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FriendoftheDork
Hey guys!

I've been playing Shadowrun by RAW for some time, at least when it come to gear and availability.

The only rule that really limits gear is the cap of 12 at chargen. After that, it's pretty much a free for all. You don't really need contacts, all you need is a good negotation skills and/or good charisma and social modifiers. Any Face worth his/her weight can pretty much get anything in the book at just 400BPs. It may take some time, but really unless you have no downtime between runs, waiting 2 weeks for that missile launcher isn't gonna be a problem.

Some items are so prohibitively expensive that they are pretty much impossible to get, such as Thunderbirds and certain cyber/bio ware.

Other than that, there is nothing to prevent you from getting APDS rounds rather than the much weaker Flechette rounds, and the former is even cheaper! Not to mention EX-EX which does the same as flechette does only better.

Ok, enough about the imbalanced system. There are of course restricted items (usable by a licence), and Forbidden items (always black market and don't-get-caught), but they don't affect availability itself or require special contacts or knowledge skills on how to get them.

So I am thinking about making some fixes. At some point I tried to keep the 12 avail. cap beyond chargen, and only allow higher cap items on a case by case items, through certain Johnsons and fixxers, or after much time and effort has been spent in order to get them. It worked so and so but got a bit arbitrarily as some items of high power and usefulness were easy to get, while others even much less useful or even legal were impossible to get.

When I tried the karma chargen system I used a system of contacts instead, thus you could get items of availability equal to 3*connectin rating. Thus several loyalty 1/connection 6 contacts where the norm.

Now I want a new system, maybe even adjusting all the avilabilities in the book or even doing away with the whole system (but keeping R and F). Anything nonrestricted would be available to all with SINs/fake SINs, R items requires licences (fake or otherwise), and anything with F requires criminal contacts or knowledge on where to get access to them, although how that would work without contacts I don't know. I mean, can you really just prowl the streets for "usual places" and get hold of militairy grade weaponry without actually having any contacts and knowing people?

As a last resort simply up the prices on all Forbidden items and simply assume that if you're willing to pay the price, someone will sell it to you.

What do you think?
Garou
Yes, it is a problem. wink.gif

But in reality, there would be no problem with the system, as far as fluff goes. Your face is not really a shadow runner, he is a dedicated black market dealer. smile.gif

Remember that you can always say, as a GM, that a give item is not available, or rise the prices through the cost modifiers (such as dry market, police crackdown, etc). Remember that the availability interval is a real interval, and must be kept on timecount, as it happens to any extended test. If he needs one week for each test, that means he takes a WHOLE WEEK doing so. If he needs 4 weeks, well, sorry for him, he will be out of the runs in this period. Let's see if his lifestyle can be paid, and his credit better be damn good. It will work for most cheap/easy to get stuff, but for deltaware/expensive stuff/milispec armor, it will efectively remove your character from the campaign. He will only be able to do trivial stuff, such as talking on his commlink to the group, etc, which makes truly boring games.

Contacts are great to have for one reason, if not all others: It's THEIR life working for what you want, not yours.

PS: And of course, if someone glitches or critical glitch on an availability test, you might get yourself a box full of bricks instead of said milispec red samurai armor. smile.gif
Daylen
isnt that why ya have contacts? to have them do the time intensive stuff? also I dont think the time it takes is 8 hours a day searching I think alot of that is word getting around on the street.
Godwyn
Yeah, the week intervals do not really stop someone from running, it is just effectively a full time job until the gear is required.

I never really see the problem with people acquiring whatever they can. After all, getting it is nowhere near the challenge of -keeping- it. Milspec armor and a panther? Sure! Wait. . . you are getting it into the building how?
Surukai
APDS is a must have, but on the other hand, enemies use that too (And of course with ill-matching weapons and never more than the bullets the fire at the PCs + a few spare)

The time it takes to obtain said gear is massive, anything worth more than 1000nuyen is 2 days (or 1 week for 10,000+) and that means it's not available for PCs within reasonable time. It takes ages to get the gear and it costs a lot so what else are they going to do with the money. I think it works great the way it does.

What I do when they walk around in too much gear (or well, actually every now and then to hide this) is simply let them have an encounter with Powerball spell. Boom, everything with Object resistance less than 4 is gone, leaving them with broken guns, ruined armour but an intact commlink so they can at least call for a ride home and don't loose all their money etc. (that would be too mean!).

Teach the players that expensive gear is only to be used in really high grade missions. Wear cheap stuff on the streets because you never know when you have to run from police, eat powerballs or grenades or simply need to change clothes to avoid shadowing. If you have murdered people in that Lined Coat and Formfit armour, you better be prepared to burn it because you don't want their DNA and blood on your stuff, do you?
Aerospider
QUOTE (FriendoftheDork @ Feb 10 2010, 11:34 PM) *
I mean, can you really just prowl the streets for "usual places" and get hold of militairy grade weaponry without actually having any contacts and knowing people?

Categorically not, this is exactly the kind of case where contacts get most interesting. You need someone who:

- Knows how to find a seller (there's not many to the pound)
- Has the seller's complete trust and confidence
- Knows how to confirm the veracity and quality of the product
- Can handle himself in intense negotiations

Your face character may be up to the last of these, but it's very unlikely any of the group can cover the other requirements and that's what contacts do. Even then, after the networking and negotiating and depending upon how much you use the contacts, the seller will likely still make you jump through some hoops. All the negotiations should be roleplayed - the sellers and most go-betweens will be highly paranoid and it won't take much for this to rub off on the players. Also, it makes the players appreciate the find as more of a big deal - if all they really see of it is a die roll and a time frame they might as well have been shopping for sofas.
Professor Evil Overlord
First off, this is not an invitation for a SR3 vs SR4 debate. This is just a description of what the differences are when it comes to finding gear.

Equipment acquisition is one of the things that has changed the most between SR3 and 4. Here's how it worked in SR3. Gear availability used to be a numeric target number and a base time, with your number of hits dividing the base time, so 2 hits would be 1/2 the time, 3 would be 1/3, etc. Gear also used to have a street index value, which was a price multiplier you included if an item was purchased on the black market. Most items were 1 to 2, easy to get items less than 1, and heavily restricted gear being 3 or more (I don't recall anything over 5). The variable target number meant that having more dice didn't guarantee you any successes unless you had ungodly numbers of dice. APDS ammo for instance was target number 14/2weeks IIRC. On six sided dice. They had a rule of 6 where you got to re-roll that one die and add to it, so to get a 14 you had to get two sixes and then a two on that one die. That would get you some APDS in two weeks. Many heavily restricted items had targets and base times that were much higher. The flip side were street level illegals like SMGs and pistols, which might have targets as low as 2 or 3 and base times of a day or less. This meant that for restricted items you would either wait a very long time or have to get very lucky (which usually meant spending the equivalent of edge).

When SR4 came along, variable target numbers were replaced by thresholds, and the time between tests is now based on cost. Street index is included in the price of items now(how often do your PCs make legal purchases). This means that time is the only thing that limits gear availability. All a high threshold really does is increase the chance for glitches, which can be avoided by edge, which you would have spent under the old system anyways just to get the stuff in the first place.

What all this meant was that, in SR 3, restricted gear was basically impossible for PCs to get a hold of unless the GM wanted them to, or they spent lots of edge. Especially since it was usually the contact making the rolls rather than the PC (so no edge). Weather this change is good or bad depends on how you want to run your game.

As for a solution - rather than jumping back to the old rules (mixing systems is usually not a good idea, though it can be done) - I'd suggest the following:

1) Require that all illegal gear be acquired through appropriate contacts. Note that it wouldn't matter if it was F or R. No permit, no legal purchase, see a contact. Which contacts are appropriate is a judgment call you get to make.
2) If you don't like that idea, make finding gear a full time job, and give less down time between runs. Have Mr Johnson call them when he wants to hire them, not the other way around. Make the PCs pay the contact a daily rate to look for gear on their behalf.
3) Make any gear purchased "on the streets," ie not from a contact, be from an unreliable dealer - the goods could be ok, but they might also be stolen, used in a crime, in need of repairs, etc.
4) Make looking for gear riskier. Don't allow PCs to use edge to avoid glitches or critical glitches. And up the consequences of glitches.
5) Have the cops constantly hound PCs with military gear.
6) Stick to your guns - as GM you are well within your rights to rule that an item is unavailable in your game.

Hope that helps.
Smokeskin
I don't just let players buy high availability gear, or even automatic weapons.

