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SamVDW
Shadowrun - Great Game, Great Problems

In 1989, FASA came out with a game that is in my personal Top 5 roleplaying games of all time, Shadowrun. The world is great, the art is great, and the game is great. But the current setup in 4th Edition contains so many issues, I have had to force myself to even try and GM it for my players. So I thought about it for a little bit and came up with four of my biggest issues I have with 4th Edition Shadowrun.

1 – Characters start out too powerful – This actually is more of a gripe for my players. When you create your character, if you know the system well you can start out with pretty much everything you need to be powerful. There isn’t a lot of room for growth. Sure, you could upgrade the quality of your Street Samurai’s cyberware. Or, you could start making money and acquiring karma for those new foci your Mage needs. But bottom line, your main attributes and skills can easily start out at, or near, their max. If you take a character that has five sessions under their belt and compare him to what he started out at, often you’re not going to see a lot of change with the power level.

2 – Initiative passes – Although unique, the combat system is based around a system that can contain up to four initiative passes. Characters with one initiative pass are about 25% as effective as a character with four initiative passes. Not to mention the fact that a player with a character that has one initiative pass can pretty much go do laundry after his turn. By the time initiative pass two, three, and four are complete and he can actually do something again, that first load of laundry should be done. This pretty much makes cyberware or magical gifts that enhance your initiative passes a necessity. My players and I developed a one initiative pass combat system to test out. Every character received one ‘turn’ and those with multiple initiative passes from cyberware or magic received a dice pool award each turn, depending upon how many passes they were supposed to get. It actually turned out great and everyone loved it, but it required a complete retooling of the combat system.

3 – Being able to get 100+ armor – Okay now hear me out. This is more of a problem with too many modifiers than an actual armor issue. But when I read about this in the forums I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.? Now, the thought of a character sitting inside a vehicle, wearing full riot gear, holding two riots shields, with Gel-Packs, and various magic spells on him does seem ridiculous and completely implausible in a game where the GM has any control. However, I have had two different players in my campaigns each make characters (one Street Samurai, one Physical Adept) that consistently had between 35-45 dice to resist damage, depending on the circumstances. Each character was by the book and were plausible to encounter in the Shadowrun world. This can make it very difficult for a GM to challenge his players in normal combat, not to mention the issues with rolling 35-45 dice.

4 – Character play styles that don’t mix – This thought process is a little more abstract, but I think is one that is starting to go away with revisions in the game. Basically, having a group like a Technomancer, Street Samurai, Street Shaman, and a more normal character, say an Investigator. This seems like it could be a balanced group. However, the Technomancer wants to get lost in the Matrix and solve problems that way. A Street Samurai is going to want to muscle or shoot his way through everything. The Street Shaman may just go into astral space and do some scouting around while everyone else is busy. And the Investigator (or any other ‘normie’) doesn’t have the abilities or cyberware to follow any of these characters where they are going. Instead of being a well-balanced team, this can turn into four individuals trying to solve a problem four different ways just because of the way the system is setup.

With all of this being said, Shadowrun still remains one of my favorite roleplaying games of all time. I’ve owned every edition of the game since it came out years ago. I have dozens of gaming books and have read most of the Shadowrun novels. But as the game continues to grow, the game seems to be growing more convoluted and problematic.

I’d love to hear how other GMs and players have dealt with some of these issues in their campaigns!
Fuchs
1) Availability plays an important role. A number of things - high-level programs as an example - are above the chargen availability cap of 12. Skills too are capped at chargen. You advance slower than in other games, but the progress is there.

2) Never was a problem for us - it doesn't take much time for the sam and adept to roll their actions. If you have players who think 5 minutes per action, then you have problems - but that doesn't have to be the case. Some time limit maybe a help. Also, if something is really important, and players take their time deciding, then it0s usually done with input from everyone.

3) Talking with the players, and banning stuff helps a lot. You do not have to use every optional rule, and every optional piece of gear.

4) Coordinating at Chargen helps a lot to get all players on the same page, and build their characters with an eye on playing together.
Rasumichin
Let's see...


1 – Characters start out too powerful

I'd like to disagree here.
There's tons of useful gear that is not available at chargen, either because it has Availability over 12 or because 250K of starting cash are never enough to buy all a character could possibly want.

In the case of characters who don't rely that much on cash, you have Initiation or Submergence, which are not available at chargen and offer some highly desirable abilities.

Then, there's characters that are terrible karma sinks.
Any Mystic Adept will require karma in the hundreds to work out right.

Furthermore, having an attribute one step below maximum and a skill at 6 rarely means that you can't improve the dicepool any more.
There's enough ways to gain extra dice after that.

Of course, the power curve is different from, say, D&D, where characters start out as squishy and vulnerable and later become godlike.

You begin with a highly competent character and end up with an extremely competent character, which somehow fits, as SR is not a classic game of heroic fantasy.
If you don't like that, it's hard to change, as you'd have to impose even more severe artificial caps on starting characters.

2 – Initiative passes

Well, at least that got better in 3rd ed.
In SR1 or 2, characters with only one IP would act after characters with initiative enhancements had killed 4-6 enemies each.
That is, if combat wasn't already over at that point.

I see the basic problem, but it actually has not gotten worse in recent editions, but much better.


3 – Being able to get 100+ armor

This is not going to happen.
I don't see how the example in the thread you mentioned should have ever worked out, that was a piece of blatant munchkinism.
If you really stick to the rules, even attempts at theoretical optimization (centaur cyberzombies with 10 limbs and such) will rarely get above 90.

No, seriously :
Of course, armor in the 35-45 ranges is possible.

Keep the following things in mind :
-such DPs practically scream for the rule for buying automatic successes.
-there's ways to bypass armor entirely with called shots.
-there's attacks against which this armor will not protect you at all, such as direct combat spells, various critter powers, toxins...
-there's certain weapons that will easily penetrate this armor even without called shots.

Of course, railguns and the like will not appear in the hand of every corporate guard in the city, so these suggestions have admittedly to be taken with a grain of salt.

4 – Character play styles that don’t mix

The three levels of play are something i consider to be SR's greatest advantage.
It's not just one battlefield, it's 3 of them, with possibilities for complex interactions, giving each character a specific niche to fill.
Of course, that requires some pacing skill on part of the DM.
You have to switch between scenes regularly instead of playing a solo adventure for the hacker for one hour.
SR4 actually has made this a lot easier.

If the team really makes use of the three "worlds", it will facilitate a kind of teamwork that can not be found in any other RPG.
Blade
How I deal with these issues:

1. Mages need a lot of Karma. Other characters don't need it that much but can still benefit from it. Actually, I don't have a lot of problem with that, since I don't think that experience and character advancement (stats-wise) is necessary in a game. I'm fine with a character that doesn't get much more stronger than he was. Besides, I think that in Shadowrun it's better to get new contacts and a better reputation than to become the ultimate killing machine.

2. I'm using house rules to simulate synchronous actions in order to get more dynamic combat and also make it a bit more tactical. This way, even a character with one IP can still be useful and won't get bored while the other characters play again and again.

