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I got to thinking... Everyone always talks about how great it is to run games where the runners get in and out without firing a shot taking paydata without the corps even realizing it until joe wageslave shows up the next morning. It's a very challenging task to accomplish though and (though I must admit I'm not the most frequent visitor here) I've never seen a post containing instructions on how to go about accomplishing it, thus we still end up hearing (admittedly quite funny) stories about troll gangers standing in the reception of an Ares complex with a LMG shooting anything that moves and wondering why the run went south. Hell my own group has been guilty of that on numerous occasions. Ask Blakkie about the Rickshaw sometime, I think that was his idea grinbig.gif. Anyhow I started this thread as a way for players to pool their collective ideas on how to pull "professional" runs off.

A good run starts with a well-planned team. A group with 2 troll street sams an orc razor boy and a shark shaman is not going to be able to accomplish much other than getting news coverage. so I guess I'll start with ideas on what makes a good team. Assuming 4-6 members what do you think creates a well-balanced team capable of dealing with most threats?

1) everyone should have moderate to good stealth skills. Even the decker who spends most of the run with his brain plugged into a wall should know how to hide.

2) No trolls. They are too big to obvious and attract attention. Many of the more acrobatic physical aspects of a run such as crawling through ducts and windows are denied to them... Too much of a liability for a few extra points of body and strenght IMO.

3) Keep cyber to a minimum. Try to avoid full body conversion cyborgs UNLESS they are specifically tailored around stealth and breaking and entering. MAD detectors go off like... mad and though they can be handy to have in a fight repairs and maintenance can cost a small fortune.

4) Crosstrain crosstrain crosstrain. If the SEALS do it why shouldn't you. Everyone should pick up one other specialty as a backup. That way if someone dies or is otherwise incapacitated the team can still function.

As for the team itself:

A Decker/Rigger. When I run games I tend to make this character an NPC who rarely participates in combat unless absolutely necessary and never follows the team in on a run. He's mostly there to serve as a getaway driver and to crack matrix security, find blueprints ect.

A physical security specialist. Should be able to slice maglocks, retinal duplication, ect. Physads who sacrifice a bit of magic for some useful cyberware make great PSS's. Decent armour and combat skills are still a must however since the PSS should usually take point.

A face. Deal with the Johnson, do the bulk of the legwork. I've also found it works well when the face has a tactical computer and can serve as command and control. Should be kept towards the middle of the team. Skillsofts are a godsend to the face too since it opens up the door for crosstraining instantly with any other memeber of the team.

Magical support. I tend to prefer Hermetics but that's just me. Either way not much more to talk about here. Mages make good backup for physical security since much of that job can be done sans cyber. Keep the mage behind the face in a position to best offer magical support while allowing his comrades to serve as meat sheilds avoiding attempts to geek the mage first.

Gun bunny. I much perfer the lower cyber higher skill merc archetype to the cybered up street sam though either work. He shouldn't be wearing armour heavier than an armoured jacket though since anything more is going to hamper is mobility, which is essential. When it comes to weapons a silenced pistol or SMG is a must. Heavier ordinance such as grenades and possibly an assault rifle can be brought along, though it should only be pulled out in case of emergencies. If his skills and stats are half decent he can make a backup decker too which is nice to have even just as support for the main decker.
Wounded Ronin
What makes the perfect run?

1.) Lots of PC death.
2.) Ammunition expenditure. I think it's a terrible travesty that usually in SR you never need to reload. If someone has to drop a Predator mag or two, I think that that really makes a run.
3.) No deckers or riggers, since the decking and vehicle combat mini games take too long.

Remember, nothing is cooler than PTSDing PCs who act like characters in the middle of a 'Nam film.
I definatly agree with the deckers and riggers taking too long which is why when I GM I roll them into one character and make him/her an NPC. Then I can do the bulk of the vehical and matrix junk behind the scenes before the session even starts and only need to make minor adjustments based on PC actions.

As for the ammo expendature and the like yes it's great fun and I do enjoy the occasional one shot that ends with the PCs racking up rediculous body counts before finally being taken down by a half dozen FRT's (like I said when I have time I'll tell everyone about the Rickshaw incedent) but it doesn't bode well for an extended campaign.
Ronin's answer is pretty cool, but I'd like to preface it with some questions.

What sort of run are you talking about specifically? A quiet corporate insertion? Really, the perfect run is a combination of two things:

1) A good plan (and a good backup plan and a good backup backup plan)
2) Having the appropriate people, tools and skills for all plans involved.