This is illegal stuff that the authorities takes an interest in. Your fixer might be able to find an arms dealer for you to talk to, but he's staying well clear of the guns and the transaction. He doesn't know if either you or the seller has been caught and did a deal with the DA to reduce your sentence - loyalty only goes so far. Maybe all parties think they're doing a clean deal, but they're under surveillance by the authorities. Maybe the goods has imbedded anti-theft trackers that'll squeal to the rightful owner at some point.

With bio- and cyberware, there aren't that many doctors out the able to install a move-by-wire system who lost their license and has to do illegal jobs. Most likely, they're getting leaned on or blackmailed to do the surgery, which is a whole new potential can of worms.

Basically, getting hold of the gear is one thing. Making sure you're not getting into a ton of trouble on the way, another matter entirely.

If you make it a mini-adventure with plenty of risk to get hold of certain items, your players will value them a lot more. They'll be special, unlike if they're just "ok the dice says I spend 4 weeks of game time getting it". You can drop weapons for them to loot that will feel like great rewards. Getting leverage on a cyberware clinic owner becomes extremely valuable.
Cardul
Honestly, one thing I tend to say is that if you can get the gun, you can get the ammo
for it. It is something I find kind of amusing that you can get one rocket launcher under
the base availability rules, but you cannot get any rockets for it!
Sure, you can take "Restricted Gear", but...taking Restricted gear for EACH missile is
kind of...well, rediculous!
Smokeskin
I was in the army, and there was plenty of access to the recoilless rifle. The rockets for it however, I don't know where they kept them, I never even saw one. I was supposed to get to fire one as part of my sergeant's training, but the exercise was cancelled, natch.

Seems perfectly reasonable to me that getting hold of rockets is harder than getting hold of the launchers.
FriendoftheDork
QUOTE (Smokeskin @ Feb 11 2010, 01:25 PM) *
I was in the army, and there was plenty of access to the recoilless rifle. The rockets for it however, I don't know where they kept them, I never even saw one. I was supposed to get to fire one as part of my sergeant's training, but the exercise was cancelled, natch.

Seems perfectly reasonable to me that getting hold of rockets is harder than getting hold of the launchers.


Except of course when the launcher is a disposable fire and forget weapon, in which case they all come pre-loaded (Aztech striker, LAW etc.).

Now I'll post a general response after this:
FriendoftheDork
Well it certainly seems like I'm not the only one bothered by these rules.

Professor, although that system seems alot more restrictive and probably more realistic, I'm not yearning back to the days of target numbers wink.gif

What bothers me mainly is the use of the Negotation skills, which are used by everyone from door salesmen to corporate Mr. Johnsons. Sure, in a negotation of a Run it fits, but not for a "gather information" skill or representing who you know and what you know about the black market. After all, we have Contacts and knowledge skills for such.

The only issue with using contacts is all the middle-men sometimes you want to deal directly with the suppliers. And for Faces who actually want to become more like Fixers, Contacts might simply be too costly to use to represent that you know alot of different people (most of very low Connection but still having specific access to items or information). This also has to do with the Contact system where being friendly bob the janitor with 0 influence costs about the same having a high-level fixer or fence as a business contact - one being vastly more useful than the other and usually alot easier to befriend.

Still, it seems we are on the same wavelength here.

So which contacts is approprate? A fence could easily get you small time illegal items such as pistols, stolen goods etc, but maybe not the real hardware like Ares Alphas and MBW systems. A crooked Quartermaster might be able to misplace militairy hardware in small quantities at least. A street doc might be able to install various illegal cyberware, or with some more Connection, access to a Black Clinic.

In any case it will be fairly arbitrarily and guesswork for the GM, and there is no randomness and uncerainly involved in just saying you need contacts. It would be nice to have some sort of system to replace the old one.

@Smokeskin

Automatics weapons are legal in UCAS as long as you have a license, which in itself is fairly easy to get for a Shadowrunner. Some military rifles and most heavy weapons is a different story, but simply banning them doesen't make for a good story. Big trolls with big guns is pretty much a staple of shadowrun, and actually owning an Assault cannon or heavy MG is a sign of success. Not using it or carring it when inappropriate is a sign of professionalism and survivability.

But some times you just need to get the big guns to take out a nest of insect spirits or blast an armored vehicles off the road, and being able to get your heavy weapon from you trusty van, getting the mission done, and getting away with it is necessary.

Now, which knowledge skills would be appropriate for getting the good stuff? Street Knowledge: Black Market seems a bit too open....
Surukai
QUOTE (FriendoftheDork @ Feb 11 2010, 04:38 PM) *
Now, which knowledge skills would be appropriate for getting the good stuff? Street Knowledge: Black Market seems a bit too open....


That is a question I have failed to give a good answer to to my players. Do they roll knowledge skill (even maybe more specific one than just Black Market one) and what then? Do they get those hits as bonus on Neg+Cha? Does it cut the interval? Or does it just "enable" them to roll neg+cha at all?
Ascalaphus
I've run into this question sorta from the other side.. how hard or easy should fencing stuff be, with or without the contacts?
Kliko
QUOTE (Surukai @ Feb 11 2010, 10:46 AM) *
That is a question I have failed to give a good answer to to my players. Do they roll knowledge skill (even maybe more specific one than just Black Market one) and what then? Do they get those hits as bonus on Neg+Cha? Does it cut the interval? Or does it just "enable" them to roll neg+cha at all?


Depends, didn't Street knowledge: Arms Dealers act as a contemplary skill to the street etiquette for obtaining nifty weaponry/armor?
Smokeskin
QUOTE (FriendoftheDork @ Feb 11 2010, 04:13 PM) *
Except of course when the launcher is a disposable fire and forget weapon, in which case they all come pre-loaded (Aztech striker, LAW etc.).


We were equipped AT4s, that's a disposable antitank weapon. I've seen a few of the real ones being fired, never touched one, you don't get the real thing unless you're in a war zone. You get dummies to use for training, that can again load 9mm tracer rounds for the firing range, and load "blanks" for dry exercises.

I was in the Danish army, perhaps they do it differently in other countries, but with the amount of accidental discharges that happens with blanks during exercises, I really don't see it working with grunts carrying live rocket launchers around, from a security standpoint it makes no sense at all. I feel fairly confident that your average soldier uses dummies for everyday training, and rarely gets to fire an actual rocket - and that could even be with dud warheads.
FriendoftheDork
QUOTE (Smokeskin @ Feb 11 2010, 09:54 PM) *
We were equipped AT4s, that's a disposable antitank weapon. I've seen a few of the real ones being fired, never touched one, you don't get the real thing unless you're in a war zone. You get dummies to use for training, that can again load 9mm tracer rounds for the firing range, and load "blanks" for dry exercises.

I was in the Danish army, perhaps they do it differently in other countries, but with the amount of accidental discharges that happens with blanks during exercises, I really don't see it working with grunts carrying live rocket launchers around, from a security standpoint it makes no sense at all. I feel fairly confident that your average soldier uses dummies for everyday training, and rarely gets to fire an actual rocket - and that could even be with dud warheads.


Yeah, but somehow I don't think it's the dummies that are traded on black markets. I don't even know if those can be loaded with the real rockets.

So it's a fair assumption that, when The Strikers are bought on the black market, they come pre-loaded or the runners are getting screwed.

Also, rockets and missiles are a complete different story than bullets for regular guns. I'd say any arms dealer able to get hold of assault rifle will be able to get hold of regular ammo for them. Of course, it's gonna cost extra wink.gif

APDS, EX-EX etc. might be harder to get.
FriendoftheDork
QUOTE (Ascalaphus @ Feb 11 2010, 07:27 PM) *
I've run into this question sorta from the other side.. how hard or easy should fencing stuff be, with or without the contacts?


Hmm I'd suppose it would be easier, but you'd still want contacts to "spread the word around."

Still, if what you have is either hard to get or have a high value (or both), people will be interested in buying it, if for no other reason than reselling it.

