Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Creating Runs: How do experienced GM's do it?
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun
Pages: 1, 2
QUOTE (Abstruse @ Mar 28 2011, 02:34 PM) *
I just got into the show, so mine was "THIS IS A DAMN SHADOWRUN GAME!! Make Elliot a troll, Parker and Sophie elves, and find some way to shoehorn Fiona from Burn Notice in there to pink mohawk the place up a bit, and it's every friggin' Shadowrun team I've ever played with!!"

Elliot is OBVIOUSLY an orc

If all else fails, send them to steal pizzas. I'm currently getting my PCs involved in a shadow war between two pizza corps. cuz I saw someone joke about it here.

QUOTE (phlapjack77 @ Mar 27 2011, 11:42 PM) *
Elliot is OBVIOUSLY an orc


Yup, an ork trained by every military in the world, and fought against the rest of them.
QUOTE (ggodo @ Mar 28 2011, 03:21 AM) *
If all else fails, send them to steal pizzas. I'm currently getting my PCs involved in a shadow war between two pizza corps. cuz I saw someone joke about it here.

Red Vs. Blue: The Cola Wars.
It's Dominion Pizza versus a decent play off of Pizza Hut that I swear I will think of before the players get there. The important thing is I'm calling this campaign The Dominion War.
James McMurray
QUOTE (Method @ Mar 28 2011, 01:14 AM) *
Many people seem to be reiterating that improvisation is essential to creating runs. Maybe we should provide some tips to that end. Here are a few off the top of my head:

-- Know he rules. If there are parts of the rules that you struggle with or don't make sense (ahem... Matrix <cough>) use a limited rule set to start and add things in gradually. An easy way to do this is to stick to the BBB until you have a good handle on the system.

Corollary: don't be afraid to not know the rules. Each player should be responsible for knowing, at a bare minimum, the rules for how his character works. So if you don't know offhand what drones use for shooting but want to add some drones in on the fly, ask the group's rigger.

-- Use cheat sheets, GM screens or compiled tables to quickly sort out weird situations as they arise.

Shameless plug

-- Create databases of contacts, NPCs, mooks, Matrix systems, locations, maps, ect. Go lurk in the Welcome to the Shadows section for ideas.

And never, ever throw anything away. Change a guy's armor, gun, and dice pool just a little and suddenly your lone star patrol cop just became a crazed ganger hopped up on kamikaze.

-- Steal from your players: sometimes the crazy shit they come up with is better than what you had planned. Just go with it. Also, familiarize yourself with their characters. Know what gear they have, what thier capabilities are, their contacts. Sometimes when things are veering off course you can use a PCs to give you direction.

Great advice. Some of our greatest games have come from running with a player's wacky idea.

Anybody have other ideas?

Read a lot. There are some pretty good GMing blogs and newsletters out there. Though it's unlikely you'll agree with everything they have to say, strip mining them for ideas is kinda why they were written in the first place. Roleplaying Tips and The Alexandrian are good places to start.
QUOTE (James McMurray @ Mar 28 2011, 10:11)

I was going to plug you myself, but I find posting links to be a pain in the ass on an iPhone.
Don't be afraid to play exactly to your player's expectations as well.

For instance, one of my players is absolutely convinced that a local fixer is out to get them and is behind every shadow that jumps at them.

Who am I to disagree?

(It's leading to this great running gag where the fixer keeps getting these threatening phone calls from the player to the tune of, "I KNOW WHERE YOU SLEEP!")

Fake edit:

Okay, so now we're talking blogs. Anyone got good, totally devoted to SR blogs out there to recommend? I looked around a few weeks ago but only found half-hearted mentions here and there.
Here's what you need to know. 3 is average, 6 is awesome, 2 is crap. If you have to make someone or some thing up, thats all you have to know. mook is strong, and he used to box= unarmed attack roll: 8d6 / the node is good, security is high= device rating 3 or 4.
thresholds are a little different, average 2/ extremely hard is 5+. Can your player jump the gate? seems hard, threshod=3

You have to get comfortable with improvising(except on Dumpshock, where you have time to look everything up smile.gif )
Squee_Nabob - Had to reply:)

I didn't say they team didn't get paid, just that their contact's dead. After all, not many runners would be squeamish about removing a credstick or 5 from their Johnson's cooling body, as long as nothing could be traced back to them.?

I digress.

Paying the players is best if they're the ones footing the bill.

I'll explain: Nothing's as boring as a no-frills payday after a drek-hot run, Johnson betrayal and subsequent WINNING effort by the players.
I did this once with my players and they buried the credsticks in a lead suitcase down by the docks until they could figure out what evil tracer/detonator they were rigged with...After that, it was easier letting them "find" stuff for sale/fast looting. Makes them go out and look for jobs as well, a nice touch.

So, you could have them "shake the hand of the new Johnson while his underling counts off untracable script/credsticks." Or...

