not work. If you're running a street-level game, and one character is unbalancing things by bringing in an assault rifle, matching that by bringing in opposition with more assault rifles doesn't work. First of all, you're basically punishing all the other players, because now only the people with automatic weaponry can compete. Second, even if you beat back the character, or kill him off, he's just going to come back and try even harder. He'll be convinced that he'll do better in the game if he pushes his combat abilities further. Eventually, this may even lead to him wanting to "win" the game, which is the attitude of a munchkin. We've all had problems with munchkins in the past, so we definitely should not try and make more.

The third problem is, of course, what happens to all the gear that gets left behind? Now everyone will be packing assault rifles, and you've just made your problem worse. You can trap yourself in an endless arms race. This can even lead to problem two:

The GM is not the enemy of the players: We've all heard the stories of killer GM's, some of us have even been that GM. But if the point of a game is to have fun, you're not going to succeed by going head-to-head against your players. Your job is to work *with* your players, to create a story together.

Now for a controversial one:
The GM is not more important than the players: Yes, the GM has more responsibility than the players. But that doesn't mean he's more important. He deserves to have just as much fun as the players, not more or less. Tossing around proclamations, and backing them up with: "Because I'm the GM, that's why!" leads to adversarial GM/Player relationships, which we agree is Not Fun. Demanding final authority on rules calls, even and especially when the rules are indistinct, is the same thing; GM's get rules wrong, too.

The goal here is to have fun with your players. It doesn't matter how much time and energy you put into preparing the game; if the players take off in a different direction, you need to go with it. In fact, oft-times you can have a lot of fun that way. Don't fret when the players destroy your carefully-crafted plotline; just run with it and relax.
Rotbart van Dainig
QUOTE (Cain @ Aug 31 2008, 01:23 AM) *
How do you solve this?

The solution is rather simple and usually part of every run:
There are multiple things that need to be done at the same time.
toturi
QUOTE (Rotbart van Dainig @ Aug 31 2008, 08:13 AM) *
The solution is rather simple and usually part of every run:
There are multiple things that need to be done at the same time.

That is escalation. You are simply shifting the focus from dice pool to ability to do multiple things at the same time.
Glyph
QUOTE (toturi @ Aug 30 2008, 06:04 PM) *
That is escalation. You are simply shifting the focus from dice pool to ability to do multiple things at the same time.

I think he's saying that each character will be doing different things, not that a single character has to be able to do those multiple things.


My thoughts on character balance:

I don't think character imbalance should be such a huge problem. It's an open build system where you create characters for different roles (infiltration, social engineering, hacking, combat, etc.), and where being exceptionally good in one area means tradeoffs in other areas. Everyone should be able to contribute something to the game.

But I don't think the GM should have to enforce a Harrison Bergeron mentality on the game, where people who are good at building characters have to "tone it down" so that the newbies don't baww about being "overshadowed" by them. Some characters are going to be more effective. Some players are also going to have a more prominent role in the game because they are better at roleplaying, or have more of a knack for creative tactics. The GM should pay attention to everyone, and make sure that everyone gets a chance to contribute to the game. But I have never been in a game, ever, where everyone had the exact same level of effectiveness and involvement in the game. Not everyone even wants to be in the spotlight to the same degree.

As the moderators of the game, GMs should step in when someone is being an asshat, or a drama queen. And power issues can be addressed at character creation if the player ignores the group's house rules or the GM's description of what kind of campaign it will be. In other words, an Ares Alpha is normally a valid choice at character creation, but if the GM says it will be a campaign of teen gangers in the Barrens, with an Availability limit of 8, then that player needs to go back to the drawing board.
toturi
QUOTE (Glyph @ Aug 31 2008, 09:51 AM) *
I think he's saying that each character will be doing different things, not that a single character has to be able to do those multiple things.

No, I'm saying that a single character could be able to do those multiple things.
sunnyside
Well I disagree with a fair number of them.


First off SR4 has a level of defence present in burning edge to stay alive. Or just using edge to get by. It means that you can let the dice fall where they may and the players are going to be able to deal with it.

As for power level match ups I rarely if ever try to match to power level of the adversaries to the players. Rather I try to adjust the missions to players can have to the suspected adversaries. A good fixer won't hire a team out unless they think they can do the job.

I think part of the problem is that people confuse the D&D playstyle with Shadowrun. A corporate building is not your dungeon. And the biggest difference is that when the alarms go off backup starts coming. And that backup will be increasingly potent.

Also runners shouldn't be expected to win every single fight they get into. It's called Shadowrun, not Broaddaylightshootout. Head for cover and move your hoop.

toturi
QUOTE (sunnyside @ Aug 31 2008, 12:46 PM) *
As for power level match ups I rarely if ever try to match to power level of the adversaries to the players. Rather I try to adjust the missions to players can have to the suspected adversaries. A good fixer won't hire a team out unless they think they can do the job.

I think part of the problem is that people confuse the D&D playstyle with Shadowrun. A corporate building is not your dungeon. And the biggest difference is that when the alarms go off backup starts coming. And that backup will be increasingly potent.

Also runners shouldn't be expected to win every single fight they get into. It's called Shadowrun, not Broaddaylightshootout. Head for cover and move your hoop.

I agree with most of this. But I have to disagree with the last. The players could expect their characters to win every single fight they get into if they built the PCs as such. It is Shadowrun, you can play it like hide-in-shadows-and-run-away or shadows-that-run-over-enemies. Either way is equally valid.
sunnyside
QUOTE (toturi @ Aug 31 2008, 01:59 AM) *
I agree with most of this. But I have to disagree with the last. The players could expect their characters to win every single fight they get into if they built the PCs as such. It is Shadowrun, you can play it like hide-in-shadows-and-run-away or shadows-that-run-over-enemies. Either way is equally valid.



For the latter I think I might question if Shadowrun is the system for you. Maybe a rifts juicer with an IQ barely into double digets.

Seriously out of the box there will be people better than your players. And even after a long time there are those that will be vastly better than the players.

But beyond that Seattle has the metroxplex guard that can come down on them. Corps, somewhere, have the best technology on the planet if not the best mages. In most situations if the runners are fighting they'll eventually have to run.

Maybe you can get away with that in the barrens if that's really how the players want to play. Rule 0 is have fun and all that. So I suppose you can twist things how you like.