3. I had a similar problem in SR3, less so in SR4 but I think the solution is the same: use armor degradation rules. I don't remember if there are such rules in Arsenal. If not it might be a good idea to house rule some.

4. Well, I don't know. I see where you're coming from, but I've never really felt that problem.
Ryu
1) If the players don´t want to grow ingame, they can have all required basics up front. That is a strength of the system, because it enables you to cover your bases and move on to the desired flavour/speciality. The min/maxers will use the freedom of the system to create characters that have tons of room for growth on all sides of the maxxed pools.

2) Best SR version so far. Most characters should have 2-3 IPs per turn, if they care about combat at all. Not much of a difference in spotlight time.

3) First the ingame action, then the rules resolution. For example, mere possession of a ballistic shield should gain you nothing. Actual armor values should be below 20 in almost all cases. Good armor is a way to increase a teams "combat value", so they might get to play with better opposition.

4) The key to multiple dimensions is speed of resolution. SR4 rules require less searches for the last modifier, because it is usually of little concern if you forget to add one die. A threshold raising from 5 to 6 was pretty bad. Less discussion, more playing. The game comes to a stop only if neither GM nor player know how the characters tricks are resolved ingame. Either run rules-light, or know your hymnal. (Pet-peeve: If you didn´t bother to learn your rules, don´t make "common sense" statements as counter-argument to GM rulings from memory. Less looking up, more playing.)
SamVDW
Fuchs, Rasumichin, Blade, and Ryu, thanks for responding.

1 - I do agree availability does play a huge role in character generation. It was well said that you begin with a highly competent character and end up with an extremely competent character. That was sort of my point though; that there isn’t a lot of progression once the character is created. You character goes from being a bad-ass to being a bigger bad-ass with slightly better gear.

2 – Even if you have players who are on top of their game and think ahead for their actions, it still doesn’t change the fact that someone with one initiative pass will have issues versus someone with more. That character will always be a small part of combat action until he figures out how to be elite and get that second, third, and fourth pass. Four initiative passes is basically a must have for a character who wants to be competitive (and not bored) in combat.

3 – Banning certain gear and optional rules definitely seems the way to go here. It helps eliminate things that will cause giant-headaches for the GM. However, if you’ve previously allowed a powerful piece of armor in a game and then take it away, players can be left feeling cheated or nerfed.

Also, as Rasumichin pointed out, there are ways to get around someone with high armor, like railguns or called shots. But most people you encounter won’t have that gear or the ability to make those called shots, unless you’re running a high end campaign.

4 – As for the play styles not mixing. After reading your posts it makes me think that it could be an advantage or disadvantage. What determines that is the players. If they equally work together and use their strengths synergistically it is an advantage. But if they individually attempt to play to their characters maximum to solve a problem, it causes it to become a disadvantage.
Blade
Even if I agree that any character who wants to be competitive in combat will need at least 2 IP, I don't think you can say that 4 IP is a must have. It costs a lot. It's good to have 2 IP since you can act and go full dodge (or go full dodge then act) if necessary, while a character with 1 IP won't be able to do anything else than dodge. It's still nice to have a third or even a fourth IP but I don't think it's as necessary as you say.

Also don't forget that you can use drugs or Edge to get more IP when you don't have the cyberware or powers.
Ancient History
From a game designer standpoint, you have some legitimate concerns. That said, not every table plays the same, and the writers have to work to accommodate as many styles of play as possible. I don't think it is particularly true, for example, that there is "no room for character growth" unless your character has an exceptionally narrow and specialized character concept (i.e. if you can sum the character up to one Active Skill and one Knowledge Skill).
DireRadiant
The game is designed to permit a wide range of player choice in style and level. It's flexible.

If you choose to pit the extremes against each other then you should not be surprised at the results. The game doesn't force you to make those choices. The players do.

There are other games designed to be restrictive and relatively even in what choices you have and how you play. It's actually hard to diverge far from the norm in those games.

If someone chooses to not fit into the group playing, either with other PC or the genre or GM, that is not a problem with the game mechanics.

If you got a deck of cards and everyone except one person was playing poker while one person was playing blackjack, would you blame the deck of cards for the problem?
pbangarth
In response to the OPs points:

1) There is no requirement to start at the 400 BP suggested start level. Build with fewer points, and your PCs will easily have that 'squishy and vulnerable" feel.

2) IPs are very important in combat. Are your games entirely about combat? Why? If the players and GM want lots of combat, then the IPs become vital. If the focus of the game is elsewhere, then other abilities come to the fore.

3) Points #1 and #2 apply here, too.

4) The very flexibility of the Shadowrun game results in the opportunity for players to design characters that work in different realms. In fact, the avenues available to explore combine what is possible in several other games, eg. D&D, WoD, Cyberpunk, etc. This is a good thing.

Peter

P.S. DireRadiant makes excellent points.
ArkonC
QUOTE (SamVDW @ Nov 13 2008, 02:58 PM) *
2 – Initiative passes – Although unique, the combat system is based around a system that can contain up to four initiative passes. Characters with one initiative pass are about 25% as effective as a character with four initiative passes. Not to mention the fact that a player with a character that has one initiative pass can pretty much go do laundry after his turn. By the time initiative pass two, three, and four are complete and he can actually do something again, that first load of laundry should be done. This pretty much makes cyberware or magical gifts that enhance your initiative passes a necessity. My players and I developed a one initiative pass combat system to test out. Every character received one ‘turn’ and those with multiple initiative passes from cyberware or magic received a dice pool award each turn, depending upon how many passes they were supposed to get. It actually turned out great and everyone loved it, but it required a complete retooling of the combat system.

Actually, I think the problem here is looking at IPs out of context. My current character (which I have been playing for over a year) has 1 IP, and yes, when combat starts I hit the deck and wait for the sam to tell me it's safe. But when the sam lost his arm in an explosives mishap, he didn't ask help from people with 3 or 4 IPs, he asked help from the person with 1 IP and the skills to stitch him back together, me. If you want to do combat, you need more IPs, just like you need a good commlink if you want to be a hacker, or good social skills as a face. Basically you are complaining that combat characters are better in combat than non combat characters...
And then there's also the fact that combat rarely last longer than 2 IPs, let alone going for a 2nd round...
This just seems like a non-problem to me, unless combat is the most important thing in your game...

QUOTE (SamVDW @ Nov 13 2008, 02:58 PM) *
4 – Character play styles that don’t mix – This thought process is a little more abstract, but I think is one that is starting to go away with revisions in the game. Basically, having a group like a Technomancer, Street Samurai, Street Shaman, and a more normal character, say an Investigator. This seems like it could be a balanced group. However, the Technomancer wants to get lost in the Matrix and solve problems that way. A Street Samurai is going to want to muscle or shoot his way through everything. The Street Shaman may just go into astral space and do some scouting around while everyone else is busy. And the Investigator (or any other ‘normie’) doesn’t have the abilities or cyberware to follow any of these characters where they are going. Instead of being a well-balanced team, this can turn into four individuals trying to solve a problem four different ways just because of the way the system is setup.

