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Multiple Questions - Knockdown and Stick' N Shock

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Nomad Zophiel

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« Reply #30 on: (21:44:18/11-18-10) »
Well, that's not exactly true. If the PCs are ALL using something, there's a good chance that most other special ops agents are using it too. But it doesn't necessarily mean it's the right choice for rent-a-cops or corpexec bodyguards or Johnsons or Stuff Shack cashiers or anybody else.

(And for that matter, it doesn't even mean that all 'runners favor it. People aren't always rational, especially when it comes to gear.)

True, and I should have expanded on that thought a bit. Here, is a less concise version. Keep in mind that this applies to any unusual piece of equipment. This could as easily be about Form Fitting Body armor or Pepper Punch grenades.

Here are my basic assumptions about gameplay that underlie my point:
1. People are generally not stupid about self-preservation or their job (loosely defined as whatever they do for livelihood).
2. NPC's are going to favor the most efficient gear just as much as PC's, subject to their budget and their goals.
3. Shadowrunners are going to face tougher enemies as they advance, rather than the same ones over and over.
4. The PC's are generally a fairly good microcosm of the world they live in. If all of the PC's are using something, its a good indication that it is useful to Shadowrunners and often to the people who try to stop Shadowrunners.
5. Any character with applicable skills knows more about that aspect of the game world than the player does. In other words, anyone with a firearms skill of some sort, anyone with a combat Knowledge skill or anyone who reads "Solo of Fortune" knows that SNS rounds cut right through armor, taze and often KO targets very efficiently. If your PC's know it, so does everyone else.

Based on those, go-gangers probably won't use SNS. For them, looking manly, intimidating and drawing blood is more important than pure stopping power. On the other hand, PC's will have probably quickly advanced beyond being challenged by random gang violence. Rent-a-cops, bodyguards etc. are concerned first and foremost with stopping power. Budget permitting, they're going to use SNS on DV<6 weapons and probably APDS on DV>7 (your math may vary). Whether the person lives or dies isn't going to matter that much in their ammo buying calculus. Fewest shots to incapacitate is. So even as the PC's are adopting those SNS rounds, the gangers aren't. However, those same gangers become less of a threat every time karma is handed out.

On the other hand, the next corpsec team may well have discovered the wonders of SNS. A dead 'runner is all fine and good, but a live KO'd runner can be interrogated or given a new mission in exchange for amnesty.

The first time any team (gang, corpsec, Shadowrunners etc) gets laid low by non-standard weapons, they're going to put some serious thought into plugging that weakness. If the PC's get gassed, they'll have gas masks next time. If Ares loses a prototype because of SNS rounds, they'll have protected armor next time. Note that an armor jacket with rank 6 electrical protection has an effective Impact of 9 vs SNS and 6 vs everything else. RAW you could wear non-conductive form-fitting armor underneath for another 7 against SNS (since form-fitting explicitly stacks).

Once that kind of protection becomes common (if not completely standard), the offense is going to come up with new tactics. When they do, their victims will catch on and both train on the same tactic and on how to defeat it. In a realistic world, Shadowrunners would almost always be on the losing end of this. Corps have a much higher budget for R&D and training. Runners might get away with a particular tactic once, but the corps can always afford to counter it. It might even be amusing to have a "run" where the runners get called in to consult unofficially with a corporate team about their tactics and how to use them.

The end result is basically the same as any house rule. SNS becomes a way to turn a regular pistol into a tazer. Its great for self defense against low-lifes, not so great against anyone who's planning for a fight against professionals.

Darrian Wolffe

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« Reply #31 on: (22:13:58/11-18-10) »
So, then, regarding SNS, I'm given to understand I'm basically forced into an arms race against my players where both sides MUST end up upgrading with electrically-resistant armor to do their job, because of one bit of kit that's relatively difficult to get ahold of in the first place, as soon as a player realized the over-effectiveness of the ammo and employs it in a fight?  The only way to maintain verisimilitude is to ensure that everybody who matters automatically gets insulated armor (possibly even including Form-fitting)?  That seems...excessive.

