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Alexander Ni'Fairra
Hey all, I'm getting back into GMing Shadowrun (I'm a 2nd-3rd era GM whose been playing in 4th) and I think I have a good idea of how to run. However, one thing that I don't have a good tangible feel of is how many dice is average, poor, etc.

The levels of attribute and skill level don't match, especially when this is coupled with the matra that 2 is the new 3 and 4 is the new 6. Furthermore a person with 2 attribute and 2 skill can buy a success, so in theory a person who has a 4 skill will never fail under normal conditions. This seems to be competent.

Therefore I ask, what is the dice pool for a novice? a competent? a Veteran? or an Elite?

Novice: 1-3?
Competent 4-7?
Veteran 8-10?
Elite 11-13?

These are raw pools mind you, just plain skill not coupled with cyber/magic/stacking bonus goodness of doom.

That said it seems cyber/magic can augment someone (under normal circumstances) by 50% (or more)
What level of bonus to this pool should be:
Well Equipped
Lavishly Equipped
Best Money can buy

Basically I'm looking for how I can yardstick my PC and NPCs, what would be a competent gang member, or a typical beat cop versus an Ancients Lieutenant or member of Knight Errant C-SWAT (blatantly stolen from Cyberpunk.)
My take on it is this (mind you this my interpretation of things as represented in the book and is more 'world' power curve oriented, not PC power curve oriented). If you look at the contacts, the cop has a dice pool of 6 (just skill and attribute). He is proffesional rating 3. By the book description, an attribute of 3 and a skill of 3 is a professional who would perform 'average'. 8 dice is a 'veteran" skill of 4 is veteran, and I just arbitrarily decided that a 1pt stat increase could go with it...). If you look at the professional rating 6 guys in the book, they tend to be throwing 11-12 dice, and anything after that is a 'prime runner'. By this thinking, I have come to the conclusion that most of the pc's posted on this forum do not count as 'starting' characters (as defined by me). in my mond, a starting shadowrunner is STARTING his carreer in the shadows. Thus you could have a dice pool of 8 (veteran of your former field as a starting character (just my idea)
I'll be honest, as a GM this is something I'm still working on feeling out. Every time I think i have it dialed in, something pops up and shows me where I missed something, or had it wrong.
Yeah, for basic pools (if you're calculating only attribute+skill for humans), you have it the way I see it, as well. Naturally, most people will have their skills spec'd, which gives a nice +2 bonus; and maybe novices should get a pool a bit larger thanks to having their attributes raised already.

As for augmented pools, a lot depends on the skill in question, really. Some are very easy to boost, like Perception or the influence group, some very much less so, like, say, Parachuting.

All in all, I'd say veteran NPC, or a competent PC should be rolling around 18 dice for his skills of choice, and a tad bit more as he moves to elite.
I think you've got it mostly correct, coupled with what rythymhack added.

Sometimes with NPCs, you have to think about whether or not they HAVE the skill being asked of them.

Rent-a-Cop probably has Agility 3 and Pistols / Clubs 3. So he gets 6 Dice for those. Does he have Unarmed 3 though? He might just have enough to get by with... so only 1 or 2. If the Shadowrunners knock him out and tie him up, does he have Escape Artist at all? Probably not, so he's defaulting on his Agility 3 and suddenly is down to only 2 dice.

With Contacts it comes up a lot too. My Players have a tendency of asking their Contacts for information they have no skills in, and sometimes the players aren't willing to pay the contacts Nuyen to find someone ELSE who has the answer. So while your Contact might have Seattle Street Gangs 4, asking about a gang in Vancouver will probably only get you a basic Intuition roll.

Sometimes you can run into odd situations, but not often.

Like for example if you have a Martial Artist with an Agility of 5 who doesn't have the "Automatics" skill but wants to pick up a gun and do some shooting, that NPC can default on Agility and still have 4 dice.

Your table is pretty spot on though.

Attribute and skill can give a guideline for raw ability, but magic and technology can give huge boosts to dice pools (by design). You can boost a dice pool by increasing your Attribute (muscle toner, cerebral booster, etc.), by increasing your skill (adept improved ability, reflex recorder, etc.), or getting a dice pool bonus (attention coprocessor, adept enhanced perception ability, synthcardium, etc.).