Again, while this may be a problem, it has little to do with the characters, it's a player issue, our mage coordinates pretty much everything he does with the rest of the team, even though we're just mundanes, I'm the hacker and I also make sure my efforts to achieve our goal are coordinated with everyone else...
If you want to work as a team, you work as a team, independantly of what you can do and, by the same reasoning, if you want to wander off on your own, you can, even though you are in the same field as the rest, if 1 sam goes left and the other goes right, you have the same problem...

My 2 nuyen.gif...
Bobson
QUOTE (SamVDW @ Nov 13 2008, 09:55 AM) *
Fuchs, Rasumichin, Blade, and Ryu, thanks for responding.

1 - I do agree availability does play a huge role in character generation. It was well said that you begin with a highly competent character and end up with an extremely competent character. That was sort of my point though; that there isn’t a lot of progression once the character is created. You character goes from being a bad-ass to being a bigger bad-ass with slightly better gear.
I've noticed this, but my general suggestion is that rather than think "I'm gaining experience, I should get better at what I do well", you think "I'm gaining experience, I'm less limited to what I can do well" Bring up other skills that may have been neglected in the first place (perception, or stealth, or first aid, or a different type of combat). Buy better contacts, who can do more for you (one run, our face called up one of his contacts who happened to be a mercenary sniper, because we really needed a sniper to make the mission feasible. Another game, my primary contact happened to be the head of lone star for the city, so he was on occasion able to divert pursuit from us, after I assured him we were on the up-and-up). Or go for the few pieces of high-availability gear that could give you that extra edge. The difference between a starting character and a prime runner often isn't ability in the starting character's chosen field, but the fact that the prime runner has so many fields that they're good in. They can engage in melee with the troll with one hand, while taking potshots at the sniper on the roof with the other, rather than being only one or the other. (Admittedly, there's also really specialized prime runners, who are just amazing in their chosen field, but both kinds do exist)

QUOTE
2 – Even if you have players who are on top of their game and think ahead for their actions, it still doesn’t change the fact that someone with one initiative pass will have issues versus someone with more. That character will always be a small part of combat action until he figures out how to be elite and get that second, third, and fourth pass. Four initiative passes is basically a must have for a character who wants to be competitive (and not bored) in combat.
Personally, I liked SR3's initative system better. Then, a fast normal might be able to react fast enough to manage two things, and it was variable so you couldn't count on X passes. Another house rule I saw written up staggers the order of the IPs, so it goes 3-1-4-2 or something like that. It solves the "run off and do laundry" problem by spreading out the slower people's actions, although it still doesn't give them more relevance.

QUOTE
3 – Banning certain gear and optional rules definitely seems the way to go here. It helps eliminate things that will cause giant-headaches for the GM. However, if you’ve previously allowed a powerful piece of armor in a game and then take it away, players can be left feeling cheated or nerfed.

Also, as Rasumichin pointed out, there are ways to get around someone with high armor, like railguns or called shots. But most people you encounter won’t have that gear or the ability to make those called shots, unless you’re running a high end campaign.
I built a nigh invulnerable troll for the 800-bp thread. Something like 50 dice to resist damage. The only weapon in the game that really worries him is the gauss cannon that halves armor before applying a -10 AP, and he can probably survive two hits from that. He's also pretty magically resistant, because it was 800 BP grinbig.gif But then I went and built a rigger who, with normal chargen-level purchases, can one-shot him. Ares Roadmaster with a ramming plate. If your characters are highly armored, think outside the box. Explosives, drop buildings on them, or light them on fire. Run trucks over them. And don't forget to throw in the regular guys shooting just so they don't feel like all their armor was for nothing. wink.gif
Jaid
1) 3rd edition D&D was designed so that it's something like 14 encounters per level, iirc. after 5 runs, the fact that you've improved at all is vastly superior to "i need to do another 9 runs before i go up a level". and heck, depending on what level it is, it could be next to no improvement at all. D&D is not the model i would choose for any sort of game that wants to even *pretend* to be realistic anyways... the average level 10 D&D character could probably stand there with no armor and ignore something with an HMG firing full auto at point blank range.

2) and? it's not as if anyone is excluded from getting at least 2 IPs. heck, 2 IPs are so cheap, they *give* you 5 BP to gain access to them, if you so choose. and as has been pointed out, multiple IPs are a big deal in combat. so what? it means absolutely nothing when it comes to legwork, infiltrating, negotiation, etc. i can't say that i particularly care how many IPs the party face has when he's convincing the guard to let us through the checkpoint. the simple fact is, shadowrun is not a game where everything can be solved with violence. your street sam is not a level 20 fighter, and he cannot slaughter the entire town guard with impunity. he can't just pick fights with everything, or he will die. fast. this is a game where if you tick off the wrong people, you have to spend 5 minutes checking the toilet for bombs every time you want to take a dump or else you explode, whether you have 1 IP or 4. welcome to a world where not every problem can be solved by inserting large, pointy objects into stuff. a shadowrun done well is one where you don't even get into combat, after all.

3) you seem to have a combat fixation. i suggest you get that checked. anyways, as has been mentioned, there's tons of stuff that can deal with this problem. 30-35 armor can very easily become 15-17 armor, or even 0 armor. there's various spells (which have this effect even at force 1, so don't tell me it's only high-powered stuff), elemental attacks (such as tazers and stun batons, which many security guards will have), various toxins (pepper punch costs a whopping 5 nuyen.gif by the way), and so forth.

4) as has been said, this isn't a game system issue, this is a player issue. you could have 5 street sams who just go off and do their own thing, or you could have a team consisting of a face, a hacker, a street sam, a shaman, and a mafia enforcer who work together and communicate well.
Platinum Dragon
QUOTE (Jaid @ Nov 14 2008, 04:10 AM) *
1) 3rd edition D&D was designed so that it's something like 14 encounters per level, iirc. after 5 runs, the fact that you've improved at all is vastly superior to "i need to do another 9 runs before i go up a level".


The average run is equivalent to 5-10 encounters in D&D terms. Advancement in SR is slow, even compared to, say, WoD.
Jaid
QUOTE (Platinum Dragon @ Nov 13 2008, 09:02 PM) *
The average run is equivalent to 5-10 encounters in D&D terms. Advancement in SR is slow, even compared to, say, WoD.

ah. right then. well, in that case, leveling up much quicker would be dumb. like i said, level 10 characters in D&D pretty much kick suspension of disbelief right in the nuts. repeatedly.
psychophipps
The one thing my group has found that helps break down the "I'm so bad, I should be in detention!" part of potential character builds is to simply make a slight tweak of the dice engine that is already in the dice engine. We call it "Bonuses are dice, penalties are threshold" and it had seriously helped reduce the effect of initial power creep. It's rather simple as you simply turn dice penalties into increases of the threshold of a task and limit any one external (non-cyber/magic bonus) equipment/warez bonus to 2 dice, or just under one threshold.