Find "an armoured masonite suitcase, tags removed and set to passive" in the smoking ruins of the warehouse where you almost died.

Perception: "You've kicked the Johnson's bullet-ridden corpse over on to his face to piss on his now-ruined 2k suit when you find a strange gleaming pendant now hanging freely. Your mage makes gasping noises as she recognises orichalum..."

Stealthcheck: You've pickpocketed the Johnson's keys & Credstick. "It might be fate, karma, whatever, but as the Johnson goes to his tricked-out Westwind, nothing's as sweet as watching his sudden realisation that his car's security system is still active. Walking over his unconcious and twitching form, you run the number of a local chopshop through your comlink and wonder how long a man with no ride can run in the barrens...

Unusual rewards promote roleplaying, add to the player's etiquette/negotiation skills and create an interactive team dynamic, ie: sell the foci or let the mage pay the difference? Let the face enjoy their new wheels, or refit the rigger and their ammo expenses?
Make the players work for their reward, them let them dispose of their ill-gotten gains, makes them feel all gangster and badass:)

Note: Mature personalities tend to be needed or it's a diceshower-fest as the ADDition to the team is bored and wants their gratification nownownownow.

Kevin Adams
QUOTE (nezumi @ Mar 23 2011, 09:22 AM) *
Expect the players to always rush forward when you expect them to retreat, retreat when you expect them to press on, lag when you think the path is obvious, and turn left on roads with no turns.

LOL....thats a good one. I've been playing with a group of folks for approx 15+ years. One thing that i've noticed is that no matter what we are playing we NEVER retreat. I dont care if its DND, Shadowrun, or whatever, retreat has never seemed like a group option.

Im kind of new to the GMing scene with Shadowrun myself. Though i have books going back to the first edition of SR this is only the second time i've run SR as the DM. Only ever played as a player once.

I've been running my group through the Denver Missions and getting a few ideas of my own ready. If they dont know alot about SR then I think the missions are a great start. I have to second the person that said, never throw anything away. Maps and characters especially. Also being able to roll with whatever direction your players head. Believe me, when they make a departure from your reality, they are going to depart big. If the choices are left, right, up down, forward or back, be prepared for your players to dream up a totally new direction that doesnt even seem physically possibly wink.gif

Thanks for all the advice. Keep it coming!
James McMurray
One thing I've been trying to do more of lately is to have things that aren't part of the run. Typically runs happen once a month, and I've been doing short scenes prior to the run happening that involve the PCs (separately) during downtime. For example the Face's apartment's majordomo (household node) got hacked and a local cyber-vandal ruined her SoyPro lasagna and infected her commlink. She tracked him down and he's now gone on a run with them.

The gun-toting physad in the group stuck a gun in the Johnson's face (when they had a good suspicion that the Johnson was the Assistant Governor of Seattle) and now he's been targetted by a shadowy figure named Puck who people hire to make someone's life hell. For those times when killing's too good for them.

For me at least it's added to the realism of the game and kept it from being a series of unconnected crimes. I also plan on connecting some crimes in the future to things they've done in the past, to see how that plays out.
As far as coming up with the basic story, I find it useful to start from the party's skillset and work backwards. Imagine that the Johnson is looking through available teams, sees the PCs, and thinks "These guys are perfect for this job!" Then I just have to figure out what that job would be.

My players probably don't realize that's how I build these (paranoia is healthy, after all), but for me it makes a ton of sense. The PCs are far from the only mercs working the Shadows, and there's no reason to hire a bunch of high-class infiltrators and femme fatales to go shoot up a rival street gang, just like you wouldn't bring in the chromed trogs to sneak into a corp exec's cocktail party.

Try and build the scenario so that there are challenges specifically for each team member. If somebody has a melee specialist, then there should be some close-quarters fighting. If somebody is good at bypassing particular types of security, make sure there is a way for them to use that skill. If nobody has conjuring, then sending a Force-6 fire elemental after them is basically "rocks fall, everyone dies", and that's not really fun for anybody.

I always make sure there is at least one good way through the map; an ideal approach that results in a win. The players have pretty much never gone that way, so I have learned to be modular. Rather then spending a lot of time on one guard post, I design a layered security system with light, serious, and heavy responders, and I'm ready to hit them with the response they earned. Point is, don't overcommit to one story line; your players will derail it sooner or later, so work in broad strokes and be ready to use the NPC you have written for the front gate as the Sublevel 8 Front Desk Guard instead.

On the subject of player derailing, take a moment and consider what parts of the story are critical and be prepared to cheat. Anything that isn't entirely critical, let the players go crazy, it will be more fun. Example: I had a fairly epic story prepared where the players went from Island 1, to a pirate Aircraft Carrier, which got shot out from under them with an orbital strike, stranding them on Island 2 sans gear for a quick zombie mission, and then back to Island 1 to finish the mission in the middle of a civil war. The players skipped Island 1, which wrecked my entire plan, and to buy time to finish writing up the carrier I decided to dump them on Island 2 with the zombies. They managed to land the plane and not lose their gear, which meant that zombies would not be an interesting challenge as planned, so I changed it to a Shedim infestation. This scenario was universally despised - it took forever to whittle down the possessed locals, and the players had little personal interest in taking out the Shedim. Basically a catastrophe.

