Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: A friend will help you move...
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun
... but only a level three contact will help you move a body. wink.gif

Just some questions on how GMs here handle contacts.

When do you consider a character to have gained a contact? Just by meeting them? Or does it involve something more. Is there a certain monetary amount spent - or an equivelent favor - to get in someone's good books? Not to mention who does one consider contacts? I mean I know my sister but she could hardly be considered a contact for any useful information or services. It would seem silly that a character might have to spend start up nuyen on family members.

Secondly what process will you allow the players to upgrade their contacts. For example: a player who's contact does them a sizeable favor wants to make sure its appreciated and improve their relationship.

Lastly who IRL would you have that you could consider a contact?
I'm writing and re-writing house rules on the subject, however:

To acquire an NPC as a level 1 contact, a little time and a little money is required.

To upgrade a Level 1 to a Level 2 contact, a lot of time, money and favors will be required.

To upgrade a Level 2 to a level 3 -- some serious roleplay, a plot hook and maybe some karma to boot.

The amount of money varies, depending on the creativity of the player and the kind of favors involved: entirely at the GM's discretion.

For example, knowing an acquaintance loves Seattle SeaDogs games and you hook him up with season tickets might cost a couple hundred nuyen, but the roleplay bennies from your buddy will far outweigh the tangible cost of the tickets.


I define level 1 contacts as casual acquaintances or people who know your face and will give you a marginal consideration over an unknown customer.

Level 2 contacts are friends and acquaintances -- your drinking buddies.

Level 3 contacts are the ones helping you move bodies after the fact.
Contacts are NPCs that can provide needed services or goods, they are not just levels of relationship with various characters. I mark my PCs as having a new contact when they meet an NPC that provides them with a good or service, and the PC is likely to come to that NPC again in the future.

Note however, that just about anyone can be a contact under certain lights. For example, if you call your sister every week and she helps you cope with stress, then she might be a contact because she provides a service. But you probably wouldn't write it down as a contact. It's up to the GM to cut exactly where *useful* service/goods ends.

I dunno, it's pretty abstract to define, but in-game I always know who "became a contact" and who isn't.

And IRL, I could consider:
My capoeira group (lv2) for things related to that martial art or brazilian culture
These forums (lv1) for things related to shadowrun, or in the older days to various cool news links when the lounge was around (this is NOT a comment on having/not having it back)
A work collegue (lv1) I knew who provided me with copied computer games

Contacts are mostly a question of roleplay, but our group agrees in general on the following:

A level 1 Contact is essentially .... a contact, someone who's name you learned (or knew already), along which a way to contact this person.

Like "when you're in London and need info on shipments coming in, find Rowley. He's a clerk at the harbourmaster's office. Either he usually hangs out at Long Shore's Inn, <description following> Or Here's his number"

How you motivate your contact to do your bidding, is entirely up to your ressources and attitude. You might as well intimidate a contact (not recommended) but he may as well change the way how to contact him, so to shut you out. At this point, you lost him. It is of no concern to his status whether he remembers you or not (although our SC's contacts from chargen usually do.)

To "upgrade" a contact to buddy, it takes a long time of interaction, positive attitude on both sides and the wavelength factor. In other words, good roleplaying.

To "upgrade" a buddy to friend-for-life, well I don't know, never happened, might as well never happen. It has something to do with the above-mentioned wavelength-factor, as well as an extra x-factor that welds some people together whereas other people might as well become alienated.

Anyway, the general contact upkeep fee from SRComp is horse-manure, imho. Presents and gifts help keep up friendships, but in general, it's a question of attitude and roleplay.
QUOTE (lodestar @ Jan 19 2004, 05:43 PM)
When do you consider a character to have gained a contact? Just by meeting them? Or does it involve something more?

A contact is different from an acquaintance because a contact is willing to do things, generally illegal things, on your behalf. Just knowing your sister's phone number doesn't make her a contact. (After all, she may be the prime enemy in the entire campaign.)

In our games, an NPC can become a contact once the appropriate level of trust and/or willingness to help is established. That may happen during roleplay, in which case the contact is freely awarded by the GM to the player. Occasionally a level 2 contact has been awarded, which denotes higher trust and a higher willingness to help.

