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Need GM advince, new to SR

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Raven Runner

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« on: <01-05-12/0914:01> »
 I've been GMing other systems for years but I'm new to SR.  I'm looking for advice on the number crunching side of GMing and creating adventures.  For a group of new players what is challenging? What threats can they beat and what will most lickly put them on the run, with out killing them?

Also, how does this apply to diferent character types?

For background info I generally run gritty games and encourage PCs to have a diversity of skills and not go all über on me, so I'm looking at limiting initiative passes to one or two with a good back storie, and making the players feel like they are fighting for every nyuen, not super heros immune to cops. In other words dice pools shouldn't be crazy big, and I'm thinking about using that character creation version where they use Karma at character creation instead of build points, which seems to catter towards more diverse characters and lower dice pools. I'm also planning on using chummer to create NPC's and critters and all.

Lastly, yet another plug for my self wanting to get in on an online non-pbp game, seems hard to find GMs these days.

ArkangelWinter

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« Reply #1 on: <01-05-12/1030:31> »
It depends on how well you know your players. My group is really experienced in a bunch of systems and through creativity and caution actually defeated the F9 free spirit I hit them with 2nd session; a group that went head to head with it would have been buzzard bait, as I saw running a game for 4 younger friends who lost half the party to a few Halloweeners when they walked into an ambush easily.

Mirikon

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« Reply #2 on: <01-05-12/1159:38> »
The first thing to consider when playing Shadowrun is that the cruel whims of the dice gods are very much in play here. It only takes one really bad roll to spell the difference between victory and your character being dead in the first round of combat. If you're coming from D&D, throw out that idea that you are just as effective when you start the fight as you are after you've been hit a couple times. Taking damage gives you increasing penalties to pretty much everything, including not getting hit. That means even if the human who took a face full of shotgun the first round isn't dead, he's still going to be in very bad shape the rest of the fight.

Second, you don't heal anywhere near as fast as you do in D&D. There are no clerics who can blast you with Cure spells until you're full up. Not only does the magician take more drain the more damaged you are, but their spells don't work as well on people with ware, and they can only attempt to heal once per set of wounds. After that, you're looking at the normal approach, which means days laid up trying to heal. This means that a couple bad rolls near the start of a run can screw you up for the ENTIRE RUN.

Before making your own runs, start with some published adventures. Food Fight is the always popular way to start a new group off with the system, but it also allows a new DM to get accustomed to the lethality of the game. There are also published modules like the Horizon adventures, the Artifacts campaign, and Missions that give you runs already put together, with stat blocks for the bad guys, suggested tactics, and so on. Good way for a new DM to get into the swing of things.
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Walks Through Walls

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« Reply #3 on: <01-05-12/1743:41> »
Being as you are experienced at GMing, but seem to be looking for more help with the system itself and its intricacies I would recommend starting by getting the runners toolkit. I've been running Shadowrun since the 90s and I got it when it came out and found several items that I really liked and there are several more items that would be even more useful to a new GM.

Here is some of the stuff you get that I think will really help you out:
1) cheat sheets for most of the common types of rolls including combat, matrix and magic use
2) An adventure where they narrate what happens in one column and show the rules mechanics and rolls in another
3) A new starter adventure that is a bit more advanced than food fight and will help you get your feet wet
4) several premade maps of commonly needed locations (a bar, research facility and street)
5) A book of tables for easy reference.

Mirkon is right that damage matters in Shadowrun and early on wounds can set up the rest of the run and that is something to keep in mind and make sure your players understand.
There are several published adventures which are good, and there are books with adventure seeds that you can flesh out as you like to have a bit more control of the game.
One thing to realize is if you use karmagen anyone who makes a non human character will be using more points than with the BP system for their race.   

I hope this helps. If there are specific questions I'll be happy to try and help with them
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Zilfer

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« Reply #4 on: <01-05-12/1816:25> »
Eh, I really dislike the healing like that. I guess the way I interperate it is home brewed and it's staying that way, not that heal comes up often... anyways onto the topic!


