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Arkeus
Hey everyone! Name's Arkeus, nice to meet you all. I've been a GM for a group of friends for a 7 years or so. We started in 4th Edition (20th Anniversary Edition) and moved to 5th when it came out. Still not 100% sure about 5th though, but I do like the initiative changes from 4th. I've been a long time occasional reader of these forums. I typically used the shadowgrid forums but they seem to be permanently down. Anyone know what happened over there?

Along my campaign I've lost players along the way and gained some but have stayed around 5-6 players. I haven't had any player character deaths yet, but there was a very close call with a beast spirit in the last session. My campaign has run mostly the length I've been a game master and I've been feeling the need to end it and start with new street level characters. So far, my campaign has surrounded an old artifact called a Dagger of the Firehawk, which at the last session the players found out that one of the Yakuza leaders has been researching this artifact and it's legend for some time. The artifact has made its way across the globe over the last few centuries but it originated in Ireland so he's planning to take it to the Hill of Tara in Tir Na Ng and perform a ritual believing that it would somehow transform him into an ancient dragon like creature called the Firehawk. Unfortunately for him, he is incorrect and it will summon a very powerful great form fire spirit.

Anyway, I've been thinking about starting from a street level after this next session since my players all have around 300 karma and loads of Nuyen but don't really seem have much advancement or the ability to advance from where they are. Also challenging them seems to be difficult without throwing them at red samurai or stronger. Have any of you GM's gotten to this point? What did you do?
bannockburn
Welcome to Dumpshock, home of the crotchety runners.

A reboot is a sensible option when the stories are told and you don't feel it anymore. Maybe let the old characters appear as cameos.
Of course this needs to be discussed with your players. Also, make sure to communicate what street level actually is for you. Gutterpunks or runners starting out fresh? There are important differences.

For myself, I usually don't have these kinds of overarching campaigns, so I can't really reboot them. But all my stories with different characters involved are usually connected if only by the NPCs populating them. One character may do something monumental, other characters who weren't involved get told about it. The same characters do some groundwork like spying out a corporate holding facility, and another character from a different game does the actual run to bust out their friend.
Lionesque
As a player with a 200+ karma character, I'd be very disappointed if my GM told me I could never play that character again. However, there are jobs and situations and places where he just doesn't fit in, and in those situations, it makes a lot of sense (to me) to have alternate characters to drag out; the key is to have fun, and, for me, fun is to follow/develop/influence a story that makes sense. An old-school cybered-up street sam has very little reason to engage in a story about a philandering spouse, while the gumshoe living out of the trunk of his car would need some serious convincing to go head to head against a go-gang. Very occasionally, their stories intertwine, and so I play two toons at once, which can be a lot of fun as long as it's just every once in a while.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
Welcome to Dumpshock smile.gif
ShadowPavement
I echo what Lionesque stated above.

I think having a second set of characters to play would be fun. Give them a different spin.

This opens up the possibility of having the new PC's make enemies/rivalries/opponents of the old PC's.

Perhaps the new PC's are hired specifically to cause trouble for the old team. Run a campaign where the entire set-up is for the new PC's planning agianst the old PC's (with out the players knowing in advance, of course) and then have the finisher be for the old team to deal with everything that the new team has set up.

Perhaps the two teams integrate after a while and work together. It would also give members of the old team a way to "gracefully retire" of running while keeping all the players still involved.

Maybe the new time is hired to save the old team from a run that got over their heads.

...Just some thoughts.
Arkeus
Thank you guys!

Your feedback really helps. I'll definitely be talking to my players to see what they want to do. If they want to keep running with the same or shift to something else.
Kren Cooper
Welcome to the forums!

It sounds like you're a fan of long running campaign arcs, and storytelling. I'd definitely echo the comments above about reusing NPCs and locations, where possible, and having the new team existing in the same "world".

Depending on how intertwined you want things, you could perhaps have the old characters dependent on the new? Ask each of your players to write down 5 things about the old characters the defined them or their exploits, and hand them over. Have your big fire spirit come out during the ritual, lay waste to the land and the NPCs, and then banish the old characters through a unique astral gateway, trapping them in whatever prison it was in before being released. Then start your new team off, and give each of the new characters one "clue",prophecy, dream or vision from the list of stuff you collected. The new street level punks have been chosen by destiny/fate to discover the fate of the old team in some way?

