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I found myself almost hijacking another thread, so I decided to open this one.

This is about how you have your players interacting with contacts: Roll it away? Roleplay it with heart drenching detail? Are the characters in their own right? Numbers to provide rail guns and plastic explosives to the players?

Now, contacts being one of the most awesome mechanics in a game, I find myself often "dumping them" BP wise when I am making a character. I think that contacts are overpriced in the lower end (connections 1, loyalty 1=2 bp=10k yens=1 specialization=1/2 of a quality) and overly cheap in the high levels (A connections 6, loyalty 6 fixer... can get any piece of gear easy, won't betray you and will even stick his head out for you and to give you the best jobs, or if he has the means, would loan you up to 500.000 yens in gear=12 Bp, slightly over 1 attribute point). To fix this I limited the contacts connections, in such a way that they can never start higher than 4... But instead of a wider contact net, players often simply go for one very high loyalty/connections contact, and drop the rest.

What is your experience in this area?

On the other hand,players got to choose, in my campaign, when they started to play their characters, three extra freebies:

a) What is the character's urban legend? (This means, what rep will he/she accrue as street cred rises. This is a means to help me roleplay and portray those NPC's that have heard of the character, including his contacts. As an example a mage in a game stated that his legend was that he used magic that didn't cause drain. This opened up for good roleplaying situations)
b) How does he deal with his contacts (Are they afraid of him/her? Are they indebted to him/her? Is he/she indebted to them? This also allows me to portray even more how the player deals with the contacts)?
c) May be related or unrelated to contacts, but relevant to the character: They had a cinematographic bias in their favor: Sam Street could throw a coin that would always land inside the jukebox and would play a song of his choosing.
John Mc. Social would always run into people he knew... almost anywhere he went to (No, he doesn't get a free contact everywhere, but rtahr would have situations like this: when he's hiding a dead body in a gas station's bathroom and he's washing his bloodied hands... an ex girlfriend accidentally comes in the wrong bathroom and finds him with his shirt all bloodied up... she worries because she thinks he may have hurt himself and she tries to help him with his wounds. Hilarity ensues. Etc.)
Rose Emo would always have a shadow on her face which would enhance in a dramatic way her looks.

This was not an abusable mechanic, but rather a fun one to use, to enhance the campaign's flavor.
I'm a writer, so I often think about the Contacts, and go deep into their history, including that of the character. Sometimes this makes them more or less loyal than the stats would allow, or give them weird things that no one would expect. The relationship of the character is important to this.

An excellent example of this is my (and the group's) two favorite NPCs: Krunch and Klub. They started out as a joke when we saw the stat for using a Metahuman Body as a weapon.

Krunch is a Full-Strength Troll who never speaks, and Klub is a Full-Body Dwarf who talks way too much and sounds like he's taken too many blows to the head. (While this is true, this is not the reason. That part is in my head as to why, but the group hasn't found it out yet.). The group members that have them as contacts have met them at a bar in the Barrens where Krunch and Klub hang out, and is a friendly place to have a fight. They've used them as muscle a few times on 'Runs, often against low-threat but high-number targets (Read: Street Gangs.), especially when they don't want a high body count. Klub has a suit of armor that is insane, and a crash helmet, Krunch... Has himself.

And, while I wasn't thinking of it at the time, I realize now that they're "Jay and Silent Bob".

But... BUT... Later on, they needed help of a weird sort, and were desperate, all their other contacts going, "HELL NO! You're too hot! Nice never knowing you!", and Krunch was one of the few that replied...

Turns out he's a Professor at the University of Washington, and is very eloquent when he speaks, and has a Doctorate in Paranormal Zoology. Klub also works for the University, as part of the maintenance crew, and is an expert in engineering and the practical aspects of building and city infrastructure.

The looks on their faces when Krunch started talking... And when Klub started spieling off facts and figures about electrical loads and resistances of power cables was one of those times that GM's live for. smile.gif

As I've said before: "Everyone has a history, no one lives in a vacuum. And there is no one event that makes up a person. There might be a major turning point, but there are a lot of other events that line that up."
I've read some of your novelettes (some parts) and I agree that contacts and fleshing them out is the coolest part of Gm'ing. Specially these characters you just enjoy playing. As for the loyalty thing... I enforce it. I mean the one contact with a connections 4 is the one to stand to a runner that is a bit hot. The one with loyalty 1 is the one that bangs the door to his face.

However, I do play contacts as people with their own goals, and if they have a reason to help the character beyond their loyalty then its game:

John Mc.Sammie -comes into the room bleeding his guts out-: "Please mr. Street Shaman, connections 3, loyalty 1 contact... ugh! Cast heal on me!"
Street Shaman: "Uhm... no. You have Lone Star after you. I'll let you bleed in the streets. I'll give a prayer to the spirits for you, though."
John Mc,Sammie: "Here... take this real, actual ebony credstick as payment!"
Street Shaman: "Here, pal, lemme help you! Why didn't you say you were chased by Lone Star? Those authority abusing pigs! I'll even have Mr. Big Spirit Here conceal you in my ultra secret safehouse!"

J. Packer
Don't tell my players, but I'm GMing my first SR campaign right now. What I'm finding is that some contacts are immediately three dimensional. Others will get two dimensions, but resist becoming real people for a while, and others stay one dimensional for a really long time.

It is impacted by how much the players give me. If they give me "pawn broker" then I have to start making things up whole cloth. If I get a friend from school, who did this when I did that, and now I've reconnected and he does this and I have used him for that... well, then of course it becomes easier to flesh them out.

Under no circumstances will they ever be a simple "roll to get the phat lewts" sort of mechanic.
I'm gonna hazard a guess I didn't give you much to really work with on my contact. I fix that if you'd like. >_>
I try to portray my PC's contacts as living individuals with goals, skills, hopes dreams and all that stuff... Sometimes it goes better than others.

Sblock has Ghost Cartels spoilers

[ Spoiler ]
J. Packer
QUOTE (imperialus @ Dec 14 2010, 03:55 PM) *
I try to portray my PC's contacts as living individuals with goals, skills, hopes dreams and all that stuff... Sometimes it goes better than others.

I eliminated the spoiler, but the notion of GMPCs is a valid one. I may not stat them up, but I get the joy of being able to play a dozen different characters at a time when I have fully fleshed out Contacts.

QUOTE (faraday)
I'm gonna hazard a guess I didn't give you much to really work with on my contact. I fix that if you'd like. >_>

Not to threadjack, but you don't have to do much with him unless you want to. Drop me an email if you do. He was one that I immediately got a picture of for some reason, and that makes it easier to portray. He's a chubby, nebbishy guy, a German Jew with a mop of curly hair and glasses he wears low on his nose. His street contacts know him as Doc Ned. That sort of thing. smile.gif
The easiest way to handle contacts is to provide about 5 early one. See which ones the PCs gravitate too. Those are ones you flesh out.
One of the contacts I made for my group was a major mistake on my part...

Never, ever mention to a group that someone really, really, REALLY wants to try out his improvised WMD.

They will figure out a way to incorporate it into a 'Run.
Never, ever mention to a group that someone really, really, REALLY wants to try out his improvised WMD.

Very funny
No, it was a very sobering experience.

"So that should limit the collateral damage to..." "You're actually going to use a WMD in the middle of a DENSELY POPULATED area as a distraction?" "Hey, it's one of the nicer areas. Most of the people will be SINners. They get Health Care."

I'm amazed I stayed in character, who, I should mention, scares the hell out of me now.
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