I rather like the idea of limiting SNS by ammo type, or perhaps Rate of Fire (burst or Full-auto fire is too stressful to the capacitors and they fail to function - that sort of thing).  If I were to limit them to SA or SS modes only (a FA-capable machine pistol could still carry them, but could not use BF or FA modes and still get the SNS effect), what unforeseen effects might that have on gameplay?  What I'm working against now is the effect of PCs generating 12-18 Stun damage on a regular basis before resistance tests, guaranteeing that the target is OSK'd either by old-fashioned Stun damage, or via the SNS "drop N twitch" effect (since nobody outside of a twinked-out Troll is resisting that kind of damage far enough down not to invoke the SNS effect).


Regarding knockdown, I rather like the idea posited upthread about Body+Will Test (Threshold: net hits) to resist Knockdown.  From a game balance perspective, I'm a bit leery of imposing automatic status conditions (prone, in this case) on PCs without at least giving them the chance to resist it.  This way, somebody can blow Edge on the B+W test and stay standing even in the face of a solid hit...but falling over is still pretty likely, what with the number of dice being thrown around on attack rolls.  Any major problems with this?  It's not so much meant to fix a game balance issue as to fix something that's perceived as one.  Getting to roll something, even if success is unlikely, is a lot easier to take than anything that says "automatic".

Nomad Zophiel

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« Reply #32 on: (22:32:11/11-18-10) »
Depends on what you mean by "forced into an arms race". Short answer: yes.

Long answer: characters in Shadowrun are already in an arms race. Some few Shadowrunners may be able to do their job without violence. The rest are always scrambling for the best weapons and armor they can get. This is a world where people wear armor to walk down the street and street criminals use heavier weapons to compensate. If that's not an arms race, I don't know what is.

Alice knows that Bob has a gun. Alice buys armor so that she can hopefully survive being shot by Bob. Alice and Bob both survive the encounter so Bob adjusts his tactics for the next time he meets Alice. Bob gets a neuro-stun grenade. Alice gets knocked out. So next time Alice has a gas mask and gets stick'n'shock. Bob gets knocked out so Bob gets non-conductive armor and a drone with a sniper rifle, so Alice has to jam the drone. Repeat as necessary. There's always an option that you opponent isn't protected against and its generally not too expensive. In a way, this is why regular bullets survive. When you don't know what the other guy will be packing, its a safe bet that regular old lead will be at least somewhat effective.

Then Simon the Sorcerer comes along and screws them both over with Stunbolt, which they can't buy resistance to.

Keep in mind that there are several things that are cost-comparable to SNS that are even more effective. Any drug delivery of Pepper Punch (base 7S, ignores all unsealed armor) is going to substitute just fine with Nausea replacing electricity. A leal gas grenade costs about the same as 7 bursts of SNS and knocks out a large group even more effectively.
« Last Edit: (22:44:22/11-18-10) by nomadzophiel »

Chaemera

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« Reply #33 on: (22:40:10/11-18-10) »
So, then, regarding SNS, I'm given to understand I'm basically forced into an arms race against my players where both sides MUST end up upgrading with electrically-resistant armor to do their job, because of one bit of kit that's relatively difficult to get ahold of in the first place, as soon as a player realized the over-effectiveness of the ammo and employs it in a fight?  The only way to maintain verisimilitude is to ensure that everybody who matters automatically gets insulated armor (possibly even including Form-fitting)?  That seems...excessive.

Well, essentially, yes. If you want to accurately reflect how a gritty, cyberpunk world works. When new tactic X appears, counter Y is developed and deployed rapidly. That's how CorpSec and the military work, real world or otherwise.