I'd agree to talk with your players though, and maybe lay out some options - do they want to carry on in a high karma, high threat international movers and shakers environment? Do they want to set up the Johnson academy for aspiring shadowrunners and become NPCs and mentors for a new team? Do they want to retire to a desert island and enjoy their ill-gotten gains until something threatens them and they come out for the really big and messy jobs and you start a very low level gang campaign so they really have to struggle? If you find out what they want to play, and get some buy-in / engagement, you're almost certainly going to be more successful in keeping them happy and entertained.
Arkeus
Thanks Kren, that's another good idea. I'll definitely been talking to my players at the next run. Its next weekend so I'm looking forward to it.
Arkeus
Well the run wasn't finished in one session, even if we went 4 hours past normal for us. Not quite sure how to get a run done in one session. Do you guys get a run done in one session? We normally meet once a month for about 5 hours and can't seem to get a run done in one go.

They went up against some yakuza who hired some red samurai to help, 10 of them specifically and they managed to kill 2 of them. This was the first time I put them against roughly equal opposition and I'm seeing Limits actually making taking things out difficult for the first time. My groups street sam, used to cutting down baddies in one action phase, was doing 1-3 boxes of damage against the red samurai in melee. Our full magician in the group was also having problems even with 1 initiate grade and exceptional attribute magic (total 8 magic). He wasn't casting at force 8 though, and this was the first time he looked into using reagents. spin.gif

The troll in the group went unconscious with one attack too, apparently he forgot to add body in to his soak roll and didn't realize until I was shooting at him after he was healed a bit.

The group never really notices how effective bursts and full auto are, but the troll did do well with a suppression action at the beginning of combat until a red samurai rolled enough to not catch lead and shoot back.

They haven't run into the great form spirit that's waiting for them though. I expect that will be challenging.
Tecumseh
Runs can take a long time and have a lot of factors, like the number of players at the table, the overall familiarity with the rules, and how many twists and turns there are in the plot. Five hours should be enough for a reasonably straight-forward run that progresses at a steady pace.

It can be helpful to break down where the time goes. Do you have epic firefights that take hours? Do you have hyper-paranoid players that take 20-30 minutes to scout out a simple meet with a contact? Is there decision paralysis? Are there giant planning sessions? And, importantly, are the players enjoying these aspects of the game or are they also frustrated with how long it takes to make forward progress?

I've used time-sensitive missions (this run has to be done tonight! like right now!) in conjunction with a timer (like a small hourglass) to help keep things moving.

Another approach I've had a lot of success with is in media res, or starting the session in the middle of the job. Complex Action had a pretty good video describing the approach:

https://youtu.be/OgGLqqOgJeI?t=45

Geez, he uploaded that three years ago.
Arkeus
Thanks Tecumseh! I've seen his videos before. I like his little rules breakdown videos quite a bit. I haven't really watched any of his other videos though. I did start listening through his actual play podcast. I didn't realize Mr. Johnson of the Arcology podcast was going to be on it.

Anyway, The group does have some decision paralysis and combats take quite some time. No matter how much I tell them or have grunts use more complex actions than aim and fire single shot they won't do it, so I'm generally rolling all defense dice and dice from taking cover. I finally got the mage to take cover, though he was reluctant because then he had to recklessly cast spells. Anyway, they can take some time to get grunts/bad guys down.

I think they're enjoying the game, they usually seem to be paying attention and trying to strategize (and meta game).

