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Mirivor
I have been reading this forum as a guest for a couple weeks and, while knowledge is certainly here it seems to be for those that have the game relatively mastered.

Why are 'mundane' characters so inferior? I have read at least a half dozen posts that all site this as fact. Is it true? Why? I consider myself to be quite capable with rules systems and such but I have yet to actually play a game of SR. Why are normal people so inferior if all characters are built on 400 BP?

Later!
The ubbergeek
Well... think about it. Fluff-wise, it's inevitable.

On one side, you have crazy mofos with insane collections of 'toys, in their flesh, or bioengineered to be Ubermensches...

On the other side, you have crazy mofos who have the 'mojo'. Secret skills, hidden knowledges of powers - or great powers springing from their own selves.

So.... Mudanes pale, inevitably... You can have a badass normals, but...
sunnyside
First you have to find out if they mean mundane as in "I'm not a magician/adept/technomance" or as in I'm not those things or Chromed.

If none of the above you'd be fairly soft.

If just not magical things can actually start off pretty balanced. It's when you've got 100 karma that they start leaving you in the dust.

Tarantula
Right. "Mundane" in the sense of un-augmented human is fairly poor due to the hard caps on starting attributes and things in chargen, and limited ways of improving dice pools. Meanwhile, magic/cyber/bio all can augment past starting attribute values, as well as offering lots of bonuses for dice pools.
Wasabi
1. Opposed skill checks augmented with magic or cyber are harder for a non-cyber, non-magical character to counter.
2. Initiative passes are awesome. If your team each get three and your opponents get one you can use your first to abort to dodge/gymnastics then with your other two your team massacres the other side
3. Cyber and magic allow detection of things. The element of surprise doesn't skew encounters, if surprised, you'll likely be in a coma or worse.

Those are just a few reasons. In my experience though a well played character without cyber or magic can be an effective investigator. Its combat and infiltration where they suffer the most as compared to tricked out runners.
W@geMage
It also depends on the type of game you want to play.
If all players are low-powered it doesn't matter, it's just as fun as playing the ├╝ber-builds.
And it's beginner-friendly, mistakes are not that costly since the oppostion sucks too wink.gif.

But don't try to play a vanilla mundane when the rest is playing samurai with 3 IP, and magic users with 6+ magic.
You will be outclassed by the teammates which is no fun.
knasser

A lot depends on the style of the game as others have noted. More so in Shadowrun than most other RPGs, tactics and strategy matter more than raw ability. Nobody is actually that tough in Shadowrun. Even that Troll samurai will go down pretty quickly if he lets himself get caught in the crossfire of a couple of LMGs. The consequence is that non-cybered, non-magicals can actually compete if the GM runs a more detailed and thoughtful game. If you're going into room after room fighting guard after guard, then you wont be competitive, but if you're planning assassinations or stealth jobs on factories, if you're playing the sort of game where you need to time your way past guards, use cover, etc., then you can be almost as competitive as the others.

Don't get me wrong - you will be punished for refusing to upgrade your body in Shadowrun, it's just that unlike a lot of games, in Shadowrun everyone gets punished if their tactics are bad and that matters more. You need a slightly sophisticated GM, though.
kzt
QUOTE (knasser @ Oct 10 2008, 03:04 PM) *
Don't get me wrong - you will be punished for refusing to upgrade your body in Shadowrun, it's just that unlike a lot of games, in Shadowrun everyone gets punished if their tactics are bad and that matters more. You need a slightly sophisticated GM, though.

There are significant advantages in stealth situations. It's a lot easier for security to spot cyberboy than mageboy, but they can spot mageboy as a mage/adept if they are looking hard. And once they spot you things get harder as they will track you. A mundane is just another guy and they can't spot him as special.