Shadowrunners getting hot loot will probably have to sell it all off to fence or fixer contacts, at discounted prices. Established fences will have alot easier time selling stuff to market value than runners focusing on shadowrunning.
Mordinvan
I've never understood why items not restricted or forbidden can't be purchased at whatever rating the gm is comfortable with. If I can walk do to X-mart and buy a R12 thingimajig with no special paperwork, why should I need to settle for a R6 one until 5 minutes after chargen, when I then break into the X-mart and steal it, or walk in through the front doors and buy it? For things which need special paper work, Ya I can see they might be a touch hard to get a hold of, and for forbidden things, availability 12 almost seem generous.
Daylen
nothing is forbidden only highly regulated. that way the haves can get what they want and the havenots wont be able to do much. and for things that are legal and dont require paperwork there isnt an availibility. try ordinary clothing - Always.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Smokeskin @ Feb 11 2010, 05:25 AM) *
I was in the army, and there was plenty of access to the recoilless rifle. The rockets for it however, I don't know where they kept them, I never even saw one. I was supposed to get to fire one as part of my sergeant's training, but the exercise was cancelled, natch.

Seems perfectly reasonable to me that getting hold of rockets is harder than getting hold of the launchers.


Odd... I was in the Marine Corps for 8 years, and during that period I fired well over 200 rockets (some of them Self Contained - LAAW's (M72 and AT4), and others that were not - SMAW's), Hell, I fired over 30 in a single day once... naturally they did not keep the weapons with the ammunition, but it was not really all that hard to actually get either...

It does make sense, though, that you did not have access to the real weapons in the Danish Army, except in a war zone... The American Military complex actually allows one topractice with the real weapons... The average soldier in the Army or Marine Corps (in America) has most likely fired many of these if he is an Infantryman...

Keep the Faith
graymagiker
I am new to Shadowrun GMing, so keep that in mind.

This recently came up in my game, as my players are at the point that they have the cash to afford high availability items after several successful runs.

For gear that is not restricted or forbidden, a character may purchase it legally by making the appropriate neg+cha test as described on page 312 of SR4A.

For gear that is restricted or forbidden my ruling is that the character, or perhaps a teammate, must have an appropriate contact. I might allow the runner to track down a piece of restricted gear without a contact if they first obtained a fake license, which would require the contact. The contact makes the test, as on pg 287 of SR4A. Also the finders fee mentioned on that page must be payed, which is connection * 5% of the item cost. Not always, but most of the time this requires some amount of rollplaying on the players part, depending on what contact they use to get what piece of gear.

Also keep in mind the section on adjusting prices on pg 312, SR4A.

With regards to a cap on what can be obtained, I use the optional rule on limiting the number of rolls on an extended test on pg 64 of SR4A. That way it is possible that a contact or character is unable to obtain a specific piece of gear at the moment.

My thinking on the matter is that even restricted gear is hard for shadowrunners to get through legitimate channels. Especially if they don't have a license for that gear yet. Also just knowing who sells illegal gear is not enough to be able to purchase it. Part of the reason a contact is required is because people who sell illegal gear will not deal with just anyone, they only deal with people they trust. This means that either the contact obtains the gear directly, or puts the character in contact with someone who does and vouches for the character. If the character is put in contact with the same seller multiple times, they may develop the seller as a contact.

As to which contacts are appropriate for what gear, I decide it on a case by case basis. I try to make contacts that my players have real people. I haven't done that too much yet, but for each contact I try to develop a personality and short back story. Then it becomes easier to know weather the contact would be able to obtain a specific piece of gear.

I try to keep things consistent, but realistic. Just because a contact got a HK XM30 once does not mean they have 4 more lying around. However if a contact has in the past been able to obtain illegal weapons it is reasonable to assume that they still can, unless something major has changed.

Aside from this I have decided that, at least for the moment, some gear is completely unavailable to the runners. I have done this to maintain a mood that the runners may have cash, but there are still things that are out of reach. This, I feel, gives them incentive to keep running and trying for 'that one big score'. Also, I feel that the availability of some items in the core book is too low, so until I can work out a good system for them I have severely limited anything with an availability higher than 12, except for a few specific items.

Sorry for the long read, but this is something I had recently had to clarify my position on for my own game, so I thought I would share. Comments and constructive criticism are welcome.


Daylen
wait what? SR4 requires a skill check to walk into a stuffer shack and get food? And same for other stuch items?
Brazilian_Shinobi
@graymagiker: You don't need to roll availability for non-restriced or non-forbidden stuff unless you want to make the purchase "out of records", EVERYTHING you buy is connected to the SIN you used, which means that you can buy anthing legal without worrying about time but it will leave a datatrail. IF you want to avoid that, then you need to roll the availability test.
The same goes for Restricted stuff, if you somehow get yourself a license, then you can go to your Ares Emporium store to buy a restricted assault rifle or to a Hospital andhave Wired Reflexes implanted. Then again, this will be connected to your SIN and to police databases, which means that if you use your rifle during a run, KnightErrant or Lone Star will know that you own the assault rifle and have your adress.
Muspellsheimr
QUOTE (graymagiker @ Feb 11 2010, 06:13 PM) *
For gear that is not restricted or forbidden, a character may purchase it legally by making the appropriate neg+cha test as described on page 312 of SR4A.

For gear that is not restricted or forbidden, a character may purchase it legally if they possess a legal SIN, or if their Fake SIN passes a SIN/License check. No other test is necessary.
For gear that is restricted but not forbidden, a character may purchase it legally if they possess a legal License, or if their Fake License passes a SIN/License check [in addition to the standard SIN check]. No other test is necessary.

QUOTE (graymagiker @ Feb 11 2010, 06:13 PM) *
For gear that is restricted or forbidden my ruling is that the character, or perhaps a teammate, must have an appropriate contact. I might allow the runner to track down a piece of restricted gear without a contact if they first obtained a fake license, which would require the contact. The contact makes the test, as on pg 287 of SR4A. Also the finders fee mentioned on that page must be payed, which is connection * 5% of the item cost. Not always, but most of the time this requires some amount of rollplaying on the players part, depending on what contact they use to get what piece of gear.

For gear that is not acquired legally, regardless of restriction or forbidden, or lack thereof, must be acquired through the standard Availability Test, using the appropriate time intervals based on the items value. Barring House Rules, the Availability Test can be made by anyone - character, contact, whatever. While going through a contact does cost more, they also receive an additional bonus equal to their Connection rating to the test. Thus, unless you are a Face, a high connection contact will likely find the gear faster.

The only reason to intentionally withhold higher availability equipment is if you are running a street/ganger level game - in which case you should also be limiting maximum Connection rating, a reasonably large number of other things, and beginning with 300 BP.

I fail to see what the actual problem is with the current availability rules. They are not the best, granted, but actually do perform their job remarkably well. If anything, my single complaint would be failure to take into account equipment a contact has "On Hand".

QUOTE (graymagiker @ Feb 11 2010, 06:13 PM) *
With regards to a cap on what can be obtained, I use the optional rule on limiting the number of rolls on an extended test on pg 64 of SR4A. That way it is possible that a contact or character is unable to obtain a specific piece of gear at the moment.

This would be just fine, except those rules are fucking retarded for a variety of reasons discussed elsewhere. I advise instead limiting the maximum number of rolls to Attribute + Skill, with no degradation. Attribute-Only tests (such as the Search Power), do not fall under this limit [Note: Defaulting is not Attribute-Only, it is Attribute + Skill, with a skill rating of 0]. Using any limiting rules for Extended Tests of course requires adjusting the Climbing rules - instead of an Extended Test with a Threshold based on the distance traveled x modifier, it is a Success Test with a distance traveled equal to Hits modifier.

QUOTE (graymagiker @ Feb 11 2010, 06:13 PM) *
My thinking on the matter is that even restricted gear is hard for shadowrunners to get through legitimate channels. Especially if they don't have a license for that gear yet.

Which is why they go through black market channels, using the rules provided for doing so [Availability Test].

QUOTE (graymagiker @ Feb 11 2010, 06:13 PM) *
Also just knowing who sells illegal gear is not enough to be able to purchase it.

Which is why Availability Tests use Negotiation. This is honestly the only part of the availability rules I do not like apart from "On Hand" [above]. It should use a Data Search to locate the gear, & Negotiation to aquire it. Unfortuantly, this falls apart with Data Search being limited to matrix searching and not in-person intel gathering. None of the social skills fit particularly well for in-person searching, but Negotiation does make the most sense, which is probably why they use it.

QUOTE (graymagiker @ Feb 11 2010, 06:13 PM) *
As to which contacts are appropriate for what gear, I decide it on a case by case basis. I try to make contacts that my players have real people. I haven't done that too much yet, but for each contact I try to develop a personality and short back story. Then it becomes easier to know weather the contact would be able to obtain a specific piece of gear.