I'll have to implement a timer I think. Do you use it for combat, like, "you've got 2 minutes to decide what to do"? Or do you use it for like, "you have 30 minutes for this scene".
Jaid
(just for clarity, and not neccessarily directly relevant, but the red samurai are generally not for hire, and especially not to the yakuza because that would mean the megacorp is risking their reputation by having actual registered corporate security forces openly working hand in hand with a gang of criminals.

to be absolutely clear, this is not super important from a balance perspective; it is important in setting terms, however. there isn't particularly any reason the yakuza could not hire or have members of their organization that use the exact same stat block as red samurai, but those people would not actually be red samurai, and if renraku was actually working with the yakuza (they probably do, but not that often; the yaks are in bed with MTC as i recall) they would be doing so using deniable assets, like shadowrunners or perhaps more conventional mercenaries.

of course, if that was just shorthand for "the yakuza hired some mercenaries and i used the red samurai stat block because that was as strong as i wanted the mercenaries to be", then you have no setting-related problems. in fact, you'll probably do something similar numerous times, whenever the situation calls for it and you don't feel like building NPCs from scratch when there are perfectly adequate equivalent NPCs in the books (maybe switch out a few things like brand names or have different organizations have slight number tweaks, etc). but if you're trying to use the default setting, red samurai are specifically renraku's elite security force, and you will generally find them in high security renraku facilities nyahnyah.gif ).
Arkeus
Thanks Jaid. I've been running the game around a made up version of Tir Na Nog. I don't think my players are going to have any issues with things not being 100% accurate lore wise. I even made up a Great Dragon that they've encountered who was severely wounded (Not strong enough to deal with the end the world drek going on at the moment in my Tir Na Nog). So the Great Dragon Miurdris has enlisted their help to end the problem. I've used the Renraku since in my story, the main bad guy, a Yakuza boss by the name of Koga, has strong ties with Renraku and pulled enough strings to have a bunker facility built and guarded by Red Samurai at the Hill of Tara in Ireland. I basically came up with that the Hill of Tara has the right magic juju/ley lines/background for the specific ritual Koga is trying to perform.

More specifically, my players don't really read the books, though I'd like them to, but they do know that the Red Samurai are dangerous as hell so fundamentally that's why they are there.
Jaid
ah. well, i suppose "i've changed the setting dramatically" also works nyahnyah.gif
Iduno
Welcome.

Yeah, 5th edition seems like 4th with some extra rules or changed rules. Some, but probably not most, of them are for the better (spirits getting 1/2 as much karma is good), but it looks like it's mostly going to slow the game down, and punish people for not playing magic characters.

Is that what you've found? I was managing 3-4 players through disappointingly little legwork and a run in 4 hours in 4th edition.
Kren Cooper
RE timing of runs....

I started playing Shadowrun ohh... some years ago. 3rd ed was still reasonably fresh, and I was introduced by a GM that had played since the start of 2nd ed. We had a Seattle based game running as a campaign, and we'd play every Tuesday night for about 4-5 hours, trying to break the action at logical or dramatic points. A "run" would take us about 3-4 weeks normally, with the first session being meeting the Johnson, planning and shopping, the 2nd being getting there and scouting, the third being the job, and the 4th being escape, evasion and getting paid. Not always, but that would be reasonably common. After that campaign came to an end we had a break from SR for a good few years, played other stuff and then came back to it.

This time though, we had our "Pink Mohawk" game. Rather than a set of constant players and a campaign, it was a drop in game, with changing players from week to week. Meeting on a friday night, we had 4-5 hours to play, but had to get the job done in one session, as the same players might not be available the next week. To get it done in one night, there were a couple of things I felt that I needed to do to make a stand-alone run work.
  • Fixer - I made a fairly iconic / distinctive fixer, and made him trustworthy. For background reasons, the fixer would not hose the team, and what he said they could count on. That cut down a huge amount of time on researching the fixer and looking for the double-cross / preparing for the betrayal and coming up with fallback and contingency planning.
  • Simple runs - a lot of the legwork was done by the fixer, so there was little for the team to do, other than go and do the job. He'd often have any specialist gear already in stock (not to say the team could use it well e.g. nightgliders, but they had them at least) so we could avoid the shopping element of the run.
  • One encounter showdown - due to the simple nature, there was a lot of fairly straightforward runs - break into a place, do a thing, get out - that kind of stuff. In the location, I would generally plan only one big fight, or complex encounter that would take time to resolve, to ensure that we got things done on time.
  • No deckers - I laid down at the start of the game that we would have no deckers. Though they are very "shadowrun" in flavour, it's always been a problem to integrate them with whats going on with the rest of the team, and they tend to be maths heavy and slightly game-in-a-game. So, all the deckers were NPCs and a lot of the work deckers would do were provided as stuff from the fixer - either passcards or programs to run, or intel already gathered.
  • Diminished consequences - the forces available to chase and hunt down the players were reduced from what would normally be available, and they can get away with stuff slightly easier. To a certain extent this is "easy mode" on the game menu. Partly it fits with the "pink mohawk" ethos of over the top characters, partly it's to ensure that when they're getting away they don't get bogged down in massive running gun battles and long winded car chases, again to ensure time constraints are met.

