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Rsthothothal
So I'm a new GM and have been gathering together players for a campaign, but they made some unexpected choices.

Out of 5 players, 2 have stated they plan on spending between 20-40 BP on contacts.
What impact do you think this would have on balance?
How does having many, and possibly several of high-level, contacts affect the group's resources?
tagz
I'm by no means an expert GM, but I'd say it's a waste for them.

Having a contact is fine, great even, but even with a high loyalty it doesn't mean he just hands over the key's to the Lamborghini every time they call.

They still have to buy equipment and the contact's rating will increase his cut. With a 6 loyalty, yeah, he might as a favor reduce that or not take a cut entirely every now and then, or if it's important to the players well being, but not all the time.

Also, a lot of the contacts might be redundant. A fixer can get most goods, and as for info, well having a contact in ONE gang might be all you need to get info on OTHER gangs. Obviously they're going to keep tabs on each other. Much of the rest of the world is similar, a person doesn't just know about his own people, he knows about the people he needs to watch. And a blogger contact for instance can have his/her fingers in tons of different subjects. What good is having 6 contacts that will all tell you the same thing?

Finally, if I had a friend that lets say I had a loyalty 6 with and he turned out to be a mooch, constantly coming over borrowing my stuff and returning it scratched, burnt, or with dead troll skin all over it, or otherwise getting me into trouble, you can bet that loyalty rating might go down. Relationships are give and take.

And don't be afraid to say "No, you can't take Lofwyr as a contact." Some people are just too far out of reach to be best buddies with a shadow runner. Well, at least at character gen n_n

I don't think you have much to worry about. Contacts important to have but 40bp seems a waste to me.
Mercer
I think there are games where a lot of contacts are very useful, and games where a lot of contacts are a waste. Either way, a lot of contacts are just more vectors for the GM to funnel plot at people, so that can be helpful.
Jack Kain
The use of contacts very much depends on the GM and the campaign. How useful a contact is lays largely with you.
If your say using one of the pre-made campaigns like the denver one. They probably won't use most of their chargen contacts as they'll gain plenty over the course of the campaign.
Even if your not going to use those adventure raiding the PDFs for the different contacts can take some workload off yourself.

And really that is probably the best way to go. The best contacts should be re-occuring characters whose history is fleshed out as the missions progress people you've actually interacted with. You just don't get that with pregen contacts especially if you have a lot of them. two or three contacts and no more then 15BP spent between them.

Some GMs like the rule you get a number of free contact points equal to twice your charisma.
MikeKozar
QUOTE (Jack Kain @ Nov 23 2009, 04:56 PM) *
Some GMs like the rule you get a number of free contact points equal to twice your charisma.


First time I've heard that, that's a great idea.

You could impose a cap, perhaps Charisma*5. You could also advise them not to spend more then X karma individually, or a total of X, simply because they're wasting points. However, the real solution here is to talk it out with your players. If they have a great reason for all these well-connected buddies, by all means. On the other hand, if they have contacts they don't need, you can point out that the 4/6 helicopter pilot could buy them another rank in a skill group, and that other PCs either pilot helicopters or already know people who do.

The alternative is to roll with it. They sound like a group that wants to do a lot of legwork - you could always start writing adventures with more investigation and roleplaying, leading up to the adventure.
Karoline
Yeah, I've heard alot about the Cha*2 free contact points, and think it makes sense, as it allows characters who are by all rights naturally social to start with more friends without effort.

Personally I doubt there will be problems with people having 20-40 points worth of contacts, but keep in mind what Tagz said. Even if a contact is loyalty 6, if you only go to see them when you want something, and never return any favors, you can expect that loyalty to start dropping quickly.

Now, if they have some loyalty 6s that they ask for a small thing every once in a while, don't worry about it, basically use it as something if you feel they are abusing their contacts, which makes sense, because if a contact (Or any person) is abused, they won't be as likely to do stuff for you.
kanislatrans
As a GM I like to see lots of contacts. nobody lives in a vacuum. Hell even if its a bunch of 1/1's (waitress, cab driver, kid who keeps stealing the hubcaps off your ride.) ya gotta know someone. and just because they don't have Damien Knights phone number in thier Rolodex,doesn't mean they are useless. gang member Suckmiester Suck might not know where to get apds ammo for your pred, the gangs Master at arms might. or SMS might know that the weapons world over on Rambo lane carries it and his cousin cleans the store every other night...

Its all in who ya know, chummer. Also, you can pick up a little info from contact A and use that info to focus a data trail to get better results for Contact B( at least thats the way I run it.)

like a good backstory, I will look favorably on a character with a well thought out stable of contacts.

I also agree you have to treat them nice. In RL I have customers who call me all the time, but rarely make payments on what they owe me..thier calls automatically go to the "if I get time" file,where as, I have wonderful cash paying customers who tip on occasion that move to the head of the list a lot more quickly...
mikal
QUOTE (Jack Kain @ Nov 24 2009, 12:56 AM) *
The use of contacts very much depends on the GM and the campaign. How useful a contact is lays largely with you.
If your say using one of the pre-made campaigns like the denver one. They probably won't use most of their chargen contacts as they'll gain plenty over the course of the campaign.
Even if your not going to use those adventure raiding the PDFs for the different contacts can take some workload off yourself.