No. Decide what categories of gear a contact can acquire based on their archtype. For example, a Street Doctor can acquire drugs, augmentation, & medical equipment. It doesn't matter who the contact is, it matters what they are. Note that Fixers are not good at acquiring gear - they are good at locating people who can acquire gear, & getting them to do so. From a player standpoint, this is essentially identical, but it may become relevant.

QUOTE (graymagiker @ Feb 11 2010, 06:13 PM) *
Aside from this I have decided that, at least for the moment, some gear is completely unavailable to the runners. I have done this to maintain a mood that the runners may have cash, but there are still things that are out of reach. This, I feel, gives them incentive to keep running and trying for 'that one big score'. Also, I feel that the availability of some items in the core book is too low, so until I can work out a good system for them I have severely limited anything with an availability higher than 12, except for a few specific items.

And that is fine, as long as it is also unavailable to anyone else [except possibly the producers]. New prototype weapon or cutting-edge nanocyber implant? Sure, they can't get it. Anything actually available in the game world is also available to the players, assuming they have sufficient funds and contacts or skills.
toturi
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Feb 12 2010, 07:43 AM) *
Odd... I was in the Marine Corps for 8 years, and during that period I fired well over 200 rockets (some of them Self Contained - LAAW's (M72 and AT4), and others that were not - SMAW's), Hell, I fired over 30 in a single day once... naturally they did not keep the weapons with the ammunition, but it was not really all that hard to actually get either...

It does make sense, though, that you did not have access to the real weapons in the Danish Army, except in a war zone... The American Military complex actually allows one topractice with the real weapons... The average soldier in the Army or Marine Corps (in America) has most likely fired many of these if he is an Infantryman...

Keep the Faith

My country has a conscript army, and for my position, I do not even need to be proficient with antitank weapons, but I got to fire one anyway. Different forces, different training doctrine (and different budgets) I suppose.
Professor Evil Overlord
QUOTE (FriendoftheDork @ Feb 11 2010, 07:38 AM) *
Professor, although that system seems alot more restrictive and probably more realistic, I'm not yearning back to the days of target numbers wink.gif


I'm saying I do, or even that it was a better system. I'm just trying to remind people of how these sorts of things were handled back in the ancient past (the 50s and 60s). smile.gif

On topic:

Usually it's pretty clear who has what from a contact's description. A lot of contacts have relevant knowledge skills, which are often a good indicator of the sorts of things that they had an interest in or access to. There's nothing wrong with adding an equipment acquisition active skill (with specialties for each type of equipment) and using it for finding gear, rather than negotiation. That's how I've handled PC fixers in the past. Players were a lot less keen to pick up an active skill to do something their contacts could do for them; unless it fit their character. Part of the problem is that social skill are generally very broad even in SR4.
Smokeskin
QUOTE (FriendoftheDork @ Feb 11 2010, 11:06 PM) *
Yeah, but somehow I don't think it's the dummies that are traded on black markets. I don't even know if those can be loaded with the real rockets.

So it's a fair assumption that, when The Strikers are bought on the black market, they come pre-loaded or the runners are getting screwed.

Also, rockets and missiles are a complete different story than bullets for regular guns. I'd say any arms dealer able to get hold of assault rifle will be able to get hold of regular ammo for them. Of course, it's gonna cost extra wink.gif

APDS, EX-EX etc. might be harder to get.


Yeah, I'm not saying they're getting screwed on every deal, I just think that it is perfectly reasonable for the rockets to have higher availability than the launchers. The explosives are guarded and restricted to a much higher degree than the launchers from my experience.
Smokeskin
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Feb 12 2010, 12:43 AM) *
Odd... I was in the Marine Corps for 8 years, and during that period I fired well over 200 rockets (some of them Self Contained - LAAW's (M72 and AT4), and others that were not - SMAW's), Hell, I fired over 30 in a single day once... naturally they did not keep the weapons with the ammunition, but it was not really all that hard to actually get either...

It does make sense, though, that you did not have access to the real weapons in the Danish Army, except in a war zone... The American Military complex actually allows one topractice with the real weapons... The average soldier in the Army or Marine Corps (in America) has most likely fired many of these if he is an Infantryman...

Keep the Faith


Iirc, the US spends 4 times as much per GDP as Denmark on the military budget, so it is perfectly reasonable that your troops gets to spend more on training. I think it is mostly a budget issue here - I've thrown live frag grenades, white phosphor grenades, and used small demolition charges, so it isn't like we couldn't handle explosives. Also, about 25% of young men gets drafted (or they did back then, they changed the system a bit), and that costs a lot.

But, for antitank practice, we fired 9mm tracer rounds at cardboard tanks wink.gif

I'm curious how you handled the rockets regarding safety? For example, live fire exercises where the whole squad does fire and movement, do you do that with live rockets too, or just for the small arms? We didn't even use live grenades for that - do you?
Professor Evil Overlord
On the subject of ammunition...what is stopping players from having their characters use high school level* chemistry to cook their own munitions and explosives? There are even rules for using chemistry to do this sort of thing. You might not be able to make military grade guided munitions and APDS, but you could sure as heck make dumb fire rockets, ex-bullets, mortar rounds, grenades, etc. If a GM made it too hard to get munitions, I'd expect smart players to do exactly that. It might even be cost effective to buy a shop or facility for the groups' ammunition needs.

*Yes, really. Freshman college level at most. The hard part is getting the procedures, not following them. It's much easier than people generally think it is to make propellants and explosives. Safety and material purity are the main concerns. No, I won't tell you how to, you'll have to look it up on your own. smile.gif
Mordinvan
QUOTE (Brazilian_Shinobi @ Feb 11 2010, 09:40 PM) *
@graymagiker: You don't need to roll availability for non-restriced or non-forbidden stuff unless you want to make the purchase "out of records", EVERYTHING you buy is connected to the SIN you used, which means that you can buy anthing legal without worrying about time but it will leave a datatrail. IF you want to avoid that, then you need to roll the availability test.
The same goes for Restricted stuff, if you somehow get yourself a license, then you can go to your Ares Emporium store to buy a restricted assault rifle or to a Hospital andhave Wired Reflexes implanted. Then again, this will be connected to your SIN and to police databases, which means that if you use your rifle during a run, KnightErrant or Lone Star will know that you own the assault rifle and have your adress.


Unless you have fake sins leading somewhere else for just this purpose. Heck maybe you buy ones you can dispose of for just this purpose.
FriendoftheDork
QUOTE (Daylen @ Feb 12 2010, 03:08 AM) *
wait what? SR4 requires a skill check to walk into a stuffer shack and get food? And same for other stuch items?


Hmm? No one said that. Food don't have availability numbers, thus can be bought over the counter.

As for the slightly off-topic of armed forces and AT weapon availability, yes we also have a conscript army (like the danes I think), and I'm fairly certain we don't get live fire training with AT weapons unless in a special force unit or maybe if specifically trained for it (as in a specialization).


Also, guys please don't slam Graymagiker with the iron fist of RAW, after all he did say this was his version of the rules, and I did ask for house rules specifically, not just RAW and it's interpretation.

As for the availability of legal items, I didn't know the rules said you only need them if you try to get those legal items through illegal channels. After rereading the chapter, it actually says you can get legal items over the counter without making tests. It also says you can get those same items on the black market usually without making any test, but with price adjustments. It doesen't specify how to deal with legal items with an Availability rating at all.

Because of this lack of rules I've rationalized it as these being items although legal, is in very high demand or very limited supply, thus hard to get. It could be tickets to a major superstar concert, specialized treatments with long waiting lines etc.

Paying more than the market price would of course expedite the process and almost guarantee you get the items anyway, but most people are not willing to do that. And of course items like limited tickets etc. are available on the black market for exorbitant prices.

Of course, some items are fairly strange to have an availability rating. Bows and throwing knives should be available in a serious sports store, or on the matrix.. availability 2 means it takes some hours to search for it though which might be a but too much. Also, data search should be alot more appropriate for this than negotiation, unless you use contacts for it.

Most legal items have a low availability, but a few are strange. A rating 6 select sound filter for your cyberears has availability 18, which is not available at chargen for some reason and difficult to get without a face or contact. Why? Is it the SOTA? Experimental augmentations still not available for the general public? If so, why the low price of 6000 nuyen? Ok, that's a significant sum for a wageslave, maybe several months pay, but if the item is so rare as the availability indicates, then the price should be higher.

And really, if we're supposed to ignore the availability rules for legal items, then why include the numbers in the first place?

I'm going to write a seperate reply to Mus.