Overall, these seemed to work, and we ran for about 2 years with most Friday nights running from 6-7pm to about midnight, and the players earning about 3-5 karma per run for the "simple" jobs. Ended up with some fairly powerful characters - grade 4 or 5 initiate mages, riggers with big combat robots and Sams with some mil-spec sniper rifles and hardened armour.

A bunch of players wanted "more" though, so we started a Black Trenchcoat game, using a core of 5 of the Mohawk players. This goes right back to the first campaign style - runs take weeks to complete, there's Johnson double crosses, shopping, research, downtime, full consequences (and boy did that come as a surprise for some of those people that thought they wanted "full on" and discovered what that really meant. But they're learning to police their brass and clean up the forensics!) and Karma awards tend to be back to the more normal 6-12 range for a run, depending on what happened.

Alongside that, my Smuggler game using a bunch of the people that we started playing with all those years ago, has been running for coming up on 2 years now, and we're at game session 72. In those 72 sessions, we've covered 76 days of IC time. Starting with their escape from the bunch of Chechen guerrillas that captured them, they broke out in a stolen truck, and have taken to a life of crime ranging across the middle-east and asia. This is full consequence stuff as well, and a bit of a pain to manage unfortunately - with work, people with kids and travel time, we only get about 3 hours to play. But, at least two of the team are very strong story players, four of them really like the RP side and all of them have played SR long enough to have a fairly decent grasp of the rules, so combat tends to go reasonably quickly.

So - running a game in a single night / session is very doable, but you have to think through what you're doing and limit the scope of the action, and either drive the team to make quick decisions or force external events on them. My wife who plays in the smuggler game very occasionally plays in the mohawk games, and has difficulty "switching down". She starts to plan complex what-if scenarios and fallback plans, with alternate backup plans and routes, and then fallback plans for those, just in case (she's pretty risk averse...) - I have a sign now that I wave at her saying "Remember - it's Pink Mohawk", to let her know she's needlessly making it more complex than it needs to be, and it's probably going to be a simple job and she needs to crack on with it...
Arkeus
QUOTE (Iduno @ Oct 26 2018, 07:28 PM) *
Welcome.

Yeah, 5th edition seems like 4th with some extra rules or changed rules. Some, but probably not most, of them are for the better (spirits getting 1/2 as much karma is good), but it looks like it's mostly going to slow the game down, and punish people for not playing magic characters.

Is that what you've found? I was managing 3-4 players through disappointingly little legwork and a run in 4 hours in 4th edition.


We were getting a lot more done in 4th than we are in 5th. While I like some of the changes in 5th to bring some of the rules from 3rd back in, such as how initiative worked, limits are really dragging combats and other encounters out like crazy. Unfortunately, its not a simple remove limits type of fix since guns do anywhere between 20-100% more damage than they did in 4th. Melee weapons and spells however don't seem to have followed suit so it's a little difficult for the close combat types to catch up.

QUOTE (Kren Cooper @ Oct 28 2018, 12:28 AM) *
RE timing of runs....


Thanks Kren Cooper. Its good to know it is possible, but with quite a bit of effort. Have you played 5th Edition yet or still playing 3rd? I've talked a little with my players and they don't seem to interested in switching to a different edition.
binarywraith
I'm a big fan of giving higher power characters a big score, then shuffling them off to spend it and moving on to run new characters in a different city for a while. The old ones are around to pull out of retirement to do big things if you want to later, but I find that very rarely happens.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (binarywraith @ Oct 31 2018, 03:00 AM) *
I'm a big fan of giving higher power characters a big score, then shuffling them off to spend it and moving on to run new characters in a different city for a while. The old ones are around to pull out of retirement to do big things if you want to later, but I find that very rarely happens.