And really that is probably the best way to go. The best contacts should be re-occuring characters whose history is fleshed out as the missions progress people you've actually interacted with. You just don't get that with pregen contacts especially if you have a lot of them. two or three contacts and no more then 15BP spent between them.

Some GMs like the rule you get a number of free contact points equal to twice your charisma.



I have to ask... why should contacts in game be any more important then those pre-genned? Technically speaking, everything you mentioned that, to you, makes a contact "better" (i.e. re-occurring character, people you've interacted with) can actually occur with pre-gens. The only difference is that the character actually gets input into the people who they feel they should be interacting with rather than GM fiat.
To be frank, there's nothing that precludes pre-gens to being better (or worse) then npcs the GM introduces.
Paul
I'd reward them with game play that relied in part on them making use of their contacts, and with the same hand remind them what it takes to maintain that sort of network!
MikeKozar
QUOTE (mikal @ Nov 23 2009, 06:48 PM) *
I have to ask... why should contacts in game be any more important then those pre-genned? Technically speaking, everything you mentioned that, to you, makes a contact "better" (i.e. re-occurring character, people you've interacted with) can actually occur with pre-gens. The only difference is that the character actually gets input into the people who they feel they should be interacting with rather than GM fiat.
To be frank, there's nothing that precludes pre-gens to being better (or worse) then npcs the GM introduces.


You're right about pre-gen contacts being a good jumping off point for good NPCs in game. I think the angle you may be underestimating is how many contacts a 5-man group can come up with, especially if some of them are going to 40 points worth. Let's be conservative, and say that every member picks three contacts. That's 15 NPCs that the GM is going to have to flesh out separately, work into the story, and try to give personality to. Personally, I have enough to do just getting the NPCs critical to my story up to my expectations of quality - adding another 15 is a significant writing load.

Now consider the Fixers, Johnsons, Mercs and Arms Dealers that I've already worked in to the story - if the PCs want to call up somebody that backed them up in a previous run, I already know who he is and how to do his funny voice. He probably has backstory I didn't get to, and he certainly has an established relationship with the PCs. It gets even more interesting if they need info or gear from a contact that they crossed previously - now they need to apologize and maybe run a side op just to get back in his/her good graces. This is story that the players earned and that writes itself.

The happy middle ground here is when the player hands you a character origin story that includes most or all of his contacts. Two or three pages of self-indulgent heroism and intrigue can make a six point cyberware specialist into a human being who knows exactly why he owes you favors and when he's going to leave you out to dry.
The Jake
I wish my PCs took more advantage of their contacts. Mine are lazy in that regard.

I'd award Cha*2 in free contacts.

- J.
Karoline
QUOTE (MikeKozar @ Nov 23 2009, 09:15 PM) *
You're right about pre-gen contacts being a good jumping off point for good NPCs in game. I think the angle you may be underestimating is how many contacts a 5-man group can come up with, especially if some of them are going to 40 points worth. Let's be conservative, and say that every member picks three contacts. That's 15 NPCs that the GM is going to have to flesh out separately, work into the story, and try to give personality to. Personally, I have enough to do just getting the NPCs critical to my story up to my expectations of quality - adding another 15 is a significant writing load.


Make your PCs flesh out the contacts. Personally I always flesh them out by the time play starts (or shortly after) so that I don't just have 6/4 weapons contact, but I have "Big Guns" Jimmy Jones, the local weapons supply contracted coordinator that I used to date. We fell apart, but still keep in touch fairly often. He is gruff, but likes hitting on me in a playful sort of way, perhaps still holding a flame for me. It isn't hard for him to forget to 'carry a one' and have a shiny extra weapon that he can't do anything with, so may as well give it to a friend in need. He makes plenty of money, but is somewhat distrustful of drones and such, so when he springs for good food, he always has me over to cook it for him.

So there we go, took me like 3 minutes and I have the basics of our relationship, a bit of his personality, a name, basically most everything needed to have him walk into the game. No real work for the GM, and it makes my character more than just numbers on paper (or a computer screen)
Tachi
Personally, I use the CHA*2 rule. I have to say, though, that it's far more useful with role-players than with roll-players. I usually reward my players with karma for good role-playing and use of contacts.

Contacts should be fully-fleshed NPCs with contacts of their own. For example, a gunsmith contact should have contacts such as; Cops, Crooks, and Smugglers. As to the aforementioned Fixers ability to get you anything... well, do you want to have to rely on one person for everything, especially since a gunsmith may be able to get you that same gun from his own inventory without the finders fee?

And, I have to say that a contact should only have access to information that he/she could have access to. Example; a gunsmith may be able to tell you the rumor about a weapons shipment that recently went missing, or, a Police contact can tell you about some of the current investigations underway; whereas a ganger contact likely will not know anything about current corp politics, and a talismonger will probably not know anything about the buzz on the Matrix. It's all a matter of what their field is.

Also, when fleshing contacts, work with your players, don't let them run roughshod over you, but let them have input on who and what the contact is.
Jericho Alar
QUOTE (Paul @ Nov 23 2009, 08:51 PM) *
I'd reward them with game play that relied in part on them making use of their contacts, and with the same hand remind them what it takes to maintain that sort of network!


