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Crazy Ivan
I started up a group of Shadowrun 4e recently, and had to construct a relatively new group. One of which is my wife (a fine player all-around, but still learning everything), a decent role-player, and a guy I wasn't prepared for. The role-player decided to run a technomancer who didn't think of himself as a hacker), my wife a street samurai that didn't have a crappy essence, and the new guy. New guy came up with a troll street samurai, which didn't bother me at the outset. Then I actually read the character...

Balance tail,
Wired Reflexes,
Penile Implant
And a few other augmentations that I can't remember. Those stuck out.
Skills spent were 190 BP on.
Strength, 10, Agility 2, Reaction 2 (counting wired reflexes), logic 1, willpower 1, intuition 2, etc. etc.
His only weapon was a claymore...
Signature Negative Quality- That signature being leaving dismembered pieces of people when he is on a run...
No other gear.
No contacts.

I always ask players why their characters Run (or adventure, depending on what the game may require) before we start playing. I thought he didn't understand my wording, but after rephrasing it, he had no answer. Ok, let it go. I gave him fair warning that the character would likely die or be abandoned as it was written (I have a more realistic way of DM'ing which rubs some players the wrong way, but others love. In fairness, I did offer him help and explained reasons why, though he declined). He said he understood, so we started.

So we started...the party needed to infiltrate a rap concert and retrieve the stars commlink (On the Run)...well, my wife designed her character more as a stealth character with some melee skills and frightening skills with a sniper rifle, so she ran an overwatch while the troll was going to ambush two of the troll guards outside and masquerade as a guard...well, after the guards were down (with a little help from the sniper and good old gel rounds), the troll decided that he must give into his signature and immediately began hacking the guards up. Surprise surprise when somebody noticed this...

At this point, Lone Star was called, the concert called off (the technomancer and the sniper found a way to acquire the commlink through quick improvisation in the chaos), New Guy gets surprised when the guards of the concert start tazing (tasing?) him and Lone Star promptly blows the troll away...only due to his massive body did he truly survive...

I figured this was a fair warning, and the player seemed to get the hint. The party took it upon themselves to bust him out of Lone Stars vehicle...Lesson learned?

Maybe. Rest of teh run goes ok.

I always offer players a chance to refine their characters after the first session (just in case, but after that, they are stuck). He took it, and came back with a mage and a few other character concepts he thought about running...I browsed them, realizing I'd found a goofy power gamer...The Adept known as Goku made me want to vomit...

Regardless...he settled on a mage that started with a Power 4 focus (and an eyeraise from me), a bound fire spirit, the Aspected Mage quality (the Sorceror one, where that can only cast spells well), and skills that were really only useful for casting. No assensing. No Conjuring. No Astral Combat. Ok, fair enough. Body 1 (I laughed. Hard.) A top of the line commlink, squatter lifestyle, etc. etc. Again, the same question is popped. "Why does your character run?" I'm greeted by a stupid look. I asked him to explain how his character got the power focus and such...surprise, no answer.
"

So the run game starts, and the mage is actually useful. But decidedly a power gamer, and while I consider myself a fair GM in most respects, I admit to being slightly biased against power gamers. If they have a valid reason as to why that actually makes sense and builds a character, I'm a lot more lenient. But power gaming simply to be the toughest/strongest/most powerful character doesn't fly.

So the on the mages second run (the TM and the Samurai are working dangerously well together), and he starts actually exploring the astral plane for a run (Again, I was lax and let him revamp the character after the test run. Only Assensing was added). He starts his survey, and promptly finds a watcher spirit, and follows it back to its master (after the watcher raised the alarm). Surprise surprise, the mage gets laid out on the astral plane...

The OPFOR decide it is simpler to call LS than execute the guy and dispose of the body. So their mage does Alter Memory (he wasn't scouting, he was attempting to assault the occupants of the building) on New Guy, while the TM and Sammy try to develop a plan to get him out of custody (again). To his credit, New Guy managed to get out on his own, though was knocked out in a last ditch move by the LS mage.

Anyways, that's the events thus far...Through luck and a memory of basic security procedures, he no longer has his foci. I think after that, everything should be balanced about right. But I could use a little input for more experienced GM's.
Epicedion
1) How does an aspected sorcerer get a bound spirit?

