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Kerenshara
One thing that I think gets entirely too little time is the role playing of the challenges of taking a life. I am not talking about hitting the target. I am talking about actually pulling the trigger at all. I am talking about being able to point the gun generally in the target’s direction when you do.

A recent study (which I am helpless to find the link to again) focused on combat psychology of soldiers at war since the age of the black powder musket. What was found was that a shocking percentage of soldiers never even pulled the trigger of their weapon. IIRC it was almost ten percent in some conflicts. Apparently less than a third of soldiers actively tried to hit another human when they did pull the trigger, instead settling for “suppressive fire?. Again, IIRC, it was in the single digits the percentage of soldiers who could successfully engage an enemy target without that target already firing at them on a battlefield where they COULD fire back. Modern training has succeeded in turning this around to a large extent by dehumanizing the enemy and turning them into another target on the range. (Video games have helped a lot in this regard as well.) Older conflicts settled for harnessing the rage of the soldier and directing it at a target that was “less than human?. The cold blooded Nazis, or the subhuman Soviets, or the brutal Japanese. Every faction was vilified by their opponents to turn them into something to be feared and reviled, in order to get around the basic societal survival mechanism programmed into all “healthy? human beings: the inability to kill another person.

And even if you can pull the trigger and drop your target, how do you deal with it afterwards? Some people rationalize “it was him or me?, or “he was a Nazi, he had it coming?, or “Those terrorists, they aren’t even human?. But that does not necessarily mean the person sleeps soundly at night. It does not reflect the ways a person begins to look differently at themselves when they find out killing isn’t actually very hard, once you break what is really just a very deep taboo. Some people react with excitement, indulging in the ultimate forbidden act, becoming dangerously violent and aggressive. Others can’t ever come to grips with their actions and it will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Some argue that mortal combat exposes the true nature of a person, be it good or evil, in how they deal with death.

In Shadowrun, we very often participate by proxy (through our avatars: our characters) in the death of others. Sometimes, that is the mission unto itself. But as close as we ever come to tackling the role playing side of the problem is asking “will your character do wet work?? at the beginning. I played in a fantasy game where my character was a Paladin, and in one incident, killed a very dangerous opponent single handedly. The rest of the players felt it was melodramatic when they had a breakdown afterwards; what annoyed them was not the angst over killing, but that they were afraid because the actual killing wasn’t harder, emotionally. The character worried what that said about them, a protector of the good, and the righteous. Just because they are evil, do they really deserve to die? Do I have the right to make that choice? And if I can take their lives so easily, am I really the person I think I am?

Just because you’re a Shadowrunner, that doesn’t mean you’re a sociopath, or a natural killer. Have you ever taken the time to consider what it would be like to look into a helpless person’s eyes as you pull the trigger? How it would feel afterwards? Is your character really that cold? Or do they do what warriors through the ages have done: turn to the comfort of a bottle, the intimate touch of another person, acts where they purge their guilt in bursts of danger and adrenaline? If you aren’t the shooter, how does your character look at the killers on their team? I promise you, it should at least cross their minds. If the character is not SiNless, there was a fundamental choice somewhere to begin running the shadows. They CHOSE to associate with people who kill.

This shouldn’t be a simple, easy issue to deal with, if we are really role playing the character (unless they are in the 0.05% of people who have the psychological profile to kill repeatedly without damage to their empathy and conscience)? Because shadowrunners are mercenaries: they can always walk away … they choose to run, one way or the other.

I would love to hear people’s thoughts.

kzt
"On Killing" by Dave Grossman. Which is an interesting book, but a lot is based on the research in "Men Against Fire". The forward of recent editions of "Men Against Fire" includes the fact that there is not a shred of evidence that S.L.A. Marshall actually did the methodical surveys that supposedly form the basis of the book. As far as can be determined he just pulled numbers of out of his ass.

http://www.warchronicle.com/us/combat_hist...hallproblem.htm
Stahlseele
QUOTE
I would love to hear people’s thoughts.

i would love to read your posts in other colour/font/size.
this kinda hurts my eyes x.x


As for the killing part:
I am usually the Combat Monkey of the Group.
With dry wit and killing people, i could be a Holly-Wood-Movie-Star.

PC: *threatening, sounds a bit strange, kinda like a lisp or some sort of speech impairment* "Are you Toby or not Toby?"
NPC: "Not Toby!"
PC: "Well, he chose not to be" BLAMM.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
Please increase the font size at least... am having a hard time reading the text...

As for dealing with it?... You do what you can... sometimes you do have nightmares... Some nights are better than others... you just hope that teh nightmares do not last for the rest of your life...
Kerenshara
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ May 13 2009, 07:51 PM) *
Please increase the font size at least... am having a hard time reading the text...

One says increase, another decrease. Ok back up it goes.

QUOTE
As for dealing with it?... You do what you can... sometimes you do have nightmares... Some nights are better than others... you just hope that teh nightmares do not last for the rest of your life...

As to the other part, do you role play it?
Stahlseele
OK, much better now.
Keep this size.
this is actually readable.

Depends on the Situation.
Am i in a Fight?
Is there a Good reason for the kill?
If i am in a Fight? nope, i don't roleplay that at all.
I fight to win, if killing means winning, i kill to win.
do i have someone at my mercy?
Is there a reason for me to kill him?
If no, i simply won't usually.
If yes, depends on the situation.
Am i in a hurry?
If yes, nope, no roleplaying here either. *PC gives a heavy sigh*:"why do they allways make me kill them?" BANG
If no? depends. If i am bored, i might decide to torture him to death. if so, i play it out ONLY if the rest of the group agrees.
Me to GM:"OK, let's say he tells my everything i want to know and everything he thinks i should know and everything he guesses i might need to know some time and i won't tell you what i am going to do to him"
and i don't like hogging the Spotlight either. If someone else wants to do something which is going to take longer or has been planned to be done allready, then i step aside and tell the GM:"Yep, he's dead Jim" Usually, my GM answers with a frustrated:"My name's not Jim, and i ain't a Doctor, i am a Student. And stop with the Star Trek quotes."
Is it someone the group wants dead?
Does the group want him REALLY dead?
Does what the group wants conflict with what I/my character wants?
If no, torture or quick death to get rid of.
if yes, subterfuge and secrecy played out to get what i want.
Mercurian
There was a time I did roleplay those considerations in some (but not all) characters. I've even had a character off himself once the realization of what he had done had set in.