"But what about the grunts? They get hosed!" I can hear you say? And my answer is "What about them?" I don't know about you, but I have yet to see a 'Weener, CorpSec goon, or other equivalent last more than a single turn, if not a single die roll. They are hosed anyway unless you toss obscene numbers at your PCs so it's basically a non-issue.
TheOOB
QUOTE (Platinum Dragon @ Nov 13 2008, 09:02 PM) *
The average run is equivalent to 5-10 encounters in D&D terms. Advancement in SR is slow, even compared to, say, WoD.


Heres a secret, as a GM you can give the players however much karma you want. I typically go for about 5 karma a session, but in a long running campaign I typically go 3-4(2-3 if I am trying to keep things more street level), while in a shorter campaign(or one where I want the players to be elite commandos) I award between 6 and 8 karma a run.

As long as you stop blatant twinkery(No you can't build a battle suit that gives you 50+ armor) the characters are only as powerful as you let them be. Just make sure your players understand with(and want to play) the power level you have chosen.
Cain
1. Characters start out too powerful.
To a degree, this has always been true of Shadowrun. You play the exceptional, not the average Joe; and the commoner with a small gun is not a threat. SR4 does exacerbate this to an extent, allowing for even more inflated dice pools (Search for the Pornomancer for details) and with a flat probability curve, so there's really not a point of diminishing returns. Hyper-specialization is the way to go.
My recent solution for this has been to cap dice pools. Rather than go and nerf a bundle of rules that allow huge dice pools, I simply ask my players to keep their dice pools under a certain level. Once they reach that cap, players stop trying to squeexe the life out of every BP, and can create a more balanced character.

2. Initiative Passes.
First of all, it's not really unique. It's pretty similar to the Champions system, where you buy the ability to have extra actions per pass. Second, you are absolutely right that more IPs multiply your effectiveness in a combat situation. Even if you're a noncombatant, having extra IPs mean you have a better chance of dodging.

3. Being able to get 100+ armor.
I mentioned this one in the last thread. Called shot for -100, then spend Edge on a Longshot test. Suddenly that armor is meaningless, and you have the exact same odds of hitting if you were only at -1.

4. Character play styles that don’t mix .
Hate to say this, but this is a GM and player issue. Shadowrun has always been about teams of specialists working together. If the players aren't willing to work together, the GM will have to nudge the players together.
MYST1C
QUOTE (Cain @ Nov 14 2008, 11:00 AM) *
My recent solution for this has been to cap dice pools. Rather than go and nerf a bundle of rules that allow huge dice pools, I simply ask my players to keep their dice pools under a certain level. Once they reach that cap, players stop trying to squeexe the life out of every BP, and can create a more balanced character.

Where do you place that cap?
Chrysalis
Hi

1. I find that mid-level characters are it. But this is not a problem only with Shadowrun there will always be people who can make better characters. Until we have a game system that systematically awards players for creating background, contacts, etc. we will always have players who are interested in "winning the system".

2. I dislike initiative passes and I play the street samurai of the group. With enough IP, combat becomes redundant for those with 1 IP.

3. There is an issue inside of Shadowrun which became apparent in Cyberpunk 2020 as well. And that is correlation of armor vs. weapons. At the moment there is every incentive for players to have 30+ for their armor. Unfortunately there is NOTHING that can penetrate that in the books a MISSILE does 14 damage with -3 AP. The GM has to then create the SUPER ADEPT who lands punches to get armor penetration. It's a major issue in Shadowrun and unfortunately would demand a 5e until it can be fixed.

It's a hard question from a developer's point of view. On one side you want to have Tom Clancy but on the other you want Chuck Norris. Unfortunately you have to make a choice and the current system is a compromise.

4. I find that as players and then by characters we don't communicate. We also have if stages in data transmission. Either we go with the hive mind that everything we do is transmitted by commlink and thus destroy any atmosphere there might be. Or we accept that information has to be specifically transmitted to everyone. I also find that different avenues of research unless made highly abstract demands the GM to clone him or herself.

-Chrysalis
BIG BAD BEESTE
Well now, it seems as if most of the flaws you have listed here SamVDW are quite easily resolved by application of a good GM. I've not yet GMed (let alone played) the 4th Edition yet as I'm quite happy running 3rd Ed for my current campaign set in 2055, but I have read through the new rules and find a lot of stuff therein to be a vast improvement in mechanics compared to 1st-3rd Editions.

But to concentrate on your points:
1> Character generation seems to me to be a little more controlled and restricted than previous Editions. IE: having only 400BPs of which only half can be spent on the eight Physical and Mental Attributes means that you've automatically spent 160BPs to have all round average Attributes. Compare that to SR3 where 30 Attribute Points gets you rating 5 in all six Attributes or superhuman levels in practically all if you dumpstat one of them. Now, one character in a thousand or so with those abilities naturally might be believeable, but then having every charcter in your team as a supergenius arnie-awesome simstar? And the 4th Edition addresses this with having to pay a whoppin 50BP for the final ultimate Attribute level. Magic? Well now, you have to take a significant chunk here from useful Skills and Attributes-allocated BP if you want the same starting power levels as previously. And even if you do manage to get a lot of those BPs allocated to where you want them in Skills, Attributes and Magic, you have really little enough left to buy decent contacts - an essential part of any Shadowruner's resources, and ones that can only really be bought here or via gameplay (IE: roleplaying).

However, if you want to crack down on character generation you could always:
A> Reduce the starting BPs available to 300 or even 200.
B> Curtail what items/gear/spells are available by using Availability Ratings or personal GM dictatorship applied to if that character archetype could get hold of/would have access to them.
C> Inrease BP costs on certain areas you deem are too cheap or apply limitations to what skills a character can access to judged on their history/background. IE: Just where would your ex-grad medic have learnt Demolitions 5?
D> Increase the number of skills, both Active and Knowledge, to ensure a broader selection and more rounded characters.


2> Initiative Passes leaving out mundane/basic charactes huh? Well, there's nothing really new about this one. Boosted characters act faster and therefore have more actions which thereby take up more time to resolve in combat. Been the same since 1st Edition. As already noted here, at least a single action character doesn't go last in the Combat Initiative Phase order. IE: Finally get to their only action in time to see all the goons are dead from the enhanced Sammie & Co's handiwork over their preceeding actions. Basic rule of the Universe here - if you want to act more often then find some way to enhance yourself or hang out with a group that isn't enhanced. But don't be surprised in the latter occasion when the opponents outmatch you by using enhancements of their own, after all that's the progressive curve for things to be built better, work faster, and become stronger. Law of the (Neon) Jungle here chummer.


3> Blatant munckinism here. As a GM don't be afraid to say "No" and disallow such stacking even if the players say "but its in the rules". You are the arbiter of those rules, and thus have final say. Most importantly though, always consider their arguments, compare it to your game balance, and then sanction your sdecision with a good reason. Don't just say "No" outright without one.