Mordinvan
QUOTE (Smokeskin @ Feb 11 2010, 03:19 AM) *
I don't just let players buy high availability gear, or even automatic weapons.

This is illegal stuff that the authorities takes an interest in. Your fixer might be able to find an arms dealer for you to talk to, but he's staying well clear of the guns and the transaction. He doesn't know if either you or the seller has been caught and did a deal with the DA to reduce your sentence - loyalty only goes so far. Maybe all parties think they're doing a clean deal, but they're under surveillance by the authorities. Maybe the goods has imbedded anti-theft trackers that'll squeal to the rightful owner at some point.

With bio- and cyberware, there aren't that many doctors out the able to install a move-by-wire system who lost their license and has to do illegal jobs. Most likely, they're getting leaned on or blackmailed to do the surgery, which is a whole new potential can of worms.

Basically, getting hold of the gear is one thing. Making sure you're not getting into a ton of trouble on the way, another matter entirely.

If you make it a mini-adventure with plenty of risk to get hold of certain items, your players will value them a lot more. They'll be special, unlike if they're just "ok the dice says I spend 4 weeks of game time getting it". You can drop weapons for them to loot that will feel like great rewards. Getting leverage on a cyberware clinic owner becomes extremely valuable.

Or you get players to take the building skills, and steal a nonfax and the materials to run one, and have a hacker steal the plans for the weapons they want. Cause the way you're running it is a little harsh.
FriendoftheDork
QUOTE (Muspellsheimr @ Feb 12 2010, 08:20 AM) *
The only reason to intentionally withhold higher availability equipment is if you are running a street/ganger level game - in which case you should also be limiting maximum Connection rating, a reasonably large number of other things, and beginning with 300 BP.


For the first part of your post, I'd like to remind you that Magiker's post was not a statement of RAW, thus it's kinda pointless to write "no your wrong, this is how the rules are".

And withholding some equipment and doing a street level game are two different things - there is a difference between basically letting the runners have anything in all the books and making them fight in a pit for their first Beretta light pistol. In my game for example, the PCs are assumed to be runner wannabees - possibly ex-gangers of a superior kind (like the ganger archetype in the book), but more often normal citizens with special skills wanting do do something else - a corporate matrix security consultant, a troll ex-militairy etc. These guys certainly won't have access to the same kind of gear an established Shadowrunner team would have, and I dared say even established experienced teams will have difficulty getting hold of certain items.

Yes, if it exist in the world then it is theoretically possible to get it, but some items are simply so SOTA or experimental/dangerous that only the top dogs of the corporate or national world are going to get hold of them. RL example are nukes, heavy ordnance, heavily armed and armored vehicles and maybe even some infantry weapons. But basically, whatever a successful and powerful gang can get hold of, so can the runners.

QUOTE (Muspellsheimr @ Feb 12 2010, 08:20 AM) *
I fail to see what the actual problem is with the current availability rules. They are not the best, granted, but actually do perform their job remarkably well. If anything, my single complaint would be failure to take into account equipment a contact has "On Hand".


The main problem is the availability test in itself which is extended, which by oldRAW meant that you could never fail to get it. Even if you used the limited dice rolls optional rule (which I did), it was very easy to get hold of anything. PCs that can get 10 HITS on a single dice roll simply cannot fail extended tests. Also, the negotation skill does not seem to fit very much, and has very little to do with knowing the right people and places to get illicit goods. Also, the "on hand" thing you mentioned is lacking. Often the PCs were asking for what contact X can get right now, which there are really no rules for.


QUOTE (Muspellsheimr @ Feb 12 2010, 08:20 AM) *
This would be just fine, except those rules are fucking retarded for a variety of reasons discussed elsewhere. I advise instead limiting the maximum number of rolls to Attribute + Skill, with no degradation. Attribute-Only tests (such as the Search Power), do not fall under this limit [Note: Defaulting is not Attribute-Only, it is Attribute + Skill, with a skill rating of 0]. Using any limiting rules for Extended Tests of course requires adjusting the Climbing rules - instead of an Extended Test with a Threshold based on the distance traveled x modifier, it is a Success Test with a distance traveled equal to Hits modifier.


I actually love those rules from SR4a. Suddenly extended tests have become challenging again, even a decently good negotatior (without magic or cyber boosts), with say, 9 dice in negotation, will have difficulty getting items with a higher availability than 12. I still don't like the negotation skill use at all though, or the lack of roleplay and use of contacts this indicates.

BTW any links of these "discussed elsewhere" points? I don't want to sidetrack this suprisingly constructive discussion, but I like to know opinions on the SR4a rules in general. Even hacking becomes a real challenge now smile.gif

And yes, Climbing skill rules is bollocks already, and surely will not work with limited dicepools at all - but why let one or two cases ruin a generally wonderful rule? Why should distance affect the climbing skill test at all - does it really matter if you rappel down 5 meters or 30 meters? Instead I'd like general threshold based on slope of climb, modified by climbing gear, if any. And strict enforcement of fatigue rules smile.gif


QUOTE (Muspellsheimr @ Feb 12 2010, 08:20 AM) *
Which is why Availability Tests use Negotiation. This is honestly the only part of the availability rules I do not like apart from "On Hand" [above]. It should use a Data Search to locate the gear, & Negotiation to aquire it. Unfortuantly, this falls apart with Data Search being limited to matrix searching and not in-person intel gathering. None of the social skills fit particularly well for in-person searching, but Negotiation does make the most sense, which is probably why they use it.


Most sense.. only because none of the others make sense either. There really isn't any gossip skill, rumingmongering etc. Etiquette might actually be more fitting, it's about fitting in, getting people to open up and talk about things, and generally trust you. With the right etiquette skill, you might even be able to meet someone you never met and get him to tell you how to get drugs, guns whatever. As long as you talk the talk and walk the walk.
Data search is also fitting, but only for getting programs and products online - alot of which might not be for sale. Or can you get illegalguns@mafia.org? Or streetdrugs@pushers-international.com?

QUOTE (Muspellsheimr @ Feb 12 2010, 08:20 AM) *
No. Decide what categories of gear a contact can acquire based on their archtype. For example, a Street Doctor can acquire drugs, augmentation, & medical equipment. It doesn't matter who the contact is, it matters what they are. Note that Fixers are not good at acquiring gear - they are good at locating people who can acquire gear, & getting them to do so. From a player standpoint, this is essentially identical, but it may become relevant.

No? I don't really see how this contradicts what he said. He said case-by-case, but that doesen't rule out archetypes such as street docs. However, there are limited archetypes and no set rules on what a certain archetype can get. Delta bioware from a low connection street doc who's main job is to patch up people and sell drugs? Nope. From a illicit doctor running a black clinic? More likely. I don't see how slaving to a set method will improve gameplay at all. Adding character and details to contacts makes for a more immpersive gaming world anyway.


QUOTE (Muspellsheimr @ Feb 12 2010, 08:20 AM) *
And that is fine, as long as it is also unavailable to anyone else [except possibly the producers]. New prototype weapon or cutting-edge nanocyber implant? Sure, they can't get it. Anything actually available in the game world is also available to the players, assuming they have sufficient funds and contacts or skills.


Why would it have to be unavailable to anyone else? Having it being unavailable to most criminals and civillians should be enough. Of course if any ganger or mafioso is sporting around Mitsubishi missile launchers while the runners have no chance of getting hold of one, then something is wrong. If said missile launcher always self destruct after the user's death, you know the GM is shafting you big time.

Notice he said "for now." Those heavy weapons might be available at a later time when the runners have gotten more contracts and street cred. This is to reinforce the notion that the runners can gradually improve their equipment as they make the nuyen, but it's easier to get several different kinds of "low-level" items than one big expensive "high-level" item. Sorry to use D&D or WoW terminology, but it actually makes sense that a ganger can get a SMG, 2 pistols and a stun baton without being able to get a machinegun with the same cost as the total of those items. Thus nuyen alone is not a good limit on items.


Smokeskin
QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 09:51 AM) *
Or you get players to take the building skills, and steal a nonfax and the materials to run one, and have a hacker steal the plans for the weapons they want. Cause the way you're running it is a little harsh.


I don't think it is harsh at all.

Because not everyone has assault rifles with exex ammo, I don't have to tool up the opposition to match. Now runners can get things done with unarmed combat and pistols. They can try social infiltration approaches, because if they get spotted, they can probably survive a firefight even though they aren't in military armor. I think this is one of the major problems in SR4 once players get tooled up, either targets are so soft they can just go in full force and roll through it, or targets are so hard they have to use stealth but it is instadeath if something goes wrong.