2) Tell him to stop acting like a 12 year old and make a real character. Find him that list of characterization questions and ask for some satisfactory answers.
Crazy Ivan
So be a lot harsher on him. Gotcha.
Fauxknight
On a powergaming scale, both those characters are terribad, so I don't know if you could really accuse him of being a powergamer even if hes trying.

Just whip out the old 20 questions on him, at least thats what the older editions called it. If you don't have older editions then make up some questions for each of the players to answer. This helps both the player and the GM get to know the character better. This is what was requested before our last SR campaign:


All characters must fill out the questionnaire, and nobody better be a douchebag with no family AND no friends.

1. Where does your character come from, what is her lineage, who were her parents, and what did she inherit from the?

2. Assuming they could speak, what would each of your character's parents say about her?

3. What were you doing when Dunkelzahn died?

4. How did your character get into shadowrunning, and why did she take that path?

5. What is your living space like, and what have they added or changed to make it their own?

6. What does your character believe in? Do they have a code of conduct or convictions?

7. Which corp is your character's favorite? Which corp is your character's most hated?

8. What is your relationship with your contacts? Give a brief explanation with each one?

9. What does your character do on your average day off?

10. Take your highest skill...How did your character learn/develop it?

11. What jobs in the shadows would your character be morally opposed to taking?

12. If you have magic, how do you view your tradition? If technomancer, your stream? If neither, your religion?

13. What does your character think of normal people?

14. Give at least a one paragraph character description?

15. Give your character a street name and a given name. How did you get your street name?

16. Who does your character most care about in the world other than themselves?
UmaroVI
Your problem isn't that he's a 'powergamer.' Your problems are:

1) He thinks he is a powergamer, but is in fact incredibly, stupefyingly bad at designing characters.
2) He's extremely unfamiliar with the setting and doesn't understand what does and does not fit in.
3) His playstyle doesn't mesh with your group's playstyle.

Instead of passive-aggressively trying to get him to play the way you want him to by screwing with his characters - which is going to just end with him eventually quitting your game, but only after a bunch of frustration on everyone's part - I suggest sitting down with him and explaining (2) and (3) to him, albeit not in so many words. Alternatively (or if he doesn't listen), just don't play with him.
Crazy Ivan
Yeah, I've done that route before. Thought granted, not with this guy. My wife (before we were married) and the Role-player would be able to easily answer those questions (though my wife might have a bit of difficulty just from not being perfectly familiar with the world). I honestly don't think he would write out the answers, but its worth a try. When I asked everyone to have a character ready to go (questions and such are fine), he showed up with nothing. He has access to the books and chargens.
sabs
my 9 year old makes more balanced characters than that.
That character is on par with what my 5 year old likes to play (when he's playing mouseguard).

a Body 1 mage?
He can have max 2 points of armor. his max soak pool is a 3.
Shoot him with a 7P -2AP weapon, and watch him explode.
squee_nabob
1) Donít be passive-aggressive about this. If you donít like something, talk to him about it rather than take it away after the fact. Thatís just an unfair way to solve a problem that should be solved out of game.
2) Personally I have a problem with you both being biased against power gamers, and thinking this guy is a power gamer. He brings disgrace to the name and this post made me rage.
3) Get the players to work together. All 3 need to work together to be a team (especially with only 3 players you really canít have dead weight). Make sure the two people who know each other make him feel welcome, and if he still canít be a team player, get rid of him like a band-aid.
Oracle
How old is that guy? If he is older than 16 you should possibly spare everybody the trouble and stop inviting him.
Crazy Ivan
Hmmm...its more accurate to say he's an attempt at a power gamer (most characters in the party have a dice pool of maybe 12 at their excelled tasks, while he was closer to 16/17. Yes, I know, not a true power gamer, but still.

Squee- every GM has a bias, even if they don't admit it. It's the quirks and ways we handle things that make us different. I do agree that passive-aggressive is probably not the best approach at the moment. Hence why getting advice from a group of players and DM's is a good way to gather ideas and decide the best course of action. The interest is fun for everyone, and I want to do my best to insure that.
Fauxknight
QUOTE (UmaroVI @ Jun 7 2011, 02:05 PM) *
1) He thinks he is a powergamer, but is in fact incredibly, stupefyingly bad at designing characters.