The system may allow it, but should common sense. Apply that most rtreasured trait to your decisions and what the situation is in the gameplay setting. IE: No character constantly walks around in power armour. Going to the bathroom would be a problem, not to mention being bulky, hot, constricting or a deathtrap if say, dropped into the ocean. then there's always the situation of running out of power. There are many ways to turn such rule-lawyering back upon the abuser - be creative.


4> Again, as previously posted, this is nothing to do with the system its the territory of the GM and the rsponsibility of the players to resolve it between themselves. Talk it out with one another, i find its the best way to resolve disputes and "problems".

OK, best of luck with your game SamVDW, I hope this helps you out somewhat.
Fortune
QUOTE (BIG BAD BEESTE @ Nov 15 2008, 12:51 AM) *
A> Reduce the starting BPs available to 300 or even 200.


I heartily disagree with this suggestion. The average, run-of-the-mill pedestrian has 160 BPs worth of Attributes alone, given a three in each of the eight basic stats.
Cain
QUOTE
Where do you place that cap?

Depends on what kind of game you're running. I'm still experimenting, but it seems like a cap of 10-12 is sufficient for a low powered game; a cap of around 15 seems to be book average; and 20-21 seems to be the cinematic level. Anywhere over that falls into what I consider to be "Over the Top". This is something of a subjective measurement, so YMMV.

The important thing is to back it up in game, by having NPCs and their dice pools scale to fit the opposition. If you're running a low-powered, street-level gang campaign, then Lone Star is a superior opponent, and will have larger dice pools. Against an average opponent, Lone Star will be about equal; and at the cinematic level, Lone Star is clearly outclassed.

If you don't back up this in game, by setting challenges based on comparative dice pools, you're just going to frustrate and overwhelm your players. They're going to want those higher dice pools, and will fight to earn them. It's not fair to restrict them to a dicepool of 10, then regularly throw dicepool 15-20 opponents at them. You'll be encouraging munchkinism, instead of the opposite.

QUOTE
1> Character generation seems to me to be a little more controlled and restricted than previous Editions. IE: having only 400BPs of which only half can be spent on the eight Physical and Mental Attributes means that you've automatically spent 160BPs to have all round average Attributes.

No offense, but are you serious? "Controlled and Restricted" wouldn't allow for Pornomancers, Mr. Lucky's, Hackastack/Agent Smith combinations, or any of the bajillion tricks discovered here on Dumpshock. In all three cases, it's easy to create the pony with more than one trick, and a well-rounded and viable skill set to boot.

As far as attributes go, with the hardcaps in place, getting a 5 isn't what it used to be. A 4 is the new 5. Because you cannot ever exceed your augmented hardcap, the attribute range has been flattened, making them closer together. There's no longer such a huge difference between a 6 and a 4.

I'll agree that they tried to slow down character creation; but what they actually accomplished was to frustrate less-skilled character builders, without slowing down the creative and quick ones. A skilled player can easily get a dice pool into the 20's without trying too hard, while keeping a viable skill set. In other words, the limits aren't limiting.
Bobson
QUOTE (Fortune @ Nov 14 2008, 09:04 AM) *
I heartily disagree with this suggestion. The average, run-of-the-mill pedestrian has 160 BPs worth of Attributes alone, given a three in each of the eight basic stats.

Which, given the "No more than half your BP on attributes" rule means they have at least 320BP nyahnyah.gif
pbangarth
QUOTE (Bobson @ Nov 14 2008, 08:54 AM) *
Which, given the "No more than half your BP on attributes" rule means they have at least 320BP nyahnyah.gif

Which is the whole point. If you feel your PCs are too powerful at the start, make them less powerful, to the point of being at par with the rest of humanity. Then let natural selection weed out the unfit, after which the remaining PCs deserve to be in a league of their own.

Peter
SamVDW
Great replies. I love Dumpshock.

1 - One of the ways I addressed character power was by implementing a homebrew character creation system. Characters started with 300 BP (instead of 400) and were forced to place their skills and attributes in such a way that would promote versitility. The goal was to stop players from using dumpstats, like putting 1 in Cha on a Street Samurai (cause he'll never need that), or a 1 in Str on a Mage (cause he'll never need that). The rules also forced them to purchase a variety of skills in multiple areas, making them versitile. And finally, they were forced to buy several contacts with which they used to get their gear. This started them out weaker and more versitile instead of specialized. The players actually loved it because when they started they had a lot of things to work on the character. Also, they had a lot of smaller skills that they normally wouldn't have bought that they could use.

2 - With initiative passes we dropped to just one initiative passes per turn. Any character with more received a +2 dice pool per extra initiative pass that could be used each round for various offensive and defensive manuevers. This also worked incredibly great and the players loved it. It also sped up combat for our group significantly faster. The game had a much better flow.

And what is the whining about combat? People saying that I am combat obsessed. The game is heavily influenced by combat which is a very complex thing.

3 - The being able to get a lot of armor comment went sideways on me. I was trying to point out that in many circumstances, one is able to powergame and acquire dice, whether it be for armor, and attack, and sensor roll, or whatever else. There are just so many rules out there right now that they can be comined and abused very easily. This can be a slippy slope for a GM to deal with. How many modifiers is too many modifiers?

4 - The last comment seemed to draw the most criticism, basically blaming the gm or players for a game not working. There were a lot of anologies used to show why it was there/our problem. People have to realize that some of these are game mechanics. If a technomancer and his team are trying to break into somewhere, and the technomancer thinks his can get the data out using the Matrix, then why wouldn't he? It will leave his buddies out of harms' danger and he might easily get the info. Conversly, a street samurai probably would prefer to brute force his way in and get the data. That's just the way those player are made. One of them isn't going to get their way.
Warlordtheft
QUOTE (Blade @ Nov 13 2008, 08:46 AM) *
3. I had a similar problem in SR3, less so in SR4 but I think the solution is the same: use armor degradation rules. I don't remember if there are such rules in Arsenal. If not it might be a good idea to house rule some.


My basic rule for degredation is it goes down by 1 after every hit for personal armor.

As some one pointed out, you're tank. A mage casts manabolt. Result, you're dead. Spirit uses accident power, and you end up immobilised (you end up a prisoner or dead). Also keep in mind the reductions in the agility stat to heavy armor loads apply to tasks essential to combat (like shooting).

As to the other complaints, most characters in my group have IPs of 1 or 2, except the Tecnomancer/rigger. It has not been a big issue. But then again, most combats have lasted less than 2 combat rounds (6 seconds). I'd add that the most difficult thing about being a GM in SR is that buying the Farm is dirt cheap. If you ambush your players, it is very easy to do a TPK (total party kill).
As such I encourage caution, planning and legwork (essential roleplaying) in my games.
Fortune
QUOTE (Bobson @ Nov 15 2008, 01:54 AM) *
Which, given the "No more than half your BP on attributes" rule means they have at least 320BP


Which is still not the 200 to 300 BP that the post I quoted suggested. What's your point?
TheOOB
As a GM you have to be willing to talk to your players and call them out when they get too out of hand. Playing a troll who rolls over 20 dice on damage resistance tests is powerful yes, but not game breaking, and it makes sense. With that much body you can wear a lot of armor. However, if that same person is rolling over 50 dice, you need to tone things down. For example, in my games I restrict the use of the PPP system undersuit(forgot it's name, can be worn under armor), ruling that most armored suits already have those components in them.