On top of this, players get to be much more proactive. Generally, there are parallel "mini-adventures" running where players try to acquire gear. This is stuff they initiated, where they call the shots. They're doing legwork not because some Johnson gave them a job, but because they want this stuff for themselves.

I think it works much better. I once had players all tooled up, but then there was a sourcebook where the shadowtalk had a discussion about a guy who broke into Fort Something to steal 2 clips of APDS ammo, but he had to use it on the way out to escape. I then realized that was the sort of campaign I wanted.

My real problem has always been balancing it with magic. I'm not running anything atm, if I get a new campaign started up I might go with some sort of big ass foci needed to cast and summon powerful stuff. Previously I mostly just upped the drain, which gave them some unique options - they could safely compete at the low levels, and at will drag out some heavy artillery but at a price to themselves. It could just be overpowered in stealth mode, and when the big guns did come out, they were sometimes left standing because in those cases the opposition tended to have magic support - I could of course just tone down counterspelling. But I think i'm going with some sort of foci next time - if you want to dish out damage like the guys with assault rifles, you need to find and bring along this 4' magic sword.
Smokeskin
QUOTE (FriendoftheDork @ Feb 12 2010, 10:42 AM) *
And withholding some equipment and doing a street level game are two different things - there is a difference between basically letting the runners have anything in all the books and making them fight in a pit for their first Beretta light pistol. In my game for example, the PCs are assumed to be runner wannabees - possibly ex-gangers of a superior kind (like the ganger archetype in the book), but more often normal citizens with special skills wanting do do something else - a corporate matrix security consultant, a troll ex-militairy etc. These guys certainly won't have access to the same kind of gear an established Shadowrunner team would have, and I dared say even established experienced teams will have difficulty getting hold of certain items.


I totally agree, you can easily have a medium-to-high powered game and still withhold equipment. No one says that anyone has to tote assault rifles, that is entirely dependant on the setting. In one of the old sourcebooks they talked about England, where it was hard to get hold of even a pistol iirc - private and corporate guards couldn't carry firearms, and even street cops didn't have any.
Mordinvan
QUOTE (Smokeskin @ Feb 12 2010, 02:48 AM) *
I don't think it is harsh at all.

If you did you would not use it.

QUOTE
Because not everyone has assault rifles with exex ammo, I don't have to tool up the opposition to match. Now runners can get things done with unarmed combat and pistols. They can try social infiltration approaches, because if they get spotted, they can probably survive a firefight even though they aren't in military armor. I think this is one of the major problems in SR4 once players get tooled up, either targets are so soft they can just go in full force and roll through it, or targets are so hard they have to use stealth but it is instadeath if something goes wrong.

Odd you seem to think the presence of guns in the parties tool bag automatically renders the ability to go for steal out of the question.

QUOTE
On top of this, players get to be much more proactive. Generally, there are parallel "mini-adventures" running where players try to acquire gear. This is stuff they initiated, where they call the shots. They're doing legwork not because some Johnson gave them a job, but because they want this stuff for themselves.

And the leg work smart people would be doing is getting a nanofax, some RFID tag free powdered materials, and the plans for things like lasers, rail guns, various kinds of drones, assault rifles etc.

QUOTE
I think it works much better. I once had players all tooled up, but then there was a sourcebook where the shadowtalk had a discussion about a guy who broke into Fort Something to steal 2 clips of APDS ammo, but he had to use it on the way out to escape. I then realized that was the sort of campaign I wanted.

An entire military base with 2 clips of APDS ammo? Maybe 2 per soldier. I think who ever wrote that needs their head examined.


QUOTE
My real problem has always been balancing it with magic. I'm not running anything atm, if I get a new campaign started up I might go with some sort of big ass foci needed to cast and summon powerful stuff. Previously I mostly just upped the drain, which gave them some unique options - they could safely compete at the low levels, and at will drag out some heavy artillery but at a price to themselves.

Anything mages do is at a price to themselves, even without upping the drain.

QUOTE
It could just be overpowered in stealth mode, and when the big guns did come out, they were sometimes left standing because in those cases the opposition tended to have magic support - I could of course just tone down counterspelling. But I think i'm going with some sort of foci next time - if you want to dish out damage like the guys with assault rifles, you need to find and bring along this 4' magic sword.

Just going out on a limb here, but you don't sound like you're the biggest fan of RAW or RAI, I've ever seen.
Ascalaphus
The way I see it, there are two issues running in this thread;

1) What are good game mechanics for getting gear?

I don't like the endless-retry extended tests myself. But diminishing dicepools might be a little harsh, too. Maybe a different sort of timer makes more sense? Every time you try to fish for illegal gear, The Law gets a chance to hear about it. They need to beat a certain threshold before things become problematic, and you might be able to bribe them to look away when they find you. But whoever enforces the laws probably has at least some undercover cops.
(Nothing happens if the item you're looking for would be legal)

2) How much of the gear process do you want On-Screen?

In any game or movie, there's a choice of what happens on screen, and what doesn't. I personally prefer to give legwork, including arms dealing, some more on-screen time than the current rules call for. The current system is a bit too abstract.

How I'm thinking of dealing with it is this: any appropriate contact can assist you in trying to find an item. You pay their Connection*5% fee, and they roll Connection. The availability drops by 4 for every success they make. If that drops the availability =< 0, then they have it on hand immediately. This also avoids the messy question of how many dice any given contact has, if you'd let the contact do it for you all the way.

Note that whether a contact is appropriate is decided by common sense and by how the contact's been described. Some arms dealers only deal in particular sorts of weapons, or from particular producers, like the Ares black market intermediary.

Also, contacts should be willing; they're not just vending machines where you push in the fee. You'll actually have to talk with them.
Smokeskin
QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 11:05 AM) *
Odd you seem to think the presence of guns in the parties tool bag automatically renders the ability to go for stealth out of the question.


I don't consider it out of the question, but it becomes an extremely high risk option. The problem is that you generally have to add lots of well geared guards if they're to stand a chance in a fight against the runners. Now, if the players then try the stealth option, especially social infil, they're going in with no or minimal armor and weapons. If they get spotted, they're getting turned into mince meat by the guards.

I'd much rather keep the general level of armor and weapons down, so the lethality gap between having your toys and not isn't that large. It makes it a lot easier for the players to decide to go in light.

QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 11:05 AM) *
Just going out on a limb here, but you don't sound like you're the biggest fan of RAW or RAI, I've ever seen.


They work fine imo, and I don't change that much. But I do make a few adjustments to make the rules fit with the sort of campaign I like to run. General rule changes should be able to easily fit on a single sheet of paper imo. There's some more stuff I modify that takes a bit more, mostly changes to gear, especially my revised firearms lists (basically I threw out most arsenal mods and made about 10 qualities for weapons, each weapon gets one, so there's a real choice of what and why, rather than just everyone picking up the one weapon with a special chamber recoil reduction).

Mordinvan
QUOTE (Smokeskin @ Feb 12 2010, 04:49 AM) *
I don't consider it out of the question, but it becomes an extremely high risk option. The problem is that you generally have to add lots of well geared guards if they're to stand a chance in a fight against the runners. Now, if the players then try the stealth option, especially social infil, they're going in with no or minimal armor and weapons. If they get spotted, they're getting turned into mince meat by the guards.

Or just have the guards armed appropriately for what they are guarding......

QUOTE
They work fine imo, and I don't change that much. But I do make a few adjustments to make the rules fit with the sort of campaign I like to run. General rule changes should be able to easily fit on a single sheet of paper imo. There's some more stuff I modify that takes a bit more, mostly changes to gear, especially my revised firearms lists (basically I threw out most arsenal mods and made about 10 qualities for weapons, each weapon gets one, so there's a real choice of what and why, rather than just everyone picking up the one weapon with a special chamber recoil reduction).

and apparently taking a nerf bat to magic users, and having every guard on the planet armed with similar gear to a single runner team, in a single city.
Smokeskin
QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 12:53 PM) *
Or just have the guards armed appropriately for what they are guarding......


What does appropriate mean? In a setting where assault rifles, exex ammo and heavy armor is common, guards are going to be tooled for that. It isn't just the runners that can get that sort of hardware. In a setting like mine, fewer guards and less weapons are needed to protect an asset properly.