These days, the dramatic roleplaying is gone due to the newer members my group has acquired. Being of the younger video game generation, they don't have the same appreciation for roleplaying and are more interested in Michael Bay-esque games. This is not to say that all younger gamers are this way, just the ones at my table.
SincereAgape
Here is my two cents about killing in Shadowrun and the ways Shadowrunners approach the subject.

Not all characters in the Shadowrun universe, not all Shadowrunners have an easy time pulling the trigger and killing someone just for the heck of it. The way old SR characters, my players, and normal Shadowrunners approach the situation is, they won't kill innocent civilians, unless it's by accident. If they begin killing innocents or committ murders or pointless violence for the heck of it, they become pathological sociopaths. Not Shadowrunners.

On the other hand, characters kill. BUT that is after the metahuman the person they killed either screwed them in some way (Mr. Johnson) or are trying to kill them in the process. It's natural human nature for the people to throw out the moral dillema of killing someone when they are firing bullets at you first. Even then, many Shadowrunners carry Gel Rounds, Narcoject Pistols, or use Stun Bolts to take down security guards, just trying to make a honest buck. In Character, The Shadowrun community is a small one. Most Shadowrunners are actually decent people. If a character begins to get a reputation for obtaining a sadistic enjoyment out of executing senseless killing on a run, they are going to have a negative reputation. Or notorioty.

Out of character: I have a few players who love playing games with excessive violence in them. They love the combat aspect of Shadowrun and all of the guns, rules, and explosions that come with the game. After playing we have conversations about the excessive bullets they used with a sniper rifle at point blank to take down the pious elf, or how they used a dead body as a dummy to lure in the other mercs before using a grenade to blow them all to hell and back. That being said. These players have also not killed a NPC who's intent it was to kill them because they had an opportunity to roleplay with that NPC and found them to be a decent person.

Killing charcters in a game is not a black as white as it seems.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Kerenshara @ May 13 2009, 06:05 PM) *
One says increase, another decrease. Ok back up it goes.


As to the other part, do you role play it?



Sometimes... depends upon the character type I am playing... currently, I have a character that is a professional, who Could kill if it was required, but still prefers to not kill given the preference... It affects one when one does so, and in a lot of ways that are not entirely visible to everyone around you...
Kerenshara
QUOTE (Stahlseele @ May 13 2009, 07:16 PM) *
Depends on the Situation.
Am i in a Fight?

Of course it does!, actually, that was my point.
Well, here, it's a lot easier to rise to "the killing edge", but there are still questions once it passes.

QUOTE
Is there a Good reason for the kill?

Ok, I will sum that up with the tired old saw "who are YOU to play God, to decide who lives and who dies?!" (Not that I mean a word of it, but I have to be my own Devil's advocate.)

QUOTE
If i am in a Fight? nope, i don't roleplay that at all.
I fight to win, if killing means winning, i kill to win.

OK, that's a little more "brutish"... or maybe "thug-like". Not necessarily a condemnation, mind you. But it is.

QUOTE
do i have someone at my mercy?
Is there a reason for me to kill him?

None specifically, other than maybe the color of his shirt.

QUOTE
If no, i simply won't usually.
If yes, depends on the situation.

Ok, makes sense. The "usually" intrigues me.

QUOTE
Am i in a hurry?
If yes, nope, no roleplaying here either. *PC gives a heavy sigh*:"why do they allways make me kill them?" BANG
If no? depends. If i am bored, i might decide to torture him to death. if so, i play it out ONLY if the rest of the group agrees.

OK, there's not a lot of role playing necessary if you really are acting in that fashion. You only need an occasional mention of what you do to remind the rest of the party that you are a borderline sociopath.

QUOTE
Me to GM:"OK, let's say he tells my everything i want to know and everything he thinks i should know and everything he guesses i might need to know some time and i won't tell you what i am going to do to him"
and i don't like hogging the Spotlight either. If someone else wants to do something which is going to take longer or has been planned to be done allready, then i step aside and tell the GM:"Yep, he's dead Jim" Usually, my GM answers with a frustrated:"My name's not Jim, and i ain't a Doctor, i am a Student. And stop with the Star Trek quotes."

OK, that's really funny.

QUOTE
Is it someone the group wants dead?
Does the group want him REALLY dead?

OK, I covered that above.

QUOTE
Does what the group wants conflict with what I/my character wants?

There's a question I would like to hear answered by characters that aren't already on the edge...

QUOTE
If no, torture or quick death to get rid of.
if yes, subterfuge and secrecy played out to get what i want.

Ok that about clears it up for YOU. You DO realize you're something of a brute, right? I wouldn't expect any angst out of you. I do know I would have problems staying in a group with you when I realized you were willing to kill somebody we all wanted left alive because they slotted you off. But as long as it's honest and consistent, then I can't fault you for how you are interpreting and playing your character.
Kerenshara
QUOTE (Mercurian @ May 13 2009, 07:23 PM) *
There was a time I did roleplay those considerations in some (but not all) characters. I've even had a character off himself once the realization of what he had done had set in.

These days, the dramatic roleplaying is gone due to the newer members my group has acquired. Being of the younger video game generation, they don't have the same appreciation for roleplaying and are more interested in Michael Bay-esque games. This is not to say that all younger gamers are this way, just the ones at my table.

Then I have to tell you I am impressed by your honesty with yourself in character at the first part, and I can only express my deepest sadness at the last.
Kerenshara
QUOTE (SincereAgape @ May 13 2009, 07:30 PM) *
Killing charcters in a game is not a black as white as it seems.

Absolutely! And I never meant to imply for it was for everyone. But I wasn't talking about reducing "collateral damage" or tranquing most of the time. When the kills happen, how do they affect the characters?
10gauge
Well, how does the kill affect characters? It depends on the player, I think. If your knowledge about violence, guns, pain, deprivation, etc. just comes from video games, a kill won't affect your character at all. If you were already in contact with those things/feelings, it will probably affect your character.

I played a cleaner and with every kill it became harder to go on. Since the character worked for a megacorp, he couldn't quit. He suffered depression and started to let his victims survive.

A good roleplayer will make sure that killing will affect his character in a negative way unless he plays a totally cold-blooded killer.
The Jake
Not all characters are big on killing.