So if your run is breaking knees, having a troll is a good thing. If your run involves sneaking into an art museum in the middle of the night, having someone who's completely cybered isn't bad either. There is no single formula for ALL runs, since runs are completely different. It's like asking what the perfect car is. What are you trying to do with it?
Ok to keep things simple lets assume we are dealing with a fairly standard corprate data grab. The runners have been told to get into a AA corprate complex and make it out again with a disk. Security is well funded and provided by Knight Errant.

Really what I'm going for is an attempt to develop a team and tactics for said team that is adaptable enough to deal with a wide variety of situations and objectives. It's true that a team put together specifically to raid an Azzie ammo depot in the middle of the yucatan is going to look very different than one who plans on stealing the mona lisa from the louve but what if they were contracted to do both?
I've only GM'd a few matrix runs, but the ones I have done averaged about 10 minutes, and none took more than 20. And that was just because I'd spent a lot of time writing up discriptions of my "skyscraper as a tree" metaphore, and wanted to use most of what I'd made up.
Most matrix runs in 3rd ed take fewer than 10 rolls.

Anyway, I love the combat decker archetype, but I prefer a more stealth based guy who can also be the on-site tech expert, compared to the fairly combat heavy orc in the book, assuming he needs to deck from inside the installation
I prefer shamanic to hermetic, because confusion makes any ID look reasonable to security, and conceal really helps with the stealth.
In our last group, the gun bunny was also the B&E specialist. Not as much stealth as the Phys-ad, but she made a great replacement because of her tech skills.
Our face was a sorceror, so she served multiple functions.
The troll was kept as security for the most part. His job was to kick in a door and kill without mercy or hesitation if things went bad. Which happened a lot less when he stayed in the van smile.gif
Wounded Ronin
Well, I was always GMing over IRC, which slows things down, and the matrix runs and vehicle chases could seriously take like an hour. I wouldn't have stopped doing them if I really didn't feel it was necessary.
I can see it taking more time over IRC.
I had stopped using deckers when I ran 2nd ed, but after some very long threads and run-throughs here, I tried it under third ed and found it much more playable. YMMV of course. I wasn't implying that you suck or anything, just putting in that I'd found differently.
Grisled runner: We have won again. That is good! But what is best in life?

Newbie runner: The open road, a fleet Banshee, ally spirit on your wrist, wind in your hair!

Grisled runner: Wrong! What is best in life?

Veteran runner: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!

Grisled runner: That is good.
QUOTE (Spookymonster)
Grisled runner: We have won again. That is good! But what is best in life?

Newbie runner: The open road, a fleet Banshee, ally spirit on your wrist, wind in your hair!

Grisled runner: Wrong! What is best in life?

Veteran runner: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!

Grisled runner: That is good.


I can just hear the drums in the background and Arnold speaking those words.

Go Conan!!!
Little Bill
In my experience the most important element in getting a "perfect run" is a GM who realizes that watching a well-formed plan succeed can be as entertaining as fighting a running gun battle.

I have had no clean runs in Shadowrun - all of the runs I've been on have gone wrong and involved fights of one kind or another. Some of them have gone very wrong, particularly the last campaign I was in.
I have had clean runs while playing Spycraft (a fantastic d20 modern day espionage game). The primary difference was the difference in attitude of the two GMs running the games (although the players also contribute - some of them get bored without constant firefights).

My Shadowrun GM (I've really only had one) gives me the impression that he doesn't feel he's doing his job if the runners get away clean. He will basically stack any possible obstacle in the way (sometimes quite obviously reacting to player plans rather than using what the NPCs would realistically know) and will keep making sense rolls for the guards until the characters slip up a roll and the fighting begins. (Hey, and if you're reading this man - I had fun anyway. I like firefights as much as the next man)
The Spycraft GM threw a few logical obstacles in our way but decided our plans were entertaining enough that he allowed them to succeed on their own strengths.

Try telling your GM that you would enjoy a run or two which have a few tense moments but that don't necessarily end with it hitting the fan.
Wounded Ronin
Sometimes, though, there will be disagreements between players as to what type of game they prefer. Like the last poster said, some people like 1970s Mission Impossible plans to come together, others like Rambo.

In such a case, the only solution is to duel to the death in the backyard using unarmed hand to hand combat until only people who agree remain.
Here's a breakdown of a run I GMd a while back. One of my players (Nova) and I described it on DumpShock and then other people threw in. The original thread, entitled "most perfectly accomplished runs," may be found here.