It can also happen after an adventure by asking the GM if a given NPC can be taken as a level 1 contact. The GM decides if it can become a contact, and whether to charge one or two Karma or whether to roleplay the acquisition. The one or two Karma represents the character's time between adventures interacting with the NPC to establish the trust / willingness to be a contact. If roleplayed, no Karma has to be involved but whether the NPC becomes a contact is dependent upon the outcome of the interaction. We generally charge 2 Karma for more-powerful NPCs, and roleplay interactions with NPCs that might eat the character.
Also something that has come up with our game group is can dependants be considered contacts if they can also supply some need. Example: Ivan the ork rigger has a -2pt dependant, an old army friend who was crippled and traumatized by some racial violence (the dependant became severly agorophobic after the event and no longer will go out in public) Ivan needless to say essentially handles all of her daily business from paying rent to getting groceries. The dependant does have some skill with electronics and computers not to mention some ties to the Ork underground. Dependant with useful contact abilities?
I'd certainly consider the dependant a contact— hell, friend even— but I'd suggest leaving out rules and just roleplaying it well. The more interesting the character, the better the story— the more rules tend to just get in the way. With Shadowrun, doubly so.
Know what? I think it really sucks that charachters only get two free contacts.

I mean come on! Who in the world only knows two people reasonably well? Surly hermits, maybe. In shadowrun the default campaign starts you out as a fairly accomplished criminal, yet many charachters only know two or three people well enough to ask a favor? I am fairly hermetical in real life, but I bet I know 20 or 30 people who would do a small favor for me if I asked them nicely and in my life five or six people have asked me for such favors.

Thus I decree that the formula should be:
Charisma + 2 free contact points which can be used to get level 2 and 3 contacts by paying the extra points.

Then you can buy more as usual.
Talia Invierno
Who in our part of the "real world" has $400,000 to burn? wink.gif
Lots of people. I bet they all have dozens of contacts too.
It isn't $400,000 to burn. Creation resources represent the sum total cash that's been dumped into the player's resources up to now, sans stuff he or shee doesn't have. Most runners tend to be much closer to dirt poor than sitting on cash to burn, but the fact remains the criminals today have networks of contacts because that's just how you survive in that world. Hell, you can say that about most professions. Two contacts is silly, but so's most of the game.
How many of the people you know would you feel comfortable asking to steal something from their workplace for you? With or without payment?
In no game I have played would a level 1 contact do such a thing unless it benefited them.

Most of the time you can ask them some questions, maybe have them do some minor task which is commonplace to them. For example if you have a bartender contact you can get info about who is in or has been in the bar. You can get info on whatever rumors he has heard. You cannot get free cases of liquor. You might be able to buy a case of liquor from him. If you pay a lot of money you might be able to get a minority of such contacts to spike somone's drink for you.

Also presumably were I were a hardened criminal I would know a different set of people than I know today. In fact I beleive that underground economies rely far more on personal contacts of this sort.

And in fact, yes, I think that 20-30 people, easily, would answer small questions for me and do minor tasks for me on request, or for token payment (ie I buy them a beer or something). If I paid them more they would do tasks for me related to thier regular jobs or hobbies, basically I just know somone I can hire to do various minor things. I also will do such things for them.

Notice I am not saying that every charachter should start out with 20 contacts, but I think at least giving each a handfull would be very helpfull. Actually I rather hate the 5kY per contact thing too. Given how non-linear monetary resources are I think it is bad that under the normal rules only A&B (edit actually c=90k can give you quite a few as well) resource charachters have more than a handfull of contacts. This is another huge advantage of the point system in my opinion.
Two contacts to start isn't so silly - Ivan for example only has two - he prefers to keep some of his contact to a minimum to maintain some anonymity (That is aside from teh other runners he works with, but even they know very little about him). People with many contacts are just one of the advantages taken during character creation. For myself even though I know plenty of people the following could be considered my list of contacts.

Mechanic Lv3, Junkyard dealer Lv2, Calgary policeman Lv1, Deckmeister (computer geek) Lv1, Charter pilot Lv1, CAF officer Lv1.
You know one thing that seems to be appropriate to me is a number of contacts that a charachter can maintain. So as life goes along we gain and loose contacts through simple attention and neglect.

Perhaps there should be a formula to figure out how many contacts a person can maintain. If they have more they can pay extra money to upkeep the others, or those contacts simply vanish... or maybe become level 0 contacts who you have to spend some time reactivating before they will do anything for you.

