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Looking for ideas: How to keep Lightning Ball from "winning" SRM?

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Fedifensor:
If someone is throwing L12+ Lightning Balls, corps should be calling in HTR teams immediately.  Have the defenders use Run for Your Life to get out of the initial radius and call for backup on their first action.  Even without an active call for backup, any decent corp's security should have spirits reacting - combat spirits go after the caster, and watcher spirits run to inform their mages.  That sets an extremely short time limit before the real heavy hitters arrive...and how long does it take to erase the astral signature of a L12 spell?  Did the mage casting it take the time before leaving the area?  With the destruction caused by a Force 12 lightning ball, expect mages with 16+ dice of Assensing (with the specialization of Astral Signatures) to be digging through Masking or Flexible Signatures to find the caster's signature.  If they get it...I expect that runner to be burning a permanent point of Edge pretty soon.

Basically, high Force spells that draw a lot of attention are like terrorists using complex bombs - both have a signature that can be uncovered with sufficient resources, and the corps have effectively unlimited resources.  That is why runners normally stay in the shadows, not causing big enough waves to make it worth a corp's time to track them down.

Also, as mentioned by others, mana barriers impede spells on the plane in which they were cast.  If a corp mage has the spell and can cast it before dropping, it can cause difficulties for nearly any shadowrunning mage.  You bubble a shadowrunner with spells up, and they have to work to get through the barrier before they can go after anyone else.  If they cast an area spell, it'll detonate at the barrier.

Granted, these solutions doesn't address the initial imbalance of being able to ignore defense tests and hit large groups for a mere +2 Drain over the single-target version...but you have to start somewhere.

Finally...talk to your players.  Tell them the consequences of that level of force, and suggest that they look at alternatives.  Some players aren't throwing Force 12 spells as an 'I win' button.  They may have had previous experiences in Shadowrun which taught them that overwhelming force is needed to survive.  A different lesson needs to be taught for Missions.

Michael Chandra:
I've seen the opposition in Dragon Song. F12 makes a lot of sense.

kyoto kid:
..read through most of this.

Collateral damage  = not just Notoriety but also Public Awareness if there are witnesses about.  PA is next to impossible to get rid of (I believe there are only two missions where you can get a favour that reduces it by one).  The only other way to remove it is spending 16 Karma for the Erased quality after chargen and we know how spell casters value Karma (looks like that next initiation needs to be pushed back a few more missions). 

Armour Resistance mods:  My PCs never go out without full Fire and Non-conductivity on their armour. One character also has electrical resistance on her Orthoskin (another +2 that stacks with the armour mod giving her + 8 ).  She was hit with a F-12 Ball Lightning ("friendly fire" at that) while wearing her sealed FBA (stacked with Orthoskin 4 and Titanium Bone Lacing for an additional 7 armour) and only wound up taking two boxes of stun [after post edging] as she lost just 4 dice from her soak roll.

Another deterrant:  have one or more of the NPCs with automatic weapons lay down suppression fire. Using Flechette rounds makes hitting the dirt more difficult.  In one mission two of the mooks did so in a 90 cross fire pattern and the team was pinned down with heavy penalties (I believe -8 or -9) to any actions they took.

Or lob a couple grenades at the team (even something like neurostun which has both an inhaled and contact vector).  That usually makes PCs run for cover thus reducing their initiative.

As a few have mentioned, it would be nice to draw the situation out so that the players have an idea just who who they can see, and how split up the oppos are so suddnely popping off the bit AOE xpell might not be worth the risk of physical drain. I wish this were done more often and even supplied for in the mission write up.

True even as a player I get a little dismayed when the mages roll a 40+ initiatives, cast boffo force 12 AOE spells, and my amped up gunbunny with the tricked out Yamaha Raiden, chemsealed FBA and 24 initiative becomes little more than a spectator to the show.  Kind of takes the fun out it.  Granted you cannot stop Prime Runner level characters from participating on a mission they never were on, but by the same token, you need to be careful when pushing the envelope so that the lower Karma characters aren't just there to be bullet and/or spell catchers.

As to MAs, yeah they can be game breakers.  I have one with less than 60 Karma who now has a wad of drain dice (after quickening Increase Attribute spells on her drain attributes), prefers mental manipulations and illusions, and makes use of reagents, as the effects of those spells are based off of net hits instead force.  So she casts Opium Den at say force 4, uses 8 units of reagents to raise the limit, and suddenly the mooks in an 8 metre area are standing there drooling while she doesn't break a sweat doing so. Then she has her force 8 Spirit of Man cast foreboding on them and they become a quivering drooling mass.

Fade:
As soon as I hear "Opium Den" as a spell I get suspicious. It's just as bad as Ball Lightning.

It's literally the same effect as Mass Confusion, except it gets the total incapacitation added to it for the same drain. Drain code needs to go up on that one for sure, but that's an errata thing. I wouldn't have noticed it, except for this year at Origins and Gen Con every mage and their dog was using it and Ball Lightning, so it prompted me to do a little research. This spell has become a pet peeve, but honestly, I can't say I blame the players who use it. It just means they read more of the spells!

Anyway, just make your goons be a little smarter. Use the whole area, not just a cramped little room, and shoot the hell out of the mage. Someone walks into a bar in Full Chem-Sealed Body Armor, or Military grade Armor, its safe to assume they aren't there for a beer. Really, I mean REALLY pay attention to he social problems that wearing that kind of obvious armor would attract. Its not "Illegal" to wear body armor, but when's the last time you saw a non-cop or soldier wearing any kind of ballistic gear just going down the street?

If you really want to turn the screws, a Force 12 spell will leave a heck of an astral signature as well.

It is frustrating as a GM for sure, to have things just be overran because of a weak point in the rules, in this case severity of drain.



DringDring:
Hello there; I'm coming a little after the battle but... Yeah. I can see where your problem is.

First thing first : How the heck did they never get catched by the police, IRH, or a wandering spirit who smelled all the good magic ?
Do they have the metamagic to suppress their aura or do they only fighted gangers in their home ?

No brcause, once you hit a corpo with runner capable of doing that... The corpos want thoses runners to either :
- Be dead
- Working for them
- Hunted like dog
- Victim of a vivisection.

Anyway. You had receive many path to try and find a solution to your first problem (the better, imo, is to user corridor and situation here the AoE is not only a bad idea, but a dumb idea, the PA and, for the lolz, security team who run like chicken to trap the path of the runners).
Because, yeah, a F12 Lightning ball is something. But if the camera see that... The rest of the security team won't even make it a fair fight : gaz attack, closing door, grenades, other trap like cutting of power on a elevator and forcing them to use stair, etc.
As long as the security don't have the mean to fight an overwhelming power, they won't fight fair but using everythings to help (the flash grenade help as well. After all, the mage can't use spell if he can't see heh).

Anyway, I'm digressing (get used to it !).

Once you manage to make them think differently you're going to have a new whole set of problem : their 40+ of initiative.
What. The. Actual. Heck.
That's... Well. Imagine, if you will, a mage, that act 4 time in one combat Turn. A Combat Turn is a few minutes (3 ? I forgot). It's like having The Flash fighting in front of you but unless fist you see spell being throw at you.
Terrifying.

Because with that much Initiative, losing their electrical toy is not going to complicate life much. Either they're going to use meanier spell (chaotic wolrd, wouhou ! The Hot Potato spell is funky as well). Or simply geek the opposition one by one. And if they can launch a F14 Lightning Bolt without so much as breacking a sweat... So many lower, but as deadlier, spell is not going to scare them.

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