But the setting is one where there are much bigger fish.

toturi
QUOTE (sunnyside @ Aug 31 2008, 02:25 PM) *
But the setting is one where there are much bigger fish.

True. But then since there are much bigger fish, no matter how well you run in the shadows and keep to the shadows, they will still get you in the end. You can try to kill your way out of trouble or hide from the trouble. Either way it is simply another matter of PC dice pool against NPC dice pool.

QUOTE
For the latter I think I might question if Shadowrun is the system for you. Maybe a rifts juicer with an IQ barely into double digets.

I don't like Juicers. I would very much prefer a True Atlantean Cosmic Knight, thank you. But I think I might also question if Shadowrun is the system for you, perhaps an obfuscate vampire with triple helping of angst.
Cain
QUOTE
But I don't think the GM should have to enforce a Harrison Bergeron mentality on the game, where people who are good at building characters have to "tone it down" so that the newbies don't baww about being "overshadowed" by them. Some characters are going to be more effective. Some players are also going to have a more prominent role in the game because they are better at roleplaying, or have more of a knack for creative tactics. The GM should pay attention to everyone, and make sure that everyone gets a chance to contribute to the game. But I have never been in a game, ever, where everyone had the exact same level of effectiveness and involvement in the game. Not everyone even wants to be in the spotlight to the same degree.

While I agree that strictly enforcing character equality isn't fun, I have to disagree that it's not a problem.

Let's say my players include two people who want to create street sams. That's fine, it's not a problem. But one guy puts out a character with combat dice pools averaging around 17; and the other guy's character has about 10-12. Player A also gave his character more IP's, a higher reaction, and better damage soaking ability. Both characters are focused on the same aspect of the game, and both were built under the same system. However, one is going to be much more effective than the other. That's going to really make the other player feel useless in comparison. When player B runs out of IP's, he's not going to be able to do anything but sit around and watch.

What about other areas? Well, there's no guarantee that Player B's character will be any better at anything. In fact, player A may have built his character in such a way that his other dice pools are comparable, if not better. There's a lot of variables here. However, the net result is that the player will feel bad, and that also breaks my Rule 0.

There's nut much you can do to fix this problem, once game has started. Before game starts, however, you can fix this by both tuning up Player B's character, and asking player A to tone it down a notch.

And gods help you if a character is capable of dominating multiple aspects of a game. A social adept will not only make another Face feel useless, he might have Commanding Voice, and continually talk enemy groups into surrendering. Now, combat types are going to feel useless as well.

I agree that not all players are equal. In some groups, certain players will always tend to dominate the game, regardless of system. However, if you allow unrestricted character building, especially in an open-build system like SR4, you run the risk of compounding the problem even further.

If you equalize characters out (generally, simply by telling players what your expectations are) then you're free to concentrate on the issue of player inequality, and not worry so much about mechanical character inequality.
Mx
QUOTE (Cain @ Aug 31 2008, 10:21 AM) *
Let's say my players include two people who want to create street sams. That's fine, it's not a problem. But one guy puts out a character with combat dice pools averaging around 17; and the other guy's character has about 10-12. Player A also gave his character more IP's, a higher reaction, and better damage soaking ability. Both characters are focused on the same aspect of the game, and both were built under the same system. However, one is going to be much more effective than the other. That's going to really make the other player feel useless in comparison. When player B runs out of IP's, he's not going to be able to do anything but sit around and watch.

What about other areas? Well, there's no guarantee that Player B's character will be any better at anything. In fact, player A may have built his character in such a way that his other dice pools are comparable, if not better. There's a lot of variables here. However, the net result is that the player will feel bad, and that also breaks my Rule 0.

wobble.gif
Can i ask what the hell did the player B do to his character, how did he build not only a worse combat character but a character that isn't better in anything, how is that even possible.
Unless he intensionally made a backup sammy/face/hacker.
Rotbart van Dainig
QUOTE (toturi @ Aug 31 2008, 03:04 AM) *
That is escalation.

No, that is how is normally is.
QUOTE (toturi @ Aug 31 2008, 03:04 AM) *
You are simply shifting the focus from dice pool to ability to do multiple things at the same time.

Actually, no - you still need a sufficient dice pool not to fail.
QUOTE (toturi @ Aug 31 2008, 04:18 AM) *
No, I'm saying that a single character could be able to do those multiple things.

It's pretty hard being at two different places at the same time.
Stahlseele
QUOTE
Can i ask what the hell did the player B do to his character, how did he build not only a worse combat character but a character that isn't better in anything, how is that even possible.
Unless he intensionally made a backup sammy/face/hacker.

or he simply has no graps of the building system and what the game world requires in a character . . which makes him AND the character a newbie in most cases and he could take the other samurai as his mentor for example . .

QUOTE
It's pretty hard being at two different places at the same time.

and here i thought the whole point of drones and spirits was more or less this ability O.o
Cardul
My GM once explained her Mantras like this:

Rule 1: Keep things interesting. Remember: Killing a PC is so....boring! Anyone can die! Not everyone can be captured, have their power focus staff taken by high level employees of Saeder-Krupp....

Rule 2: Dice Rolls are not finalized until the GM says so, and acknowledges the roll. GM is free to look away whistling at a bad player roll and say,"Please, re-roll..I didn't see that roll." The GM is also free to reach across and, on a really bad roll, hit the corner of one of the worst offending dice until it is something other then that 1.

Rule 3: PC death occurs by being stupid...In other words, the instances where a PC is going to die will almost NEVER have a roll involved, but will involve the player, thinking as their character, trying to solve something. Puzzles should be deadlier then fire-fights.

Rule 4: Firefights should be brief, and brutal, and make no room for errors on either side. Make sure to make the NPCs make some errors(Like Coming out the elevator nearest where the runners are, while there is a Street Sam who just happens to be standing by that elevator with a light machine gun loaded wit Stick-and-shock..talk about suppression fire into an elevator!)

Rule 5:While it may not be obvious, there is always a way out. ALWAYS.

Rule 6: The best villians are ones who neither the PCs not the Players expect.
Cain
QUOTE (Mäx @ Aug 31 2008, 01:07 AM) *
wobble.gif
Can i ask what the hell did the player B do to his character, how did he build not only a worse combat character but a character that isn't better in anything, how is that even possible.
Unless he intensionally made a backup sammy/face/hacker.

It's not hard. He might not have used some of the options available to him, resulting in a weaker character. For example, he might have forgone any Flaws, or made a bad selection of them.