However, it's also safe to assume that a technology which pre-dates your run and is manufactured by the Megas has already been countered by the megas. As a standard rule of thumb, most of my CorpSec has some amount of non-conductive, for high sec areas, add in fire resistance. They've heard of magic, as well as SnS, they know the risks and the counter-measures are dirt cheap from a Corp standpoint.

I rather like the idea of limiting SNS by ammo type, or perhaps Rate of Fire (burst or Full-auto fire is too stressful to the capacitors and they fail to function - that sort of thing).  If I were to limit them to SA or SS modes only (a FA-capable machine pistol could still carry them, but could not use BF or FA modes and still get the SNS effect), what unforeseen effects might that have on gameplay?  What I'm working against now is the effect of PCs generating 12-18 Stun damage on a regular basis before resistance tests, guaranteeing that the target is OSK'd either by old-fashioned Stun damage, or via the SNS "drop N twitch" effect (since nobody outside of a twinked-out Troll is resisting that kind of damage far enough down not to invoke the SNS effect).

If they can generate 12 - 18 Stun before resistance, they could use a bullet and generate that much Physical before resist, they'd just have a higher resist to get past. Frankly, if your players are rolling 6+ net hits against your standard mooks, your standard mooks are too weak for the party, scale man, scale. They have profession ratings for a reason. My players are used to closer to 8 or 9 damage with pistols / SA from assault rifles, and I'm convinced I need to up the ante.

I do like the "SA or SS only" idea. Yes, there are unforeseen consequences, but that's true of every decision everyone makes.


Regarding knockdown, I rather like the idea posited upthread about Body+Will Test (Threshold: net hits) to resist Knockdown.  From a game balance perspective, I'm a bit leery of imposing automatic status conditions (prone, in this case) on PCs without at least giving them the chance to resist it.  This way, somebody can blow Edge on the B+W test and stay standing even in the face of a solid hit...but falling over is still pretty likely, what with the number of dice being thrown around on attack rolls.  Any major problems with this?  It's not so much meant to fix a game balance issue as to fix something that's perceived as one.  Getting to roll something, even if success is unlikely, is a lot easier to take than anything that says "automatic".

I kinda like this, as well. Biggest problem I see is it's one more dice roll. I think that was probably why the dev team put the knockdown as the very very last thing. Once you apply the damage, compare it to body, if it's more, then it's time to fall down now.

Using my groups average of 8 - 9 before resistance, Body 3 (Avg) + Armor 6 (Armor Vest, fairly common) = average of 3 hits. He gets knocked down most of the time (5 or 6 damage). Then again, the average guy taking >50% damage (so to speak) should be on his rear. But big old Troll, Body 8 + Armor 9 (Armor Jackeet, + TROLL!) = average of 5 hits, he stays up, no big surprise (3 or 4 damage).

I'm not sure how I feel on this one, beyond the same general dislike for automatic status effects.
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Bradd

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« Reply #34 on: (22:41:03/11-18-10) »
I have a few more basic assumptions:

  • People care a lot about appearances.
  • People are superstitious.
  • People are bad at statistics.
  • People are penny-wise but pound-foolish.

You touched on some of these in your examples, like go-gangers preferring intimidation to effectiveness. Lots of people overlook this, though. My players favor full form-fitting body armor, but realistically a lot of people would skip the hood, gloves, and booties. Players tend to gloss over the fact that stuff like that makes you look like a thug.

The other points cover the main reasons why finding the best gear is not (for PCs) a simple matter of reading Shadowrun Weekly. Maybe we know the mechanics, but the characters are going by anecdotal evidence and corp-sponsored studies, neither of which you can really trust. Then again, the players also go a lot on hearsay and coincidence. When they get burned by gas, maybe they'll overreact and invest heavily in gas defenses. Then again, maybe they'll react like my group and simply not bother. Are the defenses worth the cost and hassle? Different folks will react differently.