The highest contact character I've ever seen was a socialite with about 70BP worth, I'm pretty sure the player's single biggest resource sink was that contact list (it was probably a good dozen names with loyalties from 2-5 and connection from 1-6)

I personally like to see lots of contacts; it gives me extra plot hooks, gives the player extra stuff to do in legwork (important if they're not the decker!) and generally just seems more believable, especially for character concepts that would tend to be about who you know and not what you know. (I find it really weird to see a social adept get turned in with 1 contact and 80 billion social knowledge skills.)
Karoline
QUOTE (Jericho Alar @ Nov 23 2009, 10:16 PM) *
(I find it really weird to see a social adept get turned in with 1 contact and 80 billion social knowledge skills.)


Agreed. Real people tend to be friend wit dozen of people IRL.

excue bad typin, but keyboard not workin
Jericho Alar
QUOTE (Karoline @ Nov 23 2009, 10:28 PM) *
Agreed. Real people tend to be friend wit dozen of people IRL.

excue bad typin, but keyboard not workin


well, when I GM I usually take care to make distinctions between 'friends' and 'contacts' while players are drawing up their characters. I have a lot of friends I'd never lean on to help me with criminal activities wink.gif

On the other hand, if I needed certain things.. there's several acquaintances I know could hook me up.

which is why I like SR4s new system of contacts so much, there's a way to quickly differentiate between the buddy who maybe dabbles in guns (L4 C1-2) and the acquaintance you're pretty sure has extensive mob connections but would never ask to go drinking with you on the weekends (L1-2 C4).

It's just I find it disconcerting to see a character who realistically can play 85% of the population like a well-tuned violin and yet never bothered to retain any of them for later use...

Ol' Scratch
I love seeing lots of contacts on a sheet, especially if each one has a good blurb describing not only the contact, but the player's relationship with them. I love doing the same, but the ridiculous cost of them is a burden. If I can afford two decent ones per character, I'm thrilled.

That's probably the one thing I hated most about SR4 when it was released; the absolutely crazy price contacts had on them. I mean, a single Connection 3/Loyalty 4 "buddy" costs you 7 BPs. That's the equivalence of 35,000, and mechanically it's 35,000 that you can't even use most of the time outside of the occasional bit of legwork or gear acquisition that involves them. Sure, the old "level 3" contacts -- what a Connection 6/Loyalty 6 contact currently is -- are a little cheaper that they used to be, but those are the ones that are supposed to be rare for a character, not the little contacts on the street that most professional criminals would know. Even a largely useless Con 1/Loy 1 contact costs 10,000 a pop. Absolutely hate it.

Anyway, the house rule I generally use is [(Charisma x 0.5) + (Etiquette x 1.5)], rounded up, in free BPs for contacts. The stipulation is that Loyalty cannot exceed your Charisma and Connection cannot exceed your Etiquette. Charisma alone isn't enough to win you associates the quality of Shadowrun contacts; you have to know how to deal with them properly professionally. But once you get your foot in the door, it's your personal charm that wins them over on a personal level.
Tachi
QUOTE (Jericho Alar @ Nov 23 2009, 09:55 PM) *
well, when I GM I usually take care to make distinctions between 'friends' and 'contacts' while players are drawing up their characters. I have a lot of friends I'd never lean on to help me with criminal activities wink.gif

On the other hand, if I needed certain things.. there's several acquaintances I know could hook me up.

which is why I like SR4s new system of contacts so much, there's a way to quickly differentiate between the buddy who maybe dabbles in guns (L4 C1-2) and the acquaintance you're pretty sure has extensive mob connections but would never ask to go drinking with you on the weekends (L1-2 C4).

It's just I find it disconcerting to see a character who realistically can play 85% of the population like a well-tuned violin and yet never bothered to retain any of them for later use...

I know what you mean. I have a friend who I love like a brother, who I wouldn't leave alone in a room with my girlfriend or wallet; if he was anyone else he would have disappeared long ago. But, I have acquaintances who I would hire for... uh... nevermind.

I also make that distinction when I GM, I usually give 1 friend per CHA point at an automatic loyalty 4 (higher if you want to pay BP for it). This, however, is obviously a house rule of mine. YMMV. Then again, I usually have my players build "normal people" with 350 or 400BP and start them in a street level game, then build them up to uber-shadowrunner/deluxe-deathmachine/corpse-o-matic over time. It kinda forces them to develope the character, well, usually. It has backfired, once, maybe twice.
Jack Kain
QUOTE (mikal @ Nov 23 2009, 07:48 PM) *
I have to ask... why should contacts in game be any more important then those pre-genned? Technically speaking, everything you mentioned that, to you, makes a contact "better" (i.e. re-occurring character, people you've interacted with) can actually occur with pre-gens. The only difference is that the character actually gets input into the people who they feel they should be interacting with rather than GM fiat.
To be frank, there's nothing that precludes pre-gens to being better (or worse) then npcs the GM introduces.

What MikeKozar said,
A PC's will almost never put the kind of forethought into their background to make the contacts come alive for a GM.
If they do put that kind forethought then its probably only going to be for one to three contacts. (and you really shouldn't expect them to put that kind of work into fleshing out more then two or three contacts). And if the contact isn't interesting or doesn't fit well with in the scope of the campaign why should the GM be obligated to make all of them more significant.