Out of Curiosity, what are you considering "Higher Power" characters?
I ask because I am always interested in other peoples campaigns.

For comparison: In our normal campaigns, We generally run character advancement to ~500-600 Karma before we start new characters.
But for me, that is where the characters start to get most interesting.
Since my philosophy has always been to build wide, even after 500+ Karma, there is always room to become better.
For example, even at 350 Karma, my current Technomancer has barely begun to scratch the surface of character development and progression (Resonance 4, no skill beyond a 7).
Yes, she is competent at her core competencies (18 Dice for Hacking and such) but there are always more skills, submersions, abilities, qualities, and contacts to be had, and never enough karma or time frown.gif


Kren Cooper
QUOTE (Arkeus @ Oct 29 2018, 05:48 PM) *
Thanks Kren Cooper. Its good to know it is possible, but with quite a bit of effort. Have you played 5th Edition yet or still playing 3rd? I've talked a little with my players and they don't seem to interested in switching to a different edition.


We're still playing 3rd, and most of our games are set 2058-2061ish at the moment. We like 3rd as a style and system, and there were a number of things we really didn't like about 4th - and I haven't even looked at 5th to be honest. It's not that third doesn't have problems - it clearly does. But we didn't see 4th as fixing them, or enough of them without bringing in more new issues to replace them.

At the moment we're collating all of our stuff into a 3.5 rules set to tie down all the fixes and addons we use, and to get things documented. We'll happily use the scenarios and information from later editions - but I can't see us shifting from 3rd ed to be honest.
Arkeus
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Oct 31 2018, 06:31 AM) *
Out of Curiosity, what are you considering "Higher Power" characters?
I ask because I am always interested in other peoples campaigns.

For comparison: In our normal campaigns, We generally run character advancement to ~500-600 Karma before we start new characters.
But for me, that is where the characters start to get most interesting.
Since my philosophy has always been to build wide, even after 500+ Karma, there is always room to become better.
For example, even at 350 Karma, my current Technomancer has barely begun to scratch the surface of character development and progression (Resonance 4, no skill beyond a 7).
Yes, she is competent at her core competencies (18 Dice for Hacking and such) but there are always more skills, submersions, abilities, qualities, and contacts to be had, and never enough karma or time frown.gif


I kinda wish my players built wide. Then they'd have skill overlap and could make use of teamwork tests. Anywho, my players have around 350 Karma and are virtually always hitting the limits on their tests.

They also don't use bursts or anything that could reduce my defense dice, regardless of the times I explain it or use it on them, so combats can really drag out.

When we're done with this last run, my group is going to talk about where to go from here.
Arkeus
QUOTE (Kren Cooper @ Oct 31 2018, 09:26 AM) *
We're still playing 3rd, and most of our games are set 2058-2061ish at the moment. We like 3rd as a style and system, and there were a number of things we really didn't like about 4th - and I haven't even looked at 5th to be honest. It's not that third doesn't have problems - it clearly does. But we didn't see 4th as fixing them, or enough of them without bringing in more new issues to replace them.

At the moment we're collating all of our stuff into a 3.5 rules set to tie down all the fixes and addons we use, and to get things documented. We'll happily use the scenarios and information from later editions - but I can't see us shifting from 3rd ed to be honest.


That's pretty cool. We've made a couple house rules back when we played 4th, but I can't remember them. Writing them down into some sort of file folder or something is a great idea.
Iduno
QUOTE (Arkeus @ Nov 1 2018, 12:52 PM) *
I kinda wish my players built wide. Then they'd have skill overlap and could make use of teamwork tests. Anywho, my players have around 350 Karma and are virtually always hitting the limits on their tests.

They also don't use bursts or anything that could reduce my defense dice, regardless of the times I explain it or use it on them, so combats can really drag out.

When we're done with this last run, my group is going to talk about where to go from here.


Have you tried having low-dicepool gangers or a green runner team (low dicepools, but competent leadership/planning) tear them up with automatics/SMGs? I'm not 100% sure how effective just rolling few dice would be at making sure they know the gangers have bad dicepools, but...