But it is harder most of the time.
toturi
QUOTE (knasser @ Oct 11 2008, 06:04 AM) *
A lot depends on the style of the game as others have noted. More so in Shadowrun than most other RPGs, tactics and strategy matter more than raw ability. Nobody is actually that tough in Shadowrun. Even that Troll samurai will go down pretty quickly if he lets himself get caught in the crossfire of a couple of LMGs. The consequence is that non-cybered, non-magicals can actually compete if the GM runs a more detailed and thoughtful game. If you're going into room after room fighting guard after guard, then you wont be competitive, but if you're planning assassinations or stealth jobs on factories, if you're playing the sort of game where you need to time your way past guards, use cover, etc., then you can be almost as competitive as the others.

Don't get me wrong - you will be punished for refusing to upgrade your body in Shadowrun, it's just that unlike a lot of games, in Shadowrun everyone gets punished if their tactics are bad and that matters more. You need a slightly sophisticated GM, though.

If by timing your way past guards and using cover, you allow the player to bypass a Stealth Test, then yes, raw ability does not matter as much. I do not allow my players to break the rules, no matter how they try to crouch it in terms like tactics or strategy or sophisticated GMing.
Ravor
True, but you compensate by allowing them to use a literal reading of RAW to pull off the truely amazing.
Muspellsheimr
QUOTE (toturi @ Oct 10 2008, 05:49 PM) *
If by timing your way past guards and using cover, you allow the player to bypass a Stealth Test, then yes, raw ability does not matter as much. I do not allow my players to break the rules, no matter how they try to crouch it in terms like tactics or strategy or sophisticated GMing.

Or in other words, the Infiltration Test is you timing your way & using cover. If you are allowed to explain how you do something, & then just do it, why bother with dice at all?

The dice are a measure of the characters ability in areas. The player will likely be better in some, worse in others. If you go off the players abilities, why play an RPG at all?
knasser
QUOTE (kzt @ Oct 11 2008, 12:29 AM) *
There are significant advantages in stealth situations. It's a lot easier for security to spot cyberboy than mageboy, but they can spot mageboy as a mage/adept if they are looking hard. And once they spot you things get harder as they will track you. A mundane is just another guy and they can't spot him as special.

But it is harder most of the time.


The advantage disappears when you compare it with bioware, mind you. But it is an advantage over cyberware, as you say.

QUOTE (toturi)
If by timing your way past guards and using cover, you allow the player to bypass a Stealth Test, then yes, raw ability does not matter as much. I do not allow my players to break the rules, no matter how they try to crouch it in terms like tactics or strategy or sophisticated GMing.


I'm familiar with your slightly unusual approach to GMing, but consider that you can do what I say within RAW even with your approach through the use of dice pool modifiers. Don't know anything about the security systems used by this corp? Penalty! Bribed a personnel manager there for the guard duty roster to know when they change over, when they're tired after a four hour stint? Dice pool bonus!

That's if you want to play in your style, I'm not saying that's always how I handle it (though sometimes it will be). But RAW, anyway.
Glyph
Mundane characters being weaker fits the transhumanist themes of the game, as well as their associated dystopic qualities.

Street samurai are supposed to be trading off bits and pieces of their humanity to keep their edge on the mean streets. Some of them start to feel like gods walking among the fragile bags of meat surrounding them. Why bother replacing parts of your body with metal or vat-grown tissue if it doesn't give you any kind of advantage over Joe average?

Mages and adepts are alternately idolized and envied, and feared. Mages are the people who can read your mind, or kill you by thinking about it hard. Adepts can do superhuman feats because they have magic flowing through their veins. If normal people could do the same thing with a bit of effort, or could consistently resist magic if they were tough enough, then magic wouldn't be anything special.