Short of having to come up with actual builds, I think it should be obvious that you can nerf a character by accident.
Glyph
QUOTE (Cain @ Aug 31 2008, 12:21 AM) *
While I agree that strictly enforcing character equality isn't fun, I have to disagree that it's not a problem.

Let's say my players include two people who want to create street sams. That's fine, it's not a problem. But one guy puts out a character with combat dice pools averaging around 17; and the other guy's character has about 10-12. Player A also gave his character more IP's, a higher reaction, and better damage soaking ability. Both characters are focused on the same aspect of the game, and both were built under the same system. However, one is going to be much more effective than the other. That's going to really make the other player feel useless in comparison. When player B runs out of IP's, he's not going to be able to do anything but sit around and watch.

What about other areas? Well, there's no guarantee that Player B's character will be any better at anything. In fact, player A may have built his character in such a way that his other dice pools are comparable, if not better. There's a lot of variables here. However, the net result is that the player will feel bad, and that also breaks my Rule 0.

There's nut much you can do to fix this problem, once game has started. Before game starts, however, you can fix this by both tuning up Player B's character, and asking player A to tone it down a notch.

And gods help you if a character is capable of dominating multiple aspects of a game. A social adept will not only make another Face feel useless, he might have Commanding Voice, and continually talk enemy groups into surrendering. Now, combat types are going to feel useless as well.

I agree that not all players are equal. In some groups, certain players will always tend to dominate the game, regardless of system. However, if you allow unrestricted character building, especially in an open-build system like SR4, you run the risk of compounding the problem even further.

If you equalize characters out (generally, simply by telling players what your expectations are) then you're free to concentrate on the issue of player inequality, and not worry so much about mechanical character inequality.


Honestly, I think that a newbie should not expect to be as good, starting out, as a veteran of the game, either in character building or in tactics. I would ask someone to "tone down" their character if it broke the premise of the game (a troll combat mercenary in a game of subtle intrigue, a tweaked-out combat mage in a game where the players are supposed to be students at a magic academy, and so on). In that respect, I agree on telling players what your expectations are.

But I sure as hell wouldn't say "I'm sorry, Bob, but little Timmy wants to play a street sammie, too, so you need to make your street sammie wussier, so little Timmy doesn't cry." I'll help the newbies build their characters, and give them helpful hints and suggestions, but I'm not going to impose arbitrary restrictions on everyone else. Everyone should have something to do on a run - the guy with less dice and IPs can still plug some of the security guards. He's not "useless", he's just whining because someone is "better" than him.

SR4 character generation is open build, but it has a lot of limits and boundaries - it has a set point limit, in addition to limits on how much you can spend on Attributes, how much you can spend on qualities, what gear you can buy, how high your skills can be, and so on. And GMs add house rules on top of those. Even I might do something like remove the last sentence in the description of empathy software, because I feel it is needless dice pool inflation for social skills. So while I would check characters for bad math, attempted rules exploits, illogical stats, or a poor fit for the campaign, I would not make someone gimp their character because someone else made one that wasn't as good.
toturi
QUOTE (Rotbart van Dainig @ Aug 31 2008, 04:31 PM) *
Actually, no - you still need a sufficient dice pool not to fail.

It's pretty hard being at two different places at the same time.

I meant the focus shifts from having an overwhelming dice pool to many sufficiently large ones. It does not have to be the PC in multiple places, there might be a proxy for the PC, say like a spirit or a drone.
Cardul
QUOTE (Glyph @ Aug 31 2008, 04:22 AM) *
So while I would check characters for bad math, attempted rules exploits, illogical stats, or a poor fit for the campaign, I would not make someone gimp their character because someone else made one that wasn't as good.


Simple answer to why one Street Sam is a little weaker: The other Sam is the Master, and the new one is the Pupil. Subtly suggest the tricked out Sam maybe drop a couple points somewhere for the Instruction Skill wink.gif Or maybe just, as a GM, be nice, and toss the better built Sam 1 point of the Instruction Skill as a freebie wink.gif You know, take the inexperience of the new player, and turn it into a plot point!
NightmareX
QUOTE (Glyph @ Aug 31 2008, 04:22 AM) *
But I sure as hell wouldn't say "I'm sorry, Bob, but little Timmy wants to play a street sammie, too, so you need to make your street sammie wussier, so little Timmy doesn't cry." I'll help the newbies build their characters, and give them helpful hints and suggestions, but I'm not going to impose arbitrary restrictions on everyone else. Everyone should have something to do on a run - the guy with less dice and IPs can still plug some of the security guards. He's not "useless", he's just whining because someone is "better" than him.


Definitely agreed - the Timmy's of the world need to grow the hell up, take a pill, and learn that they are not entitled to be the "best" at everything all the time, nor are they entitled to get their whiny little way all the time. The current trend in the gaming world toward coddling players (best exemplified by the D&D 4th edition DMG) truly disgusts me. Yes, everyone should have fun but that doesn't mean that the GM should have to produce a bottle to please the players whenever they get outdone by someone else (because they can't be bothered to understand the game or it's mechanics), get bored (because they have the attention span and patience of an epileptic shrew), or heaven forbid take some damage or in a condition/situation they don't like (the horror!). If the GM's job - which is already enough work - is basically reduced to babysitting and running wish fulfillment for a bunch of spoiled brats who are never satisfied then Rule 0 is already broken from minute one. And that only leads to bad things.

As for useless, no one is useless unless they make themselves useless. That's kinda a different topic though.

Anyway, my mantra for SR (it changes in other games):

1) There is one setting, the setting of Shadowrun. There is one GM. The job of the GM above all else is to faithfully reproduce the setting.

In other words, things in the game work in ways that are consistent to the unspoken rules of SR. Planes don't fall up (without good reason), bullets don't turn corners normally, and doing incredibly stupid things WILL have consequences. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That said, minor physics violations (ie like superball grenades or things found in a John Woo film) are fine and even encouraged.

2) The world does not exist to please you.

Hell, the world doesn't even like you. A lot of the time, the world would prefer you dead or in situations where you wish you were. The world will go on it's own way with or without you - you are not a Star. You are not entitled to anything. However.....

3) All the world's a stage, and the show must go on.