But no matter how you cut it, you have to deal with the fact that unless you want to railroad the players, the same target could be handled with stealth or firepower. This means the same guards that you buildt to deal with the runners in full kit, could end up shooting at the face and spec ops guys with minimal gear. If that makes it instadeath, if they make a mistake while infiltrating, you're pretty much forced to either let them recover from it no matter how unrealistic it is, or kill a few PCs. Neither option is attractive, and frankly the latter is much worse, and the players now it, so you end up in situations where I as the GM have to be the one to rake my brains on how to get the runners out of this one. I'd much rather keep the option of failure open, by having lightly armed guards that they can get away from.

QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 12:53 PM) *
and apparently taking a nerf bat to magic users, and having every guard on the planet armed with similar gear to a single runner team, in a single city.


I'm not taking a nerf bat to the mages only, I'm balancing them to fit with the shooters. If an assault rifle sighting is reported to the cops, they're dispatching drones and magic surveillance to track them, and a SWAT team to intercept. The scene will be searched for evidence afterwards, and there could well be an active case. A pistol, that's not even certain to get a patrol car driving by. When the sammies are faced with that, and having to run the risk of arms dealing to get the rifles in the first place, I have to do something to balance it with the mages.
Ascalaphus
QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 11:05 AM) *
And the leg work smart people would be doing is getting a nanofax, some RFID tag free powdered materials, and the plans for things like lasers, rail guns, various kinds of drones, assault rifles etc.


I'm inclined to houserule out the whole nanotech desktop production angle. It's way too Diamond Age for my tastes. The economic implications are vast, and I don't think that following them to a logical conclusion would leave much of the setting standing.

I prefer a people-centered campaign, not so much focused on equipment. Skill should definitely trump gear.

I'd like it like this: low-end gear comes and goes all the time. It's not hard to get a pistol, but they also get confiscated by authorities all the time. No big deal, knock out a security guard and take his. High-end gear comes closer to being a plot element, and you won't lay hands on it without there being some story attached to that.


QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 11:05 AM) *
Anything mages do is at a price to themselves, even without upping the drain.


Drain is fairly doable, especially with a friend with a first-aid kit standing ready afterwards.


QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 12:53 PM) *
and having every guard on the planet armed with similar gear to a single runner team, in a single city.


Realism isn't worth everything. The game is still about the PCs, and balancing things so that you can have the game you all want is more important than plausibility in a fantasy-sci-fi setting.
FriendoftheDork
QUOTE (Ascalaphus @ Feb 12 2010, 11:49 AM) *
The way I see it, there are two issues running in this thread;

1) What are good game mechanics for getting gear?

I don't like the endless-retry extended tests myself. But diminishing dicepools might be a little harsh, too. Maybe a different sort of timer makes more sense? Every time you try to fish for illegal gear, The Law gets a chance to hear about it. They need to beat a certain threshold before things become problematic, and you might be able to bribe them to look away when they find you. But whoever enforces the laws probably has at least some undercover cops.
(Nothing happens if the item you're looking for would be legal)

2) How much of the gear process do you want On-Screen?

In any game or movie, there's a choice of what happens on screen, and what doesn't. I personally prefer to give legwork, including arms dealing, some more on-screen time than the current rules call for. The current system is a bit too abstract.

How I'm thinking of dealing with it is this: any appropriate contact can assist you in trying to find an item. You pay their Connection*5% fee, and they roll Connection. The availability drops by 4 for every success they make. If that drops the availability =< 0, then they have it on hand immediately. This also avoids the messy question of how many dice any given contact has, if you'd let the contact do it for you all the way.

Note that whether a contact is appropriate is decided by common sense and by how the contact's been described. Some arms dealers only deal in particular sorts of weapons, or from particular producers, like the Ares black market intermediary.

Also, contacts should be willing; they're not just vending machines where you push in the fee. You'll actually have to talk with them.


Is diminishing dicepools that bad? If you're talking about people with low dice pools, yeah of course they will struggle. They will also struggle with the limited number of tests rule.
Still do we want the orc sammie with Charisma 1 and Uncouth to be able to get any illegal item without help?

Let's look at the middle ground instead. 6 dice for negotation is hardly good for a shadowrunner, but decent for a non-face. Also notice they might be able to add up to 3 street cred to this if they have it. On an average test they should be able to get about 7 hits, which gets them most guns, SMGs or even an AK-97.
With the cred they should be getting Ares Alpha or a machinegun with little difficulty unless they're unlucky. Isn't that ok?

Devoted faces with 12-20 dice will still be able to get some extra tough items, like sniper rifles and explosives, maybe a heavy MG and missile launcher. Stastically, they should be getting items with availability 26 or higher!

So actually with diminishing dicepools, the system more or less works. The only catch is the lack of contact speciality, that armsdealer with connection 4 might not be any better than the party's face that can charm a stone.

As for your system, I like your gist of it and the 5%* connection rating fee. Also this gives a system that allows the arms dealer to actually have some pistols at hand for runners with little time.

It has some problems though. First, just rolling connection means you have a high chance of failing, and a high chance of getting glitches. Also connection has little to do with field of expertise and more with how.. connected the contact is. Fixers have generally high connection, but said arms dealer should have better chance of having that ares predator lying around somewhere.

How about having the contact simply add a number from 0 to 6 for how appropriate that contact is for said item, and additng that number to the connection test? I'd also let a fixxer (arhgh that extra x keeps getting in.. oh well) use the normal availability rules using his own connection+etiquette+charisma, but with no reduced availability and of course the normal waiting time while the contact asks around.

But yes actually interacting somewhat with the contact is necessary, unless said contact has handled the request many times before.

- Sammie
"Hey wilson I need 3 more boxes of APDS for the Alpha."
-Wilson
"hmm yeah ok whatever just wire over 1500 creds. You can pick them up friday at the usual place."
-Sammie
"ah cmon man how'bout some quantity discounts for once? "
-Wilson
"Hey I'm delivering with no fuzz. You don't have to sugar talk me or take me out to dinner. Now you want them or not?"
-Sammie
"Hmppf ok it' wired to the usual shadow account."

FriendoftheDork
QUOTE (Smokeskin @ Feb 12 2010, 01:22 PM) *
What does appropriate mean? In a setting where assault rifles, exex ammo and heavy armor is common, guards are going to be tooled for that. It isn't just the runners that can get that sort of hardware. In a setting like mine, fewer guards and less weapons are needed to protect an asset properly.

But no matter how you cut it, you have to deal with the fact that unless you want to railroad the players, the same target could be handled with stealth or firepower. This means the same guards that you buildt to deal with the runners in full kit, could end up shooting at the face and spec ops guys with minimal gear. If that makes it instadeath, if they make a mistake while infiltrating, you're pretty much forced to either let them recover from it no matter how unrealistic it is, or kill a few PCs. Neither option is attractive, and frankly the latter is much worse, and the players now it, so you end up in situations where I as the GM have to be the one to rake my brains on how to get the runners out of this one. I'd much rather keep the option of failure open, by having lightly armed guards that they can get away from.



I'm not taking a nerf bat to the mages only, I'm balancing them to fit with the shooters. If an assault rifle sighting is reported to the cops, they're dispatching drones and magic surveillance to track them, and a SWAT team to intercept. The scene will be searched for evidence afterwards, and there could well be an active case. A pistol, that's not even certain to get a patrol car driving by. When the sammies are faced with that, and having to run the risk of arms dealing to get the rifles in the first place, I have to do something to balance it with the mages.


Assault rifles and heavy armor are uncommon enough to warrant availability tests. The world may be flooded with AK-97s and armor jackets (the latter even being legal), but that doesen't mean every sec. guard is going to have one. The a team of shadowrunners are going to be able to get them though is fairly clear, although they might not want to go through such an overt attack. Such weapons are hard enough to conceal anyway so pistols will always be popular for runners.

But why not let the players decide if they want to go the stealthy approach or not, instead if railroading them to it by making some items unrealistically rare? This is America goddamnit, UCAS or not, and guns are probably no less common in 2070 than it is now. Small pistols are very common aong the general civillian populace, and corpsec often sport smgs at the very least (judging by the sample ones in the book). So unless you're playing in a slightly less dystopian setting like Scandinavian Union or UK, players should expect it to be possibly to actually have some use for that automatics skill they invested in.