You will find that some skills are a lot easier to boost than others. For firearms, for example, you can increase your Agility, get a reflex recorder, and get a smartlink. Take someone average, 3 in agility and pistols skill, then give them muscle toner: 2, a smartlink, and a specialization, and suddenly their dice pool has doubled.

Augmentations and magic are supposed to make people superhuman, and a "starting" shadowrunner is very different than a first level D&D character, or a "starting" security guard. So if a character built with 400 points is throwing 20 dice, or maybe even more, for a specialty, then it is not necessarily a sign of min-maxing - you can easily get such dice pools with a few logical choices at character creation, without any dodgy rules interpretations or glaring weaknesses in other areas.

But one of the big balancing factors to large dice pools is modifiers. Sure, the superhuman street samurai might be rolling 20 dice with his pistol at close range during high noon, but he'll be rolling far less dice when he is lightly fatigued, moderately wounded, and firing from cover at a partially concealed target with drizzling rain, twilight, and glaring streetlights giving him poor visibility.

The other balancing factor is that there are a lot of ways to inflict lethal attacks on enemies, and fewer ways to resist them. Shadowrun is a very tactical game, where less powerful foes who make good use of their environment and use teamwork can take down tougher characters.
When I'm ball-parking, I use three criteria:

1 Weak
2 Underdeveloped
3 Typical
4 Improved
5 Superior
6 Max unmodified human

0 Untrained
1 Beginner
2 Novice
3 Professional
4 Veteran
5 Expert
6 Elite
7 Legendary

Here I add from 1 to 6, or possibly more, depending on the resources the NPC has available to put toward whatever criteria we're talking about.

So, let's say the runners are going to encounter a highly-placed but not highly-trained "promoted beyond his failures" security chief, who isn't physically in prime shape anymore, but who used to be fairly fit. If I want to know what he's going to throw for, say, shooting someone, I know he's going to have 4 [Agility attribute slightly above average] plus 3 [well-trained, but not highly field-experienced] plus 3 [highly-placed enough in a powerful enough organization to be able able get a few points worth of mods to whatever], or about 10 dice to throw.

If I really want to speed things up, I'll just use the Skill table and consider it Hits: so a beginner is probably going to get about one hit, a novice 2, a professional 3, and so on.
The hardest part of evaluating capabilities is realizing that different areas of the game have wildly varying dice pools for what is 'good'. Its a lot easier to get social bonuses, for example, than it is for hacking. Some areas are just easier to 'optimize' for, and others have a lot of potential negative modifiers. Being familiar with all the areas enough to know which is which isn't easy.

That being said, my personal Competence Scale is based around total dice pools. I don't like 3278's method at all, because anything based on the core book's Skill-x-means-you're-so-good table is flat out wrong. It also factors in chances of critically glitching,

1-3: Fucking incompetent. Critical Glitch Country.
4-5: Rookie. Less likely to fuck up.
6: starting to be good.
7-10: Decent. If this is your main role, this is the minimum bar.
11-14: Solid. You hardly ever glitch, and can usually succeed at what you want to do with only one or two rolls.When I make a character who i supposed to be Good at something, this is what I shoot for.
15-18: Awesome. Note: Not always a problem. A two-gun adept splitting to 9/9 isn't that bad.
Around 20: This is where I start to worry how min-maxed something is, and how to present a challenge in that given area.
20+: If you managed this with the optional dice rule cap in place, and without being utterly incompetent in other areas due to being a hyperspecialist, then congratulations.

Allow a variance of 2-4 dice for equipment modifiers (smartlink, control rig, specialties, hotsim), and up to a -3/+3 depending on the situation(lighting, showing up to an event not dressed properly, range penalties, wound modifiers, etc), and you will start to get an feeling for how "Competent" people are.
QUOTE (Udoshi @ Dec 28 2011, 03:18 AM) *
I don't like 3278's method at all, because anything based on the core book's Skill-x-means-you're-so-good table is flat out wrong.

Ironically, the two methods still produce remarkably similar results when it comes to actually assigning dice pools: a talented professional with serious logistical support boils down to about 15 dice either way, and an average kid who becomes a half-assed gang banger with some used 'ware is maybe 3 or 4. It's encouraging that so many different methods mentioned in the thread lead to similar results.
Pretty much. The problem with the core book tables is that it encourages people who are new to the system to go 'I have a skill of 5 or 6, I'm pro as hell!'