And lots of times, even when there's something big at stake, and preparing for it is cheap, people will still blow it off. Think of all the scandals where short-sighted companies spent a lot more covering up a problem and then fixing it after the fact than they would have to simply deal with things up front. There's a lot of wishful thinking and fear out there, and they drive people to do weird things, sometimes overcautious, sometimes reckless.

Nomad Zophiel

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« Reply #35 on: (22:55:35/11-18-10) »
Agreed on all points, Brad. I might quibble a bit that if someone has an appropriate Knowledge skill, the characters knows exactly the relative merits and drawbacks of a given ammo type but generally speaking these things can be true of some people (your PC's included, it seems). On a corporate level, though, I tend to think in terms of cost/benefit analysis. Ares loses a multi-million nuyen prototype to Pepper Punch grenades once and they'll be looking at laying out a million to make sure that every security guy in an R&D facility has access to a gas mask. In a world with the kind of black market firepower of SR, the insurance companies alone will require such countermeasures of guards or they'll refuse to pay the claim. That and you just have to feel stupid flushing millions of nuyen stolen by someone tossing glorified jalepeno-water balloons.

However I don't feel a burning need as a GM to house rule and/or remove the things which can be easily counteracted but aren't. If SNS provides enough of a tactical advantage to be ubiquitous then decently competent enemies will have countermeasures. Same goes for walking in the front door (locks and guards), gas (masks), drones (jammers), hackers (IC) and lead (armor). No one complains that guns are unbalanced because characters have to wear armor to survive them. SNS is just a subset of the same argument, one that generally doesn't kill.
« Last Edit: (22:57:12/11-18-10) by nomadzophiel »

Bradd

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« Reply #36 on: (23:16:01/11-18-10) »
Lose millions to a gas grenade, and I'm sure that somebody would get fired, and somebody else would get a new task force to investigate the cost-benefit analysis of supplying guard posts with gas masks. Depending on that somebody's status, resources, and priorities, the analysis might or might not get done, and they might or might not decide to actually deploy gas masks. If it gets that far, there's the matter of whether the guards actually use the masks effectively.

It's entirely possible that Ares decides it's much cheaper and more effective to simply steal the thing back.

I think it's cool for the world to change and defenses to evolve in response to what the players do, but I don't expect things to happen overnight. In fact, I think most changes could realistically happen so slowly that you'd see very little difference over the course of a campaign.

Nomad Zophiel

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« Reply #37 on: (23:27:42/11-18-10) »
Agreed, sort of. To go with the SNS example, if its been on the market for a while and its powerful enough that GM's are considering house rules, chances are its wildly popular. So from the beginning of the campaign, people who are really worried about it will already have countermeasures in place. Same with gas. The examples above are more for things that are new to the game world, rather than to the players and/or GM. Generally I don't go too hard on players who come up with things like this. Corps know that Shadowrunning happens and will continue to happen. they're probably just as happy as anyone if both sides start going non-lethal.

50's Shadowrunner talking about 2072: "I wish we had it as easy as you kids, back in my day it was kill or be killed. We didn't have no fancy shocky rounds. We had lead and we were damn grateful for it when we were walking to the run uphill both ways in the driving snow while fighting off Halloweeners with our bare hands."

50's corp security (now an executive) talking about 2072: "A dead Shadowrunner is not a liability. A living one is an asset."

Chaemera

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« Reply #38 on: (00:17:33/11-19-10) »
Lose millions to a gas grenade, and I'm sure that somebody would get fired, and somebody else would get a new task force to investigate the cost-benefit analysis of supplying guard posts with gas masks. Depending on that somebody's status, resources, and priorities, the analysis might or might not get done, and they might or might not decide to actually deploy gas masks. If it gets that far, there's the matter of whether the guards actually use the masks effectively.

It's entirely possible that Ares decides it's much cheaper and more effective to simply steal the thing back.

I think it's cool for the world to change and defenses to evolve in response to what the players do, but I don't expect things to happen overnight. In fact, I think most changes could realistically happen so slowly that you'd see very little difference over the course of a campaign.