It just seems those that are, are well, very adept at it. I'd say more than a few are psychologically "damaged goods", as it were.

I have one PC who is an ex-spy who I would describe as a borderline sociopath. He doesn't kill ALL the time but he is brutal in dishing out the pain.

- J.
Critias
I've long been a big proponent of the "no one would get a job as a Shadowrunner unless their life was really fucked up" camp. Folks don't just fall into the Shadows, they either claw their way up from an even more miserable and violent life on the streets, or they're such a social outcast that they develop the unique skillset required through more formal channels, then somehow decide to turn their back on that "real" life and go be a professional criminal/terrorist for hire.

The backstories I cook up for my characters reflect this, and often focus as much on the pivotal events that stripped away most of their morality as much as they focus on their official background as it pertains to training, family, past jobs, etc. Through being raised (and indoctrinated) in the Tir military, bleeding in the gutters as a young teen only to be the one dishing it out as an adult, coming up through the ranks in an organized crime syndicate, growing up into a position in one of the Sixth World's terrorist groups, or what-have-you, they're as mentally prepared as they are physically, and long ago jumped the hurdles of conscience and sympathy when it comes to the act of taking a metahuman life.

It's the nature of the job -- you (generic "you") don't get into this line of work unless you're (a) capable of doing so, which requires not only the raw skills and abilities, but also the mindset to use them ruthlessly when the time comes, and (b) fucked up in some way so that living like this in some way appeals to you. Most of my characters, as such, have pretty much no problem whatsoever snatching the life right out of someone with their bare hands, if that's what the situation calls for.

It's also worth pointing out I have much the same argument in place for D&D characters and all other sort of "adventurer" types. They're murderous hobos, who have chosen to live a life of wandering from place to place, murdering other sentient or semi-sentient creatures, and looting their bodies. That takes a special kind of person, just as much as being a Shadowrunner does.
pbangarth
I'm going to have to deal with this situation in the near future with a character I just started playing.

He is an archaeologist, an academic until recently, whose career was destroyed when he was framed for murders and theft of an artifact. His lawyer got him off, but few believe him innocent. He has entered the shadows to find the man who framed him, and one way or another clear his name. (No, his name is not Dr. Richard Kimble.)

He is primarily a data search guy, with perception and assensing skills, and comes from a life of adventure and hard work, but no killing. He has taken work with a Johnson who promises him information about the criminal. Now, what will this PC, who has the mild form of Pacifist Quality, do when it comes time to kill? What will he do if and when he confronts the one who destroyed his career? And will he stay the academic-out-of-his-element, or be turned into the kind of person Critias describes? I don't know.

But he has just resisted killing an NPC two of his teammates thought should die just to be safe. I have yet to find out whether this will come back to bite him (them). Paying a heavy price for compassion sometimes erodes the compassion.
DoomFrog
To start, and with no malice to the OP, I have to say without a link to the site you mentioned, the information seems most likely to be either highly biased, misinformed, or misinterpreted.

As for you actual question, I have never had any issue with the "making the kill" decision. The fact is that all my characters act like me, just me given different goals, training, beliefs, knowledge, powers, and looks (those things do not fully compose a person). But they all make their decisions the same way as I do. And for me, the situation just wouldn't happen.

I like to think I know myself well, and if I knew I had have a hard time dealing with the emotional stress of taking another live, I just wouldn't. If the circumstances came up that I knew I could deal with it given the direness of the situation, than I would.

All my characters feel that way. Some have no issue with killing because they were either taught that killing has acceptable, or live in some fantasy world (literally) were killing other people is not only acceptable, but a very lucrative profession.

I mean in the end you are asking a question that is its own answer. Its a tautology, the character deals with taking a life by dealing with taking a life. You listed all the ways they could deal with it, though you did leave out they had a different moral belief structure that allows for the killing of other people when necessary. Think about the Mafia, they aren't all empathy-less sociopaths, they care about family, but they just thinking killing some people is fine.
GreyBrother
Hmmm this question is different for every character i have.

My technomancer made his first kill with 4 years, it was more an "Whoops" Situation, without any comedic effect. You don't want any 4 year old to do that but he defended himself and this would help him to grow up very fast, mentally at least. The following years, every person he had to nuke with black hammer, he rationalized it. The fact that most of them were Dissonant helped a lot. Now he would argue "If humanity is to achieve the goal of living one day in the matrix, then we can't let those live who compromise this idea or the agents of the idea."

The czech wolf shapeshifter on the other hand "killed" his first human in our last session. He killed before, other animals for food, but preferred to run away from other predators since he was a lone wolf for half of his life (one year). It was an intense scene, he summoned an air spirit to incapacitate a troll but then his mentor spirit fiddled something around his will and ordered the spirit to kill the troll via Engulf. Didn't look pretty.
It isn't that much of a problem, but he fears that he may become something like those "raging werewolves who kill people and drink their blood" he saw in some bad trid shows.

Then there is the "Drone Commander" Concept i have... he isn't played yet but i made my thoughts about his personality. Killing for him is easy. Just point at the person you want dead and his drones make sure it happens. And all of this comfortable from the seat of his truck without even being in the danger zone.
Stahlseele
QUOTE
Ok that about clears it up for YOU. You DO realize you're something of a brute, right? I wouldn't expect any angst out of you.

Yes. i realize that. Thank you very much. That's my favourite Role to play too! ^^
Well, someone has to. What with all those pretty-boy-elegant elite mages/hackers/faces and whatnot around.
Nope, no angsting from me. Especially NOT over something in a Game. I guess i AM a bit Jaded.
Two weeks ago, some poor shmuck decided to off himself by jumping from the Roof of the 11 Story building i work in.
Saturday morning at precisely 09:37. I work on ground level. We have a nice big window front.
I usually sit with my back to the Windows. I saw something drop by and heard/felt a hearty WHUMP.
Curious that i am, i looked around to see what it was. First thought:"Well, just good that it's saturday morning and nobody was standing there having a smoke"
And went back to work after telling the supervisor to call for someone to pick him up.
There was a surprisingly low ammount of blood. Only his one foot was in the wrong direction and he had a laceration on his head, but aside from the fact that he fell from an 11 story building, he did not really look all that dead. Someone being hit by a truck looks much more gruesome. Seen both. Also someone jumped in front of a train i was going to take on the same station.
I guess i am used to things like that by now.

