Shadowrun

Shadowrun Play => Gamemasters' Lounge => Topic started by: Nautilust on (11:54:25/09-08-18)

Title: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Nautilust on (11:54:25/09-08-18)
My players completely failed their first meeting. It was so bad that Mr. Johnson shot right past pissed off into being sad for each character. At this rate if this Mr. Johnson doesn't kill them, another one will. It was so bad I think I'm going to have to put together a primer on how to act in a meeting.

However, while I know how to act in a meeting. I don't know how to put that into words. So what would be some good points to add or include?
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Stainless Steel Devil Rat on (12:00:40/09-08-18)
A couple of points to explain:

Notoriety as a rules mechanic, and how they earn it.  Stressing that pissing off Mr. Johnson is about the easiest way to 'earn' Notoriety.

The importance of reputation in the shadow community.  (very easy to segue from Notoriety)

Another mention of stressing the importance of professional behavior in shadowrun in general, and with your contacts and Mr. Johnson in particular.  There's kind of a playing style divide in Shadowrun described as the "Pink Mohawk/Black Trenchcoat" dichotomy.  If your players are very Pink Mohawk, they might need a special reminder of there being appropriate times and places for "pink mohawking it up" and there are times where it's very inappropriate.. such as when meeting with Mr. Johnson.  (Mr Johnons wants to hire shadowrunners, not common punks...)

If the players are novices to Shadowrun/cyberpunk genre, it might help to explain Mr. Johnson's perspective to them.  (he's not simply there to betray them)
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: adzling on (12:12:55/09-08-18)
details?

My players completely failed their first meeting. It was so bad that Mr. Johnson shot right past pissed off into being sad for each character. At this rate if this Mr. Johnson doesn't kill them, another one will. It was so bad I think I'm going to have to put together a primer on how to act in a meeting.

However, while I know how to act in a meeting. I don't know how to put that into words. So what would be some good points to add or include?
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Nautilust on (12:22:07/09-08-18)
Let's see, they sat in front of Mr. Johnson and discussed their entire plan in front of him. This took a while. I'd say an hour or two.

They kept saying things in person that would have been better off said over the commlink. Without using their subvocal mics.

They said completely incompetent things involving the things that they are supposed to be good at, in front of Mr. Johnson. This runs back into them discussing their plan in front of Mr. Johnson.

They insulted Mr. Johnson, a few times, and when he said something they told him to step off his high horse and go watch cop dramas.

Everybody has appropriate attire for a meeting, but only like 3 of them wore it, the others just walked in looking like common street thugs.

I think that about sums it up.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: fseperent on (14:44:49/09-08-18)
Wow, had to walk a bit after reading that.

I would suggest setting the group together for a binge session of spy and mercenary shows/movies.
James Bond, Burn Notice, and MacGyver spring to mind.
If I'm recalling right, those 3 tend to show how to conduct yourself during a meet.
Or, at least, can show what happens if a meet goes south.

Maybe a "what went right/what went wrong" talk after each episode/movie.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Michael Chandra on (15:05:35/09-08-18)
Force each of them to take the Positive Quality Common Sense. I'd suggest a roll but if they're this bad, forcing the quality is better.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Nautilust on (15:42:20/09-08-18)
I thought about flooding the room with Seven-7 and refusing saves, then we could go play some 5th edition D&D since that seems to be what everyone in the world wants to play.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Kiirnodel on (02:30:17/09-09-18)
Were they discussing the job and what they would plan to do for it before they finished the meet?

Why did the Mr. Johnson stick around if they were to the point of making plans for the job. Part of the whole point of hiring a Shadowrunner team is that they act independently and Mr. Johnson has a level of "deniability" for when the job gets done.

Several of these points are easily avoidable by simple GM Fiat, you deciding that the Mr. Johnson would excuse himself after they start to discuss their plans for the job: "Well, I'll leave you to your business. Contact me at this comm-code when the work is done." And he leaves.

It sounds like this is a group new to Shadowrunning, so giving a little leeway when it comes to some protocol is somewhat appropriate. When things that you (as GM) think are inappropriate to be done in the current social setting are being done then simply point it out to the players. Better yet, call for Etiquette tests and with the results include information that their character knows: (1 hit on Etiquette) You know that insulting the person hiring you for a job is a really bad idea. Even 0 hits on this test (assuming they don't critical glitch) should mean that they know better than to bite the hand that feeds them...
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: adzling on (02:35:16/09-09-18)
I agree with kiir
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Nautilust on (02:39:30/09-09-18)
I did, I didn't go with the nuclear option.

Mr. Johnson was supposed to be there to give them additional information as they asked questions. I made the wrong decision of keeping Mr. Johnson there. I made mistakes too.

So now I'm addressing what happened, with the group, and putting appropriate measures in action. Part of which is going to have to be a discussion about what is appropriate at a meeting.

They were devising their strategy for how they were going to do the mission, at the meeting with Mr. Johnson. Next time that happens Mr. Johnson is just going to leave.

Everybody made mistakes, and by the time we were done, I had just dealt with the worst meeting I've ever seen.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Stainless Steel Devil Rat on (02:51:26/09-09-18)
I did, I didn't go with the nuclear option.

Mr. Johnson was supposed to be there to give them additional information as they asked questions. I made the wrong decision of keeping Mr. Johnson there. I made mistakes too.