You are the star of your own life and your own story. The entire idea of the game is telling that story. This doesn't guarantee the story will be easy, safe, or that you will come out unscathed - likely as not none of those are true. But if you put up a good show of it and are clever and daring you too can be a Star. Put into English, this means I won't punish you (overly much) for trying things that are bold, fun, or even borderline stupid - the more a plan/action/story direction pleases me and the cooler it is the more likely I'll be lenient (see #5). But...

4) Stupidity should be painful.

This is self explanatory. Walking around in a AAA zone with minigun and hunting pedestrians will have Lone Star on your ass in a fashion that makes Grand Theft Auto police responses look like a pizza party. Mouthing off to your fixer too much and consistantly refusing work means you get no work - which means little things like rent and expenses pile up. If you aren't on top of your common sense, I WILL nickel and dime you to death. Likewise, making an inane character that doesn't make sense in SR (examples include the daughter of a Scots noble that knows nothing of the modern world and a nine year old magician that thinks he's a pokemaster {made for the express purpose of stealing another character's ally spirit}) is basically inviting me to fuck with you.

5) I am the decider. I reward the righteous and punish the wicked.

You may not take action out of turn unless the rules allow it. You may not simply declare you've succeeded at actions that require a test. If you don't know if an action requires a test, ask. Dice rolls are not final until I say so, for PCs or NPCs. If you act and role play in an engaging, interesting, and entertaining fashion, I may fudge dice rolls in your favor (though there may be side effects) and the worst of causality will likely pass you by. I reserve the right to do the same with my NPCs if it is in the interest of the story. I will not overly favor my NPCs however - they receive only the same breaks you receive, no more. Blatantly violating the rules (ie purposefully recording more money or karma than you are given, continually trying to usurp GM power ala the first two sentences here) means you get no breaks and the full force of causality comes down on you.

6) Fun is where you make it.

These rules may seem harsh - they are, and for good reason. However, if you are clever, bold, occasionally funny, and above all cool you won't have any problems and will likely have alot of fun. Remember also that even tragedy can be fun at times, and you may end up having even more fun.
Rotbart van Dainig
QUOTE (toturi @ Aug 31 2008, 12:36 PM) *
I meant the focus shifts from having an overwhelming dice pool to many sufficiently large ones.

And what exactly is wrong about that?
QUOTE (toturi @ Aug 31 2008, 12:36 PM) *
It does not have to be the PC in multiple places, there might be a proxy for the PC, say like a spirit or a drone.

Sure, but that's perfectly fine.
The point is that you are always short on teammates.
sunnyside
QUOTE (toturi @ Aug 31 2008, 02:49 AM) *
True. But then since there are much bigger fish, no matter how well you run in the shadows and keep to the shadows, they will still get you in the end. You can try to kill your way out of trouble or hide from the trouble. Either way it is simply another matter of PC dice pool against NPC dice pool.


Be realistic. The point is that if the runners are making a ruckus downtown progressively more potent forces will converge until they are taken down. If they got out of dodge in the first place they will not have to deal with those forces.

It's not about me arbitrarily hitting them with super forces, it's about keeping the game world realistic.

QUOTE
I don't like Juicers. I would very much prefer a True Atlantean Cosmic Knight, thank you. But I think I might also question if Shadowrun is the system for you, perhaps an obfuscate vampire with triple helping of angst.


Easier to be a killer GM when your emo players cut themselves huh? grinbig.gif

Seriously no.

Actually this discussion brings me more to a Mantraish point

---------------------------------------

If a group of 6th graders and a group of college students could get the same outcome in my adventure I'm doing it wrong.

Really what SR brings above any other system I know of is intelligence. Lots of D&D adventures result in going in and clearing out the dungeon. The sixth grades may lose a few more HP for not being as twinked out. But basically they're going to achieve the same result. The difference in rewards often comes down to if they took 20 searching in every stinking room.

Rifts is a system where right out of the box your character is a total combat badass of ridiculous proportions but it punishes non combat skills so bad you're just glad the GM doesn't make your glitterboy roll to tie their shoes.


Shadowrun is a system that understands legwork, it understands hacking (and even does it fast now), there is a whole world out there to interact with and draw from. And vast amounts of room for being clever and putting 2 and 2 together. And lots of room for maturity without angst.

Personally I feel like coddling to players takes away from the experience by watering down the clever stuff they do.

On that note oftentimes I won't think through an adventure in terms of how they'll solve a problem. I just set the stage and expect them to come up with something. If they don't, bad things happen.

toturi
QUOTE (sunnyside @ Aug 31 2008, 09:46 PM) *
Be realistic. The point is that if the runners are making a ruckus downtown progressively more potent forces will converge until they are taken down. If they got out of dodge in the first place they will not have to deal with those forces.

It's not about me arbitrarily hitting them with super forces, it's about keeping the game world realistic.

The key point I was making that the players have made their PCs such that they could withstand such "superior" forces and they are going to have fun with them.

Consider this scenario, your group has been running quiet and stealth. They keep things low profile. Suddenly this time they went all ballistic and brute forced their way through a job. In keeping with the realism of the game world, you sent in the elite troops like the Red Samurai or Tir Ghosts. Assuming that these troops are the SR4 RAW which do not scale according to PC "level", you find that to your horror, the PCs can now plow through these guys like hot knife through butter.

So being realistic, there should be a tipping point that progressively more potent forces will not be enough and the powers that be cede the day to the runners. And that is the point, your players made a conscious effort to shift the emphasis away from the stealth game you were running to the shooting game they want now. When they went along with your stealth emphasis, you had your fun, now they are having theirs. The question is whether you are going to poop on their fun.
sunnyside
QUOTE (toturi @ Aug 31 2008, 09:21 AM) *
So being realistic, there should be a tipping point that progressively more potent forces will not be enough and the powers that be cede the day to the runners. And that is the point, your players made a conscious effort to shift the emphasis away from the stealth game you were running to the shooting game they want now. When they went along with your stealth emphasis, you had your fun, now they are having theirs. The question is whether you are going to poop on their fun.


What so if you ran Renraku shutdown your players would just have taken over the joint? That must have put an interesting twist on the timeline when you jumped to SR4.

Hell if runners are the gods of the game the corps could at least hire a couple teams to come after your guys.

Though it's a point of another thread that "elite" forces have such bargain basement cyberware packages the corps obviously have better somewhere. Though numbers and LAVs and the like can turn the tide well enough on their own.