If anything having only two or three contacts is more realistic for most new characters. Part of the history of a shadowrunner, is how they became one. Many new characters would be new to shadowruning wouldn't they? Taking the skills and equipment from an old life to a new one, along with the expensive equipment their former employer issued. So why would they be well connected in a world their new at. The only well connected starting character would really be someone born to a shadowrunner. If you grew up in that world you'd likely know plenty of people. Unless their all retired or dead.
Someone crawling up from the gutter or fallen from grace in the SINer world wouldn't necessarily know many people in the shadowrunning circle yet.

Look at the sample shadowrunners, the face has 25BP up contacts but the others tend around 10-15BP. The system kind of is geared towards new characters only having small handful of starting contacts. The game doesn't treat contacts as a full representation of everyone you know.

And really contacts should not represent your friends list, which a couple people here (NOT EVERYONE) treat it as.
Tachi
QUOTE (Jack Kain @ Nov 23 2009, 10:33 PM) *
What MikeKozar said,
A PC's will almost never put the kind of forethought into their background to make the contacts come alive for a GM.
If they do put that kind forethought then its probably only going to be for one to three contacts. (and you really shouldn't expect them to put that kind of work into fleshing out more then two or three contacts). And if the contact isn't interesting or doesn't fit well with in the scope of the campaign why should the GM be obligated to make all of them more significant.

If anything having only two or three contacts is more realistic for most new characters. Part of the history of a shadowrunner, is how they became one. Many new characters would be new to shadowruning wouldn't they? Taking the skills and equipment from an old life to a new one, along with the expensive equipment their former employer issued. So why would they be well connected in a world their new at. The only well connected starting character would really be someone born to a shadowrunner. If you grew up in that world you'd likely know plenty of people. Unless their all retired or dead.
Someone crawling up from the gutter or fallen from grace in the SINer world wouldn't necessarily know many people in the shadowrunning circle yet.

Look at the sample shadowrunners, the face has 25BP up contacts but the others tend around 10-15BP. The system kind of is geared towards new characters only having small handful of starting contacts. The game doesn't treat contacts as a full representation of everyone you know.

And really contacts should not represent your friends list, which a couple people hear (NOT EVERYONE) treat it as.

I see your point, and raise you the fact that "only real friends help you move bodies". nyahnyah.gif
Jericho Alar
One of the advantages of a level-less system is that it doesn't imply 'starting' characters. Most characters in games I run are concepted as experienced professionals (and if you look at the rate that a typical character gains karma at this is an entirely legitimate interpretation. - 1~run/mo, 5~karma a run, you'd have to be working on being a criminal for years to generate the kind of skills most runners have right after character creation)

So, no. it's realistic for new Shadowrunners to have few contacts (And for people with poor social skills) but not every character concept is a new 'runner and many who aren't really should be expected to be fairly well connected.


relating to your earlier point about GMs being obligated - the short version of that is, they're not. if a GM thinks he can't use a contact he should let the player know so the player can either change the contact to one the GM *can* use or reinvest the points somewhere else. GMs who just leave contacts on the sheet are short-changing their players in the same way choosing to ignore the effects of bone lacing because "it doesn't fit well" would be.

I've had cases where I've needed to disallow or couldn't see a use for a contact before - I always let the player know before approving the sheet and offer them the opportunity to either reinvest the points or sell me on why it'd be worth having in the game.
Jack Kain
QUOTE (Jericho Alar @ Nov 23 2009, 10:52 PM) *
One of the advantages of a level-less system is that it doesn't imply 'starting' characters. Most characters in games I run are concepted as experienced professionals (and if you look at the rate that a typical character gains karma at this is an entirely legitimate interpretation. - 1~run/mo, 5~karma a run, you'd have to be working on being a criminal for years to generate the kind of skills most runners have right after character creation)


I was simply responding to the assumption already stated that new characters should start well connected.
And while the characters often START experienced that does NOT mean they've been shadow running for years. And you usually cant just walk away from a megacorp or criminal mafia as they've invested quite a bit in you. You could be a 10 year veteran as a hitman for the mob but if you decided to strike out on your own and weren't given permission to leave(probable as most mobs don't let members just quit) then you had to burn all your old bridges as you went.

Lets face it the reason the optional rules for bonus contact points through charisma is so popular is because contacts are seen as to expensive BP wise. A character should ONLY be compelled to spend BP on contacts if they'll actually provide him with a meaningful advantage and for no other reason.
Ol' Scratch
Most characters have been active in the underworld for quite some time before the start of a game. Some have been runners, most have just been criminals or gangers, but nearly all of them have dealt with the shadow community one way or another. Else they wouldn't be getting a call from a fixer for that first game session. Contacts include all those people you should know as part of your character. Even the lowliest ganger should know a good fence, gang leader, drug dealer and/or prostitutes... not to mention having his entire gang as a Buddy-level (Loyalty 3-4) group contact. Yet it's a pain in the ass to even think about buying all those contacts. Even the same characters in the main sourcebook barely give the archetypes any contacts, let alone enough to suitably reflect the people they should know.
Jack Kain
Once again the contact list is intended as a complete friends list
Which brings us to the main problem. Contacts are expensive and they should be worth the BP investment. Which is why the charisma bonus rule is so popular. Starting contacts should be an advantage not a record of whom you should know sucking up BP for no other reason then you must have had them. The sample characters have enough contacts to get them going, especially in a group of runners with a variety of contacts Without those house rules to boost contact points, no PC should be expected to pay more then 10-15BP worth of contacts.