Also, i usually don't kill (n)PC's if i don't have to, because it is usually not worth the trouble.
Getting rid of the Body. The Evidence. The Weapon. Costs time and money.
And i don't just overrule what the group wants on a whim. If i do it, i usually have a longer-standing feud with the poor soul who incured enough of my wrath to warrant such measures from me.
My characters tend to be good natured/hearted people with a pretty mean streak. and living in a plex i play them about as jaded as i can. why should they let something like that affect them in their free time? It's shadowrun. It's dystopia. People go out to kill other people FOR FUN. I don't kill FOR FUN. I kill for GREAT JUSTICE! No, scratch that. i kill for money. or for revenge. or because i/the group deem it neccessary. or he deserved it.
Kliko
We're probaply referring to the same studies if we say that out of every group of 100 soldiers 98 used to be making 'noise' while 2 were doing the actual 'killing'. Of these 2 soldiers, 1 used to be a sociopath and the other a 'hero' archetype. It is indeed quite stunning to watch interviews of soldiers after the Falklands getting concerned with some of their collegeaus in the aftermath.

Modern conditioniong of soldiers (through extensive training simulations) makes modern soldiers far more effective compared to their historic counterparts. However, the drawback being issues like ptss and similar conditions. It is not an unlikely hypothesis to state that these result from turning against our human nature -or otherwise similarly conditioned behaviour (through thousand years of christian morals etc.)- to not kill.
toturi
QUOTE (Kliko @ May 14 2009, 04:34 PM) *
We're probaply referring to the same studies if we say that out of every group of 100 soldiers 98 used to be making 'noise' while 2 were doing the actual 'killing'. Of these 2 soldiers, 1 used to be a sociopath and the other a 'hero' archetype. It is indeed quite stunning to watch interviews of soldiers after the Falklands getting concerned with some of their collegeaus in the aftermath.

Modern conditioniong of soldiers (through extensive training simulations) makes modern soldiers far more effective compared to their historic counterparts. However, the drawback being issues like ptss and similar conditions. It is not an unlikely hypothesis to state that these result from turning against our human nature -or otherwise similarly conditioned behaviour (through thousand years of christian morals etc.)- to not kill.

I wonder what was the sample population that was chosen for the studies. Colombian drug thugs? Sri Lankan soldiers? Perhaps Nepalese Gurkhas? If you choose your subjects from pacifistic/peaceful societies or societies that place a very high value on peace than warmaking ability, then you are deliberately skewing your results, especially so if the evaluators are from pacifistic/peaceful backgrounds. From my point of view, your Western societies places a disproportionate value on human life. If you come from a place where the reason you do not kill is because you'd get kill back or where you can pay blood money instead, would there be so much agonising over cutting down someone who was in your way?
Kliko
That's very true. I'll see if I can dig up some numbers and references. This Grossman and Marshall chaps seems somewhat biased and if memory serves me right this data came from a different source.
Blade
I agree with toturi: I'm not sure if it's the same for every population. A character who grew up in the Barrens and see violence everyday might handle killing more easily than a wageslave who only see violence on the trid or fake violence in simsense.

I once had a character who had some kind of pacifist flaw without knowing it: he felt like he could kill people but in the end he often found ways to avoid it and when he tried shooting at people he'd suffer a negative modifier.
And everytime I create a new character I include "how does he deal with death and killing?" in the list of the elements to define.

But while it's fine to roleplay the consequences of killing, there's the problem of falling into wangst and boring other players with it.
Wasabi
Some GM's are like wargamers and some like Amber Diceless RP'ers... and a myriad of inbetweens. Some games are suitable for inner turmoil to be expressed at length and others not. Its pretty game dependant and by game dependant I mean according to what style the GM has of running.

As for myself, I played a pacifist in tournament who ended up appealing to the team not to be violent and a second character at the table ("Angel", physically modelled after Angelina Jolie) was playing a pacifist too and we ended up sitting out the end encounter and simply tried to hold our cover by letting ourselves get neurostunned with the victims we had infiltrated so we wouldn't have our covers blown. We got lucky and succeeded and had great RP trying to sway the group and then validating to each other why violence was a last resort we hadn't reached yet. So yeah, I've roleplayed it out but sometimes it can be inappropriate to do so and in *those* cases shouldn't be done since each group of players is entertained differently and each GM has a certain style of running making it very situationally appropriate.

I also think it takes great roleplay skill to handle this sort of thing. I applaud GM's and players that can accomodate/facilitate this level of inner turmoil but in the end all players and the GM should have a nice time with their gaming.
The Jake
QUOTE (Stahlseele @ May 14 2009, 09:21 AM) *
There was a surprisingly low ammount of blood. Only his one foot was in the wrong direction and he had a laceration on his head, but aside from the fact that he fell from an 11 story building, he did not really look all that dead. Someone being hit by a truck looks much more gruesome. Seen both. Also someone jumped in front of a train i was going to take on the same station.
I guess i am used to things like that by now.


Emphasis mine.

Jesus Christ... just what is the suicide rate in Hamburg?!? Are you people a couple cans short of a six pack or what??

Actually I work with a bunch of Germans. I'll ask them tomorrow wtf is in the water supply in Hamburg.

- J.
GreyBrother
Huh... that would explain why i felt so awesome in Hamburg O_o
Prime Mover
Conflict is a major part of almost all rpg's. Escapism is all about not being who you really are, living vicariously via your cold as ice and hard as steel creation. That being said in some games violence is a means to an end, just part of everyday life (high fantasy) In SR I've noticed Sami types approach killing as just business and the more pacifistic might bulk at first but after a few dozen kills seem numbed to it and stop sneering in the direction of the mad killer. Hackers might see it more like a video game, derezzing an icon is nothing like seeing the ground splattered with brain matter. The more removed one becomes killing from a distance, remotely or just being exposed to multiple killings the more desensitized the person/player becomes. I've found this to be true for most groups.

Now after all that even stone cold killers can have a "code" no children, no insert (friendly syndicate here), no (insert religion or nationality here) etc... Sometimes for safety or loyalty and sometimes because even killers can have a soft spot left.
Stahlseele
QUOTE (The Jake @ May 14 2009, 02:03 PM) *
Emphasis mine.

Jesus Christ... just what is the suicide rate in Hamburg?!? Are you people a couple cans short of a six pack or what??