These are the relevant posts; I've included the description of the run and a few comments from other Dumpshockers.

* * * * *

QUOTE (Velocity)
Hopefully, one of the PCs who actually pulled the job will post details of this run (*cough*Sunday_Gamer*cough*Nova*cough*), but one of the most brilliantly-executed runs I ever witnessed happened a few months ago:

In a nutshell, the PCs were hired to break into a Renraku owned-and-operated "executive retreat" located in the heart of downtown Seattle. It was basically a high-security spa for visiting high muckity-mucks from Renraku offices overseas: it had an Olympic-sized pool, a stable and large riding park, a luxurious (though small) hotel, theater, several private lodges, etc.

A team of Red Samurai were permanently posted to the place and another team had arrived as escorts for the weekend's guests: three major shareholders in the company. Together, the three owned just over 11% of the corp's outstanding shares and they were in town for a shareholder's meeting. Midway through the weekend, a third team of Red Sams were scheduled to arrive because Renraku counter-intelligence had felt their spidey-sense tingling.

The job was complex: the three shareholders had to be abducted from within the facility and brought to a rendez-vous point downtown. Since all three were monitored 24-7, either the surveillance had to be spoofed or duplicates substituted for the originals, etc.

Once the three were brought to rendez-vous point A, they would be collected and taken away. The PCs then would kill several nervous, sweaty, "ohmigod-the-Red-Sams-will-be-here-any-fucking-second-I-can-feel-it" hours until they received a call. They'd be given another rendez-vous point where they would find the three abductees, unharmed and unmarked but unconscious.

Wait for it.

The three shareholders then had to be returned to the resort with no-one the wiser.

No evidence must be left behind: no clues, no DNA, no astral signatures, nada. The run had to be perfectly clean. (One of the best parts for me was that not a shot was fired. smile.gif)

And the sneaky devils (my PCs that is) did it. It was a great story, filled with honest-to-goodness tension, thrills, near-misses and brilliant successes. It taxed their wits and creativity and (I think) made everyone feel legitimately proud of themselves.

QUOTE (Nova)'s my best recollection of the run...

We kidnapped 1 of the 3 before they boarded the plane in London and replaced him with Kong in his shape, along with a cosmetic disguise spell.

He arrived in Seattle and though they detected magic on him, they identified it as a cosmetic disguise spell. He acted all haughty and basically told them to stuff it (he's an exec after all - what right do they have to question him etc...).

Meanwhile our decker Gauge kicked some serious ass and got (after a VERY difficult run) some satellite images of the compound. I have good security systems so I spent 36 hours straight trying to identify every piece of security they had, and we found one or 2 small places in the compound that were not covered by security. When I mean not covered, I am trying to say there was a 2 square meter area behind some trees that happened to be between gaps of the pressure plates strewn across the compound, with the trees hiding the cameras, satelites and astral perceptions. This 2 square meter gap was about 30 feet from an outside wall.

The 3 execs were 2 men and a woman. At this point Kong starts socializing with them as the third exec, and realizes that both men find the woman attractive. In their private chambers he starts planting seeds of possibly arranging a little tryst between the three of them. At first they are very reluctant but after some alcohol and a little Kong-like persuasion, they agree to meet the following day in some far corner of the compound..a little horseback riding, a little wine, a picnic and some "ecstacy" type drug to heighten the menage-a-trois experience. Of course the ecstacy type drug also has the effect of them passing out and losing their memories for the previous 24 hours. Of course their "meeting spot" was a small 2 square meter patch of security sees them dissapear from cameras and runs to check on them (this before the drug is distributed - they are relaxing with wine and a picnic), and of course the execs are deeply irate at the security. They are looking for some PRIVACY do you MIND? The execs are feeling a little tense about their tryst and want to make sure no one spots them, so the 2 other execs actually do our job for us and tell security to piss off and leave them alone for a few hours. Don't worry, we won't leave the grounds.

So security pisses off, and will continue to piss off for the next 2-3 hours and the execs command. Kong gives them some ecstacy for a "good time" and they blank out.

Our rigger, Legs, is waiting with his van just on the other side of the wall. Kong levitates the unconcious 2 execs into the waiting van, where the original 3rd exec is waiting. We covered the levitation...the trees stopped the astral perception, our rigger did something to the satelite (can't remember what) and we get them over the wall into the van and drive to the meet.