If you are giving out free contact points then its perfectly reasonable to regulate they use them to round out the people the runners should know. The points are free after all. Thankfully for those playing without bonus contact points there are dozens of possible histories to explain being unconnected. Maybe you quit a megacorp and had to burn all bridges as you fled to the shadows with some stolen tech, like all the implants they paid to install in you. Or after working for that criminal gang for years you wanted more and decided to strike out on your own. But many criminal gangs don't let their members walk away as I already said so you had to sever ties to that old life. Or you used to workout west but after whatever reason you've headed east for work and most of your contacts aren't relevant to your new city. You only have a few people in this new town you can rely on.
Tachi
Well, to take your second point first, If I implied that the GM is obligated to do anything other than:

1. Show up.

2. Know enough fluff to do his/her best to create a world in which both he and the players, working in concert, can have fun...

...then I'm sorry.

As I mentioned before, that's a HOUSE RULE. Which you are obviously free to use or disregard at your whim. Hence my statement that, "YMMV", which means YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. These are my personal opinions and I am trying to present them in such a manner as to be possibly useful to another GM. They are by no means meant to confine a GM to using my methods. I tend to have starting PCs that run from exiled wage slaves to up and coming gangers. This is how I run MY game. YMMV. Which is why I used those statements of intent to qualify my advice when I gave it. I also mentioned that the GM should work WITH THE PLAYER to create contacts appropriate to the PC. Maybe I wasn't specific enough, well, I've just drank 2/3 of a one liter bottle of whisky... so, uh, yeah... not tracking on all cylinders here... just trying to be flippantly helpful during the short times when I happen to be able to concentrate... Check my Sig, I usually add warnings to it to specify my current state of mind. I usually become both more vociferous and articulate while inebriated... weird huh? Don't worry, you'll get used to me in no time, I've been around a while, though not that long, I just usually don't post much.

If you want to start with experienced pros... do it... if you want to start with rank armatures who have the opportunity to work (at lower levels) a little before they truly choose a specialty (like I do)... then do that also. It's your game. We here at Dumpshock act as a sounding board for your ideas. Do YOUR thing. As YOU choose to do it. I interpret Hackers as programmers and computer geeks, whether they come from corps or from underclass geniuses just getting by. I interpret Sams as retired military (privates/specialists/corporals) guys or gangers... depending on background, skills, etc.

I like to start my games a little sooner in the 'runners career, that's the only real difference. I use a "Street" style game from the beginning. You may go "Street" the same as I do but start a little later in the 'runners career. That's your choice. As mentioned before, I do this because I want my players to develop their characters more during the early game as we play. It's all a matter of "YOUR game" vs. "MY game."

As for whether they have 'friends' or not. Well, nearly everyone has a friend or two at least. Whether those friends are reliable are reflected by whether it is a loyalty 4 friend or higher, depending on if they spent a few points on that or not. I understand where you are coming from, I occasionally play games that way myself, but I usually go for the more inexperienced PCs to give them a chance to develop. Now, as to the actual Contacts, well, do as you would do. I prefer a game where each knows someone whom he/she has come to know from either happenstance or introduction. Buy the contact as normal.

Edit: wow... two people posted while I was drunkenly raving at my keyboard... go figure.
Jack Kain
QUOTE (Tachi @ Nov 23 2009, 11:56 PM) *
Edit: wow... two people posted while I was drunkenly raving at my keyboard... go figure.

Yeah that happens to be to.
Ol' Scratch
QUOTE (Jack Kain @ Nov 23 2009, 11:53 PM) *
Once again the contact list is intended as a complete friends list

It's not.

What it is is a list of people you know that can help you gain information and equipment that you've worked with in the past. That's the entire point of a contact. They don't have to be your friends, and often aren't, but you will know people on a professional level one way or another. They're not your best friend from high school, they're not your parents, they're not your next door neighbor. But most Shadowrun characters should know and have several contacts.

Using older editions as a reference again, even a Connection 1/Loyalty 1 contact in SR4 is equal on a straight 1:1 cost basis to an SR3 "buddy" (which is actually equal to a Connection 4/Loyalty 4 contact) in price at 10,000 nuyen. Except that's not at all accurate as 10,000 nuyen in SR3 is equal to about 40,000 nuyen in SR4... and previous editions even gave you two free contacts. In other words, a single 1/1 contact in SR4 is equal to four 4/4 contacts in SR3!

Having several low-level contacts in previous editions was in no way overpowered, nor was it a huge burden on the players to acquire them for their characters. But SR4 completely kicks you in the nuts if you're playing a sociable or well-connected character. Hell, even a minorly connected one.
hahnsoo
Using the group contact rules in Runner's Companion can ease the Build Point cost burden a bit, especially if you are trying to group together a bunch of redundant contacts. For example, exactly how many street gangers, bartenders, bail bondsmen, prostitutes, and otherwise mundane street contacts do you need? It's easier to group them into a contact group called "Regulars at the Seattle Bar known as Cheers". You may not know them as well as an individual contact rating (it's a group contact, after all), but it can make the Build Point cost cheaper when starting out. As you progress in play, you can develop stronger relationships with particular individuals, or friends of friends, etc.