Now you have a point on fun. But my point is that if they want a shooting job sending them to conquer the arcology or the Aztec pyramid isn't the job to send them on. Instead maybe they could have a gang war in the barrens, or perhaps something in one of the many warzones.


Bull
You guys are amusing. It is interesting to see other folks viewpoints on the subject though. But wow, some of you take your fun so damn seriously smile.gif

At the end of the day, my Matra's are designed to guarantee three things.

1) That I have fun.
2) That the players have fun.
3) That we create a good story.

Anything and everything else is secondary.
sunnyside
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 31 2008, 09:46 AM) *
You guys are amusing. It is interesting to see other folks viewpoints on the subject though. But wow, some of you take your fun so damn seriously smile.gif

At the end of the day, my Matra's are designed to guarantee three things.

1) That I have fun.
2) That the players have fun.
3) That we create a good story.

Anything and everything else is secondary.


To a degree I just like to argue. smile.gif

But I have a small stake in this as I move around and then pick up new players. And I'd rather they were smart players instead of a bunch of rift reject mouthbreathers and previous GMs have a lot to do with that.

Also we all need to do our share to bring in the females. I'm just saying.

masterofm
1. Set a colorful story and allow RP to transpire
2. Have fun
3. Bring the players back in if they get too far off topic with some interesting quirks that can pull them back into RP mode

I can't believe people miss my no.1. Honestly it seems to be the most crucial part of gaming in my experience and easily ties into people having fun. Making it easy for people to stay in character, and having a vibrant story that players can interact with is super toy number 1 in my book. Sometimes if you want to bend the rules there is stuff in SR that just should not be in a players eyes, and that is fine. The problem with bending or breaking the rules too much is that eventually it can make players feel railroaded. It all comes down to finesse and how you want to play it, but I view extremes are bad. Don't compromise too much, or none at all. Shutting yourself from one avenue generally limits fun.
Tiger Eyes
QUOTE (sunnyside @ Aug 31 2008, 11:07 AM) *
Also we all need to do our share to bring in the females. I'm just saying.


rotfl.gif
Cain
QUOTE
Honestly, I think that a newbie should not expect to be as good, starting out, as a veteran of the game, either in character building or in tactics. I would ask someone to "tone down" their character if it broke the premise of the game (a troll combat mercenary in a game of subtle intrigue, a tweaked-out combat mage in a game where the players are supposed to be students at a magic academy, and so on). In that respect, I agree on telling players what your expectations are.

But I sure as hell wouldn't say "I'm sorry, Bob, but little Timmy wants to play a street sammie, too, so you need to make your street sammie wussier, so little Timmy doesn't cry." I'll help the newbies build their characters, and give them helpful hints and suggestions, but I'm not going to impose arbitrary restrictions on everyone else. Everyone should have something to do on a run - the guy with less dice and IPs can still plug some of the security guards. He's not "useless", he's just whining because someone is "better" than him.

You don't need to tell people to gimp their characters deliberately. You can, and should, say: "I know you're creating a social adept, but 30+ dice for seduction is overkill." Alternately, you have Bob give Timmy some pointers on how to improve his character.

But the best approach is to have a good idea of the power level of the game, and be able to say: "For combat, you're going to need a dice pool in the 15-18 range. Any further is too much." The catch is, of course, that you need to be able to back this up; when challenges arise, that dice pool had better be enough, otherwise all your players are going to feel useless. You don't have to hard cap players; you just need to have clear expectations.

I see this happening a lot here-- some GM's will want "street level" campaigns, but don't adequately define exactly what street-level means. Sometimes they'll cap BP's, but that doesn't stop people from trying to squeeze every last dice out of them-- in fact, sometimes it makes it worse. But since effectiveness in SR4 is tied to dice pool levels, a suggested cap can and does work. That way, instead of focusing on how to max out their dice pools, players will feel satisfied once they've reached your suggested range.
QUOTE
Simple answer to why one Street Sam is a little weaker: The other Sam is the Master, and the new one is the Pupil. Subtly suggest the tricked out Sam maybe drop a couple points somewhere for the Instruction Skill wink.gif Or maybe just, as a GM, be nice, and toss the better built Sam 1 point of the Instruction Skill as a freebie wink.gif You know, take the inexperience of the new player, and turn it into a plot point!

That'll highly depends on the players and characters in question. You're assuming that the weaker character will be in the hands of a newbie player, but that's not always the case; sometimes more experienced players won't be as good at number-crunching as a newer person. Also, it could be that they have equal to no experience with the game, both starting SR4 for the first time. In either case, setting one up as a mentor might not be a good idea, especially if the number-cruncher is a recovering problem player.

Also, what happens if the character backstories don't mesh? Say Samurai A is a brash young street punk, and Samurai B is a grizzled veteran of the Desert Wars. Setting the first up as a mentor to the second wouldn't work.
QUOTE
5) I am the decider. I reward the righteous and punish the wicked.

That's exactly the sort of attitude I don't like to see. The players have just as much of a stake in the story as you do. By rigidly demanding that the players respect GM power, you set yourself up as "better" than them. You also end up rewarding "ass-kissing" behaviors, when they play the way you want them to, instead of encouraging creativity.

I've seen (and played in) plenty of "shared narrative" games, where the GM has less authority, and the players take more control over the narrative. They can be a lot of fun, even if everyone's got different play styles. There's even a couple of games out there that require no GM at all. I haven't played any of them yet, but I hear they're fun as well. So, you can't say that you deserve more authority simply because you're the GM; a game does not need you as much as you might think.
QUOTE
Shadowrun is a system that understands legwork, it understands hacking (and even does it fast now), there is a whole world out there to interact with and draw from. And vast amounts of room for being clever and putting 2 and 2 together. And lots of room for maturity without angst.

Personally I feel like coddling to players takes away from the experience by watering down the clever stuff they do.

My experience with SR4 legwork is much different than yours, to the point where it's become a problem. And not just with me, I've seen it happen under many different GM's in many different games. But that's a topic for a different thread.

I don't understand what people mean when they complain about "coddling players". Short of cheating on the dice rolls to favor them, what exactly does that mean? You definitely should scale challenges for the group: even though both a street gang and a team of veteran shadowrunners might end up facing Lone Star, that doesn't mean they should be facing the same challenge. A holed-up team of well-armed and experienced shadowrunners should expect to face a SWAT team, while a gang can expect a handful of patrol cars to show up. Not only is this fair, it's more realistic; how often do SWAT teams get called out to domestic disturbances in the poorer districts?