I do feel chummer makes more well rounded characters, because the cost for increasing them usually becomes to high but don't fool yourself into thinking that it will 'force' them to make more well rounded characters. I have a 15 agility elf with 34 dice (edged) 28 without edge, and pretty much 16 dice to shoot anything, punch anything, or anything to do with agility because i put at least 1 point in each. I was rather limited in other skills but i'm hoping to catch up with those in game, and i decided since the character was so uber i'd limit the character so the DM wouldn't think I was trying to make a rediculous monster character, so I gave him only 1 initiative pass. (cringe) makes me do that every time i say that.... xD


As for what they can beat, that is all very situational, and how well they can work together / what they can bring to the table.

I mean the book even says you could take down a dragon with a lucky shot with an SMG or if you planned it right. Hell the DM had to bend a huge curve of dice to stop my first character from killing his captor (dragon in human form, he didn't count on my 7 edge character edging 4 shots burst firing from an Ares viper slivergun with the first shots being called shots. xD)

So if your players can research and plan good then they'll be fine. Also if you hold back on serious tactic's for a little while let them be the tactical experts and then slowly up the oppositions tactics as they get better at the system. Also if they can get the jump on their opponents they'll quite ably be able to end a battle perhaps within the first initiative pass.
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Mirikon

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« Reply #5 on: <01-05-12/1825:55> »
Zilfer, that character is already a monster. The difference between him having only one initiative pass and having multiple passes is like the difference between Super-sayin Goku, and Super-sayin level 2 Goku. Either way, you are horribly overpowered compared to anyone else.
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Zilfer

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« Reply #6 on: <01-05-12/1851:34> »
Zilfer, that character is already a monster. The difference between him having only one initiative pass and having multiple passes is like the difference between Super-sayin Goku, and Super-sayin level 2 Goku. Either way, you are horribly overpowered compared to anyone else.

It's true, but i wanted to limit him in some way. So i choose that. now if he gets in combat with more than say 3 guys? all their combined fire could put him out, or combined tactic's considering they might get 2 turns to my one, or maybe even 3.

And there "supposively" is a HUGE difference between them, that becomes smaller and smaller as time goes on because then there is SSJ3 xD then 4! and they skip form 1 now and go straight to 2 or 3. xD
Having access to Ares Technology isn't so bad, being in a room that's connected to the 'trix with holographic display throughout the whole room isn't bad either. Food, drinks whenever you want it. Over all not bad, but being unable to leave and with a Female Dragon? No Thanks! ~The Captive Man

nightslasthero

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« Reply #7 on: <01-05-12/2319:14> »
It's shadowrun. Any encounter has the potential to be deadly. However, as a gm you can certainly make things easier or harder. In the main book, you will notice that there is a professional rating, that is a good guide. Rating 1-2 guys will likely pose no major problems even in a large group Rating 3-4 guys will start to become an issue and you can't have as many of them. Rating 5-6 should be a tough deadly challenge for any runner just off the street.

As a general rule if most of your players are taking 2 or 3 IP, then any oposition only taking 1 IP will be easy. Oposition that takes the same number of IP will be challenging. And oposition with more IP will be deadly. (Remember in Shadowrun everyone has around 10 boxes of damage they can take).

Trolls can soak a lot of damage without dying, so tossing a gernade dead on may slow him down, but send the Face into a million pieces.

A magician character's ability is based on the actual spells and skills he posses (and has active). When making an encounter obviously keep that in mind.

The number of encounters play a major role in how tough each individual encounter can be. In shadowrun the magician has one chance to heal a character before the damange can no longer be healed magically. So have a challenging encounter too early and the Team may have trouble later on.

Drones and anything with hardened armor could pose a huge threat. (Especially one controled by a decent rigger). WIthout magical support a spirit can cause a very bad night for any shadowrunner.

The gun and armor you give the PCs opposition is a big influence as well. Compare what they have to what the PCs have. (As well as looking to see if the PCs can actually get past that military grade armor you decided would be awesome for the main threat at the end.