There is also the karma system in runners companion. While it doesn't really reduce twinkery all that much, it does encourage players to diversify their character a little. You'll see less 1 and 5s in attributes in exchange for more 3s and 4s. There is also even the priority system, which is great for those new players(or those players who don't like all the math) as it lets them create a decently powerful character without having to worry about point optimization too much.
krayola red
The thing I don't like about reducing BPs is that it doesn't really solve the problem, it just forces your players to specialize even more in order to be an effective character. There's no way you can get around that without placing arbitrary restrictions on BP distribution. If you want generalists in your game, use the karmagen system in Runner's Companion. I rolled up a few sample characters with that system and you definitely do not want to go with the standard 750 karma if you want street level runners, but it's a good way to go to make more realistic PCs.
Jaid
QUOTE (SamVDW @ Nov 14 2008, 12:20 PM) *
4 - The last comment seemed to draw the most criticism, basically blaming the gm or players for a game not working. There were a lot of anologies used to show why it was there/our problem. People have to realize that some of these are game mechanics. If a technomancer and his team are trying to break into somewhere, and the technomancer thinks his can get the data out using the Matrix, then why wouldn't he? It will leave his buddies out of harms' danger and he might easily get the info. Conversly, a street samurai probably would prefer to brute force his way in and get the data. That's just the way those player are made. One of them isn't going to get their way.


if you are an employer looking for someone who can drive a car, do you go looking for a group of people who can collectively drive a car, hack computers, sneak into just about any location with ease, and convince a corporate CEO that you're his best friend, or do you just look around until you find someone who can drive a car?

(translation: if you have a team consisting of a rigger, hacker, sammy, and face, then they will generally be hired for runs that actually need or would benefit from having a rigger, hacker, sammy, and face. if it could be done with just the hacker, then the corps would just go hire a hacker, and not have to pay for the services of the sammy, rigger, and face. it is the GM's job to provide runs that engage the whole group, and not just one character.)
Blade
Or just let your players create their characters the way they want, without bothering with BPs. You just have to make sure everyone agrees on the expected level. I've played a homemade game with such a creation system last week-end, and the GM told me he never had any trouble. You can create an overpowered character, so what? You won't have fun, except if you wanted to play overpowered characters, and if that's the case, then you just have to agree on that before.
Chrysalis
QUOTE (TheOOB @ Nov 14 2008, 08:29 PM) *
As a GM you have to be willing to talk to your players and call them out when they get too out of hand. Playing a troll who rolls over 20 dice on damage resistance tests is powerful yes, but not game breaking, and it makes sense. With that much body you can wear a lot of armor. However, if that same person is rolling over 50 dice, you need to tone things down. For example, in my games I restrict the use of the PPP system undersuit(forgot it's name, can be worn under armor), ruling that most armored suits already have those components in them.



I had to respond to this: With what on God's given earth are you, as the GM, going to hit your troll who rolls over 20 dice on damage resistance tests, let alone 50!??

So there was an artillery company that somehow was zeroing their guns on the troll's position for some reason. Fine. Now all the other team mates who have up to 15 dice in damage resistance tests are either outright killed or then were mysteriously sucked into wormhole for aliens to conduct anal probing and tagging and then come out in such a way that they can go back to only feeling violated but being otherwise "okay".

You can whitewash this by saying it's a GMs fault, but I don't buy it. The system in 4e has an inherent flaw which is that when you create a character by someone who knows the system, every other character is at disadvantage because for the GM to be fair has to throw equivalent opposition. I guess it could be considered an unfortunate coincidence that equivalent opposition demands attack helicopters backed by offshore naval cannons.
Ryu
One of my players has now created a minotaur with body 11, and a ton of combat cyberware. He is currently wounded. Anything with a DV of 8+ before net hits works fine, but he is a classical fire magnet.
psychophipps
QUOTE (Ryu @ Nov 14 2008, 02:40 PM) *
One of my players has now created a minotaur with body 11, and a ton of combat cyberware. He is currently wounded. Anything with a DV of 8+ before net hits works fine, but he is a classical fire magnet.


So it's .338 Lapua Magnum or don't bother, eh?

Sounds...fun? indifferent.gif
Cain
QUOTE (Fortune @ Nov 14 2008, 10:27 AM) *
Which is still not the 200 to 300 BP that the post I quoted suggested. What's your point?

More on this later, but simply reducing the BP totals doesn't work to discourage overpowered characters. In fact, in encourages the opposite.

QUOTE (TheOOB @ Nov 14 2008, 10:29 AM) *
As a GM you have to be willing to talk to your players and call them out when they get too out of hand. Playing a troll who rolls over 20 dice on damage resistance tests is powerful yes, but not game breaking, and it makes sense. With that much body you can wear a lot of armor. However, if that same person is rolling over 50 dice, you need to tone things down. For example, in my games I restrict the use of the PPP system undersuit(forgot it's name, can be worn under armor), ruling that most armored suits already have those components in them.

There is also the karma system in runners companion. While it doesn't really reduce twinkery all that much, it does encourage players to diversify their character a little. You'll see less 1 and 5s in attributes in exchange for more 3s and 4s. There is also even the priority system, which is great for those new players(or those players who don't like all the math) as it lets them create a decently powerful character without having to worry about point optimization too much.

That's why I have suggested dice pool caps, instead of tight point totals and various nerfs on character creation.

However, I think the only reason karmagen encourages versatility is because it gives you more to play with. You can create a character that's twinked out and has good stats in a lot of other areas. Basically, it just shows that the more you give a player, the less he'll feel the need to munchkinize.

QUOTE (krayola red @ Nov 14 2008, 10:32 AM) *
The thing I don't like about reducing BPs is that it doesn't really solve the problem, it just forces your players to specialize even more in order to be an effective character. There's no way you can get around that without placing arbitrary restrictions on BP distribution. If you want generalists in your game, use the karmagen system in Runner's Companion. I rolled up a few sample characters with that system and you definitely do not want to go with the standard 750 karma if you want street level runners, but it's a good way to go to make more realistic PCs.

While I disagree about karmagen (I created a mage with Magic 6 and Edge 8 using it, without losing out in any other areas) I do agree that reducing BP's is not the answer. Players want to feel like their characters are effective; if you try and restrict them, they'll just look for more ways to power up their character.
Thadeus Bearpaw
QUOTE (Ryu @ Nov 14 2008, 04:40 PM) *
One of my players has now created a minotaur with body 11, and a ton of combat cyberware. He is currently wounded. Anything with a DV of 8+ before net hits works fine, but he is a classical fire magnet.