I'm not entirely convinced he is a powergamer, many of the few things about his characters that we know are completely the opposite of what a powergamed would do. Even looking past the 2 agility troll and 1 body mage we get to things like the penile implant on the troll, uh, he had to have know that would provide no combat bonus at all.

QUOTE
2) He's extremely unfamiliar with the setting and doesn't understand what does and does not fit in.
3) His playstyle doesn't mesh with your group's playstyle.

Instead of passive-aggressively trying to get him to play the way you want him to by screwing with his characters - which is going to just end with him eventually quitting your game, but only after a bunch of frustration on everyone's part - I suggest sitting down with him and explaining (2) and (3) to him, albeit not in so many words. Alternatively (or if he doesn't listen), just don't play with him.


2 and 3 are almost certainly true. Depending on what types of RPGs he has played before Shadowrun could simple be a very alien system to him. I know way back when I was forced to make a character for this system that I had never heard of before, and when other characters started whipping out guns my character was mortified they were going to shoot people. They had explained to me enough about the rules and the fantasy/cyberpunk background for me to make a character, but no one had bothered to mention what a shadowrunner was and that I was supposed to have made one.
Ryu
QUOTE (Crazy Ivan @ Jun 7 2011, 08:32 PM) *
Regardless...he settled on a mage that started with a Power 4 focus (and an eyeraise from me), a bound fire spirit, the Aspected Mage quality (the Sorceror one, where that can only cast spells well), and skills that were really only useful for casting. No assensing. No Conjuring. No Astral Combat. Ok, fair enough. Body 1 (I laughed. Hard.) A top of the line commlink, squatter lifestyle, etc. etc. Again, the same question is popped. "Why does your character run?" I'm greeted by a stupid look. I asked him to explain how his character got the power focus and such...surprise, no answer.
"

So the run game starts, and the mage is actually useful. But decidedly a power gamer, and while I consider myself a fair GM in most respects, I admit to being slightly biased against power gamers. If they have a valid reason as to why that actually makes sense and builds a character, I'm a lot more lenient. But power gaming simply to be the toughest/strongest/most powerful character doesn't fly.

A Power Focus is easily worth Restricted Gear, but also an understandable central aspect of a char. But then bound fire spirits are not worth the cost, you can easily do that ingame. Summoning spirits and assensing people are two very important abilities, you donīt opt out of those. If he really wants to play an old-school sourceror, he should raid the quality cookies jar and take a bunch of Incompetencies (Summoning, Binding, Conjuration, Astral Perception, Astral Combat). Summoning is a great synergy for the power focus. Body 1 is also dangerous. Not powergaming at all.

Maybe you could post that char so that we can B&R until it works?
Fauxknight
QUOTE (Crazy Ivan @ Jun 7 2011, 02:20 PM) *
Hmmm...its more accurate to say he's an attempt at a power gamer (most characters in the party have a dice pool of maybe 12 at their excelled tasks, while he was closer to 16/17. Yes, I know, not a true power gamer, but still.


I personally would call 12 pretty low, but that also depends on the campaign and what area of expertise, some roles, like the face, just get more dice easier. How did the troll get 16-17 melee dice with only 2 agility?
Epicedion
He's also just being silly, and you guys are more trenchcoats and shades.

Tell him to think more Metal Gear and less whatever the devil the kids are playing today.
deek
I think the best advice is to tell him "no" on some stuff you don't like. Since you are running the game, you do get a say in what you will allow. And it seems that this guy is willing to build other characters and does so rather quickly. So, instead of looking over the sheet and knowing some things aren't going to work, tell him no (and give him a reason) and ask him to change it.

I still think you'll have problems with this guy, but if you are needing another player and willing to groom this dude, you may end up with a decent player. As for me, I wouldn't want to invest that much time into forcing the dude to mesh with the other players and tell him sorry, and not invite him back. It seems mean, but some people don't mesh with the gaming group.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (sabs @ Jun 7 2011, 12:08 PM) *
my 9 year old makes more balanced characters than that.
That character is on par with what my 5 year old likes to play (when he's playing mouseguard).

a Body 1 mage?
He can have max 2 points of armor. his max soak pool is a 3.
Shoot him with a 7P -2AP weapon, and watch him explode.