We leave them to get brainwashed for a very very tense 2 hours. We plant some of the drugs in the pocket of the exec Kong was impersonating, who was noted to be a "party guy" exec. We then reversed the levitation and cover and gently deposited the 3 sleeping execs back in the "safe spot".

The execs wake up, and remember nothing. The drug that was given to them scrambles your memory for the last 24 hours or so, so they all wake up in each other's embrace, with wine and a picnic basket and a pocket full of drugs. They put 2 and 2 together and realize they had a romantic tete-a-tete, took some drugs from the 3rd exec, and probably had a great time and then passed out. The drugs must be shit cause they can't remember anything for the last 24 hours (this is why the original exec we kidnapped and replaced seems to be missing the same amount of time as the other 2- they all think they shared exactly the same experience). Guess what? To avoid the embarassing situation, not a single one of them ever mentioned anything about their little tryst, or what effect the drugs had on them. As far as they're concerned, they never left the compound, so where's the harm?

There was a LOT of preparation for this run, and tons more detail, but that's basically what I remember.

QUOTE (Tom Collins)
Wow....just wow. It was timing the drugs effect that really put me over the top for this one. I can see my group coming up with most the rest of it, but not the drugs. Sir, I bow to you. I've been invovled in some pretty impressive runs, but nothing to compare to that.

QUOTE (Panzergeist)
Nova, that is truly awesome. I hope I can pull a grand slam like that someday.

QUOTE (Velocity)
I'd like to point out that in this run, social engineering was a critical component of the stunning success. There are lessons to be learned here.

QUOTE (Nova)
Thanks Tom and Panzer - it was a great run. I think it was 2 or 3 entire game sessions just setting it up, doing the footwork/research, getting things in place...

Velocity deserves kudoes too. He was GMing this one. Um...wait a sec...he set it up as a nearly impossible run....what a bastard! wink.gif

QUOTE (Tom Collins)
Dang, three seesions of planning. I think the most I've ever gone is two, but then again most of the runners in my group see each other every few days or so, and I know when they get a run that's exciting they will be talking out ideas and plans over lunch for the next week.

QUOTE (Velocity)
The planning did take an awfully long time, but it was worth it: I think the payout on that job was on the order of 3,000,000 nuyen.gif. Even split four ways and subtracting sundry expenses, it was a major score. Granted, they had to leave town for about three months...

Shadowrunners tend to be extraordinary individuals. With careful planning, teamwork, imagination and a little luck, the truly superhuman becomes possible.
Wiz In Red
I never understood why there wasn't more of the labor stable setups...say each player has three characters with different skills and such...all the characters are aware of each other (hopefully amicable), then you have a larger labor pool to choose from so you can customize the team (or have two larger teams if it's needed and your group of players and GM can handle it) as needed for each mission. We've done something similar to this in the past and it worked out well. It keeps things fresh, and you've got a better chance at having the skills you need to accomplish a job. It was a lot of fun.
What makes a good run? The street sam screaming...

"Let's do the office, lets do the whole fraggin office!"

In the middle of the Ares office building you are infiltrating.
THat is pretty damn impressive. As for "the Perfect Run", I'd say it's not so much "no shots fired" as "everything going according to plan".

We were once hired to snag a book for a Johnson, and the book happened to be in this nice old haunted Scottish Castle. And who decides to snatch it but MF Alachia! Problem is that my character had some idea about who and what she was, because my character has psychometry, and the GM decided that in this case (the "book" ended up being a very old journal of Aithner Oakforest, aka pattern item) it would apply, and apparently she wanted his little memento. We got screwed, 'cause there was no way in hell we could fight her (especially since she paralyzed us all with one spell and daintly took the book from our hands). Turns out Mr. Johnson was Alamaise. eek.gif
So we had to steal the book back from Alachia's 'summer home'. Needless to say we were pretty sure we were screwed.

After a LOT of preparation we acutally went in and snagged the book, but not without alerting her (and Aithne who happened to be visiting during the little soire' she was having). We pretty much planned on not being spotted, so everything was going according to plan (scary thought). We had a banshee "idling" just off the cliff, only about 200 meters from the house, so we only had to make it that far. But the person carrying the book (my charcter) was hit with a force 40 fireball. Needless to say, I died. But that was the plan.

