Author Topic: So I just got thrown into the GM chair. I need help with magic and matrix.  (Read 289 times)

Tassyr

  • Chummer
  • **
  • Posts: 177
So the group I'm in underwent some restructuring. As they're all new guys and I'm the 'old hand,' the GM's chair's landed under me. Great! Wonderful!

... Except I've got NO idea how magic or the matrix really work. I mean I know the very edges, but I tend to play mundanes; drivers, shooters, etc.

Is there an 'Idiots guide to' for all this stuff? A seriously chopped down, "Here's the basics you need without having to jump around the PDF and with no fluff stuffed in" version? 'Cause I got two guys who want to be matrix specialists (One Technomancer which I'm seriously considering vetoing because I'm having enough trouble figuring out how to do things with a decker) and one face/caster, plus myself. I can't exactly run enemies if I don't even know how -their- stuff works, and the book is... well, less coherent than I'd like.
"There's a reason Johnsons are named what they are. They'll try and fuck you at some point, no doubt about it." -Camulus

FST_Gemstar

  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 767
Empower the folks who want to play with magic and the matrix to be the experts on their rules. You have the final say of as the GM, but if you trust your players to play to have fun, let them tell you what to roll and when. 

As for making challenges... you don't need to throw magic/matrix enemies in anyone's way just for the sake of it. What you may want are magical and matrix opportunities that give them their own avenue of inquiry. 

If a job is steal prototype mcguffin from such and such facility, there should be multiple ways and combination of ways to get it done, and you don't have to set it all up beforehand. 

Do people work in the facility? Trying a social manipulation route can be part of the plan. This can involve all roles (your muscle can be intimidating, your face can be smooth talking, your magician can cast a mind manipulation spell, your decker can plant a false delivery schedule that helps your team sneak in, etc.)
Are there guards guarding the mcuffun? Again, all of the roles can deal with them (You can shoot them, you can cast invisibility and sneak around them, your decker can set off a fake fire alarm to clear the room, etc.) 

Don't plan any magic or matrix focused runs until you get a better handle. You never have to if you don't want to, as the matrix and magic can be used in most urban situations just fine. 

Marcus

  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 1176
  • Success always demands a greater effort.
Learning the rules isn't all that complex. It's really just a matter breaking the core into separate and distinct pieces and the throughly reviewing and trying out those pieces.
Learning what to do with those rules, is more complex.
I agree totally with FST, as GM I very much prefer letting the player do as much of the work as possible. Team up with the player(s) who want to use the the specific rules set (IE hacking/Magic/Alchemy).
As a GM you don't need to understand the rules more deeply then the player just how to make an encounter interesting.
Always start with the Core book, complex increase out from there. But if you understand the core the rest is just a question of reference.


Mirikon

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 8506
  • "Everybody lies." --House
So you have a group of three that is going to be two matrix types and a mage?


Now, on to your specific problem. First, I'm going to say you ought to throw out any campaign you were thinking of doing, and run some Missions or other modules until you've got a handle on the Matrix and Magic stuff. They like to keep the Matrix and Magic stuff simple in Missions play, which will be a big help to you as you're learning. Just treat it the same as doing pregen characters when you're learning a new system. You're learning to GM Shadowrun, so put the training wheels on until you're confident in your skills. Much better to string several premade modules together into a campaign than trying to learn on the fly while managing your own plots and fail utterly.

Second, I'll give you a primer on Magic (and let someone else give you the Matrix spiel). Mana is basically the Force. It is the energy of life, and it flows through living creatures and the planet itself, connecting life together. A mage or adept is able to tap into mana like someone using a garden hose taps into the water main. The mage or adept would be the sprayer at the end of the hose, shaping mana for various effects.

Now, let's start with what magic CANNOT do. Everything I'm about to talk about are hard stops, as in no way, no how, unless maybe, possibly you're a Great Dragon or an Immortal Elf, and even then the mana levels might not be high enough for it yet. These are things that every magical research group from A to AAA has been working on since the Awakening, and they've got jack squat to show for it.

Magic CANNOT raise the dead. The closest you get is calling something... Other to possess the corpse, and it may masquerade as the former person if that idea amuses it. But these entities are usually quite amused enough just ridding the world of all life they can, in as cruel and sadistic a way as they can imagine.
Magic CANNOT alter space and time. No teleporting. No time travel. No speeding/slowing time. No making wormholes or tesseracts or whatever to go from New York to Los Angeles instantly. There are ways to fake teleportation, but those either fall into the category of 'a great dragon overcast a Levitate spell', or 'someone hopped you over to the astral plane, and you moved at the speed of thought to another point, where you hopped back out of the Astral'. Either of which may LOOK like teleportation, but it is not. Likewise, when you're going to the metaplanes, your perception of time can be wonky. You might spend what literally seems like hours or days on a metaplane, but only minutes have passed in the real world. Or you could have spent what seemed like half an hour on the metaplane, only to come back to a body that is about to die from dehydration. Metaplanes are funky like that. This is not manipulating time, but your perception of it.
Magic CANNOT make a mundane Awakened. You might be a Latent Awakened, and then get your gift kickstarted by something, but mundanes cannot become Awakened. Anything that claims different is usually a powerful spirit that either wants to wear you like a cheap suit, or use you for even less pleasant ends.
Magic items CANNOT be used by mundanes. With the exception of Contact trigger preparations, Mundanes can't even turn magic items 'on', much less make use of them. Foci (including Weapon Foci) have to be bound to an Awakened creature to work. Oh sure, a katana weapon focus still makes a damn fine implement of murder and mayhem without being bound, but the extra specialness doesn't happen unless you bind it. There are rumors about certain items that ignore this rule. These are either Artifacts (capital A) from the Fourth World that are utterly beyond any mortal's ability to replicate (and keeping one is a great way to get a target on your back), or is something Extra Special that was made completely custom through means that are almost certainly unwholesome to contemplate and likely come with intense drawbacks, if you can even get the recipe to begin with. These are items that START with ingredients like 'a fang from a live dragon' and get more difficult to source from there.
Magic CANNOT manipulate the Matrix, and vice versa.