Heh... There is always the Armor Spell... smile.gif
Crazy Ivan
To his credit, the player has read through the books, though he does seem to have a selective memory about what he remembers about the setting. He knows Dunkelzahn, Lofwyr, etc. etc. He knows that runners are deniable assets and their role, he knows a broad outline on the corps, the rules of combat and such, he's got a relatively decent grasp on it for someone who is new to shadowrun. I think he is just simply one of the more "juvenile" style of players who relies on randomness to make a general character. For those who were curious, he's 19-20, has been doing LARP (don't ask me what system, I have no idea) for a while, and is no stranger to gaming.

Regarding the penile implant for the troll, while I do agree it is pointless and overall kinda immature, its not in all cases. In this case, yes, but with a little backstory, its not always juvenile. I have a hacker written up who was self-conscious before he got into computers, and got one to boost his confidence. I don't ever intend to get him into an RP situation where it is there just for juvenile laughs. It's there as a way to add a piece of personality I have to play out.

Crazy Ivan
I understand 12 dice is low to the comparative potential a character can have. But that is just our campaign style. The 16/17 dice he had were for teh mage, not the troll. The troll only had a chance to hit things with a freakishly bad roll from me.
squee_nabob
QUOTE (Crazy Ivan @ Jun 7 2011, 02:20 PM) *
Squee- every GM has a bias, even if they don't admit it. It's the quirks and ways we handle things that make us different. I do agree that passive-aggressive is probably not the best approach at the moment. Hence why getting advice from a group of players and DM's is a good way to gather ideas and decide the best course of action. The interest is fun for everyone, and I want to do my best to insure that.


While everyone has their biases, that doesnít make it right. Clearly Iím biased against using arbitrary ďroleplayingĒ excuses for solving personality, gameplay, and system problems. This makes my games focus less on the icing on a cake, and more on what the flavor of the cake is. I donít care how you got a rating 4 power focus, because those are 32 karma to bind, only that you took the restricted gear quality.

Remember characters are like shoes. You can design them very well, but you need to play them a few times to break them and truly know them. To use a material science analogy, characters should remain ductile. Too much back story and personality at character creation can lead to embrittlement, resulting in campaign or character fracture (The character or game breaks rather than adapts). To remain malleable, they need to be a rough outline that can be molded to the world during the first few games
Crazy Ivan
QUOTE (squee_nabob @ Jun 7 2011, 03:52 PM) *
While everyone has their biases, that doesnít make it right. Clearly Iím biased against using arbitrary ďroleplayingĒ excuses for solving personality, gameplay, and system problems. This makes my games focus less on the icing on a cake, and more on what the flavor of the cake is. I donít care how you got a rating 4 power focus, because those are 32 karma to bind, only that you took the restricted gear quality.

Remember characters are like shoes. You can design them very well, but you need to play them a few times to break them and truly know them. To use a material science analogy, characters should remain ductile. Too much back story and personality at character creation can lead to embrittlement, resulting in campaign or character fracture (The character or game breaks rather than adapts). To remain malleable, they need to be a rough outline that can be molded to the world during the first few games


We'll see how things go. If things start going a little smoother, problem solved itself. If not, then I'll have a polite sit-down with him and we will see what happens.

Thanks for everyones input.
Tiralee
1: Up whatever dosage they're currently on. Film. Upload to YouTube. Profit.

2: Explain, politely, that as a role-playing game, you're sort of expected to be able to exist within the society as presented. As SR is kinda like real-life ™ with a lot of colour and flash, how would his character expect to survive/live/work with others as it is?

2a: Things don't fall from the sky....but as I read on, I think your player might have.

3: You might need to stress that some things aren't really that available...and are a bit troublesome to explain away at chargen. If he even bothered to do that.

4: Lose the player. If they're even slightly disruptive, lose them utterly. This has all the hallmarks of "I saw this awesome anime and I want to marysue it into the game and everyone else can see how cool it is or piss off because it's awesome and I'm awesome for doing it"...and that never ends well.



But I'm bitter, twisted and cynical.

As a GM, it's up to you to run your game.

-Tir out.
Ghost_in_the_System
I have to agree with the others. As much as it is never particularly fun, sitting down and having a talk with the player seems like it'd be your best bet.

