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Ghost Cartels and new campaign tips please

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Archivist

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« on: <09-07-10/1414:16> »
I've just started a SR campaign after a few years away and have two players who are new to the game entirely.  I've skimmed Ghost Cartels and liked the layout (and LOVE that stats are included for npcs and grunts thank goodness)

Can anyone let me know if Ghost Cartels is playable with 3 characters?  Any tips or troublespots from your experiences?  There are no "levels" in SR so how do I determine if a module is appropriate to their characters?

Other adventures you recommend?  Emergence looks interesting but has no npc stats that I can immediately use if they tangle with opposition.  I played before but don't know all the ins and outs of the meta-story that's been going on for years nor have I memorized all of the new mechanics.  I ordered the Artifact adventure but not sure how I feel about playing up the Earthdawn connections.  I'd like them focused on all the cool new parts of the sixth world - especially with two of them new to the setting.  Not sure they need to worry about Horrors or Thera in SR when we are already fighting them in our existing ED campaign.

Old modules that would be easy to convert?  Between work, family and life I really do need modules that provide most of the information, npc stats skills and gear etc that I can then modify a bit to fit the players.


The story so far:
We made characters and played Food Fight last night.  They are a technomancer, bounty hunter and cat shaman.  Food Fight went very well and they had a great time.  I set a little pre-story to tie this to Ghost Cartels.  So, they were actually hired by Dae from Ghost Cartels (who is the bounty hunter's level 2/2 fixer contact) to find and retrieve Brandeen and Cody for a Johnson (Carlos who works for the south american import/export company based at the dock district).  Meanwhile, the thugs who blow up her car and attack the Stuffer Shack are Ragers out to kill Brandeen for their boss, Crash, a Ragers "sergeant".

It seems Brandeen and Crash were an item.  She met Carlos while working the dockside clubs.  Crash pushed her to get to know Carlos - maybe he could get his own direct line on the tempo scene that Kaz is buildiing.   But Brandeen fell for the married Carlos and foolishly got pregnant and ran from the wrath Crash.  The runners neutralized the Ragers quickly (shaman's stunball is insane...have to make sure he did it correctly.  two gangers dropped in one spell)  They actually stayed non-lethal with the stunball and bounty hunter shock gloves.  Interrogated Stoob and talked to Brandeen.  Returning her to Carlos and she feels safe enough for now that he will protect her and this son.

Thank you for anyy feedback and advice  :)

FastJack

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« Reply #1 on: <09-07-10/1434:45> »
Sounds like a good start. I don't have my books with me at the moment, but when I get home I'll take a look.

Most of the Grunt groups should be listed with a Professional Rating (SR4 20, p281) that should give you an idea of how experienced they are. Individual NPCs are more of an 'eyeball-them-against-the-runners' to see how challenging they are. For instance, if the NPC shows as Level 3 Initiate, he's a bit tough for a group of fresh out of the book runners. In this case, you'd probably have to tweek them on your own to bring them closer to the level of the players (easiest tweeking is gear/spells/complex forms -- most of the time).

DWC

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« Reply #2 on: <09-07-10/1437:15> »
Be very careful with bringing new players with new characters into Ghost Cartels. It starts fairly sedate, but rapidly becomes extremely (irrationally) challenging for even established PCs run by proficient players.  A three man team, composed of 2 people still learning the system will get extremely roughed up and probably killed outright if some tweaking isn't done.

Casazil

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« Reply #3 on: <09-07-10/1811:30> »
Yeah really read the adventure it can can get brutal fast.

But the plot you laid out so far is really good sounds like your on the right track.

Anyone else you can drak....err ask to play as well more runners may be able to help with the power of the adventure.
"If at first you don't succeed blame someone else"
Joel "Casazil" Rogers
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Walks Through Walls

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« Reply #4 on: <09-07-10/1905:23> »
I haven't read Ghost Cartels so I don't know if this is possible or not, but what I used to do when I ran a weekly game back in SR3 was I would mix the book adventures in with my home grown plot lines. This would allow you to get your players experienced and characters some additional abilities/gear/karma. It might also let you control the amount the players and their characters are pushed
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Casazil

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« Reply #5 on: <09-07-10/1910:07> »
That sounds like a good way to run too break the adventure apart so your players can advance.
"If at first you don't succeed blame someone else"
Joel "Casazil" Rogers
Catalyst Demo Team Shadowrun Special Agent #251
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/CasazilsShadowrun/

Archivist

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« Reply #6 on: <09-07-10/2000:17> »
Thanks for the input everyone!  I will definitely mix in a few other runs tailored to their backgrounds to help them develop.  I'll also grab the 20th anniversary rulebook.  Mine is the original SR4 version.