Actually I work with a bunch of Germans. I'll ask them tomorrow wtf is in the water supply in Hamburg.

- J.

compare to some other bigger cities.
Mexico City, New York, tokyo, Hongkong.
Any major City, really. Also, i am perfectly fine. Now.
Probably immunized to whatever it is by now.
And Hamburg is such an beautifull and Awe-Inspiring City o.O
Screaming Eagle
Many RPG's de-humanize the opposition deliberatly and for some players and GM's this caries over. Other thinking races are not human etc. al. These games make a very poor place to start with the morality of killing (though I have explored it on and off even in *shudder* D&D) and it tends to get the players thinking.
Shadowrun characters run the full range from "hardened killers" to near pacifists and most of the time your foes are *quite* (meta)human. When running games I look at the charaters background to determine how "indepth" I get with the "waking up in a pool of sweet remembering what YOU JUST DID!" though I do not restrict the actions at the time there can be consequence. Looking at my current "group" we have 2... well humanitarians, the teams medic and hacker, neither from a criminal or military backgroud, they have been victims of circumstance with talents the shadows pay well for. They take penalties to attack to incapasitate rather then kill, use non-leathal ammo and options, endeavour to negotiate at any pass and have not over the last 5 months of game time (about a dozen runs?) killed anyone. In the meaty centre we have the teams mage, shes grown up on the glamour of Shadowrunning from a street level perspective, she has not killed anyone... personally. Anyone who has died from her actions has been well off camera as she has spirits deal any killing and she herself sticks to non-lethal spells. The morality and horror of this will be brought up during her initiatory questing next session, I have a planned scene where she is suffocating under tons of earth while buring alive... feels about right as these are two of her favorite spirit sevices that she has thus far kept "out of sight and mind". Lastly we have the teams "muscle" a Vory Physical Adept leg breaker and killer has LONG since gone past caring if he kills, he tends to keep it toned down... while the others are watching, but is rather of the opinion the rest of them are soft. Him nightmares? Heck yes, they had to leave that guard alive and HE SAW MY FACE! Now thats a nightmare.
ruff0126
I cannot speak for soldiers of wars past only for U.S. service men and women today and in an armed conflict or in your own or others defense very few people end u pfeeling bad for more than a day of so. Most of those feeling come into play when the situation did not nessasarly require lethal force. As for rpg's and roleplaying the feeling of your characters it does really depend on the tone of the group in WOD on average yes in D&D on average no.
Lindt
An interesting question.
The core of my gaming group is 2 girls, and I have about 6 other people that kinda slot in and out depending on the time. This was a small night and it was just the 2 girls so I needed to keep it fairly simple. So I gave them a wet work job on one 'Alex Norevak'. Gave the team a ton of info on habits and mannerisms to make the job easier. The players immediately thought a carbomb would be best, so they stole the marks car for a few hours, rigged a bomb into the radio, and put it back. Next morning a very pregnant Alexandria gets in her Mustang and blows up, with the players watching from the cafe down the street. All of the info they had gotten was gender neutral, and they did next to no additional legwork on the mark.

I have always considered it my goal to get past my players character and put a dent in my player. But when the stunned silence that followed was... perfect. I felt good about eliciting an emotion from the other side of a planet (one of my players is in Japan for a few years). Its not like they hadn't killed people before, our face has run down an opposing runner with a van, and my gunbunny went 7 for 7 with a combat shotgun against some gangers who wanted her coat. I think it just takes some perspective to make the impact.
Cadmus
Its not hard at all smile.gif granted you have to be playing a char that has an issue with taking a life to start with smile.gif

Kerenshara
QUOTE (Screaming Eagle @ May 14 2009, 10:01 AM) *
Many RPG's de-humanize the opposition deliberatly and for some players and GM's this caries over. Other thinking races are not human etc. al. These games make a very poor place to start with the morality of killing (though I have explored it on and off even in *shudder* D&D) and it tends to get the players thinking.
Shadowrun characters run the full range from "hardened killers" to near pacifists and most of the time your foes are *quite* (meta)human. When running games I look at the charaters background to determine how "indepth" I get with the "waking up in a pool of sweet remembering what YOU JUST DID!" though I do not restrict the actions at the time there can be consequence. Looking at my current "group" we have 2... well humanitarians, the teams medic and hacker, neither from a criminal or military backgroud, they have been victims of circumstance with talents the shadows pay well for. They take penalties to attack to incapasitate rather then kill, use non-leathal ammo and options, endeavour to negotiate at any pass and have not over the last 5 months of game time (about a dozen runs?) killed anyone. In the meaty centre we have the teams mage, shes grown up on the glamour of Shadowrunning from a street level perspective, she has not killed anyone... personally. Anyone who has died from her actions has been well off camera as she has spirits deal any killing and she herself sticks to non-lethal spells. The morality and horror of this will be brought up during her initiatory questing next session, I have a planned scene where she is suffocating under tons of earth while buring alive... feels about right as these are two of her favorite spirit sevices that she has thus far kept "out of sight and mind". Lastly we have the teams "muscle" a Vory Physical Adept leg breaker and killer has LONG since gone past caring if he kills, he tends to keep it toned down... while the others are watching, but is rather of the opinion the rest of them are soft. Him nightmares? Heck yes, they had to leave that guard alive and HE SAW MY FACE! Now thats a nightmare.

Now THIS was EXACTLY the kind of thing I was hoping to have come up!
*dances the happy dance since nobody can see*


I wasn't trying to judge people (and ESPECIALLY not our servicemen and women) with what I brought up. I was shocked enough by the numbers I read that I don't know how much credence I give them, but watching some footage from Vietnam, I see there IS an awful lot of that "suppressive fire" going on, but you can tell who's really trying to engage the enemy. But that's about as far as I am going to go in self defense. I'm not here to debate the numbers, just to discuss what those stated numbers might imply.

Here we have several excellent examples given, and some BRILLIANT!!! ways of dealing with it. I am positively DELIGHTED with the idea for dealing with the mage during the initiatiatory ordeal. And the method! *swoons in delight* It makes the point with absolute clarity that a lack of physical blood does not absolve you of the consequences of your actions, but does so in a way that should (hopefully) be both poigniant and memorable for the character and without damaging them.
The Vory is so far past the line that it's moot to deal with any "angst" on his part, and rightfully so. Not everybody in the shadows can be a "wuss" and do things non-lethally every time.
I look foward to hearing how you deal with the first time the other two wind up crossing the line, as well as how they deal with it when they realize what the Vory is doing when they aren't around.