Now, here's another mantra for you to chew on:
To maintain a good story, you must maintain suspension of disbelief.
Yes, we are talking about a fantasy world here, and so sometimes fantasy logic should apply. And sometimes, cinematic physics need to be brought in for a good game. But everything should maintain a logical consistency to it, and shouldn't blatantly violate the story. And yes, the occasional comment that breaks the fourth wall can be hysterical. But overall, a good story and setting should be consistent, and fit the way everyone feels the world should be. Rules or events that break the paradigm, things in the story that violate common sense, all end up hurting the game, by shattering the shared illusion we all work so hard to build.
sunnyside
QUOTE (Cain @ Aug 31 2008, 03:43 PM) *
I don't understand what people mean when they complain about "coddling players". Short of cheating on the dice rolls to favor them, what exactly does that mean? You definitely should scale challenges for the group: even though both a street gang and a team of veteran shadowrunners might end up facing Lone Star, that doesn't mean they should be facing the same challenge. A holed-up team of well-armed and experienced shadowrunners should expect to face a SWAT team, while a gang can expect a handful of patrol cars to show up. Not only is this fair, it's more realistic; how often do SWAT teams get called out to domestic disturbances in the poorer districts?


I think the core effect of coddling players is when they've got the feeling that all they have to do is stay close to the rails you want them on and they'll be fine.

As a player I've been there in games. I know this GM is scalling conflicts so we can win, maybe I suspect if we were getting creamed they'd forget about those spirits they were planning to drop or not have somebody have wired 3 after all. I know they aren't going to kill us unless we buck them. I'm playing on easy mode and just hope I can have some fun RP.

Worse is when you know you can be pretty retarded and you'll still be fine. I came into a game like that. I was all nervous the first day because they were behaving like retards and got guards brought down on us. But what they knew was the unspoken rule that we'd never be faced with something we couldn't handle. If we could handle four guards than no more than four would show up.

Somewhere in between there is when you can be a little silly, so longs as the GM is amused and you aren't really being stupid. I had one game where my character started drinking during fights instead of participating. They'd just hold back in a concealed position and make not very witty comments. I was having fun. And forcing me to have to get into the fight would require the rest of the team being in a losing position, which wasn't how that GM rolled.


Anywayt the point is coddling of this nature is more the default as opposed to the exception. I'm guessing most GMs are hovering between "if they don't do something stupid I won't let them die" and being able to have a player get drunk instead of fighting.
Mx
QUOTE (Cain @ Aug 31 2008, 10:43 PM) *
I don't understand what people mean when they complain about "coddling players". Short of cheating on the dice rolls to favor them, what exactly does that mean? You definitely should scale challenges for the group: even though both a street gang and a team of veteran shadowrunners might end up facing Lone Star, that doesn't mean they should be facing the same challenge. A holed-up team of well-armed and experienced shadowrunners should expect to face a SWAT team, while a gang can expect a handful of patrol cars to show up. Not only is this fair, it's more realistic; how often do SWAT teams get called out to domestic disturbances in the poorer districts?

SWAT no, but if those gangers are stupid enough to star shooting it up with those patrol officers, they will call an FRT(Fast Response Team) to handle the situation.
Becouse that what the FRT:s are for.
Ryu
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 31 2008, 04:46 PM) *
You guys are amusing. It is interesting to see other folks viewpoints on the subject though. But wow, some of you take your fun so damn seriously smile.gif

At the end of the day, my Matra's are designed to guarantee three things.

1) That I have fun.
2) That the players have fun.
3) That we create a good story.

Anything and everything else is secondary.


Guilty as charged. And I´m playing with like-minded fellows, so we are having a great time.
sunnyside
While I fear I may have already typed too much. There is another kind of coddling outside of combat.

This comes into play with pretty much everything non combat related. Now sometimes the GM has a linear plot, and you're really just on the rails and it's like a 1990's NES RPG where NPCs point you to the next place for the players to ransack.

But generally, occasionally the GM will want to have the players figure something out. Now the question is what happens when the players just don't catch it. Does the mission go south and the players go without pay this week?

No the typical GM will pull out what some of us like to call "The Cluebat" and they will start smacking the players with it until the clue sinks in and the players get back on the rails on their way to the next stop.

I've never done it, but it might be fun if you could work out some pre arranged signal with the other players where you'll all agree to pretend like you just can't get the clue. Even as the blows of the Cluebat rain down upon you. See how far your GM will take it.

I'm guessing most fall between "shameless" and "just telling you outright".

Glyph
QUOTE (Cain @ Aug 31 2008, 12:43 PM) *
But the best approach is to have a good idea of the power level of the game, and be able to say: "For combat, you're going to need a dice pool in the 15-18 range. Any further is too much." The catch is, of course, that you need to be able to back this up; when challenges arise, that dice pool had better be enough, otherwise all your players are going to feel useless. You don't have to hard cap players; you just need to have clear expectations.

I see this happening a lot here-- some GM's will want "street level" campaigns, but don't adequately define exactly what street-level means. Sometimes they'll cap BP's, but that doesn't stop people from trying to squeeze every last dice out of them-- in fact, sometimes it makes it worse. But since effectiveness in SR4 is tied to dice pool levels, a suggested cap can and does work. That way, instead of focusing on how to max out their dice pools, players will feel satisfied once they've reached your suggested range.


I don't have as much of a problem with this, although your point of backing it up in game is key. The problem is that an "overkill" pool of dice gives you a certain amount of slack, which can, to a slight extent, compensate for less-than-optimal tactics. So when the player dies, they are less likely to say "Guess I should have gone for cover," and more likely to say "See, I could have dodged that, but nooo, you told me I didn't need 4 levels of combat sense." If you are going to do hard caps, you are better off simply having it as part of character creation (For this campaign, you are playing relatively new runners, so combat, social, and magical pools are capped at 16, and other dice pools are capped at 10). If it is a static rule, rather than you giving a player "advice", then it is less likely to become an issue if the player fails later.

But if I did do that, it would be done across the board. If I did a game with a 16 dice pool cap, and someone made a sammie with a dice pool of 12 and only 2 IP, I wouldn't make the guy with 16 dice and 3 IP tone down his character so the first guy doesn't feel bad. So that's my problem - not the GM setting what he feels are reasonable guidelines for his campaign, but the GM trying to gimp one player's character simply because another player gimped his.