That's not to say mundane characters aren't possible (and the sample archetypes have always included one). With 400 build points, even mundane characters will be pretty tough. But they should always be at a disadvantage as a runner. They should be tempted by the quick, easy boost of cyberware, and awed and a bit frightened by the feats that they see mages and adepts doing so casually. To quote from the First Edition of Shadowrun:

QUOTE
"We're in the minority; Runners who are not jacked, rigged, or wakened. We live by our guts and wits."
- Jazzman Harker, Shadowrunner
Shiloh
QUOTE (toturi @ Oct 11 2008, 12:49 AM) *
If by timing your way past guards and using cover, you allow the player to bypass a Stealth Test, then yes, raw ability does not matter as much. I do not allow my players to break the rules, no matter how they try to crouch it in terms like tactics or strategy or sophisticated GMing.

So you consider good planning and reconnaissance "breaking the rules"? If the players dig out the guard rota and go through the wire when there's nobody looking, do they have to make a stealth test? From my POV, that's just perverse. Do you never give *bonuses* to rolls for planning and preparation? So why does anyone ever bother with legwork or prep?

Meh.
DTFarstar
In that situation, well... one I doubt my runners would ever be doing a run on a facility where there are actual gaps in the guard coverage like that. That is just sloppy sec work. Unless they bribed someone, of course. But in the situation where no one can see them, yes they still have to make a stealth test to not be heard. I mean, stumbling or rattling the wire or a door is almost as bad as being spotted, because that is what it generally leads to.

Chris
Cain
QUOTE (Shiloh @ Oct 14 2008, 06:36 AM) *
So you consider good planning and reconnaissance "breaking the rules"? If the players dig out the guard rota and go through the wire when there's nobody looking, do they have to make a stealth test? From my POV, that's just perverse. Do you never give *bonuses* to rolls for planning and preparation? So why does anyone ever bother with legwork or prep?

Meh.

There's always cameras, drones, traps, and paracritters to deal with, among others. Just because you've dealt with one doesn't mean you won't need a stealth test to get past the others.

Back on topic: Shadowrun has always been about teams of specialists, working together. It's not unlike a heist movie in that regard. Mundanes simply cannot specialize the way an augmented or awakened character can. You can make a fair generalist, but generalists are usually not much fun in Shadowrun, where everyone else can do your job better than the unaugmented mundane.

From the transhumanist angle, the tagline was, for the longest time: "Where man meets magic and machine." One core concept of the game is how much humanity are you losing, by snipping off parts of your body in exchange for metal, or staring deep into the abyss that is the magical universe?
Cantankerous
Or you just dial down the starting points, and put a cap on the amount that can be spent on wealth. Cyberware is bloody damned expensive. So is Bioware. Early on magic is self limiting (to an extent), so it's not a major problem when you saw off a good bit of points. Another thing you might want to do is really accentuate the "otherness" of cybered or magical folk and the disdain or just fear with which most people in more well heeled areas treat cybered up street monsters. In such a situation the "mundane" is at a rather large if intangible advantage.

No, these aren't fixes and the mundane will still be at a pretty fair disadvantage in most situations (less so in 3rd edition, but not by much) yes, but keeping in mind that while datajacks and the like are accepted, most people get nervous about the less mundanely utilitarian implements of cyberware and of almost all magic. For fourth edition I might well be inclined to give extra edge to completely mundane Runners.


Isshia
Stahlseele
QUOTE
Cyberware is bloody damned expensive. So is Bioware.

no, not in SR4 anymore . . well, there are some pieces, especially bio, that will seriously hurt your funds, but if you don't go for the badass stuff right away, you can bio yourself to death . .
imperialus
I did a rigger character once who relied to drugs to give him his edge. That's the closest I've ever come to a proper mundane character though. He worked fairly well and it was kinda fun RPing a strung out junky who blew all his cash on drugs. He had two severe addictions and we custom made a lot of drugs for him, made for a unique character, that's for sure.
Cain
QUOTE (Cantankerous @ Oct 14 2008, 09:42 AM) *
No, these aren't fixes and the mundane will still be at a pretty fair disadvantage in most situations (less so in 3rd edition, but not by much) yes, but keeping in mind that while datajacks and the like are accepted, most people get nervous about the less mundanely utilitarian implements of cyberware and of almost all magic. For fourth edition I might well be inclined to give extra edge to completely mundane Runners.