How about (Charisma + Ettiquette + lifestyle(street=0, luxury=5) or something. Specialized ettiquette points can only support contacts of matching specialization lifestyle can only support contacts of a lifestyle the same or one different from yours). For example if you had 1 charisma and Ett(Street)1/3 and low lifestyle you could maintain 2 street contacts, 1 medium, low, or squatter contact, and 2 contacts of any type).

Bah actually aren't there rules for this in the companion?
There are a lot of houserules regarding alternative contact systems.

A simple fix:
Level 1 contact = 1 point
Level 2 contact = 2 points
Level 3 contact = 3 points

Charisma + Social skill = Contact Points

Reflects personal charisma and any skill at networking = negotiation, etiquette, intimidation and so on.

I agree that there's a problem with shadowrun contacts; you will know a lot of people who you can't really use. I got annoyed that I kept spending a few grand on parents and what not, just so I wouldn't have to write about how they died horribly or became goat farmers in Afghanistan or whatever. My poor street sam ended up living in a cardboard box because I wanted him to come from a large family (lessee... eight siblings, two parents, how much for a 'best friend'?). Okay, I didn't really go that far, but it does seem messed up.

The way I dealt with it was separated 'contacts' from 'useless people who further your character'. You have the standard number of contacts, but as many UPWFYC's as you want. The difference is that a contact is anyone who is not-useless. A UPWFYC can be your own mother and will die for you, however she won't lend you any substantial amount of money (maybe a $100 and free laundry), she has nothing that you can really use (at least nothing you couldn't get just as easily from someone else), and is totally unaware of anything going on in the world. She probably doesn't know (or doesn't approve of) your being a shadowrunner. Her most useful advice generally involves sweaters and vegetables. She does, however, make a wicked good apple pie. She's strictly for roleplaying and getting kidnapped.

I think, rules wise, contacts are half a step above what you'd normally consider a contact. Looking up a mechanic in the yellow pages doesn't give you a mechanic contact. However, having him be your mechanic of choice who you have at least some sort of a professional relationship would make you contacts. Just getting his information makes him a line in your black book.
I've always thought of contacts as people who know you and trust you well enough to deal with illegal or less-than-legal goods and services.

A contact will overlook SIN requirements for example, or sell you hand grenades under the table.

I routinely look up services in the phone book to find necessary and legal services which, c'mon, how many runners ever need non-illegal services? grinbig.gif

Humor notwithstanding, you can know a lot of people without needing to elevate them to "contact" status.


Crusher Bob
If if takes more than that to make someone a lvl one contact, what kind of illegal services can you get out of the 'phone book'?. Assuming I want something common, BTLS, A Predator, whatever what rules should I use to just find someone willing to sell me one? Assuming you are looking for it yourself maybe just use etiquette:street vs the TN? but then what are your contact actually for?
QUOTE (Crusher Bob)
but then what are your contacts actually for?

Being someone you can (at least to some degree) trust. There's a large possibility for complications when you're going out and asking around on the street the equivalent of "Hey man, know where I can buy some BTLs/Preds/'hot' SOTA gear?" Our Face has gotten the group dragged into more than one "situation" of one sort or another by trying to pull off that sort of thing.
Sorry Crush -- I meant to say "looking up people for goods and services in the phone book when you look for perfectly legit services which doesn't require a Contact."

Crusher Bob
I wasn't actually refering to the phone book, but more of a: you should be able to get 'common' illegal services without needing to have a contact to do it for you. As a shadow runner you will probably know where to get such things as a (slightly used) predator, the thing has a SI of .5 they're everywhere! So the etiquette(street) test to get stuff for yourself (with maybe a +2 tn for areas you don't know) still seems workable. Imho your 'contacts' should be those people who can get you uncommon goods or services (not faceless backalley gun dealer # 2).
Large Mike

Being the contact king, I have a good rule of thumb.

A level one contact is someone who will hide you, no questions asked, for a couple hours in their place of work or home. They also might let you grab something from the cooler in the back of the store (StuffShack contact) without paying. They'll also spread the wealth, if they have it. (i.e. help you find that gear or whatever) This is the most basic measure of a contact, and differeniates (sp) regular folk from contacts.

A level 2 will take you in when your house has randomly exploded without humming and hawing over it. If you need something, they'll ask everyone they come in contact with, and if you take one to the brainpan, they'll adopt your pet cat. And maybe oversee the execution of your will if nobody else steps up to it right away.