Yes, it is always a personal choice issue how to deal with this. I am intrigued with some of the answers I have seen above. Some people simply believe that it's a hard world, and that it takes hard people to survive in it; If you've made it this far, you must be unusually hard. Personally, I think that takes away from the value of the struggle to get by with some humanity intact in such a world, but that's just my preference. It's your world, handle it as you please. Some of the answers that actually addressed the difficulties have been fascinating and I look foward to seeing more.
kzt
QUOTE (Kliko @ May 14 2009, 02:34 AM) *
We're probaply referring to the same studies if we say that out of every group of 100 soldiers 98 used to be making 'noise' while 2 were doing the actual 'killing'. Of these 2 soldiers, 1 used to be a sociopath and the other a 'hero' archetype. It is indeed quite stunning to watch interviews of soldiers after the Falklands getting concerned with some of their collegeaus in the aftermath.

Modern conditioniong of soldiers (through extensive training simulations) makes modern soldiers far more effective compared to their historic counterparts. However, the drawback being issues like ptss and similar conditions. It is not an unlikely hypothesis to state that these result from turning against our human nature -or otherwise similarly conditioned behaviour (through thousand years of christian morals etc.)- to not kill.

'Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldn't even be there, 80 are just targets, nine are the real fighters, ... Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back'. Heraclitus ~500 BC
Kerenshara
QUOTE (Lindt @ May 14 2009, 12:56 PM) *
An interesting question.
The core of my gaming group is 2 girls, and I have about 6 other people that kinda slot in and out depending on the time. This was a small night and it was just the 2 girls so I needed to keep it fairly simple. So I gave them a wet work job on one 'Alex Norevak'. Gave the team a ton of info on habits and mannerisms to make the job easier. The players immediately thought a carbomb would be best, so they stole the marks car for a few hours, rigged a bomb into the radio, and put it back. Next morning a very pregnant Alexandria gets in her Mustang and blows up, with the players watching from the cafe down the street. All of the info they had gotten was gender neutral, and they did next to no additional legwork on the mark.

I have always considered it my goal to get past my players character and put a dent in my player. But when the stunned silence that followed was... perfect. I felt good about eliciting an emotion from the other side of a planet (one of my players is in Japan for a few years). Its not like they hadn't killed people before, our face has run down an opposing runner with a van, and my gunbunny went 7 for 7 with a combat shotgun against some gangers who wanted her coat. I think it just takes some perspective to make the impact.

*blinks, and then remembers to close her mouth*
OK. Brilliant. Vicious, but brilliant. And I think you had the effect you intended. Your players (and their characters) I can guarantee learned the lesson you wanted them to learn, and they will trully take it to heart because you didn't whack them with a stick, you simply let them put their foot in it.
"Personally, I disaprove of car bombs on the general principle that they are messy as hell, tending to cause more collateral damage than I am willing to accept, professionally. And I have some... personal reasons as well." ::Kerenshara
Ayeohx
The act of actually killing someone isn't the issue, is it? Its fear that keeps people in check.

Fear of God or damnation.
Fear of imprisonment.
Fear of isolation (when people ditch you).
Fear of death.
Fear of retaliation.

The more you cross off the list the more killing someone becomes okay.

Yes, there is more to it. I suppose the biggie is changing (ending) someone's life. If this isn't important to you then you'll probably sleep fine at nights.

I'm sure many of you could kill someone given the correct situation; especially if the law is willing to back you (defense, military, etc). Hell, given the right circumstances you'll be called a hero.
You killed that crazy guy who came into rob the store and he shot 3 people while doing so? You're a hero! And he had no family or friends, you've been cleared of any charges, you got an award, one month off work and you don't believe in an afterlife... I'd say you'd probably be pretty happy about ending that fellows life.

Shadowrunners, on the other hand, are not usually heroes to the general public. Yes, some admire them for striking back against the system, which I'm sure is the plot for many shadowrunner trids but most people wouldn't understand them. Some runners are heroes to their inner circles though (family, gangs, criminal affiliations) where killing is much more acceptable.

Now, all of this said, my gamers' characters use non-lethal methods and few want to do wetwork. Fear of reprisal keeps them in check.
Kerenshara
QUOTE (Prime Mover @ May 14 2009, 08:48 AM) *
Conflict is a major part of almost all rpg's. Escapism is all about not being who you really are, living vicariously via your cold as ice and hard as steel creation. That being said in some games violence is a means to an end, just part of everyday life (high fantasy) In SR I've noticed Sami types approach killing as just business and the more pacifistic might bulk at first but after a few dozen kills seem numbed to it and stop sneering in the direction of the mad killer. Hackers might see it more like a video game, derezzing an icon is nothing like seeing the ground splattered with brain matter. The more removed one becomes killing from a distance, remotely or just being exposed to multiple killings the more desensitized the person/player becomes. I've found this to be true for most groups.

Now after all that even stone cold killers can have a "code" no children, no insert (friendly syndicate here), no (insert religion or nationality here) etc... Sometimes for safety or loyalty and sometimes because even killers can have a soft spot left.

I agree generally with the sentiment here, and fully on the specific observations. I was excluding remote-control killing, because that really is dehumanized, either with the target being a blip/image on a screen, or something inanimate like a vehicle or a building. Those don't usually come up against the issue at hand.

Now, let me ask you a question: Let's say for the sake of argument that your team was hired to blow up an abandoned building, and they decide to do the demo in daylight then clear out and blow it, because Johnson specifically requested a night demo. Then the next day after the demolition, the characters discover it was populated by squatters, some of them pregnant women and young children. Would your players and characters be so cold as to ignore something like that, even if it was accidental? (Think the "Command Bunker" in Bagdhand during Desert Storm, where at night it was an air raid shelter. A lot of the planners and the pilot reportedly wound up with "issues" after that.) Keep in mind, saying "Hey, they didn't tell us it was inhabited at night. Not our fault." is acctually a defense mechanism against guilt.
kzt
So you went through the building planting explosives and didn't notice them?
Critias
QUOTE (kzt @ May 14 2009, 02:00 PM) *
So you went through the building planting explosives and didn't notice them?

