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I have a mage in the game I'm running who made several wise choices and moves and because of them knocked out a hellhound guard, rather than killing it. She then, immediately after the run, began working to try to train it to be her pet. She has as many knowledge skills that are applicable to this as is physically possible, so it seems a reasonable thing to let her do, I mean her character is almost designed for it.

However, I'm worried about the balance issues this obviously poses. I was hoping I could get some insight as to how to prevent this from becoming a problem in the game.
Presumably Running Wild will cover this.

If you can't wait, which is probable, I'd say keep the animal in training, have it be a lot of risk and difficulty (and expense!), and if it's all gone through, well, you've basically got an organic combat drone without the surveillance capabilities.

you guys are really fast responders, and i had already begun using your stalling technique, first by forcing Her to pay for a lifestyle other than street, and extra for it, and then by saying it'll be a while to stall for time to come up with something better.

ON a related not then does anyone know when running wild will come out to save me from the dilemma?
Since the hellhound is a guard, it has certainly already been trained. This makes re-training difficult because the mage has litter clue what the hellhound's former owners did to it and taught it to do.

Often, attack-trained animals are trained to respond to innocous words and phrases. The first time she says "sit", it is possible that the Hellhound will rip the nearest person's throat out.

TNs should be high and, if at all reasonable, make her roleplay the training. If you do, play the Hound as you would any other confused, potentialy scared, and certainly deadly NPC. Training is all about forming a relationship with the animal.
The animal doesn't disrupt the game until it gets used for something. When it gets used, it won't do any more for her that it would for the opposition. Every time it gets used, it has a chance of dying. In other words, the more she tries to affect the game with it, the more likely it'll go away.

I see this as no more unbalancing to the game than if she learned a new spell at Force 5. I've seen characters risk their lives to save their ally spirits. She'll probably risk her life to save her hound's life, or Treat her hound at the risk of her team mates' lives.

A characters in my campaign captured 5 barghests 3 years ago in R.L, 7 years ago in the campaign. She has now raised multiple generations of barghests. She took all the skills to raise and train them. She is now the biggest seller of paranormal critters to the Salish border patrol.

Number of times they have taken a barghest on a run: zero. Number of time they've met a barghest trained by her kennel: zero. Benefit to the player of having a character that has done something cool: Priceless.
If you're still concerned about balance after the advice above, turn to parabiology. You can make up almost any sort of unique ailment or medically-related limitation on the basis that the hellhound is a new animal type and hasn't been studied as much as its progenitor species. It might even have been put on a special diet (a la Jurassic Park) to ensure a short lifespan in case of accidental release. This allows you to limit the critter's involvement in the field and/or impose hefty costs to keeping it active. How many shadow vets are available, anyway, and how many street docs are going to let the owner treat the beast in their facility ?
plus like has been said the hellhound has been previously trained I'd say at best it could be trained to be a glorified guard dog for the runners house but if he unfortunately tried to take it on a run with him I'd say that when the din of battle started it'd really have a 50/50 chance between turning on the runners or attacking who it's commanded to. Now as for the mage using it as a guard dog I hope he has fire insurance. Those libraries make great kindling! Yet another reason to have an electronic library. biggrin.gif
If the character has spent a ton of Karma to get the knowledge and active skills necessary to train and control such animal, then I don't think it's reasonable to call it unbalanced. After all, skills aren't cheap, and it's not fair to somebody to have them spend a ton of points and not be able to use them.

Given those caveats, retraining the animal isn't going to be easy.

I think it'd be a safe statement to make that, if the character has knowledge skills in the range of 4-5 points, then that PC knows more about training such an animal than me, you, or the player. However, intuitively, anyone should know that training a guard dog from a puppy is going to be a lot easier than retraining an adult hell hound.

So, I think it's safe to make these target numbers pretty damned high. (Mid-high teens, multiple successes required. Failures lead to the animal forgetting some of its recent training.)

Basically, make the player work for it. If he does his share of the work, then I don't see how it's going to incredibly unbalance things. If he doesn't, then it'll blow up in his face.

But, keep in mind, there are karma points being spent on skills that could otherwise be going to boost the character in other ways.
intuitively, anyone should know that training a guard dog from a puppy is going to be a lot easier than retraining an adult hell hound.

If the PC wants to reduce these horrible TNs, make him go on a run and kidnap the previous handler, and over a number of days/weeks interrogate the handler for the commands and do's and don'ts of the beast.
in so far as training the animal goes I had already dealt with the issue of high target numbers, in total the character rolled three sucesses at TN 15. I'm less woried about the character having the dog, heck she deserves it with the work put into saving it, more so i'm worried about the issues of what happens now that they have the dog to help out, I apreciate the advice you all have given me It's helpful as to how I really shouldn't worry about it being too unbalanced.

Oh yeah and one other thing
the character has knowledge skills in the range of 4-5 points, then that PC knows more about training such an animal than me, you, or the player.

the player actually trains animals for a living so I think that she knows plenty about training him, both in real life and in the game.

Thanks again for your help.
Mind/memory altering spells on the hellhound could help to have some effect on training, too.

Just for the creativity of the concept, I let players get by a guardian paracritter (one of the dog types, probably a hellhound or gabriel hound) by using the Influence spell and suggesting to the animal that the caster was its best friend. Loved the idea so I let it go by. Next time the same person tried it his wording was something like "I'll influence it to really like me." So, the hellhound started humping his leg! silly.gif
Hell hounds are nothing. You want truly frightening how about a character undergoes a quest to learn the true name of a free spirit?
They don't "have the dog to help out" a guard dog is not an attack dog, and noone ever, ever uses a biological as part of any kind of stealth or insertion force. If it's actually a guard dog then it's good for territorial defence, not taking on a run.
And let's face it - how can you pass up the comedy of trying to babysit a sick hellhound?