If they don't know when NOT to bring the AK, then make them learn wink.gif

Now corpsec guards with full body armor, custom fitted Ares Alpha's with EXX ammo and APDS as standard does exists, but only for the more high security facilities. A normal office building will probably not have anything more than one or two guards with light pistols and armor vests, if they have armed guards at all. However both kinds of facilities will be able to call on significant reinforcements from Lone Star or similar, and here everything goes. If the runners go in with assault rifles and heavy armor blowing shit up, they should expect to meet heavily armed Swat teams with armored vehicles, mages with spirits in tow, a city-wide alert, roadblocks, helicopters (possibly with heavy weapons) etc.

Should they fail to stop the runners the Metroplex guard might be calledin, leaving the runners in a world of hurt. Even troll tanks have difficulty ignoring several soldiers shooting at them at the same time with assault rifles - even if it means taking 1 stun damage at the time the troll will probably go down eventually. And after such a mess you might as well just make characters since these losers are surely not gonna get a job as shadowrunners EVER again, if they see the light of freedom at all.

In any case, so far the runners in my game has learned that corpsec guards are dangerous, and spirits and mages even more so.
Brazilian_Shinobi
QUOTE (Smokeskin @ Feb 12 2010, 06:48 AM) *
I think it works much better. I once had players all tooled up, but then there was a sourcebook where the shadowtalk had a discussion about a guy who broke into Fort Something to steal 2 clips of APDS ammo, but he had to use it on the way out to escape. I then realized that was the sort of campaign I wanted.


It is the Urban Samurai Catalog. The runner was able to steal 2 clips from the firing range in Fort Lewis and used it all escaping the place. Now, I assume that someone else was training with APDS ammo and he took it from the soldier and was never able to get to the Armory.
Smokeskin
QUOTE (FriendoftheDork @ Feb 12 2010, 03:48 PM) *
If the runners go in with assault rifles and heavy armor blowing shit up, they should expect to meet heavily armed Swat teams with armored vehicles, mages with spirits in tow, a city-wide alert, roadblocks, helicopters (possibly with heavy weapons) etc.


That's exactly what I do. Assault rifles tend to come out against heavily defended targets, and then the planning focuses on deploying and displaying the weapons in a way that means they don't have to use them, and make absolutely sure alerts don't go out, or if they have to fire them, getting the hell away because the cop clock is ticking.

And that interest in military weapons, that goes for arms dealers too. It isn't impossible at all to get hold of assault rifles, they just have to do some legwork, work through some contacts, check the dealer's background, set up the meet properly and safely.
Mordinvan
QUOTE (Smokeskin @ Feb 12 2010, 05:22 AM) *
What does appropriate mean? In a setting where assault rifles, exex ammo and heavy armor is common, guards are going to be tooled for that. It isn't just the runners that can get that sort of hardware. In a setting like mine, fewer guards and less weapons are needed to protect an asset properly.

Appropriate means look at what is being guarded. Is it a seniors hospital? A generic industrial site? A ultra high tech research lab a mile under ground?

QUOTE
But no matter how you cut it, you have to deal with the fact that unless you want to railroad the players, the same target could be handled with stealth or firepower. This means the same guards that you buildt to deal with the runners in full kit, could end up shooting at the face and spec ops guys with minimal gear. If that makes it instadeath, if they make a mistake while infiltrating, you're pretty much forced to either let them recover from it no matter how unrealistic it is, or kill a few PCs. Neither option is attractive, and frankly the latter is much worse, and the players now it, so you end up in situations where I as the GM have to be the one to rake my brains on how to get the runners out of this one. I'd much rather keep the option of failure open, by having lightly armed guards that they can get away from.

Make the guards 'fitting' for the place and allow the characters to decide what gear to bring. I've found most social infiltrations can be done without a shot being fired, or is properly planned the people even knowing something happened at all. As far as instakilling pc's where are they going that every guard could possible be armed with hypervelocity apds miniguns?

QUOTE
I'm not taking a nerf bat to the mages only, I'm balancing them to fit with the shooters. If an assault rifle sighting is reported to the cops, they're dispatching drones and magic surveillance to track them, and a SWAT team to intercept. The scene will be searched for evidence afterwards, and there could well be an active case. A pistol, that's not even certain to get a patrol car driving by. When the sammies are faced with that, and having to run the risk of arms dealing to get the rifles in the first place, I have to do something to balance it with the mages.

1) Not sure what neighborhoods your talking about where that would happen in SR, but they'd better be nice.
2) Most assault rifles we use are about 22-24 inches long, and fit very nicely under a jacket of any length, so unless someone is getting through our jammers and using the radar goggles somehow they tend not to be seen.
3) Adding extraneous rules to a character concept which gimp its ability to do its job, such as giving a mage additional drain is in fact pulling out a nerf bat. Also I'm not sure where you live, but in my home town carrying a sword around is in fact perfectly legal. Its odd, but legal, so long as its not concealed. So they could carry it openly and notoriously and the cops at best could simply take note. Which if the mage has physical mask, and the masking metamagic accomplishes precisely nothing.
Mordinvan
QUOTE (Ascalaphus @ Feb 12 2010, 05:43 AM) *
I'm inclined to houserule out the whole nanotech desktop production angle. It's way too Diamond Age for my tastes. The economic implications are vast, and I don't think that following them to a logical conclusion would leave much of the setting standing.

Given the level of nanotech in the game you'd pretty much have to house rule it all away to be plausible.

QUOTE
I prefer a people-centered campaign, not so much focused on equipment. Skill should definitely trump gear.

Tell that to the kung-fu masters who'd spent 30 years training, and got mowed down by some conscripted country bumkins with flint locks.

QUOTE
Drain is fairly doable, especially with a friend with a first-aid kit standing ready afterwards.

Good, because there is really no cost to anyone with a gun squeezing the trigger, and it doesn't take a 10 BP edge, and a whole new stat, just to use a gun.


QUOTE
Realism isn't worth everything.

Different groups I guess, to us realism is made to match as closely as possible without hitting fun vacuum territory.

QUOTE
The game is still about the PCs, and balancing things so that you can have the game you all want is more important than plausibility in a fantasy-sci-fi setting.

Actually plausibility within the confines of the setting is very important to the groups I play with. Things which should happen, should happen. Things which do happen should have been likely to happen before they do happen, or the result of some fantastically odd dice rolling.
Ascalaphus
QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 11:03 PM) *
Given the level of nanotech in the game you'd pretty much have to house rule it all away to be plausible.


I don't ban ALL nanotech; just some applications that I don't like. Desktop production is one of those, and can be removed without changing the setting much. In fact, the setting doesn't really correspond logically to it's existence as-is.


QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 11:03 PM) *
Tell that to the kung-fu masters who'd spent 30 years training, and got mowed down by some conscripted country bumkins with flint locks.


I didn't say outdated skills. A 2070s kung fu master who hasn't learnt to use gun-fu and cover belongs in a museum.

What I mean is that specific equipment shouldn't be too important; a pistol is as good as another, it's your shooting skills that matter most. If you lose your gun, and find another one on an unconscious guard, it shouldn't screw up your stats.


QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 11:03 PM) *
Good, because there is really no cost to anyone with a gun squeezing the trigger, and it doesn't take a 10 BP edge, and a whole new stat, just to use a gun.


Bullets cost money. AP bullets cost more. Bullets that hit several people at the same time, ignore armor and dodge, are called Magic.



QUOTE (Mordinvan @ Feb 12 2010, 11:03 PM) *
Different groups I guess, to us realism is made to match as closely as possible without hitting fun vacuum territory.

Actually plausibility within the confines of the setting is very important to the groups I play with. Things which should happen, should happen. Things which do happen should have been likely to happen before they do happen, or the result of some fantastically odd dice rolling.


Perhaps "cinematic logic" is the best term? The rules of what makes sense vary across movie genres. Shadowrun can do well with several genres. Just what is "realistic" and "should happen" varies by genre.

I prefer a somewhat swashbuckler-like style; it's okay to get captured, as long as you escape, steal a guard's weapon and complete your mission from within the enemy stronghold. You don't just kill any guard you meet; nor do they kill any captives out of hand. There's no inescapable super-surveillance either. Security isn't perfect; escape is doable. While people may pretend to be cold, most people can still be charmed somehow, or conned. Mouthing off against someone also won't get you killed in an inescapable way; but you might be challenged to a duel.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (toturi @ Feb 12 2010, 12:43 AM) *
My country has a conscript army, and for my position, I do not even need to be proficient with antitank weapons, but I got to fire one anyway. Different forces, different training doctrine (and different budgets) I suppose.



Yeah, That is true...
Keep the Faith
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