It's not an ideal answer, obviously, but it could help for Build Point "economy" as it were. If the GM allows it, you can even have some esoteric groups like "Former Runner Team: Team Ninja" to give the player a bit of a head start, and all by the RAW (at least, Runner's Companion RAW).
Jack Kain
QUOTE (Dr. Funkenstein @ Nov 24 2009, 12:05 AM) *
It's not.

What it is is a list of people you know that can help you gain information and equipment that you've worked with in the past. That's the entire point of a contact. They don't have to be your friends, and often aren't, but you will know people on a professional level one way or another. They're not your best friend from high school, they're not your parents, they're not your next door neighbor. But most Shadowrun characters should know and have several contacts.

Your missing my point, perhaps I should be more clear. The contact list should before people who can help you now. Not people you should know just because of your background or your stats but contacts who would have a meaningful effect. Yes every ganger should know a prostitute, But that doesn't mean they should have to put BP down for everyone they should know.

QUOTE (Dr. Funkenstein @ Nov 24 2009, 12:05 AM) *
Using older editions as a reference again, even a Connection 1/Loyalty 1 contact in SR4 is equal on a straight 1:1 cost basis to an SR3 "buddy" (which is actually equal to a Connection 4/Loyalty 4 contact) in price at 10,000 nuyen. Except that's not at all accurate as 10,000 nuyen in SR3 is equal to about 40,000 nuyen in SR4... and previous editions even gave you two free contacts. Having several low-level contacts in previous editions was in no way overpowered, nor was it a huge burden on the players to acquire them for their characters. But SR4 completely kicks you in the nuts if you're playing a sociable or well-connected character. Hell, even a minorly connected one.


Which I agree with Dr. Funk SR4 does kick you in the nuts if you want to start with well connected character. I don't think anyone is saying starting with a bunch of contacts is overpowered. Just I'm saying paying a lot of BP for a bunch of contacts probably isn't worth it. For my own social adept I decided it wasn't worth spending more then 15BP in contacts just enough to get me going to survive the early part of the game,(we weren't using any free contact point rules). We had five runners on the team, each with two or three contacts which was plenty to get us going for several runs. After so many runs we have more contacts then we know what to do with.

Ok here's my idea.
Each character contributes 10-15BP to the team contact pool. These are the important supply and info guys. Fixers, Mafia Consigliere's talismongers, arms dealers etc. Everyone on the team gets these contacts and they are simply professional contacts max starting loyalty of 2. I mean every runner needs to know people who can get them gear but why make every runner pay for basically the same contacts. Have the whole team share the costs of those kind of contacts its cheaper BP wise and you get a big variety and some specialty.

Now every runner gets twice his charisma in free friend contact points(or whatever formula). These aren't shared and represent the more personal relationship each runner has outside the group.
Semerkhet
To add my GM voice to the multitude: I also used the Charisma x 2 houserule for Contacts. I told my players that I wanted them to have at least two, but probably no more than five Contacts to start with. I required that at least two of their Contacts be fully fleshed out with background and history of relationship with the PC. I figured they'd be picking up more Contacts during play and I'd rather have a smaller number of well-developed Contacts for the team than lists of archetypes with Connection and Loyalty ratings attached.

Also, the way data search works in SR4, especially if the characters have access to ShadowSea and/or Jackpoint, it basically stands in for a whole bunch of low connection, low loyalty Contacts.
tagz
QUOTE (Dr. Funkenstein @ Nov 24 2009, 04:11 AM) *
Anyway, the house rule I generally use is [(Charisma x 0.5) + (Etiquette x 1.5)], rounded up, in free BPs for contacts. The stipulation is that Loyalty cannot exceed your Charisma and Connection cannot exceed your Etiquette. Charisma alone isn't enough to win you associates the quality of Shadowrun contacts; you have to know how to deal with them properly professionally. But once you get your foot in the door, it's your personal charm that wins them over on a personal level.

I like this. It's a bit more complicated then Cha * 2 but I think it's more realistic. Thanks Funk, I'm going to bring this to my table now.

As far as contacts that the PC doesn't make up a background for, I just apply a back story of whatever is funniest to me at the moment (or funniest for me to role play) and still fits logically.
Rsthothothal
Thanks for all the replies, there has been some very helpful and very interesting discussion.

Edit: I'll make my problem a little more clear now.
The players aren't having a hard time buying contacts, they just seem willing to spend silly amounts of points on them.
One player plans on starting with 58bp invested in 9 contacts!
If I give them free bp to spend on contacts, they're just going to have that many more.

-Group contacts seem like a good idea.
The character mentioned above should have a large social network,
if he can keep it that same size but spend more bp on other things, it's a good thing.


How can I convince players that having that many contacts/spending that many points simply isn't useful?
Any other alternatives/arguments?
Mercer
Something this had made me realize is that I always make characters who are just getting into town in part to justify why I only have maybe two people in town I can call.