Now that is out of the way, what CAN magic do?

Short answer? Pretty much anything I didn't go into above, but not all at once, and conditions may make things 'difficult'. Magic doesn't interact with technology well, though. And the more tech you stuff in yourself, the harder it is for some spells or powers to affect you, since you're further from 'natural'. Worse, for anyone Awakened, losing Essence (for any reason) is like putting a kink in that garden hose I was talking about earlier. Or perhaps you could say it is like an artery clogged with cholesterol. Sure, there's still blood pumping through that artery, but you got to work harder to get the same result, which can lead to Bad Thingstm happening.

Now, if you're looking for the general 'hows' and 'whys' of magic, I'd skip all the 5E stuff, since it is laid out in a godawful fashion, and go pick up 4E's Street Magic. The basics of magic haven't changed that much since 4E, and they actually laid the books out in a sensible manner back then, so it is a lot easier to get a handle on things. Once you've got the basics from Street Magic, then come back and start looking at the 5E stuff.

I'd tell you to do the same for the Matrix, but the 5E matrix was basically done to make Jar Jar Binks look sensible in comparison.
Greataxe - Apply directly to source of problem, repeat as needed.

My Characters

Tassyr

  • Chummer
  • **
  • Posts: 177
So you have a group of three that is going to be two matrix types and a mage?


Now, on to your specific problem. First, I'm going to say you ought to throw out any campaign you were thinking of doing, and run some Missions or other modules until you've got a handle on the Matrix and Magic stuff. They like to keep the Matrix and Magic stuff simple in Missions play, which will be a big help to you as you're learning. Just treat it the same as doing pregen characters when you're learning a new system. You're learning to GM Shadowrun, so put the training wheels on until you're confident in your skills. Much better to string several premade modules together into a campaign than trying to learn on the fly while managing your own plots and fail utterly.

That part I was already planning to do, to be fair- do you have any modules you recommend for first time, deer-in-the-headlights GMs?

Also, thanks for the primer on Magic. It actually helped clarify some stuff. I knew about the Cyber/Bio-ware and Essence drain bit already, but not about how magic items and such worked. I always just played a super mundane char. xD And I still have my 4e collection around here... somewhere... so thanks for the tip. Did the values change at all, or was it just the addition of Limits?
"There's a reason Johnsons are named what they are. They'll try and fuck you at some point, no doubt about it." -Camulus

Mirikon

  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 8506
  • "Everybody lies." --House
Drain values changed some (read: there's no rhyme or reason to it any more), so you'll still need your 5e books for specific details. But most of it, how spells work, how spirits work, how the astral works? Pretty much the same from 4e.

As for specific modules to run? Well, the really good ones are all 4e or earlier, but pick up the latest season of Missions on DriveThruRPG, and you'll be in good shape for something to run while you get your feet. Also, I'm a sucker for starting things off with the Food Fight scenario from the quick start rules, just because it will quickly show you whether your group has a prayer when actual combat comes along, and may convince one of your two matrix types that you need some muscle on the team.
Greataxe - Apply directly to source of problem, repeat as needed.

My Characters

Rosa

  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 325
I can highly recommend the "GM Screen" videos on Complex Actions youtube channel, They are fairly short, to the point and without fluff. You can find videos explaining all rule aspects of both magic and matrix. The playlists are actually arranged into a magic playlist, matrix playlist and one that has all the videos. They would also be good for your players to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKo7Y8q3ZVpGSyl5X-Hr7Kw/playlists

« Last Edit: (10:29:30/09-09-17) by Rosa »

Senko

  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 2364
I didn't see it in the magic speel so I'll also mention magic can't let you time travel. As for bringing something other back in my experience they usually love pretending to be your loved one as they merrily slaughter anything and everything they can while blaming you for it. ""What did you do to me, I need to feed, don't you love me any more?"

Shinobi Killfist

  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 1434
I'd suggest the technomancer try something else. They are pretty god awful mechanically in this edition. A GM can fake it if that was the only matrix monkey in the team but they will have a hard time feeling useful outside being a buffer when a deckers on the team. And the decker will likely outshine them out of the matrix as well. The rules aren't hard for you to pick up and run compared to a decker but they are bad.

  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 661
Yeah, TMs got thrown in the cell with Bubba the Love Troll and sandpaper for lube.
there is autosofts for everything  8)

  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 661
Magic CANNOT manipulate the Matrix
#IncreaseNoise #TMsCantMatrix
Yeah, TMs got thrown in the cell with Bubba the Love Troll and sandpaper for lube.
there is autosofts for everything  8)

Tassyr

  • Chummer
  • **
  • Posts: 177
I really do appreciate this help, guys. Unfortunately it looks like I might -not- be GMing after all (There's some odd personality/canon clash stuff going on.) I'll still keep and hopefully use all this stuff, though!
"There's a reason Johnsons are named what they are. They'll try and fuck you at some point, no doubt about it." -Camulus