What I learned from that was that it is appropriate for me to enforce the basic parameters of the mission, where doing so makes the game more fun. I also learned to allow for players to do the mission backwards, sideways, and in a clown suit. Big, epic arcs are very hard to pull off when your characters have free will, so I save them for special occasions and make sure I'm ready to cheat outrageously to keep the players in line.

However, when it doesn't involve rewriting the entire campaign, letting the players come up with their own approach is more fun for everybody. The bottom line is this: everybody needs to be having fun, or something needs to change.
James McMurray
QUOTE (MikeKozar @ Apr 27 2011, 05:02 PM) *
On the subject of player derailing, take a moment and consider what parts of the story are critical and be prepared to cheat. Anything that isn't entirely critical, let the players go crazy, it will be more fun.

I'd even say that it doesn't matter how critical something is to your story. You're telling a cooperative story and not letting the players do what they want changes it from a roleplaying game to a storytelling session where the listeners are allowed to ad-lib some of the parts. It sucks to see a lot of effort go to waste, but it's never truly wasted since stats and locations can easily be recycled later. It does take more familiarity with the players and the system though, so you may want to ask the players to please stick closer to the rails until you're comfortable with the sort of improvisation it takes to go without rails at all.

A campaign with an impenetrable forest keeping you on the trail is much less fun than the exact same campaign where the players have just decided that, for whatever reason, their characters just don't feel like going into that forest today.
QUOTE (Troyminator @ Mar 22 2011, 10:26 PM) *
I am trying to create a run for my players and I get so overwhelmed when I sit down to do it. An early 4th edition book had a random generator (roll d6 on various tables). I did that, but don't really know what to do to put a run together after that.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

One simple way is the 'million whys' method.

Start with a 'hook' - something to get the players initially interested - a job offer from a Mr. J is the classic example, but there's tons of others: Maybe they hear about a fellow shadowrunner getting geeked, or a trusted fixer is suddenly unreachable, or something interesting, like a commlink, literally drops at their feet.

Then start asking 'why', creating explanations and backstory for the events in reverse-order until you have enough story-depth to be interesting.

So, starting with that last example, a commlink drops at the PC's feet. Why?
Because the original owner (a young elf woman named Courtney) got shot in the back in front of the PC's. Why?
Because Courtney stole some data from her employer and that employer put a hit on her. Why?
Because Courtney found some REALLY BAD STUFF going on and wanted to publicize it. Why?
Because Courtney is actually a nice person who wants to make the world better (this does actually exist in SR. Sometimes)

This keeps on going - Why did Courtney's employer go so far as to put a hit on her? What data did she get? Who's her employer? Who actually fired the gun? Who owns her employer? Keep asking these sorts of questions, and keep fleshing-out the situation until you've got something good.

FYI: The example I've used above is something I ran for my group. It ended-up taking a full 5 sessions and there's still some loose plot-points that I can use in other sessions.
James McMurray
QUOTE (James McMurray @ Mar 23 2011, 10:10 AM) *
Depending on how much time I have, I either do node-based adventure design or toss together a quick five room model. The former is great for getting a meshed web of information and scenery for the players to move around in until they finally reach their goal. The second is much more straightforward and tends to have some railroading aspects, but it gets the job done and easily fits a run into a single evening.

To further expand on the five room/scene model, I tend to use this template for short runs and rearrange the pieces some. The template itself explains each piece and gives examples, but a uick rundown is:

Scene -1: What has gone before. Here I describe why the run is happening, preferably without a lot of stuff that the PCs can't possibly learn.

Scene 0: The meet. Where it is, who its with, and what info is provided. I put the legwork charts here, since that's usually where our group goes next.

Scene 1: The first defense. This is why the Johnson has to hire people to get what he wants instead of just taking it himself.

Scene 2: Puzzle or roleplay. A problem the PCs have to solve or talk their way past.

Scene 3: Combat. No big scary bosses or anything, but some grunts to let the blood fly.

Scene 4: The climax. This could be the actual heist, a boss fight, or whatever it is that the prior scenes have been leading up to.

Scene 5: The twist. They say "the run isn't over until the Johnson screws you," but this could be something else entirely. Even just "The Johnson pays you and thanks you for your time."

Except for -1 and 0 the scenes can be rearranged however you want. Maybe a twist comes in the middle or the roleplay has to happen before they even learn that the puzzle exists. Even scene 0 doesn't have to happen, if the PCs have started their own run or their past actions already set things in motion.
In answer to your question:
Experienced GM's do it with their dice in the box. smile.gif
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Dumpshock Forums © 2001-2012