SR4 does punch you in the nuts if you want to make a well-connected character, but so did previous editions. (Has anyone anywhere ever bought a 200,000nuyen.gif "Friend-For-Life"?)
Ol' Scratch
One thing you could do is look back at the old Priority rules, which I personally always loved, and build an escalating pool of contact points. That sounds weird, let me try with an example:

Default: (Charisma+Etiquette) Contact Points. Everyone gets at least that many. Connection is limited by Etiquette and Loyalty is limited by Charisma. Everything that follows adds on to that and you can only choose one of the following options; ie, you can't spend 5 BPs and then 10 BPs to get 25 Contact Points instead of paying 20 BP.
    Contacts - 1 BP: An additional 5 Contact Points.
    Contacts - 5 BPs: An additional 10 Contact Points.
    Contacts - 10 BPs: An additional 15 Contact Points.
    Contacts - 15 BPs: An additional 20 Contact Points.
    Contacts - 20 BPs: An additional 25 Contact Points.
    Contacts - 30 BPs: An additional 50 Contact Points.
And then put a final limit at that point. That was just an example off the cuff. I doubt I'd use those numbers at all, but I wanted to try and demonstrate what I was talking about. This prevents players from spending way too many points on Contacts, but gives them options so that they can have quite a collection if they really need or want to. If Contacts play a significantly larger roll in a specific game, you could lower the points awarded. Or vice versa. Whatever works for your individual games.

Regardless, I wouldn't consider having 9 contacts as not being useful. A waste compared to what you could do with those points, definitely. But if you're playing a Face, a Detective, or any other kind of character that specializes in footwork and gear acquisition, you can definitely make use of every single one of them. Far more than some other options.
Semerkhet
QUOTE (Rsthothothal @ Nov 24 2009, 04:40 PM) *
How can I convince players that having that many contacts/spending that many points simply isn't useful?
Any other alternatives/arguments?

Use the argument that I mentioned in my earlier post that Data Search obviates the need for a whole bunch of low Loyalty, low Connection contacts. For example, why does anyone need "corporate wageslave" when there are thousands of them live-blogging the goings-on at their offices?

If they decide they want to spend huge amounts of points on "high value" Contacts, just emphasize that they're gimping themselves and reassure them that they'll get more Contacts after the game starts.
Ascalaphus
Well, if you really think it's a waste, tell them. Open communication is good.

OTOH, is it really a waste? Some of the early posts seemed very hostile, as if the players meant to do something horrible. Why are they putting so much points in contacts? Maybe they want a game with lots of legwork? Open communication.

Make sure that host of contacts doesn't cause you too much work. Let them write descriptions; if they're not too outrageous, and the contacts are cool, then let it stand as they wrote them.
tagz
First I'd tell them that you think that with your GM style that the some of the points could be put to better use.

If they don't want to listen, well, it's their characters. Let them build them the way they like. I'm sure that the fourth or fifth time they miss a threshold by one, or get edged out in an opposed test they'll think about how they could have better spend their points. My whole team's first line of characters were terribly underpowered compared to their second go around, I imagine that's true for many if not most shadowrun players. Sometimes you have to let them make the mistakes in the build process so they know what to do next time. Just so long as you warned them first n_n . It's a learning process.
Jericho Alar
I've seen characters come across my desk for approval with more points (in excess of 70 in sr4) spent in contacts; but they were characters who were highly specialized and had the points to burn (so they went with contacts instead of a third area of 'semi-expertise') to be fair, I tend to run relatively legwork heavy games.

I did buy two friends for life once on an sr3 character; they were worth every nuyen.

all that said, if the game style you run doesn't really mesh with contact lists that extensive then I'd at least warn them up front; if the player still wants to run the concept as is or can sell you on why they need that many, I wouldn't disallow the character just for having lots of contacts.

If your concern is how many NPCs they're introducing, just think of it as a blessing in disguise: now you have to think up fewer contacts during preparation and can just steal theirs...
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (MikeKozar @ Nov 23 2009, 07:15 PM) *
You're right about pre-gen contacts being a good jumping off point for good NPCs in game. I think the angle you may be underestimating is how many contacts a 5-man group can come up with, especially if some of them are going to 40 points worth. Let's be conservative, and say that every member picks three contacts. That's 15 NPCs that the GM is going to have to flesh out separately, work into the story, and try to give personality to. Personally, I have enough to do just getting the NPCs critical to my story up to my expectations of quality - adding another 15 is a significant writing load.

Now consider the Fixers, Johnsons, Mercs and Arms Dealers that I've already worked in to the story - if the PCs want to call up somebody that backed them up in a previous run, I already know who he is and how to do his funny voice. He probably has backstory I didn't get to, and he certainly has an established relationship with the PCs. It gets even more interesting if they need info or gear from a contact that they crossed previously - now they need to apologize and maybe run a side op just to get back in his/her good graces. This is story that the players earned and that writes itself.

The happy middle ground here is when the player hands you a character origin story that includes most or all of his contacts. Two or three pages of self-indulgent heroism and intrigue can make a six point cyberware specialist into a human being who knows exactly why he owes you favors and when he's going to leave you out to dry.



Why are you shouldering the load of creating the character's contacts...

Make them (The Players) do that work and then approve/deny or amend them when they have finished... this is kind of what we do and it works out great... the GM creates the contacts that he is intorducing or mandating inteh campaign... after that, the players create those contacts that they interact with on a continuing basis... of course, teh GM runs them, but teh relationship has already been fleshed out by the player, so it makes the game run much smoothly...

There is nothing like having 150+ points of contacts that you can call upon (from an extended game with multiple players having different contacts, totalling anywhere between 30 and 170 points individually, makes a very well connected group)... and yes, most of them will tend to be somewhat insignificant to the campaign, but then again, sometimes they may be the key focus as they need a favor that only you can provide for them... because it works both ways of course...