To those of you have read/run Ghost Cartels:  What are the especially nasty spots I should watch out for to avoid an unecessary/unfair TPK?

Tarot

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« Reply #7 on: <09-10-10/2151:56> »
If you don't have time to do any homemade stuff take a look at the old SR missions most of the runs can be easily tweaked to fit your game no matter what sprawl you run in and they're designed to be scalable to your groups abilities and experience
Why do they always shoot the mage 1st?

LFG

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« Reply #8 on: <09-11-10/0056:14> »
If you don't have time to do any homemade stuff take a look at the old SR missions most of the runs can be easily tweaked to fit your game no matter what sprawl you run in and they're designed to be scalable to your groups abilities and experience

Good advice here. I'm a fan of th Missions book, which provides several options that can give new players a variety of perspectives / experiences.

Kubz

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« Reply #9 on: <09-13-10/0048:37> »
If you don't have time to do any homemade stuff take a look at the old SR missions most of the runs can be easily tweaked to fit your game no matter what sprawl you run in and they're designed to be scalable to your groups abilities and experience

Good advice here. I'm a fan of th Missions book, which provides several options that can give new players a variety of perspectives / experiences.

the missions book is where i would start waaay before ghost cartels.  heck,  i started with On the Run personally.
People are like slinkys.  They are a lot of fun to watch fall down stairs.

holzmodem

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« Reply #10 on: <09-13-10/0622:17> »

To those of you have read/run Ghost Cartels:  What are the especially nasty spots I should watch out for to avoid an unecessary/unfair TPK?

I've run the Seattle part of Ghost cartels this far. I usually had a core team consisting of a hacker, social adept and "gimme heavier weapons"-Sam. There are sometimes more people, as in a mage, an even more dangerous Sam and a support character - lots of skill groups, almost no fighting ability.

Problematic were the two adventures in which Chikao Inoue was in (Yakuza team leader with Edge 8 and cyberarms Agility 9). He can end up accidentally killing the entire team.
Luckily, my players got the hint rather fast when the Street Sam started edging his shots at him and kept missing.

Also, the possessed Jose Vilamoura (adventure is still in the seattle timeframe, but in the "Source" chapter after Seattle) is one damned dangerous statmonster. I ended up playing him as more interested in addicting the characters to tempo than killing them (would have probably been a TPK).

From reading forward, I'm guessing that the defense mission in Hong Kong (The Kowloon Massacre) is going to be ugly. Brutal background count is really hindering mages/adepts, about one third to a half of the areas with BC is going to be aspected towards a magician/Yama King and I'll have endless reinforcements to throw against the players. They'll run out of ammo before long.

In Retributive First Strike (also Hong Kong), the team might get the idea to steal a freighter rather than to destroy it (mainly because a NPC tells them it's a rather expensive ship before factoring in the cargo).
The opposition on board (Shedim) can really tear teams without magical or heavy weapons support to pieces.

Later (back in the UCAS and South America), you'll get opposition like the cybered adept with magic rating 10, which can really turn your whole evening into a slaughter-fest.

I recommend giving out as much karma as you can, following the SR4A guidelines. My players are wondering WHY I'm doing that - they are more used to SR1/SR2 Karma, which was substantially lower.

And most importantly, have fun.

Archivist

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« Reply #11 on: <09-13-10/1116:43> »
Thanks for the tips!

They will be doing the initial Seattle portions of Ghost Cartels tonight.  Then I will mix in some other runs while we all learn the rules and they earn some karma.  I grabbed some Missions here and the runs from another thread.  I also have Eye Witness that I can mess with converting.  No luck finding On the Run but apparently it will be in a Tool Kit next month?  That and a GM screen of tables will be a huge help.

Archivist

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« Reply #12 on: <12-30-10/1400:30> »
Well your comments and tips have all been very helpful, thank you!

Yes it does escalate quickly!  I have had to do some reducing of power of the opposition to keep some combats "edge of your seat" but not guaranteed TPK.  I did a side mission in Kowloon and the background count pretty much wrecked the mage and phys ad who are grade 1 initiates.  I am going to have to hand-wave a bit for the finale in Hong Kong.

Need to read ahead to Neo-Tokyo to look for trouble spots there.  Then I think do some missions of interest to the specific characters before diving back into Ghost Cartels in Los Angeles.  A few months of in-game time are supposed to pass before the Ghost Council, so that should work out well and help them earn karma before the final acts.