A level 3 is tricky in that it almost *has* to be someone the character sees almost constantly. A roommate, lover, workmate, etc. These are the people that will sell all their shit and run to Mexico with you and a body in the trunk. Remember this when dealing with them. If you had this kind of relationship with anyone, and you learned they wouldn't do the same for you, you'd get a bit choked, no?
Whats the upkeep on contacts? didn't even know there was one

I don't have SRComp /cry and I have this mage player thats got like....well 20+ contacts.

I got to thinking that it will take up a sizeable chunk of his week/life to keep aqquainted with all these people. Most are Lv1s and nearly half are squatters. Would I be a jerk if I told him that the particular squatter "doesn't look like he remembers you and runs off screaming"?

I think I encouraged the use of contacts some, but this guy alwasy goes over the top hehe
Contact Upkeep, in the Shadowrun Companion (p. 60) represents the effort needed by a character to maintain the respect and trust needed to continue using a contact over a long period of time.

There are two parts to upkeep. Roleplaying: taking the contact out to coffee or a ballgame, slipping him a hot stock tip, or just asking about the wife and kids. And nuyen: loaning him money when needed, buying the contact an occastional dinner, or just tossing a credstick his way.

The recommended cost for upkeep (per year) are:
level 1: 500 nuyen.gif
level 2: 3000 nuyen.gif
level 3: 7000 nuyen.gif

Clearly squatter-level contacts need less upkeep, and are probably easier to obtain than professional-level contacts. But with disease, gangs, ghouls, organ-leggers, and slavers around, a squatter-level contact should just disappear from time to time. Easy come, easy go.
hehhe Thanks

I don't like taking things from the players they've paid for in chargen, without giving them something back. But the sheer number of contacts this dude has is nuts and let's face it...squatters?! What could he really provide? Info? Likely he's the first one running when anything happens. Money? pffttt Gear? nuh uh
If you want an interesting run revolving around his squatter contacts, have the male ork squatter contacts and female elf squatter contacts taken away by slavers and sold to shadowrunners on this thread. If the character wants to track down what happned to his contacts, he can.

You're not destroying his contacts ... just making it a little harder for him to contact them. And once he gets them back, the orks will have spurs and smartlinks.
QUOTE (BewilderedGM @ Jan 21 2004, 10:27 AM)
But the sheer number of contacts this dude has is nuts and let's face it...squatters?! What could he really provide?

I do not understand why you're complaining.

Since, it's not what you know but who you know, hence you can never have too many contacts.

Second, if these contacts are mostly just tramps and bums, than be it. Better than him knowing Damien Knight, Richard Villiers, Buttercup and the Quartermaster Generals of the Army, Navy and Airforce as his mates.

And, as OurTeam pointed out quite right, you can use them as entry points to your adventure.
What bugs me is he's spent like 100k on contacts, which is fine I guess, but I dont wanna watch him roll his 13 etiquette rolls to get to that particular level of info search success (like at 4 succs you get THIS muc info), hence I want to get him to appreciate the amount of "work" that a network like will take. Only because theyre lv1 contacts. Lv2/3 would def remember you and prolly look you up from time to time to do stuff together.

Anyways I guess a squatters upkeep a year is pitifull and I wont dock him that kind of money. I'll figure something out, I like the idea of "removing" plotwise, but its been done in my campaing before (twice) and has the risk of becoming stale and he might not even care about the loss LoL. Anyways thanks
Then, if the sole problem ailing you lies in the way he tries to acquire information, do the following:

Instead of allowing him to role the dice for every contact he has, have him form groups of contacts, like "street level", "corporate", "media", "military",
"governmental - metroplex", "governmental - federal", "political", "police", "magical", "educational/scientific", "technical" and so on.

He might assign contacts to more than one group, like the Professor of Thaumaturgy to "magical" as well as "educational/scientific" or the District councilman to "governmental - metroplex" as well as "political", it does not matter.

Then ask him which group he wants to query about information. Have him make one etiquette test only, for the group as a hole, but give him information with more details the more contacts he has in the group in question. That is not contradicting the official etiquette rules if you use it like this:

The more contacts he asks (with that single test) the broader the information are.

The more successes he achieves the deeper the information are.

By the way, it saves much time you better use with your whole group.
k thanks, good idea
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Dumpshock Forums © 2001-2012