... and then the samurai with the muscle toner(4) and the smart link(2) and the reflex recorder(1) is sitting over there laughing at him.

In a recent game we had a hacker who rolled 9 dice to hack things, WITH THE HOTSIM BONUS, and got insulted and uppity when people dared to question his competency in the slightest.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Udoshi @ Dec 27 2011, 07:32 PM) *
In a recent game we had a hacker who rolled 9 dice to hack things, WITH THE HOTSIM BONUS, and got insulted and uppity when people dared to question his competency in the slightest.

Did he fail often, or at all? If not, why were you questioning his competence.
I have some comment on Knowledge skills. When I use the canon NPCs, one of the first things I do is see if they have any Knowledge skills. Sometimes the writers lump all the skills together and you have to seperate the Knowledge skills from the Active skills. Then you have to decide what type of Knowledge skill each of them are (it boils down to whether they are Intuition or Logic linked).

Remember skills of the same name (or have similar names) may well be linked to different attributes. For example, Police Procedures may be a Professional skill to a cop, he may well need to take a written exam for that. But to a ganger, Police Procedures is a Street skill he picked up watching what the cops actually do while they are arresting his buddies.
Actually, I kind of like 3278's approach, because it looks at all three possible contributors to the dice pool. Look at how naturally strong, smart, etc. someone is, look at how much natural skill they have, then look at how many possible dice pool modifiers that NPC could have from things like augmentations or other technological aids. It is the addition of that third thing which makes it more accurate than simply looking at skill + Attribute.
Right. I was trying to say without any adds like 'ware or magic. At this time for me it is about the story of the character. If the character did not grow up in the shadows, but instead transitioned into them, I want to start at (or just after) that transition. For example, I am making a character who is a two-gun adept. However, he started as a cop. This being the case I looked up the cop npc as a base. Seeing that the cop has skill with pistols and clubs, I decided that I was going to specialize the clubs into pistols (perhaps this tendancy is part of the transition story?). I also decided that I wanted him to have and be able to make custom pistols. And whatever pushed him into the shadows unhinged him a bit. As a result, he lives in the sewer (paid for as a low lifestyle...had some upgrades done) and has forgotten that his smart pistols have personality chips...he thinks they are alive and talks to them regularly. THIS is where I start thinking about stats and numbers =). Since his living in the sewer (and hunting devil rats) is new, his survival and tracking skills are 1 regardless of the dice pool because it fits the story.
The Jopp
I think your list is rather spot on and those numbers can then get improved by cheap gear and specialization. Not to mention that sheer numbers can overwhelm anyone.

80 AK-97’s (40 000)
1 0 Ares MP-LMG (15 000
1 0 M79B1 LAW (7 500)
100 External Smartgun Links ( 40 000)
10 000 Rounds of ammo ( 20 000)


The above is the cost for equipping an untrained army of Hobos or Gangers with the regular prices from arsenal. Lets say that we have a dummy corporation and order it in said bulk. First we shave off about 25% in taxes that are usually lumped on the product before they go for sale. Then we shave of an additional 20% profits that would usually be added and finally we shave of a final cut of 10% in bulk discount.

That’s a 55% price cut completely legal as you liquidate the company after removing said products and destroying the fake identity that was pinned on the company - or even order it to another address with the help of a hacker and bill a random company.

Actual cost to equip 100 people: 55 125Y

Now you give all of it to a gang of your choice if they would do a little job for you – They are allowed to keep said weapons and whatever they can get from location X as long as they take out a small group of Runners sitting in their so-called safehouse…
100 people with 10% blowing holes in walls and 100 people laying down suppressive fire and 80 of them charging with automatic fire.

Only 5D6…how often can you dodge again…

So…how hard is it to begin the game with your private army of hoodlums? Or a minor criminal organization?
QUOTE (The Jopp @ Dec 29 2011, 05:38 PM) *
I think your list is rather spot on and those numbers can then get improved by cheap gear and specialization. Not to mention that sheer numbers can overwhelm anyone.

Whose list are you refering to?
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