QUOTE (Cain @ Aug 31 2008, 12:43 PM) *
I don't understand what people mean when they complain about "coddling players". Short of cheating on the dice rolls to favor them, what exactly does that mean?

I consider it "coddling" players when you bend over backwards and break the logic of the game world to save PCs from their stupidity. I also consider it coddling players when you gimp other players' characters to accommodate a whiner who pitches a hissy fit if his poorly-constructed character isn't as effective as theirs. And I consider it coddling players when you make everyone else metagame so that someone else can "roleplay" a character who has no useful abilities to offer to a team of hardcore professional criminals.

It's a game, played for fun, yeah, but how fun would it be to play monopoly with someone who pitched a fit whenever he landed on someone else's property with houses on it, expected the GM to give him extra starting money to make up for another player being more experienced at it than him, and had to be called away from the TV every time his turn came up?

I expect a player to make a character for the Shadowrun game world, to make some attempt to immerse himself into that game world, to play by the rules, and to show some respect for the other players and the GM, who are there to have fun, too. Like NightmareX said, the GM shouldn't have to be a babysitter.
Cain
QUOTE (Mäx @ Aug 31 2008, 12:27 PM) *
SWAT no, but if those gangers are stupid enough to star shooting it up with those patrol officers, they will call an FRT(Fast Response Team) to handle the situation.
Becouse that what the FRT:s are for.

You're right that things should escalate; but following up on my last rule (suspension of disbelief) , a FRT shouldn't show up within 30 seconds of the firefight breaking out, no matter what the books say.

I don't believe in punishing players, but I do believe in "natural consequences"; if they massacre a team of patrol cops, and they don't run away when they have the chance, a FRT or similar should show up. But that assumes that the players are escalating things. That means they want to face a greater challenge.
Cain
QUOTE
I don't have as much of a problem with this, although your point of backing it up in game is key. The problem is that an "overkill" pool of dice gives you a certain amount of slack, which can, to a slight extent, compensate for less-than-optimal tactics. So when the player dies, they are less likely to say "Guess I should have gone for cover," and more likely to say "See, I could have dodged that, but nooo, you told me I didn't need 4 levels of combat sense." If you are going to do hard caps, you are better off simply having it as part of character creation (For this campaign, you are playing relatively new runners, so combat, social, and magical pools are capped at 16, and other dice pools are capped at 10). If it is a static rule, rather than you giving a player "advice", then it is less likely to become an issue if the player fails later.

But if I did do that, it would be done across the board. If I did a game with a 16 dice pool cap, and someone made a sammie with a dice pool of 12 and only 2 IP, I wouldn't make the guy with 16 dice and 3 IP tone down his character so the first guy doesn't feel bad. So that's my problem - not the GM setting what he feels are reasonable guidelines for his campaign, but the GM trying to gimp one player's character simply because another player gimped his.

I don't hard-cap players, but I do give strong "recommendations" that players typically follow. What you're describing is only a minor difference; four dice equals out to slightly more than one success on average, and that usually doesn't make other people feel bad. The issue pops up when everyone else is doing about 1-2 net successes, while one guy is routinely racking up critical success after critical success. Because of the rules for critical successes, not only is the player doing better than everyone else, he gets to add flourishes; he's doing everything *cooler* than everyone else, and gets extra spotlight time.

QUOTE
I expect a player to make a character for the Shadowrun game world, to make some attempt to immerse himself into that game world, to play by the rules, and to show some respect for the other players and the GM, who are there to have fun, too. Like NightmareX said, the GM shouldn't have to be a babysitter.

That's a player problem, not a GM mantra. If you've got a problem player, that needs to be dealt with out-of-game.
Ryu
Regarding that extra spotlight time, no. You are getting a spotlight for extreme relative rather than absolute success, and I can do math.

And Cain: Im not challenging your references here.
Cain
QUOTE (Ryu @ Aug 31 2008, 01:24 PM) *
Regarding that extra spotlight time, no. You are getting a spotlight for extreme relative rather than absolute success, and I can do math.

And Cain: I�m not challenging your references here.

I just realized that you might have taken something I said as offensive. If so, I apologize.

As for the critical success rules: by RAW, you get a critical success whenever you score 4+ net successes over what you need. If someone is routinely getting critical successes, and everyone else isn't, you have a problem. Granted, this could happen even if the characters are otherwise balanced; I've met a couple of exceptionally lucky people, who just seem to roll well no matter what happens. And they're not cheating: you can watch them carefully, swap out their dice, and still witness them make one astounding roll after another.

The problem is that in SR4, you're rewarded for these successes by not only doing exceptionally well, but with extra narrative control, since the player gets to add whatever flourish he wants. That means he gets extra input into the game, and gets to be extra-cool.

Now, the extra narrative control is a serious problem. Each player should have roughly equal input into the narrative aspects of the game; giving one player that extra control will lead to imbalances, just as if you favored him. While everyone else is sweating to get off a good shot, this player could describe his criticals as trick shot after trick shot. That will make the other players feel underpowered in comparison, even more than just watching him roll a big success.
Pendaric
QUOTE (Bull @ Aug 31 2008, 10:46 AM) *
You guys are amusing. It is interesting to see other folks viewpoints on the subject though. But wow, some of you take your fun so damn seriously smile.gif

At the end of the day, my Matra's are designed to guarantee three things.

1) That I have fun.
2) That the players have fun.
3) That we create a good story.

Anything and everything else is secondary.


Amen
toturi
QUOTE (sunnyside @ Aug 31 2008, 10:37 PM) *
What so if you ran Renraku shutdown your players would just have taken over the joint? That must have put an interesting twist on the timeline when you jumped to SR4.

Hell if runners are the gods of the game the corps could at least hire a couple teams to come after your guys.

Though it's a point of another thread that "elite" forces have such bargain basement cyberware packages the corps obviously have better somewhere. Though numbers and LAVs and the like can turn the tide well enough on their own.

Now you have a point on fun. But my point is that if they want a shooting job sending them to conquer the arcology or the Aztec pyramid isn't the job to send them on. Instead maybe they could have a gang war in the barrens, or perhaps something in one of the many warzones.

Perhaps they could have taken over the Renraku Arcology. If they were really that damn good.