My recommendation, start with an obviously easy encounter, say a street ambush with one guy per runner. (They only get one IP) See how easy or how hard the encounter is for the group, then base the following encounters off that. Obviously the more you run and the more you play with a certain group of players the better feel you will get for them. In shadowrun, who you are playing with can make a huge difference.

« Last Edit: <01-05-12/2325:20> by nightslasthero »

Raven Runner

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« Reply #8 on: <01-06-12/0945:57> »
This is all great info, thanks, keep it coming.

Raven

baronspam

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« Reply #9 on: <01-06-12/1834:22> »
Get to know the composition of your party and be sure to take their strengths and weaknesses into consideration.

A strong combat oriented mage, or a powerfull spirit summoner, both of which you can build straight out of the box (which doesn't mean they can't get even better with experience, but you can be pretty good at either when you first start) will REALLY mess up mundane opponents unless they have magical support of their own.  Conversely, if the party lacks strong magical support be careful how much magic you throw at them, as magic can rapidly lay out an unsupported mundane character.  Its a common axiom to geek the mage first, then the troll next.  If the mage is a troll, well, hope you brought clean underwear chummer, the alpha strike has your name on it.

Give your players some guidance when it comes to building their characters.  The build point system is very flexible, with very little forced game balance.  You can build characters of very disparate power levels on the same build points depending on how much you optimize and how many of the tricks you learn.  Do not be afraid to tell players that they need to tone down a character, or that they need to optimize a character, to get people in more or less the same range of effectiveness.  If your "weapon's expert" only is rolling 10 dice after the smartlink, and your investigator has 15 with his pistol, something is wrong.  Neither character is wrong in and of itself, there are tables where both will fit in fine, but when people are better with their secondary jobs than the specialist are with their specialty, then something has gone wrong with the build.  It is also very hard to write combat encounters for groups where one guy has 22 dice to hit and 17 to dodge, and the next guy is literally half that level.  Again, neither character is wrong or right in the abstract, it depends on the campaign and the GMs take on things, but its a bugger to have them at the same table.

Having said that, some characters will be less fit for combat than others.  Technomancers in particular really suck in meat space right out of creation.  They can do some incredible things with technology, things that the hackers cant touch, but they are kind of like a early edition DnD wizard.  Unless they happen to have a combat drone wrapped around them, which isn't always possible, they can be taken out by a cranky boy scout with a 2x4.  While there should be times you pull people out of their comfort zones, remember this is a fairly lethal game.  At least some of the time the non-combatants need to be able to work from the van, ride in the drone, or otherwise contribute without having their spleen handed to them.

Collectively, the group should have combat, matrix, and magic covered.  If they do they have the makings of a good team.  If they can't cover one of those to at least some degree it might be time to re-balance the party. 

Apart from that, there are many specialties.  Some teams are good at infiltration and B/E.  Some are more paramilitary, lots of gun bunnies and demolitions guys.  Others are more focused on investigation, surveillance,  and detective work.  A good fixer knows what a team will excel at, and connects clients with teams that fit the needs of a mission.  Thats a polite way of saying to write stories that play to the team's strength, and that pull them out of their comfort zone in interesting and entertaining ways, not ways that are hard stops for the story or that will just get them killed.


MisterJohnson

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« Reply #10 on: <01-06-12/1901:32> »
I recently got back into actually playing (as the GM) Shadowrun after a few years away - although I had kept collecting the books and reading them, finding players was hard.  I found the recent "Runner's Toolkit" to be exceptional in helping me get back into the groove.

http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=88805&affiliate_id=164934

Other than that, my only other advice is to read a lot of the background materials.  Try to know the world as a living, breathing thing - and that helps me react to situations the characters want to do.
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ArkangelWinter

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« Reply #11 on: <01-07-12/1042:53> »
One thing alot of GMs forget is to also build stories fitting their motivations and personalities. I run one game with some friends I've played different RPGs with since I was 10 or 11, and their characters will go broke before taking a run that puts more than one or two civilians at risk, and if it hurts Aztechnology they'd just about run for free. My group at the Ole Miss Gamers Association prefers to geek anyone and carve their cyberware out of their struggling bodies. But, they've all go a quirk against hurting DocWagon.