Speaking as someone who works for the modern day equivalent, when SHTF and someone screws up to the tune of a couple 100k, yes, a committee is formed, yes an analysis with cost-benefit crud is accomplished and yes, the results (frankly, regardless of who heads up the committee) get adopted if they make sense and are cost-effective. Also, yes, the insurance agency will come down like a ton of bricks to make you change your practices.

But, yes, it does take months (I'd say 3 to 4, on average, where I work) for all that to happen. And then, there's the training on the new techniques / equipment. And the guards might not actually take advantage of said new techniques / equipment. The biggest failures we have aren't the equipment or the procedures, it's the people. Then again, body armor is something that the guards tend to wear unless it's really warm (after all, you don't want to die) and that's true today. In a future where shadowrunners are semi-commonplace, it'll be all the more true.

Furthermore, in terms of turn-around time, sure it takes months, but how long has SnS (or lightning bolt, or tasers) been on the streets? Try decades. You're particular runner team isn't the first time they've gotten burned. If your corps aren't already prepped and trained on the dangers of electricity wielding madmen, your corps shouldn't have made it to the A-lists. GM's should reasonably assume that a company with over a century (in most cases) of operational history is prepared for most straight-forward tricks in the book by now. Modify, of course, for importance of the facility. They aren't going to have ninjas in thermal-insulated, non-conductive, fire-resistant custom-fitted full body armor at the warehouse where they keep spare parts for last year's model.
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voydangel

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« Reply #39 on: (00:24:57/11-19-10) »
...
They aren't going to have ninjas in thermal-insulated, non-conductive, fire-resistant custom-fitted full body armor at the warehouse where they keep spare parts for last year's model.

Not that you can see anyway - they are ninjas after all.  ;D
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Bradd

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« Reply #40 on: (14:41:48/11-19-10) »
One thing I have noticed in newer Shadowrun adventures is that a lot of folks use non-lethal weapons. Makes sense, really: It still gets the job done, a surviving foe is a potential future asset, and you don't end up with the bad rep of the Azzies. So it wouldn't surprise me to see things like stick 'n shock used pretty widely.

I'm not as sure about defenses. On one hand, it makes sense to protect against a common attack form. On the other hand, it also makes sense to emphasize lethal defenses over non-lethal ones. That way, when some psycho is determined to take you out, you encourage him to do it in a way that isn't actually going to kill you.

Halabis

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« Reply #41 on: (15:27:48/11-19-10) »
My problem with SNS is not the damage code, its the secondary effects of the elemental damage.
Tassing test with a chance to knock uncontious on each shot. Even if the test is passed the target suffers -2 dice to all rolls for the rest of the combat (effectively), and there is absolutely 0 way to avoid the penalty other than not getting hit by the bullet at all.

Nomad Zophiel

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« Reply #42 on: (16:27:04/11-19-10) »
My problem with SNS is not the damage code, its the secondary effects of the elemental damage.
Tassing test with a chance to knock uncontious on each shot. Even if the test is passed the target suffers -2 dice to all rolls for the rest of the combat (effectively), and there is absolutely 0 way to avoid the penalty other than not getting hit by the bullet at all.
(Emphasis added by me)

This is a very good tactic in general. Again, note that SNS's special effect is shared by all tazers and is pretty mild compared to most chemical weapons. You're talking a pseudo KO or a -2, both for 3 combat turns. That's really no worse than pepper spray to the face. Pepper punch has a base strength one higher, ignores all (unsealed) armor, has a similar special effect and is 3 ny per shot cheaper.

The_Gun_Nut

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« Reply #43 on: (16:28:23/11-19-10) »
Or completely resisting the damage, which the electrical resistance addon for armor helps with.  With no damage inflicted, no secondary damage can be inflicted.
There is no overkill.

Only "Open fire" and "I need to reload."

Bradd

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« Reply #44 on: (16:32:45/11-19-10) »
Cite?