The corps may have better somewhere, but in the book, those elite forces are only ones that are presented as is. Everything else can be statted up using the NPC creation rules and as the GM you can create a group of far superior NPCs and call them Red Samurai. However, the point is that the PCs can wait until a time that they are ready to take on the Red Samurai or Tir Ghosts and win on a regular basis to change the play style. And they can wait till you send them to the Arcology to change the play book on you.
sunnyside
QUOTE (toturi @ Aug 31 2008, 09:49 PM) *
Perhaps they could have taken over the Renraku Arcology. If they were really that damn good.

The corps may have better somewhere, but in the book, those elite forces are only ones that are presented as is. Everything else can be statted up using the NPC creation rules and as the GM you can create a group of far superior NPCs and call them Red Samurai. However, the point is that the PCs can wait until a time that they are ready to take on the Red Samurai or Tir Ghosts and win on a regular basis to change the play style. And they can wait till you send them to the Arcology to change the play book on you.



Well again there is disagreement on the distribution of Fichetti 500s amongst NPCs and other retardeness.

But no the Red Samurai are the Red Samurai. The thing about them, and even the Tir Ghosts. Is that like other special forces of the world, there are thousands of them, still grunty.

Now for a first improvement the BBB mentions that elite units formed from groups can be made of just leuitenant types. So for the Red Samurai think of the general grunts like marines. A squad of leituenants could be like MSOB.

But beyond that corps certaianly do have their million dollar men. Heck they're the onces making the cyberzombies, and they've got the kind of mages that can make cyberzombies.

Though seriously I don't think they'd deploy their million dollar men to go after some runners holed up in a building. Especially since combat drones, a swarm of high force spirits, or large amounts of explosives set up in the room above the runners, should do the job just fine.

Fuchs
I don't get this "don't gimp elite players so Timmy doesn't whine" attitude. If I have a new player I don't let him or her stumble through character creation and then laugh at the result. I expect the most experienced players to help out so "Timmy" gets a character on par with the rest of the group.

But then I expect characters to be made with the whole group together, so stats, background and attitudes mesh well and no player feels gimped, overshadowed, or not fitting in.
Cain
It's not so "Timmy doesn't whine". It's so that you don't end up with a player that feel useless.

Using SR4, it's easier to build certain characters that are better than others. Someone who's better at min/maxing will produce a superior character; that's a given. If you allow this to go unchecked, you can easily end up with two characters, one of which is throwing 20+ dice, the other only having 10-12. Experience with the game isn't a factor; I've met more than a few players who could look at the rules, and produce a character who's noticeably superior.

I like to use "suggested caps", a suggested dice pool range that gives the characters some idea of what level they should be shooting for. The players who aren't as good at number-crunching will try a bit harder to reach those ranges; while the dedicated min/maxers will tend to quit when they hit the target range, and then focus on other things, such as a character backstory.

If you do this right, you never need to gimp a character. Since the players accept that they don't need to wring the life out of every last BP, and you back that up by showing them that it's effective, there's no pressure to develop overpowered characters.

For example, a long time ago, I signed up for a Champions game. Since I was unfamiliar with the rules and had no idea what the setting would be like, I gave my character a 9 die Killing Attack ability. To translate that into more commonly understood terms, that was enough to overkill a tank with one hit. Unbeknownst to me, the game was going to focus on street vigilantism, and not slugging it out toe-to-toe with Superman. So, my character ended up being highly overpowered in relation to everything else we encountered; I could one-shot anything we came across.

Now, if another player had approached me and tried to help, I probably would have ended up min/maxing the character even further. They didn't know the expected power level of the game, either. But if the GM had come to me, and said: "You know, that attack is really excessive for what I have in mind", I'd have dialed it back voluntarily.

Building characters with other players is nice in theory, but it doesn't always work out that way. They're going to be working on their characters as well, so they might not have the time to focus on helping someone else out effectively. Also, considering how long it takes to build characters in SR4, you simply might not be able to dedicate an entire session to character building. It takes me a minimum of two hours to build an effective character for SR4, and that's with a spreadsheet. In a group setting, with only a couple copies of the books to pass around, and a limited number of computers available, you're going to have an even harder time keeping everyone together. If you have pdf's, it's more time-efficient to have everyone make characters on their own. Then, when the session starts, you can jump straight into the game. However, to prevent character imbalances from happening, you do need to set an expected power level, so everyone knows what to shoot for.

Also, there's Shadowrun Missions. I've played a fair amount of Missions; but given that you only have a four-hour time slot, you really don't have the time to create a character when you arrive. Because of this, you can run into serious character imbalances. For example, one person might take the Face straight out of the BBB, while someone else comes in with a Pornomancer. It's going to be extremely difficult to arrange things so that the Face doesn't feel completely useless.
Glyph
QUOTE (Fuchs @ Sep 1 2008, 12:39 AM) *
I don't get this "don't gimp elite players so Timmy doesn't whine" attitude. If I have a new player I don't let him or her stumble through character creation and then laugh at the result. I expect the most experienced players to help out so "Timmy" gets a character on par with the rest of the group.

But then I expect characters to be made with the whole group together, so stats, background and attitudes mesh well and no player feels gimped, overshadowed, or not fitting in.

Well, I said:
QUOTE
I'll help the newbies build their characters, and give them helpful hints and suggestions, but I'm not going to impose arbitrary restrictions on everyone else.

So, I don't disagree about helping the new guys out. I wouldn't normally make character creation a group thing, though. Yeah, it's good if everyone gets together and makes sure that they have the roles all covered (although I also feel that people should be able to play what they want, so if they have three faces, I'll just run a face-oriented campaign and NPC the meatshields). That's a playstyle thing, though. If you can get a group to collectively put together their team, that's impressive, and probably pretty effective.

But to me, it's a fine line between helping someone and bigfooting their character creation, especially when they are learning the system. I want someone to have a character they want, even if it's not the most efficient build, starting out. If they want someone with a cyberarm and a katana, for example, I'll help them make the best cyberarm and katana guy they can. I won't tell the other guy, though, that he needs to re-do his character with muscle toner and two-weapon fighting, just because his option is "better" than the new guy's. The new guy will still be able to kick ass. If he is upset that the other player is kicking more ass than he is, then that's just being childish, and that's not an attitude I would encourage.

I think it really takes the GM and all of the players to make it work. The newbie needs to accept that there will be a learning curve for him, and not compare himself to the other players all of the time. The other players need to not be spotlight hogs or bullies. And the GM needs to make sure that everyone gets a chance to shine.
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