Theoretically, that's what they're supposed to do. In theory, the points they save from not buying cyber or magic will give them the points to buy up Edge. In practice, the boost you get from augmentations and/or magic more than offsets the point loss, so those characters can buy up Edge as well.
Stahlseele
wouldn't those mundane characters be above standard in skills?
due to points saved in other things? and as i mentioned in that other thread, i guess that's what they are supposed to do.
be good in everything, don'T excell in anything. switchable equipment that can be transported outside of your body and leaves no trail if you equip it with some thermite and can stomach the loss
Cain
QUOTE (Stahlseele @ Oct 14 2008, 04:08 PM) *
wouldn't those mundane characters be above standard in skills?
due to points saved in other things? and as i mentioned in that other thread, i guess that's what they are supposed to do.
be good in everything, don'T excell in anything. switchable equipment that can be transported outside of your body and leaves no trail if you equip it with some thermite and can stomach the loss

In theory, you'd be right. In practice, augmented characters are better at just about everything. Even the generalist can be beaten by a skillwire character, since the generalist will be paying much more BP for those skills.

Because of the skill caps, a generalist can't have any skills or dice pools higher than an augmented character can. He can only have more of them, making him mediocre in more areas. Having a skill does not mean you're good at it. So, they're not "above standard" in anything except breadth, and that doesn't count for very much, since even that can be cheaply duplicated by skillwires.
Whipstitch
QUOTE (Cantankerous @ Oct 14 2008, 12:42 PM) *
Or you just dial down the starting points, and put a cap on the amount that can be spent on wealth. Cyberware is bloody damned expensive. So is Bioware. Early on magic is self limiting (to an extent), so it's not a major problem when you saw off a good bit of points. Another thing you might want to do is really accentuate the "otherness" of cybered or magical folk and the disdain or just fear with which most people in more well heeled areas treat cybered up street monsters. In such a situation the "mundane" is at a rather large if intangible advantage.

Isshia



Keep in mind that lowering the nuyen cap and giving out less BPs just ends up skewing the game even further in favor trolls and most especially Orks. They can easily use strength and body as dump stats in order to end up with above average all-around attributes, and attributes are only second to nuyen in terms of BP per die (oddly enough, nuyen often accomplishes this by paying for attribute boosting 'ware). If you want to even the playing field you need to limit total dice pools. Just about any other method can be min-maxed around quite easily. Even then, augmented people will still have an advantage over the unaugmented mundanes, since SkillWires and Attribute boosting 'ware are so cost effective that you can often quite easily hit GM mandated softcaps relatively cheaply. Like Cain said, if you want guys to have no more than a couple skills above X amount of dice, you're probably going to have to flat out tell them so. The other option is to drastically change the very nature of Shadowrun character generation and advancement.
toturi
QUOTE (Shiloh @ Oct 14 2008, 09:36 PM) *
So you consider good planning and reconnaissance "breaking the rules"? If the players dig out the guard rota and go through the wire when there's nobody looking, do they have to make a stealth test? From my POV, that's just perverse. Do you never give *bonuses* to rolls for planning and preparation? So why does anyone ever bother with legwork or prep?

Meh.

If the players want to dig out the guard rota or any other relevant information, they need to pass an appropriate test to do so(from Contacts, or through Data Search). Furthermore, in order to make use of that information, they should need to make another test to do so (Security Design, etc).

Lastly, even if they make successful use of that information, they still need to make the appropriate Stealth Tests. Why? Because the Stealth test results form the Thresholds for guards or anything else noticing the runners, the guards do not roll Perception first to set the runners' Stealth Tests Thresholds. If there are no guards or patrolling drones or spirits around, then fine, but the runners shouldn't know that, unless they are very sure that the guards aren't around (which they would know if they had made their appropriate Tests to find out that information).

Meh.
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