Or occasionally smelling like hellhound property?

And this isn't even touching on house-cleaning duties. Ewwwww.

Hellhounds are powerful but c'mon, samurai with explosives or mages with AoE damage are just as bad, if not worse.

And hellhounds are bullet magnets anyway...unless she decides to try and squeeze him into a kevlar woolie. grinbig.gif

QUOTE (Dashifen @ Jul 28 2004, 09:20 AM)
I let players get by a guardian paracritter by using the Influence spell and suggesting to the animal that the caster was its best friend.

I don't interpret the Influence spell as having this type of control. Influence is a permanent spell, whose effect ends when the target carries out the act that he/she/it was influenced to perform. For example, being influenced to drop all weapons into a trash compactor. Influence becomes permanent once it is sustained long enough (see Permanent Spell table, SR3.178).

What you describe above is more like Control Emotion, which is a sustained spell. It's affect lasts only while the caster sustains it.
You can take a lot of cues from watching tiger trainers -- the tigers are "trained" to a point, but they sure aren't going to take them to the park on a leash. Animals have their own minds, no matter how well trained. If they bring the hellhound along, they'd better be prepared for it to chase a squirrel at an inopportune moment.

Which could provide endless comedy. I would use the hellhound as continuous comic relief.

Not to mention the trouble that a non-kenneled-up hellhound might produce. After all, the corp probably didn't keep it around normal people; they locked it up during the day and fed it raw steak.

Let's say the mage trains it as a guard dog. All well and good. Except that one night she goes out on a run and comes back to discover that the hound has upended not only the trash cans but the refrigerator and devoured all the processed soy because, hey, it smelled good.

Follow up will have to include the hound's indigestion and gas. Flaming gas, of course. :evilgm:

I'm definitely not saying don't let her do it. It makes sense to me to allow her to retrain it. Just allow for some unusual happenings, as has happened with my family's dog on more than one occasion. Training doesn't mean it'll do everything she says, particularly when there's no-one around to pay attention to it. smile.gif
I would definitely make her have above a Street Level lifestyle. Probably a Medium. And the Hellhound itself would require at least a Low lifestyle. Think what a Squatter lifestyle provides? The hellhound needs more than that just to be properly fed.

Several years ago I let a player have a hellhound as a friend for life. nuyen.gif 200,000 for something that provided no in game benefits, but it made for some interesting situations. (That guy may have been too much of a role player though.)
Has anybody seen the film Amores Perros? Fantastic for this situation - a lot of it revolves around the world of illegal dog-fighting in Mexico. The main character has a lot of problems with his dog, even though it's well trained. It makes lots of social difficulties (and life-threatening ones, too) for him. I imagine having a hell-hound around could be something like that. cool.gif
Moonstone Spider
I wrote a fan-made supplement of rules for this situation but my server died and I haven't found a new online home for it yet.

I say let her have it. In my games I use a Goose to Gander law, anything the players can do, the enemy can do, and vice versa. Just add the bad in with the good.
If you want, I can host it. If you want it to be pretty, though, better do the HTML yourself because I'm already horribly behind in the design department dead.gif

Someone touched on the added costs to lifestyle in keeping a pet -- which is good -- but this is not just a big dog. This is a big dog that breathes fire. This means additional precautions. All-metal furnishings. Extra fire extinguisher tech in the house. Fireproofing of the kennel. Not to mention all the extra insurance. Heck, getting all of this without attracting attention is probably a campaign in and of itself.

What if the mage in question isn't afraid of attracting attention? Oh, then that's a whole new kettle of fish. This is a dangerous paracritter we're talking about (remember, it breathes fire). This means that there are additional licenses and permits needed to keep such an animal. And when applying for said permits, the issuing authority starts to scrutinize your life very carefully. Exactly where did you get this animal? What do you do for a living? Are you going to have the income to sustain the animal's health and well-being? Do you have anything around the house which might prove to be a danger to the animal? What do your neighbors think?

Shadowrunners do not live in a vacuum; they live in the real world. Look at the current hostilities that owners of pit bulls and rottweiler dogs go through. Then apply those to an environment where information is available everywhere, and where the animal is in fact possible of causing major urban fires just by belching. I personally think that had your mage PC been thinking properly, she'd have put the animal out of its misery before continuing on, because owning a previously-trained animal like this, retraining it and maintaining it is more headache than any shadowrunner in their right mind would want to deal with.

But if she's masochistic enough to put up with it... why? The dog gets her nothing that she couldn't do herself, and is a drain on her resources that she doesn't need. I can see having the dog for style, but at some point she's going to realize that it's going to come to a choice: her shadowrunning career or the dog, when the dog's food is going to cost her that spell formula or that sorcery library upgrade or that focus she needs to stay on top of her game.

If she can live with that decision and can make it work for her, then more power to her.
It occurs to me that the social modifiers table (for using negotiation, intimidation, etc. on metahumans) would work fine for animal training/coercion also. That provides some pretty good guidelines. Some notes and additions would be:

--You'd take a minimum +4 to your TNs for "cultural differences" per the table
--There's probably a language barrier (+2 to +4 say)
--Some judgement must be applied to what requires a test: Chasing a squirrel does not, but sitting still or not crapping in the house probably does.
--Whether a pet loves or hates you depends on how well cared for it is -- time, food, toys, and personal attention

I'm sure a hellhound could be trained not to breathe fire in the house, after a few early mishaps. It's just another part of house-breaking.

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