Yeah, I'd say the same thing happened as well. Saying some giant troll in heavy armor is coming through the door would require alot of fire. All you need is an APDS sniper round and some rounds of aiming and blam, that troll is gone, Not to mention just hitting the blighter with a car.
TheOOB
QUOTE (Thadeus Bearpaw @ Nov 14 2008, 10:52 PM) *
Yeah, I'd say the same thing happened as well. Saying some giant troll in heavy armor is coming through the door would require alot of fire. All you need is an APDS sniper round and some rounds of aiming and blam, that troll is gone, Not to mention just hitting the blighter with a car.


Get a corp sec guard with a machine gun loaded with APDS, then have some of his allies use teamwork to give him a bigger dice pool. As long as things don't get to crazy there are plenty of ways to deal with tough characters.
Thadeus Bearpaw
QUOTE (TheOOB @ Nov 14 2008, 10:04 PM) *
Get a corp sec guard with a machine gun loaded with APDS, then have some of his allies use teamwork to give him a bigger dice pool. As long as things don't get to crazy there are plenty of ways to deal with tough characters.


Precisley, I've had players take down opponents with similar damage soaks. Its a two-way street. Sure a troll in milispec scared the shit out of them, but they went into tactics mode and had the guy solid dead in less than a pass by concentrating all fire on him and ticking boxes away. Fortuantely that left the other half-dozen security guards there to send the PCs packing grinbig.gif
Chrysalis
QUOTE (psychophipps @ Nov 15 2008, 01:05 AM) *
So it's .338 Lapua Magnum or don't bother, eh?

Sounds...fun? indifferent.gif



You know the only difference between a troll and an elephant?

Elephants don't have opposable thumbs and don't need rocket launchers to bring them down.
TheOOB
The fact is, as long as you don't let things get too ridiculous (like dice pools over 30), you can always take out a player, heck most players will have trouble withstanding a force 10 stunbolt which a talented but non initiate mage can cast with only 4 physical drain(dangerous, but worth it to take out a threat in a single shot).

Also keep in mind one key fact, people won't always have all their gear on all the time. Anything armor heavier then an armored jacket and guns heavier then a heavy pistol will draw a lot of attention, even in the barrens, and in safer corp controlled areas, anything heavier then an armored vest and any visible weapons will draw a lot of attention.

There was an old story on dumpshock about a runner who tried to get on a bus with all their gear, only to have the bus driver drive away very quickly upon seeing the gernade launcher. If your runner is really that tough, try taking them down a peg or two sometime when they are not prepared to fight an army.
Tachi
QUOTE (psychophipps @ Nov 13 2008, 10:43 PM) *
"I'm so bad, I should be in detention!"


You're not the man.

silly.gif I'm the man! wobble.gif

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.



QUOTE (TheOOB @ Nov 15 2008, 02:13 AM) *
The fact is, as long as you don't let things get too ridiculous (like dice pools over 30), you can always take out a player, heck most players will have trouble withstanding a force 10 stunbolt which a talented but non initiate mage can cast with only 4 physical drain(dangerous, but worth it to take out a threat in a single shot).

Also keep in mind one key fact, people won't always have all their gear on all the time. Anything armor heavier then an armored jacket and guns heavier then a heavy pistol will draw a lot of attention, even in the barrens, and in safer corp controlled areas, anything heavier then an armored vest and any visible weapons will draw a lot of attention.

There was an old story on dumpshock about a runner who tried to get on a bus with all their gear, only to have the bus driver drive away very quickly upon seeing the gernade launcher. If your runner is really that tough, try taking them down a peg or two sometime when they are not prepared to fight an army.


I read something a while back (don't remember where) about someone making fun of street sams, calling them "ducks" in reference to how they waddle while carrying all that stuff. It was something about them not being able to escape the cops because they're to heavy and the cops will just chase them while staying out of range/LOS then close in when they run out of ammo.

Also, don't forget that the chick behind the counter at the Stuffer Shack WILL call the cops when a sammy walks in with an assault cannon over his shoulder. Can't catch a cab? It might not be because your an ork. Try leaving the mini-gun in your other jacket. You know, the one with mil-spec armor that you wear only when it gets really hairy. Most cabbies aren't fond of 4000 rounds per minute unless it's under their control. Strangely, I understand their POV.
masterofm
As a GM it is tough trying combat certain characters w/o actually killing the rest of the team. If a mage pops his head out the sam will have a tough time taking them on and it will mainly be mage on mage action. If you have a tank of really tank like proportions the level of weapons you will have to draw on him to do damage will generally kill the rest of the team. There are three different levels in SR the way I look at it. There is hacking, physical combat, and magic.

It is hard to tie them in, and don't give me that bulldrek that it is the GM's fault if they can't handle doing all three at the same time. The biggest thing is you have to railroad players if you are to have all three happen at the same time. Generally the best you can get is two, and if you are lucky and your players suddenly decide to do all three at once then and only then do you have three happening.

The biggest thing I think personally is the "coolness factor" It seems like a lot of things were thrown in because they were cool and very little was focused on game balance. If you don't house rule, and don't restrict character creation then there will always be someone who is just optimized to be 2-4 times more powerful then the rest of the party. Sometimes GMs do not want to have to do this to a system. To me when you combine each and every single SR4 book all of the little ways to twink are just multiplied with each and every single book.
Jaid
i don't recall anyone saying it's the GM's responsibility to force all 3 worlds to be used at the same time. the general idea i get from the responses to that point is that the players not working together is a problem with the players, not with the system.

if you are referring to my last comment, i suggest you go back and read it again. i said that it's the GM's responsibility to design runs that will involve the whole team. nothing need be done to force this to be simultaneous, but the simple fact is that if a corp can get away with hiring a single decker to do a datasteal, they're just going to hire a single decker to do a datasteal - if they are hiring a shadowrunning team, it's because they need a team. as such, the GM's job includes designing runs such that no one player could have done the whole run on their own with no support, because otherwise the team would never have been hired in the first place. certainly, this need not all happen simultaneously, but each character should be needed (or at least, should make the run substantially easier) at some point in the run, otherwise they would never have been hired to begin with.
Dr Funfrock
OK, I'll drop my two cents here (I'm afraid I've had to skim through most of the thread, since I don't have a lot of time online right now. Limited net access).

1) It's how the game works. You're supposed to be exceptional. Without wanting to sound confrontational, complaining about this is like complaining that characters in Mutants & Masterminds are too powerful. If what you mean here is not "powerful" but "unbalanaced", see my thoughts on point #3.

2) I'm not going to comment on this one. There are enough threads about this on Dumpshock already, and have been for a long time.

3) I used to think this was a problem, until I realised that Shadowrun is a "high trust" system. That is to say, yes the rules let you build unstoppable combat monsters, because the designers are trusting you not to. The trouble is, if you try too hard to prevent any possible abuse of the rules, you only limit the usefulness of those same rules to the players that just care about playing the game. You can either build a ruleset with the assumption that every player is a selfish asshole, or you can build your rules for the serious players, and choose to ignore the idiots. In the end, if players are abusing a ruleset, why are you still playing with them? I would prefer to have a flexible and open system, where the GM looks over my character sheet and says "You know what, I don't think I can let you stack all those armour modifiers together", rather than not be able to use the system just because it has to be absolutely foolproof. If your players seem to feel a desperate need to stack every advantage in their favour then you either need to have a quiet word with them, or you need to consider that you might stacking the odds against them too heavily.