Kids're small. Perception modifiers add up fast, man.
Ayeohx
My gamers would be pissed. Especially since they would have checked the building beforehand. And they may go kill the Johnson if he said that there would be no squatters.

Now the gamers' characters, I can't say. One of the characters use to do this very sort of thing in the british military.
Kerenshara
QUOTE (Ayeohx @ May 14 2009, 01:43 PM) *
The act of actually killing someone isn't the issue, is it? Its fear that keeps people in check.

Well, I was trying to address the act itself, or at least that was my intention.
QUOTE
Fear of God or damnation.
Fear of imprisonment.
Fear of isolation (when people ditch you).
Fear of death.
Fear of retaliation.

The more you cross off the list the more killing someone becomes okay.

Yes, there is more to it. I suppose the biggie is changing (ending) someone's life. If this isn't important to you then you'll probably sleep fine at nights.

I'm sure many of you could kill someone given the correct situation; especially if the law is willing to back you (defense, military, etc). Hell, given the right circumstances you'll be called a hero.
You killed that crazy guy who came into rob the store and he shot 3 people while doing so? You're a hero! And he had no family or friends, you've been cleared of any charges, you got an award, one month off work and you don't believe in an afterlife... I'd say you'd probably be pretty happy about ending that fellows life.

Shadowrunners, on the other hand, are not usually heroes to the general public. Yes, some admire them for striking back against the system, which I'm sure is the plot for many shadowrunner trids but most people wouldn't understand them. Some runners are heroes to their inner circles though (family, gangs, criminal affiliations) where killing is much more acceptable.

Now, all of this said, my gamers' characters use non-lethal methods and few want to do wetwork. Fear of reprisal keeps them in check.

Again, great post. Now I am starting to see the dialogue I was hoping for. I understand the fear of temporal and secular consequences, but I was actually more interested in the emotional and mental ones. Yes, fear of the results of the kill restrains the average person, or even shadowrunner. But shadowrunners are already criminals by definition, so other than the temporal threat, I can't see it but being that serious a deterrent. You and a few others are right, though, the more you kill, the more you tend to become numb to it. I liked the observation about point of view a lot, and that's probably worthy of its own thread. But it's not other's perceptions except in how that might reflect back to the actual person doing the killing. But that is why I originally (back at the very top) refered to the taking of a (meta)human life as the ultimate Taboo. Once you break taboo, it is no longer taboo to you, and it's just a habbit to break. But even for people who do it a LOT, eventually, if their concience and empathy survive, they will look back at the trail of corpses and have to do a little soul searching.
And as I mentioned as well, there are ways to deal with the guilt. Why do you think the suicide rate is actually so high with the conflicts in the Middle East amongst the American troops who serve multiple tours? Why do you think the stereotypical image of the grizzled veteran ALWAYS seems seems to involve alcohol? The people who have BEEN there, and seen the elephant, don't discuss that side of it with people who haven't; they often don't actually discuss it with each other. But they still congregate for the company of people they share a bond with, a bond others simply wouldn't understand, and if they did, would probably refuse to accept. Some turn to dangerous pursuits because it brings back the adrenaline surge that got them through the moment at the time. Still others find the soothing balm of drugs and cigarettes and similar substances a welcome way to help them step back from the sharp edges of memory, even if it can not blunt the edges themselves for long.
Screaming Eagle
Of course the kids were out working in the sweat shops, everyone living in the building was exausted from the long days nearly slave labour so they didn't note or didn't care to investigate the (probably) in plain sight explosives. Heck I've been so tired after work one time I'd been home nearly 15 minutes before I noticed someone had added another couch to my living room (main floor, central room, walked past it thrice at least). How much C-4 could you cram in a couch? Answer: far too much.

To address the question I try to leave it (role playing the shock, rationalization etc.) in the players hands and only point out horror they seem to be missing, the mage is more them welcome to ignore the astral quest warning and slowly her spirits will get more inclined to use engulf freely, possibly messily. Monsters are drawn to monsters, birds of a feather and all that.

On the other hand I tend to be gaming with a 25+ aged crowd. People tend to think more about the morality of their actions (even their imaginary ones) when there is a toddler in the room, especially if it's theirs.
DWC
It's kind of weird. Expressing the things that your character internalizes is a pain in the ass.

Case in point, last Sunday, a character of mine killed someone in cold blood. He picked a machine pistol and shot a bound, gagged, unconscious gang member. Everyone was shocked, and rightfully so. It was cold, dispassionate, and completely unnecessary. To him, at that moment, it seemed like the right thing to do. As things went on, it started to eat at him, and as more and more time goes by, it'll only get worse. But the character is already fairly introverted so there really won't be rational reason for him to talk about the incident with the other characters.

It's not that he's never killed anyone before. He has. Plenty of them. I've lost track of the actual number, but it's well into the double digits. Those were always people who presented an immediate danger to either him, or someone he was working with, or protecting. In each case, tribalism or self preservation outweighed what little connection he has to the social contract of western society, and he pulled the trigger. He never liked those cases, but they never bothered him, because he could justify them to himself.
Ayeohx
QUOTE (DWC @ May 14 2009, 12:50 PM) *
It's kind of weird. Expressing the things that your character internalizes is a pain in the ass.

Case in point, last Sunday, a character of mine killed someone in cold blood. He picked a machine pistol and shot a bound, gagged, unconscious gang member. Everyone was shocked, and rightfully so. It was cold, dispassionate, and completely unnecessary. To him, at that moment, it seemed like the right thing to do. As things went on, it started to eat at him, and as more and more time goes by, it'll only get worse. But the character is already fairly introverted so there really won't be rational reason for him to talk about the incident with the other characters.

It's not that he's never killed anyone before. He has. Plenty of them. I've lost track of the actual number, but it's well into the double digits. Those were always people who presented an immediate danger to either him, or someone he was working with, or protecting. In each case, tribalism or self preservation outweighed what little connection he has to the social contract of western society, and he pulled the trigger. He never liked those cases, but they never bothered him, because he could justify them to himself.


Good example. Lets pick this apart.

Why was his team members horrified?
Why does being introverted matter in this case?
Why does tribalism change his views of murder?
What does western society matter in the case of murder?
Why can't he justify killing this guy when he's probably killed "worse" people?
Ayeohx
QUOTE (Kerenshara @ May 14 2009, 12:15 PM) *
I understand the fear of temporal and secular consequences, but I was actually more interested in the emotional and mental ones.


