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Goons and Professional Rating (SR6)

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Bitterman

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« on: <03-03-23/0900:30> »
First of all, Hello Shdowrun community!

This is my first post here. Before asking anything, it may be a good idea to give you some basic context; I'm new to TTRPG's and Shadowrun is only my second Rol game (being D&D the first, but only got to play one adventure). So far I've only read the CRB (Seattle ed.) and I intend to GM my first session in a few weeks. I think I have a nice hold of the basic rules (I'll sure be asking some more questions on the rules section), but there is something, not exactly rule related, that is bugging me a little.

In the chapter Wild Life of the CRB, a basic template for human and non-human enemies is presented. There are, however, 10 levels for human goons (Professional Ratings) and two variants for each one (normal and leutenant). As the books explicitly says that, unlike with main characters and prime runners, this guys can be freely created by the GM to fit whatever plot he/she wants, some questions related to balance and design come to me:

1) How do you know which PR is good for which shadorunners group? Are new shadowrunners supposed to be able to deal with level 10 PR goons? I suppose not, but then, where is the upper limit for a fresh group?

2) How does the number of players in a group affect the difficulty of the encounter? For example, if I want to make a situation in which players could choose to flee from a building shooting everything they see, I want them to suffer a little, but not outright killing them in three turns.

3) How do you (I'm looking at you experienced players/Gm's) design your basic enemy goons? Do you simply copy the book templates as is with minor alterations or do you have some system to randomize a little this step? I've thought about counting attribute and skill points of every PR level and then just moving them freely but I'm not sure that's the correct way to do it.

4) How do you know when is adequate to include a leutenant in a group? Should he be considered like some kind of miniboss or should he be present virtually with every 5-6 grunts as a leader?

Thank you in advance!

Beta

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« Reply #1 on: <03-06-23/1807:44> »
When designing a run in SR, I tend to think of it more as designing a puzzle or obstacle course than as an equation where you are trying to make the two sides roughly equal.

When runners are hired for a run, it is with the expectation that they are competent to the job.  That barring surprises or accidents, they should be able to do it well enough (it is why you are hiring professionals, or at least professional criminals).  A shadowrun team almost never wants to match their strong area against the targets strong area, they want to put their strengths against a targets weak areas, and when they manage to do that, they should succeed fairly easily (sometimes I won't even roll dice for those parts, unless I feel they need a chance to show off how good they are, or I want to build tension or hide when the real challenge is coming).  And when things go wrong, obstacles can pile up quickly (high threat response teams are called, astral mages with spirits appear on site, and so on), so then their challenge is how to get out quickly before the obstacles become insurmountable.

You can't really control how they will choose to overcome the obstacles that you put in their way.  So for example, you could make it easy enough for them to sneak in to their target -- say the facility is new and people don't know each other yet so it is pretty easy to imitate employees and walk in.  But the lab has enough people in it that an alarm is going to be sounded almost for sure, and the guards may not be well coordinated but they know that their job is to delay the runners until HTR shows up. 
The runners may choose to shoot their way out as you expect, but they may come up with a pretty brilliant plan to exit through a third floor window and slip away invisibly.  If it is the latter, I'd let them mostly do it -- they used their skills and equipment and smarts to get around the obstacle, good on them! 

If they do shoot their way out, the obstacle is "getting away before the high threat response team arrives", not "win a shoot out with basic guards".  Focus on the blaring alarms and likely imminent arrival of heavy hitters, and have some puzzles for them to solve.  Two guards are using a corner in the corridor for cover, does the team rush them?  sharp shoot them?  Use clever magic or hacking? How long did that take?  Then they get to an internal door that was open before but is now locked, how are they getting through? (or do they find another route?).  They need to get down a staircase with guards at the bottom, how do they handle that?  As they approach the exit a lieutenant and a few more guards have prepared themselves to try and stop them from exiting.

After each step along the way, you tune the next obstacle easier or harder (or weirder) depending on how the last one went.  Up the professionalism level or add another grunt or two, or give this set better weapons.  They used spirits on the first set of guards?  Then an astral mage is in the staircase and will try to dispell their spirits (or has spirits of their own).  They are romping through?  The opposition turns off the lights and throws tear gas, are the runners all ready for that?  And so  on.

ETA: specifically about point 3, sometimes I use the goons from the books (or from an adventure) but for 'just goons' (gangers, basic security guards) I just use dice pools.  Something like "gangers: 8 dice with their cheap light pistol, 8 dice dodge, 8+1d6 initiative, 12 dice soak" and generally that is all that is needed.  Higher level opposition I'll sketch out in a little bit more detail to make them distinct, maybe one has a cyber-arm, another is a troll (increase that soak pool!), and a third is a weak adept with an extra 4 dice in pistols.
« Last Edit: <03-08-23/1517:41> by Beta »

Banshee

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« Reply #2 on: <03-07-23/1019:54> »
I would add that for anyone coming from a DnD type background where you can easily balance encounters based on levels and/or challenge ratings youvwil find Shadowrun to be difficult.

While Professional ratings and such help define an oppositions threat level ehatctou should really be using is dice pool size. In general a low level threat would have a dice pool 4 or more lower than the average PC, equal would be within +/- 4, and bigger threats would be 4 or more dice
Robert "Banshee" Volbrecht
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MercilessMing

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« Reply #3 on: <03-13-23/1501:27> »
Quote
3) How do you (I'm looking at you experienced players/Gm's) design your basic enemy goons? Do you simply copy the book templates as is with minor alterations or do you have some system to randomize a little this step? I've thought about counting attribute and skill points of every PR level and then just moving them freely but I'm not sure that's the correct way to do it.

I almost never get as detailed as writing out a complete stat block.  At most, my goons will have 1 physical attribute and 1 mental attribute, an attack pool of dice, and a defense pool of dice.  I completely fudge these numbers, I just assign them based on the difficulty they're supposed to represent. 

I use a dice pool of 12 to represent opposition equivalent to a player character in their specialty.  These are pro's.
10 represents well trained opposition.
8 represents basic competent opposition.
6 represents poorly trained opposition.
Less than 6 is non-skilled and normally not worth rolling unless the story would be better for it.

Dice pools higher than 12 are the really dangerous NPCs that have a chance at defeating the players.

A typical encounter I make that is meant to be challenging will have a group 1.5x to 2x the number of PCs with attack dice pools of 8.  8 is a normal defense pool that non-combat specialist PCs tend to have, and they will occasionally get hit. 

Dice pools are the main thing, but then you add in flavoring:
Special abilities. anything beyond your basic gun, that means these people have grenades, or a flamethrower, or are immune to fire damage because of their armor, or use stick n' shock ammo.  I just pick 1-2 things that spice up the encounter.

Specialists.  Your team will probably come to an encounter with a combat specialist, a mage, and a decker, attacking on all three fronts.  When you mix matrix or magic opposition to your group, you make encounters a lot more tactical.  Especially when you hide these elements and ensure they survive a PC alpha strike.