Keep the Faith twirl.gif
Saint Sithney
QUOTE (Rsthothothal @ Nov 23 2009, 02:52 PM) *
So I'm a new GM...


QUOTE (Rsthothothal @ Nov 24 2009, 02:40 PM) *
..How can I convince players that having that many contacts/spending that many points simply isn't useful?


Don't allow anything in the game with which you are not comfortable. Straight up tell your players that you believe that they are wasting their points. Ultimately, it's up to them to convince you that this is acceptable, not the other way around.

Tell them that their character should be "the man for the job," rather than the man who knows the man for the job. Try and get them more excited about the things that they can have and do, and, if they seem to think that they can't make a viable character given the BP system, use karmagen instead. Also, try having them build a char using a program like Daegann's here which lists all the scads of gear and abilities which a guy can have. Seeing such options usually spurs on the choice to take them.
Nifar
Another advantage to your players having lots o' contacts that may or may not have been mentioned in the thread (I just skimmed) is that you suddenly have a lot of people who can give your players new jobs, or put them in contact with folks who can. It opens up more story options if they're getting these jobs from people they know and owe favors.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Nifar @ Nov 28 2009, 07:07 PM) *
Another advantage to your players having lots o' contacts that may or may not have been mentioned in the thread (I just skimmed) is that you suddenly have a lot of people who can give your players new jobs, or put them in contact with folks who can. It opens up more story options if they're getting these jobs from people they know and owe favors.



In my opinion, this is the best reason for multiple contacts... the more the merrier...

Keep the Faith
Semerkhet
QUOTE (Nifar @ Nov 28 2009, 08:07 PM) *
Another advantage to your players having lots o' contacts that may or may not have been mentioned in the thread (I just skimmed) is that you suddenly have a lot of people who can give your players new jobs, or put them in contact with folks who can. It opens up more story options if they're getting these jobs from people they know and owe favors.

Agree with you completely, but keep in mind that two or three well fleshed-out Contacts per character in a five character team means a cast of up to fifteen major characters. You don't need each character to have loads of Contacts in order to have a broad enough cast.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Semerkhet @ Nov 29 2009, 06:38 PM) *
Agree with you completely, but keep in mind that two or three well fleshed-out Contacts per character in a five character team means a cast of up to fifteen major characters. You don't need each character to have loads of Contacts in order to have a broad enough cast.



But that brings me back to the idea that the GM should not be doing all of the work if a player wants a lot of contacts... If that is the case, make the player put in some of that work as well...

Keep the Faith
Cthulhudreams
It's not a problem if those contacts contribute as much to the character as two skills at 5. If they don't, then it is.

Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Cthulhudreams @ Nov 29 2009, 08:58 PM) *
It's not a problem if those contacts contribute as much to the character as two skills at 5. If they don't, then it is.



But if you already have those 2 skills at 5 (or the one at 6) then Why Not get them if that is what you really want?

And there are times that 2 skills at 5 (or one at 6) does not fit the concept, so that point could rapidly become moot...

Keep the Faith
Jericho Alar
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Nov 29 2009, 11:01 PM) *
But if you already have those 2 skills at 5 (or the one at 6) then Why Not get them if that is what you really want?

And there are times that 2 skills at 5 (or one at 6) does not fit the concept, so that point could rapidly become moot...

Keep the Faith


the other question of course, is *which* two skills at 5. I can see 20BP worth of contacts being worth more than lockpicking 5 for instance.
Semerkhet
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Nov 29 2009, 08:52 PM) *
But that brings me back to the idea that the GM should not be doing all of the work if a player wants a lot of contacts... If that is the case, make the player put in some of that work as well...

Keep the Faith

Agree with that too. The GM has to handle the rest of the world, least the players could do is detail a few NPCs each. Think of it as shared authorship of the game, but without getting too far into high-falutin' Forge-speak. You pick a few Contacts and give them backgrounds with plot hooks that, if used by the GM, will lead into the sorts of stories *you* want to experience as a player.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Semerkhet @ Nov 29 2009, 09:32 PM) *
Agree with that too. The GM has to handle the rest of the world, least the players could do is detail a few NPCs each. Think of it as shared authorship of the game, but without getting too far into high-falutin' Forge-speak. You pick a few Contacts and give them backgrounds with plot hooks that, if used by the GM, will lead into the sorts of stories *you* want to experience as a player.



Exactly, that was my point entirely... it has seemd to work for us over the years...

Keep the Faith
Cthulhudreams
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Nov 30 2009, 03:01 PM) *
But if you already have those 2 skills at 5 (or the one at 6) then Why Not get them if that is what you really want?

And there are times that 2 skills at 5 (or one at 6) does not fit the concept, so that point could rapidly become moot...

Keep the Faith


Err, it's just BP equivalency and an opportunity cost. If it's not as good as adding 4 to your stats, or getting 10 points worth of skills, it means that the players with extra contacts with be underpowered.

I do not see how this is tricky, complex, or requires exceptions handling?

@The lock picking thing - Lockpicking 5 should be as good as two extra points in logic, and if it isn't you may need to do something about it as the GM.

(Btw: If your concept involves 'being shit' then yes you will be underpowered. 'Skills that fit the concept' has nothing to do with balance and shouldn't even be considered in this discussion - it should be considered by the designers who have a responsibility to make the characters that people want to play playable).

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