4) Like number 1, this is just part of how the game is played. Shadowrun is a game where it is perfectly normal for a good part of the session to consist of each PC running off and doing something entirely on their own, as they carry out their part of the preparation for the run. If your players are so attention starved that they absolutely must be doing something at all times, and cannot sit back whilst the hacker deals with the small datasteal that will give them the info they need for the run, then you are probably playing the wrong game. In fact this pretty much covers point #2 as well. If a player wants to just have 1 IP that's fine, as long as they are comfortable sitting out most of the combats.

Ultimately a lot of this comes down to "either you like it, or you don't." It'd be no fun if every game was D&D. If you don't enjoy these aspects, but still like the game as a whole, then by all means find some way to change them, but please don't claim that they are flaws in the game design. That's like saying that The Godfather is a flawed movie because it doesn't contain any science fiction elements.

Again, apologies if any of this seems ranty or confrontational. It isn't meant to be, I'm just struggling to find the right way of explaining my thoughts.
Cain
QUOTE
3) I used to think this was a problem, until I realised that Shadowrun is a "high trust" system. That is to say, yes the rules let you build unstoppable combat monsters, because the designers are trusting you not to. The trouble is, if you try too hard to prevent any possible abuse of the rules, you only limit the usefulness of those same rules to the players that just care about playing the game. You can either build a ruleset with the assumption that every player is a selfish asshole, or you can build your rules for the serious players, and choose to ignore the idiots. In the end, if players are abusing a ruleset, why are you still playing with them? I would prefer to have a flexible and open system, where the GM looks over my character sheet and says "You know what, I don't think I can let you stack all those armour modifiers together", rather than not be able to use the system just because it has to be absolutely foolproof. If your players seem to feel a desperate need to stack every advantage in their favour then you either need to have a quiet word with them, or you need to consider that you might stacking the odds against them too heavily.

It is still a problem. You can have a good player who likes to play combat monsters. And what's more, the system actively rewards you for doing so. The designers should have designed a stable system, instead of tossing something together and expecting you to balance it for them. There are plenty of good players who like high-powered characters, and they are not idiots. In the end, you have to apply patch after patch to make the system work, when you paid for a working system in the first place.
Glyph
Hmm. I kind of agree with part of that, and disagree with part of that.

I agree that it's unfair to categorize a player as a "selfish asshole" simply for making a tough character completely within the rules. It depends. Are they are simply making a tough character, or looking for every loophole and ambiguity within the rules to make a game-breaking character? Tank characters, honestly, aren't that bad. Their armor is only nigh-invincible when they trot out the armored suits and ballistic shields, and that kind of conspicuous protection will draw heavy fire.

I disagree about the system being broken, though. It is easy to be really good at one schtick, such as soaking nearly all physical damage, or nearly always one-shot killing a target with a gun or spell, or nearly always convincing someone on anything that doesn't involve one of their hard limits. But every character still has weaknesses, and can still be challenged.

The "problem" is that the game can support a wide variety of playing styles, even when staying within certain BP allocations, so the players and the GM need to be on the same page. But that, to me, is a strength of the game (versatility), and I wouldn't call setting some basic rules and limits before the game as applying "patch after patch".

Simply say something like "I think empathy software is cheesy, so I don't use it. Combat and social dice pools are capped at high teens to low twenties, and other dice pools at the mid teens, to start out with. Every character should have the etiquette, perception, and infiltration skills at 1 at least. An Attribute of 1 is considered the low end of functional, but can still give you problems. It's a pink mohawk game, but you will still get in trouble for doing obviously dumb things like walking downtown carrying your assault rifle." And there you go.
masterofm
My post was not directed towards you Jaid, but there are a lot of posts on Dumpshock that the GM has to be this awesome entity. They should work around the rules, they should . I'm all about having players cooperatively create characters so that no one person gets the shaft in the end. However there is a large power imbalance in SR that means that you actually have to sit down and discuss this with your players, because you can create skill wire platforms that are better then any other build, or a possession mage with dump stats but can still be better then the tank in your party.

There is a lot of talk about how when the hacker goes and does his thing people go get pizza because it takes so long. Is this the GMs fault? Maybe, but at the same time the GM is a person and generally not this awesome entity of amazing. The combat system takes time and hacking takes time. It takes a good GM and one who is really great with head math (or creates a fast easy to use system) to be able to speed up these rolls so that people don't need to go and get pizza. I mean seriously it is not always about the GM, but sometimes it is about the system. There are systems where you don't have to sit down and make sure someone didn't make a character that breaks the game. Also Character Gen takes quite a long time and some people just don't want to sit down for one to four game sessions (depending on how long your sessions are) and tweak characters. Many GMs will say "make a character and send it in so I can review it" and the good ones will combine all of them together and tweak them so that it will be for the good of the entire party. However my beef is that Shadowrun is a system that does not always work with the GM. Long character gen time, quite a few rules that need house ruling, three combat systems that are just different enough to be confusing at times but not similar enough to be entirely helpful, power balance problems, gear/dice stacking problems. As great as the SR fluff is the system is not built to be easy on a GM and if they do not know the rules 100% there will at times be players who will argue that this was not discussed and that it is perfectly within RAW to exploit a rule or use one of the many loopholes that can potentially break the game.
Stahlseele
yes, while with mcmackies NSRCG3 character creation became my favourite past-time, i can only agree to that . . put some hours to days or even frigging weeks, maybe even months into making a character, tweaking little things, making him not over the top but able to survive on his own if he has to . . think up connections and background story . . and have the character die in the very first dangerous situation because of horrible dice rolls . .
after that, i more or less built my characters to survive anything first and be mediocre to good in what they were supposed to do . . that lead to riggers being better in combat outside of the vehicle/drone than logged in, deckers being better at the gun than with their favourite program and other such things . . took me some time to get that out of my system and built other viable characters ever again . .
BIG BAD BEESTE
QUOTE (Fortune @ Nov 14 2008, 02:04 PM) *
I heartily disagree with this suggestion. The average, run-of-the-mill pedestrian has 160 BPs worth of Attributes alone, given a three in each of the eight basic stats.


Exactly, I was just pointing out that BP reduction is a possibility to curtail over-powered characters. In fact, I totally agree that runners should be a cut above average people. However, if the GM wanted to really start with a low-level party then 200 is possible - but highly unlikely unless you want to to a Shadowrun Babies version where the players are all street kids or rehabilitating invalids.

As to the other posts since, yes - there is the problem of lower BPs forcing players to min/max out their characters even more. Overall though, like any game-related probelms, it's ultimately up to the GM to allow or disallow those characters partaking of their games. A player who abuses the system too much won't get to play in the GM's campaign. Likewise, the GM who is too strict will thus lose or won't find any players for his group.
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