I'd gotten a hold of an 'immortal flower', so I'd be getting back up. But I wasn't in any hurry. Since the char had used psychometry, and had a photgrapic memory (eiditc memory sense), we were able to make a duplicate of the book from when we'd had it. Then I'd quickened a spell to it that looked similar to it's aura. Wouldn't stand up to close inspection, but it didn't have to.

Rest of the team grabbed the book, and started hoofing it ( had a hefty armor spell on, and it was in fron of me, so it survived), but of course Aithne appeared out of now where and cut them off, and demanded the book. In the meantime, my Ally spirit was bringing up the Banshee to get us out of there, and someone else was carrying my "body" (they didn't know about the flower, because they aren't very good actors). Aithne grabbed the book, and my ally spirit, following my mental command, triggered the CXII Id' duct taped to it. Aithne survived of course, but it bought everyone enough time to get onto the Banshee.

it wasn't until we were past the Veil that they realized I was alive and had the real journal in my bag. Good times, good times.
Wounded Ronin
OK, the "let's do the whole fragging office" comment got me totally pumped up.

Did any of you ever play the game Damage Incorporated, by Richard Rouse? It was a "modern day" FPS military game, except that the designer didn't know anything abou how the armed forces work aside from watching "Full Metal Jacket" repeatedly. As a result, you command a squad of Marines who fire their M16s from the hip and magically have full auto mode on them instead of SA and burst mode. Furthermore, strategy is limited to telling your Marines to move to particular spots on the map; there's no suppressive fire, telling people to frag rooms, etc.

So, basically, it's like Full Metal Jacket the video game...send your men to walk through lots of enemies while spraying from the hip and making wisecracks and sardonic comments. (The recorded comments that the men made was the best part of the game, and was really a great touch for 1997).

So, anyway, my point is, I think it would be really cool to run a game of Shadowrun using Raygun's firearms, but just have everyone always fire from the hip (use suppressive fire; with Raygun's higher Power and rates of fire suppressive fire would be more effective) and make wisecracks and be generally sociopathic. Think of how funny and entertaining it would be.
QUOTE (Wounded Ronin)
So, anyway, my point is, I think it would be really cool to run a game of Shadowrun using Raygun's firearms, but just have everyone always fire from the hip (use suppressive fire; with Raygun's higher Power and rates of fire suppressive fire would be more effective) and make wisecracks and be generally sociopathic. Think of how funny and entertaining it would be.

Thats pretty much all my games, except for the firing from the hip bit. Rayguns weapons bring a level of tactical realism to a game that lets you really get into playing a ex-soldier, or a spec ops type.

Something about the games guns feel made up. Maybe because the designers never bothered to research or learn anything about guns before they did it.
QUOTE (Shadow)
What makes a good run? The street sam screaming...

"Let's do the office, lets do the whole fraggin office!"

In the middle of the Ares office building you are infiltrating.

That basically becomes our groups battlecry if we trip an alarm. Which happens quite abit, sad really, we could sneak up on Loffy and get a cloaca swabbing without him noticing, but on the way out someone fails or rule of ones a stealth roll and we have to blast our way out.

The perfect run is one where noone can pin it on you and everyone gets out alive.
A perfect run is one where, in spite of whether or not it went wrong, you killed the lowest number of people you had to and got out with all of your teammates alive, all the while dodging being on the news and accomplishing exactly what you set out to do.

This, comming from a person who used to play a mage that got on the news for firing grenades in a nursery.
Ed Simons
Shouldn't the perfect run also involve getting paid?
nah, some of the most interesting runs are pro bono or purely personal.
Wounded Ronin
Man, this thread has gotten me all pumped up. If only my psychology-fu were stronger, I'd write up PTSD rules for SR so that everyone would have a statistical chance of screaming and hosing everyone down in a fit of PTSD fury.

Maybe it could be something like the Sanity system from CoC. As your shadowrunner becomes more and more of an experienced campaigner his or her mental stability slips, and you have more and more instances of flipping out, screaming, sprinting around the office randomly, and hosing everyone down from the hip.
We simply base the Sanity statistic on Willpower. Maybe Willpower x 15 (gives a range of 15-90). Make an entire sanity reduction chart. The GM sets very high target numbers, and the player must roll Willpower plus their sanity total to resist. They fail the roll, they go nuts and start shooting the place up.
The perfect run is where you do what you were paid to do and the cost of gear, services, lifestyle, and medical cost comes in under what you were paid. if you were told to do zero body count leave zero bodies. If you were told to expend assets, expend them. If you were just told to do the job, decide as you will.
The perfect run is the one that entertains the players the most.
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