I'm kind of uncertain what to think of the player. He isn't very good at being a power gamer, and role playing seems to be completely escaping him for someone who LARPs. The 16 questions might really help him, and so might using a pregen character, because to be honest, they are significantly better than what he seems to have produced so far.
HunterHerne
QUOTE (Ghost_in_the_System @ Jun 7 2011, 10:56 PM) *
I have to agree with the others. As much as it is never particularly fun, sitting down and having a talk with the player seems like it'd be your best bet.

I'm kind of uncertain what to think of the player. He isn't very good at being a power gamer, and role playing seems to be completely escaping him for someone who LARPs. The 16 questions might really help him, and so might using a pregen character, because to be honest, they are significantly better than what he seems to have produced so far.


Ouch. That's saying a lot.
Rubic
I have a different perspective on this. Please hear me out...

As a programmer, and an avid gamer, it's been one of my greatest frustrations dealing with online gaming and PvP. One of the key aspects I see in such games is the over-focus on certain aspects, particularly burst damage. To the exclusion of most every other aspect of play. Most PvP is tailored to such a play style, with defense never or hardly ever being allowed in any sufficient way to keep up. The reason for this heavy focus, however, I have come to grips with, and while I do not appreciate it, I understand it (the method is used because it works, and game designers encourage it with so many keystrokes).

To summarize, a line from Order of the Stick's Xykon: "... planning doesn't matter. Strategy doesn't matter. Only two things matter: Force in as great a concentration as you can manage, and style. And in a pinch, style can slide... In any battle, there's always a level of force against which no tactics can succeed."

That which I wrote above is to ensure the message is understood in as much depth as I can convey it. It is not enough to merely say that your player is probably looking at the rules from the perspective of an 'all-in-one-basket' Online PvPer, but how pervasive and, to some degree, right that train of thought normally is.

My personal recommendation is kind of inherent to my bias about human nature, but I'm guessing it will serve you better than any concept of idealism, rationality, or converting him to YOUR kind of gamer... rather, try converting him to your kind of POWERGAMER. Instead of trying to plan any form of social engineering on a pavlovian measure of reward and punishment, think more deeply about how you can encourage his vices and predispositions towards your own ends as the GM. If he's really the kind who'll roleplay properly, then he should wear himself out on power-characters and try to work towards more finessed character builds and styles. The brute and muscle types tend to be the most survivable and simplest to deal with as a player, to learn not just the universe, but how your GM interprets it. Nothing sucks worse than being a stealth specialist or face in a world of NPCs who you can't ever beat because the GM thinks his characters are cooler than yours. Much easier to go Gun as a Skill (munchkin) until you've felt out the GM's style.
Ascalaphus
Maybe you shouldn't let him make characters unsupervised. Take the time, sit down with the guy, and ask him about what kind of character he would like to play; what he expects from the character, what he wants the character to be able to do.

Then take him through the CharGen process, and help him get stats that match his concept. He should get the stats to be good enough at his job that the player will succeed at it (most of the time), and he won't be lacking things he should have, or have things that make no sense (like bound spirits for someone who can't summon them.)

Hey, the guy is young, he might mean well but just be clueless. SR isn't the easiest game system to learn to build good characters in smile.gif
Thanee
There are two ways, I guess.

#1 Dump him. Yeah, kinda harsh, but he also kinda deserves it.

#2 Try to help him make a decent character. How about asking him to not actually write up a character sheet, but rather describe what character he would like to play, and help him make that character actually somewhat realistic. This will take some time, but maybe he will open up? Maybe not, but then there is always #1.

#3 Make the character for him (give him the full Amnesia Quality and then start adding stats in as he needs them, until the character is complete and well-rounded).

Ok, that's three, but #2 and #3 are quite similar, really. The decision is between trying to help him, or find someone else, really.

Bye
Thanee
Blade
All characters should have a backstory. If the player has trouble finding one, help him. If he doesn't want to have one, explain to him why it's necessary. If he doesn't see the point, dump him.

And even if I have already accepted characters without backstory (players who tend to do the backstory last and have just created a char before the game), I always apply one rule:
- If the team is playing shadowrunners The character has to be a Shadowrunner. The creation system lets you create an honest surgeon or a lawyer or nearly anyone in the Sixth World, but if a Shadowrunner is expected, I want a Shadowrunner. This excludes:
* characters who have no good reason for Shadowrunning
* characters who are too stupid/weak (physically or mentally) or generally unfit to survive as a Shadowrunner.

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