You may as well have them use other tactics like hiding behind cars/boxes/tables/whatever is around. Maybe several pairs, far enough apart to lower the efficacy of AoE attacks (grenades, stunball, etc.). Throw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

Anyway, don't tell, show.
binarywraith
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Oct 31 2018, 08:31 AM) *
Out of Curiosity, what are you considering "Higher Power" characters?
I ask because I am always interested in other peoples campaigns.

For comparison: In our normal campaigns, We generally run character advancement to ~500-600 Karma before we start new characters.
But for me, that is where the characters start to get most interesting.
Since my philosophy has always been to build wide, even after 500+ Karma, there is always room to become better.
For example, even at 350 Karma, my current Technomancer has barely begun to scratch the surface of character development and progression (Resonance 4, no skill beyond a 7).
Yes, she is competent at her core competencies (18 Dice for Hacking and such) but there are always more skills, submersions, abilities, qualities, and contacts to be had, and never enough karma or time frown.gif



I prefer street-level play, so usually around 300 karma or so, because at that point they're solidly into Prime Runner territory, which is a very different scale of game.
Arkeus
QUOTE (Iduno @ Nov 1 2018, 12:19 PM) *
Have you tried having low-dicepool gangers or a green runner team (low dicepools, but competent leadership/planning) tear them up with automatics/SMGs? I'm not 100% sure how effective just rolling few dice would be at making sure they know the gangers have bad dicepools, but...

You may as well have them use other tactics like hiding behind cars/boxes/tables/whatever is around. Maybe several pairs, far enough apart to lower the efficacy of AoE attacks (grenades, stunball, etc.). Throw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

Anyway, don't tell, show.


The last fight they were in, I had some yakuza tear the troll PC apart with some AK-97s. Same goes for the Street Sam. He didn't like a -9 to his defense but he didn't know I was rolling very few dice at that point. I think he only had 12 dice for defense before that.

The troll went unconscious in one attack due to stun damage as I would need to hit him with something deadly serious to get through his armor.

QUOTE (binarywraith @ Nov 6 2018, 09:30 PM) *
I prefer street-level play, so usually around 300 karma or so, because at that point they're solidly into Prime Runner territory, which is a very different scale of game.


I would agree. Prime runner level play is a little more challenging to keep the players challenged. Something I'm working on I guess.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (binarywraith @ Nov 6 2018, 10:30 PM) *
I prefer street-level play, so usually around 300 karma or so, because at that point they're solidly into Prime Runner territory, which is a very different scale of game.


Prime Runner territory tends to vary wildly at tables from my experience.
But I (we) prefer to actually operate at that level for a while since the climb to that point takes so long (when built wide, anyways).
For example, My Technomancer is sitting at just over 350 Karma and she is not quite yet what I would consider a Prime Runner. Maybe in another 200 Karma or so.
It is interesting to see that growth pay off for a while, rather than ending a game as you become a Prime Runner.

I never really cared much for "Street" Level play. I really like the concept of a professional at the early stages of their career, and then the natural progression to Local Prime, then Regional Prime, and then maybe Global Prime Runner.

Both can be fun, though smile.gif
Thanks for sharing cool.gif
Paul
We've, over the years, played with the build system in a variety of ways. As a game master the real key is presenting a fun but challenging setting. Before even playing sit down with your players and discuss what they want, and what you want. Assuming everyone is on board a few things I've found helped me:

Planning. I typically utilize a five paragraph order style of writing (oSMEAC), which with my career field happens to be pretty technical. I plan everything that the players can't control. Weather. Terrain. Friendly units. Adjacent Units. Command. Logistics. NPC's that exist in the area of operations. I utilize calendars to map out dates-I generally have the lunar cycle, and weather mapped out. All of this does two things-it adds to your immersion, which never hurts, and it allows you to start thinking about how you challenge a typical team.4-6 players means 800 to 1200 points. Opposition can be a challenge, but so can the details.

I used to like taking chunks of google maps and utilizing them to make overlays.

At any rate good luck with your arc!
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