So i knew this thread had to be a winner when i heard people discussing it at Origins, and I groaned a little inside when someone asked me if Robin was Suoq because of it.
So i read it and it matches pretty closely to my expectations.
Mesh:I cannot recall for the life of me if we have directly met at the cons, but all my online intercations with you have been positive. But let me say this: If you don't want people to accuse you of being condescending don't post things like this.
Suoq, that's some min/max hackery.
As far as I see Suoq could have phrased his suggestion better, but the suggestion at least as far as contacts go is no less valid for it's poor wording. It also isn't any more cheesy then a thousand of little ways people suggest ways to improve builds on here multiple times per day. I don't necessarily advocate Suoq's plan but the truth is he's got a point. If you are Joe the well heeled gentleman and you've sunk points into having a variety of contacts, pre-provided and not, and you play the first missions with Superdupermindcontrolmage#136 and you play SRM04-00 chances are the mage is going to get some of the points you spent on those contacts for free. Points that he spent into buying his fifth flavor of I WIN button spell. Under those circumstances it doesn't make a lot of sense to sink points into contacts, especially not pregenerated ones. Sure you can do it for backstory, but no matter your backstory if current trends hold you and the mind mage will end up with the same loyalty level after three missions involving those contacts.
In short, you started the internet argument, you were the one that chose to attack a play style or piece of advice, and for what it's worth Suoq isn't acting all that different on here from what he does in real life. However the text medium does rob up of a lot of tone, that's why so many people think i'm an asshole until they meet me. At which point they likely still think i'm an asshole, but maybe they come around the fact that I'm a fairly polite and respectful guy who really likes an earnest discussion and doesn't beat around the brush much. To quote my mother I've never found a fight I didn't like.
I'm one of the Missions writers, Suoq. I'm not sure why you're poking me for an argument other than "it's the internet and this is how people act when they're not face to face." I get that.
I don't write auto-traces....
Again for what it's worth, it's a bit of a double standard to call someone's action min max hackery and then accuse them of poking you for an argument on the internet.
Now you may not write autotraces but the fact is they have been written A LOT. How many times has the opposition some how some way gotten a hold of the runners comm to offer them a counter offer in missions. I've wrote that scene in Deconstructing Patriots (although I used the concept of the opposition just getting the word out via the contact networks rather then dialing directly). It can think of at least four or five times it happened in season three and a at least once in season 4. It's honestly a hook the writers (I'm hesitant to use the term we here, because I've written so little thus far) really should get away from, it's been overused. The direct analogy that springs to mind is in denver how often the tell it to to them straight text told the runners exactly how they were feeling. It was overused, and frankly a little ridiculous. Similarly most runners when embarking on a job or just having completed it after getting called on their link by the opposition for said job, or even a third party should likely turn that link off until they can scramble the access ID, never connect to that comcode again and immediately change location.
Now a lot of the above calls are to set up a scene or clue the team in on other options. The simple truth is missions try and build towards a certain scene outcome A LOT, especially in season three. I've always felt that some of the best missions are those that are a lot more open rather then closed or at least provide for multiple points of entry. Now I had an epiphany while talking to Bull Saturday night, i'm not longer going to sweat these scenes, their great if they line up and I'm certainly going to cannibalize them for parts but if my team is doing the good opsec they should be they miss the call, simple as that, the opposition that wants to reach them will have to try other channels are that part of the mod gets skipped no problemo. I'm not going to not credit karma for skipping these scenes, because well it doesn't make a lot of sense to peanlize the runners for being properly technically savvy or operationally paranoid.
So now under of my credo on not commenting on problems without a solution in mind I will address all issues:
Always take disadvantages that help trace you because they never trace you. They just fiat find you.
This isn't exactly true and going forward at least at my tables there will be no fiat finding. The counterpoint to that is everyone in the group needs to practice good opsec and invest in stealth programs. We as both module writers and missions GM's cannot change what happened in the past but I know for a fact that SRM04-03 has issues built in for those who are electronically indiscreet, just because you didn't have issue with them doesn't mean they are not there. So of all your problems this is the one I can most directly fix, any issues you have going forward on this score are my fault or something the NPC's earned.
Never take contacts, even if there's a list of suggested contacts. You don't call the contacts, the contacts call you and become loyal very easily.
My counter suggestion would be take all the contacts you want, but yes avoid the pre-done contacts, pick your own, flesh them out just like you want them and go to town. Contacts are only as useful or as useless as you choose them to be. To the writers or campaign admin my suggestion would be that contacts granting needs to take more then just completing a run successfully, especially for higher value contacts. Likewise when assigning loyalty gains the cap on maximum loyalty after start should be based on the contacts initial loyalty value for the character. So i i start with loyalty 4 and there are loyalty bumps for everyone else those shouldn't be eaten just because I actually bought him during character generation.
I've never turned people away: Not the street sam with 20+ perception and 20+ SMG, not his pornomancer buddy with 20+ negotiation, nor the mage with quickening who perma-buffed every one of his human stats to 9, could summon F6 spirits with 0 drain, and who turned the game into a round of Angel Summoner and the BMX Bandit.
For the sam:Character audit and push him out of comfort zone, Pornomancer:Recognize that he's not going to contribute much else. Mage: Background count, character audit and have some lonestar sec mages (or other interest groups) show up to check out this person lighting up the astral like a Christmas tree and see what they are about. I managed to get rid of one of my biggest problem players this weekend just by suggesting I was going to do a character audit at the end of the session.