QUOTE (Kerenshara @ May 14 2009, 12:15 PM) *
But it's not other's perceptions except in how that might reflect back to the actual person doing the killing.

QUOTE (Kerenshara @ May 14 2009, 12:15 PM) *
But even for people who do it a LOT, eventually, if their concience and empathy survive, they will look back at the trail of corpses and have to do a little soul searching.
And as I mentioned as well, there are ways to deal with the guilt. Why do you think the suicide rate is actually so high with the conflicts in the Middle East amongst the American troops who serve multiple tours? Why do you think the stereotypical image of the grizzled veteran ALWAYS seems seems to involve alcohol? The people who have BEEN there, and seen the elephant, don't discuss that side of it with people who haven't; they often don't actually discuss it with each other. But they still congregate for the company of people they share a bond with, a bond others simply wouldn't understand, and if they did, would probably refuse to accept. Some turn to dangerous pursuits because it brings back the adrenaline surge that got them through the moment at the time. Still others find the soothing balm of drugs and cigarettes and similar substances a welcome way to help them step back from the sharp edges of memory, even if it can not blunt the edges themselves for long.


I've known snipers that have no apparent psychological issues. Some even tell their stories as if they were the greatest, most glorious moments of their lives.

Emotional and mental consequences can be derived from the people around you. Examine religion if you need an example. Cults for a better; though they are the same in my book. The mind can be tempered to accept extreme ideas given the correct stimuli. Even nationalism can inflict extreme views. Gangs can also work like this. Some people think murdering people, women, kids, whoever, can further their cause and regret nothing.

Shadowrunners aren't usually in it to further a greater cause though, they are in it for the money and thats it. This distinction has to be made. This separates a runner from a soldier, a ganger or a cultist. They are making a dicision to destroy lives for money.

And remember, not all shadowrunners kill. It seems that most runners rather not due to fear of reprisal. In my group few do and if anyone does he'd be kicked out of the team.
Kerenshara
QUOTE (Ayeohx @ May 14 2009, 02:12 PM) *
My gamers would be pissed. Especially since they would have checked the building beforehand. And they may go kill the Johnson if he said that there would be no squatters.

Now the gamers' characters, I can't say. One of the characters use to do this very sort of thing in the british military.

Sorry. I guess I got too specific. I was trying to ask what would happen if they found out they accidentally killed a bunch of the people their "code" said were invalid targets. I wasn't implying your players are that sloppy or incompetent. That's on me.
Kerenshara
QUOTE (DWC @ May 14 2009, 02:50 PM) *
It's kind of weird. Expressing the things that your character internalizes is a pain in the ass.

Case in point, last Sunday, a character of mine killed someone in cold blood. He picked a machine pistol and shot a bound, gagged, unconscious gang member. Everyone was shocked, and rightfully so. It was cold, dispassionate, and completely unnecessary. To him, at that moment, it seemed like the right thing to do. As things went on, it started to eat at him, and as more and more time goes by, it'll only get worse. But the character is already fairly introverted so there really won't be rational reason for him to talk about the incident with the other characters.

It's not that he's never killed anyone before. He has. Plenty of them. I've lost track of the actual number, but it's well into the double digits. Those were always people who presented an immediate danger to either him, or someone he was working with, or protecting. In each case, tribalism or self preservation outweighed what little connection he has to the social contract of western society, and he pulled the trigger. He never liked those cases, but they never bothered him, because he could justify them to himself.

But, see, you're making my point FOR me in this case. I don't need somebody to be extroverted, I just am fascinated about how they really ARE internalizing their assimilation of their actions. You ARE dealing with it. That is what's important, and I feel certain your character's future actions will reflect whatever conclusions they come to.
DWC
QUOTE (Ayeohx @ May 14 2009, 02:57 PM) *
Good example. Lets pick this apart.

Why was his team members horrified?
Why does being introverted matter in this case?
Why does tribalism change his views of murder?
What does western society matter in the case of murder?
Why can't he justify killing this guy when he's probably killed "worse" people?


I'd imagine the horror was closer to shock. It was a moment of complete sociopathy that seemed completely out of left field, or at least that's how I interpreted their reactions.

The introversion matters because if I hadn't brought it up here in the midst of this discussion, it's one of those things that never would have come out. Hell, I hadn't even mentioned its' effect on him to my GM.

The tribalism is an issue because he grew up in a very "us versus them" family, which extended the animal sense of self preservation to justifying protecting the people he chooses to surround himself with. Western society matters in that the impediment to murder is largely ingrained as part of living within a society, as a mechanism to preserve the society. If no one has a problem with killing, then large groups can't co-exist because disputes will escalate to violence and death too quickly.

If he thought about it, he could probably find a way to justify it, but it'd be far more of a stretch than "because he was shooting at me". To be honest, the ganger was hardly innocent. He was bound and gagged in the back of a van because he'd shown up at a book signing to attempt to assassinate someone.
Kerenshara
QUOTE (Ayeohx @ May 14 2009, 03:16 PM) *
I've known snipers that have no apparent psychological issues. Some even tell their stories as if they were the greatest, most glorious moments of their lives.

Yeah, me too. And being very close to them, I can tell you there are some deep seated and well concealed scars relating to it as well. One (on the only occasion I ever saw them drink) told me about an occasion where they dropped a high level... person in Iraq from a relatively close range. The thing that messed him up was that the person's kid came out and picked up the RPG the person had been carrying when they dropped and pointed it back in the general direction of my friend and fired. My friend didn't think. They dropped the kid. And despite the assertions the kid was a valid target - which they were - I know it is something they are still uncomfortable with.

QUOTE
Shadowrunners aren't usually in it to further a greater cause though, they are in it for the money and thats it. This distinction has to be made. This separates a runner from a soldier, a ganger or a cultist. They are making a dicision to destroy lives for money.

An excellent point, and one I hoped would come up. Which is why it's a relevant question to ask how they feel about... what was the quote? "Destroy other people's lives"?
The Jake
QUOTE (Critias @ May 14 2009, 08:03 PM) *
Kids're small. Perception modifiers add up fast, man.


That made me laugh out loud. LOL.

- J.
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