So now I'm addressing what happened, with the group, and putting appropriate measures in action. Part of which is going to have to be a discussion about what is appropriate at a meeting.

They were devising their strategy for how they were going to do the mission, at the meeting with Mr. Johnson. Next time that happens Mr. Johnson is just going to leave.

Everybody made mistakes, and by the time we were done, I had just dealt with the worst meeting I've ever seen.

Sounds like you're on the right path.

I also like the suggestion upthread about scheduling a group-viewing of some heist and cloak-n-dagger movies.  Sounds like the players may be new to the kind of strategizing that shadowrun requires.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Ech0 on (04:52:01/09-09-18)
Looks like you as the DM and the rest of the group would simply like to play different "versions" of Shadowrun. You have different expectations.  :-\

Are they completely new to the game? Then talk with them, how -you- and -they- would like the world to work. They'd like to goof around a bit and have fun. You'd like them to play their alter-egos like the hard-edged pros that they are, or better, should be.

The characters would probably know how to react in a meeting with a potential Johnson; they don't.
Don't "punish" the players around the table via game means. That is an asshead move - and kinda childish on top. Your aren't there to educate or school them via in-game means. You are grown-ups. You can talk about stuff...
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Michael Chandra on (04:57:41/09-09-18)
There are Johnsons that are basically stooges, mooks sent to do the dirty work of someone relevant. But there are also plenty of Johnsons with actual influence themselves. And you can't easily tell which. So assume the second because assuming the first is a horrible idea.

I second Echo that you might want to give them some warnings, or let them roll relevant skills then tell them 'you know X could be a bad idea given Y'. If they keep it up, suggest Common Sense at a chargen costs discount.

On the other hand, Echo, a player should not have to be informed not tell their temporary BOSS to sod off and go watch cop shows... That's something I shouldn't have to tell my players is a bad idea. If they're willing to state THAT kind of thing, they're beyond warnings.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Nautilust on (05:20:33/09-09-18)
It's another case where I thought I was very very clear about what I intended to run and no one listened. So it's going to be an uphill battle.

However I haven't really punished them or anything. Mr. Johnson gave them a very stern warning and put them in their place, They even reacted to that bad, because then all of a sudden they WERE professionals and he was throwing a tantrum. Which is right about the point I thought about killing them all.

I'm not going to do that just yet though. I'm well aware that my initial thought is usually way too violent, and I have to step back for second and tone it down a bit.

That said if they continue on at this rate they will hit a Mr. Johnson that decides to kill them. But it'll be after several warnings and efforts to fix the issue. Afterwards we can play like, checkers or something. That might be more their speed.

I don't think it'll come to that though. I think their intelligent people, I just have to be very very painstakingly clear what it is I expect and then ask them if they can do it. If they can that's great, if we can meet halfway we might have to pull things back, they're playing AAA runners, maybe street level would be better. If they can't do it, I think we'll play something else. I like to play realistic games with organic characters, except for combat which I'm fine with being over the top.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Ech0 on (05:36:05/09-09-18)
Before you decide to "teach them a lesson in-game", just tell them that you haven't had fun that last round. You were annoyed and, frankly, bored. You've put work into preparing the adventure for them, and they dick around and just want to one-up each other.
It's childish, one way or another.

If that does not help, apply "rule #0: Don't play with jerks". Pick up that board game (maybe even the Shadowrun ones) and play that instead.

Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Kiirnodel on (06:50:21/09-09-18)
Some of what you're talking about strikes me as a potential disconnect between what is in-character and what is out-of-character. For example, the players making cracks about the guy hiring them, them going about doing their planning, etc. All of that being viewed (by the players) as OOC actions that doesn't represent what is actually happening, or being filtered mentally to be "my character is doing planning and being all professional."

So then, when you respond to those actions, viewing all of it as IN-Character, their response is "well what's his problem?"

It might not be like that, though. I would suggest discussing your concerns with the group. Simply stating outright "hey, last time when you guys did {X,Y,Z} it was really insulting to Mr. J, it was really unprofessional. That's why he told you off there, and was mad."

There really might be a misunderstanding about what they thought happened and what you think happened, so starting off the conversation with clarifying that is probably best so that you're all on the same page. It might not work 100%, and they might be fully aware of what they did and not care. But at least then you know what you're dealing with...
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Marcus on (09:53:55/09-09-18)
I've heard way worse,  they didn't kill anybody, and nothing they did prevents the job from being completeable, your players are just new and don't get how supposed to go. You should just put NPC professional in there to help guide their behavior. As to the rest Insulting Mr.J is poor form but happens, and Johnson's don't kill runner for talking smack, or saying incompetent things, or showing up improperly dressed, talk is cheap. All that matters is results.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: adzling on (11:16:42/09-09-18)
yeah you probably would have been better off starting them as street instead of AAA level until they got a handle on the game.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Nautilust on (14:51:37/09-09-18)
I informed them going in exactly what we were going to be doing before we started, so that if they didn't feel comfortable playing at that level they could drop. Everybody seemed fine with it so that's where we started. But like I said, people don't listen. Human error, it happens everyday.

So we just have to talk and make sure that everyone is 100% on the same page.

And insulting Mr. Johnson is a really really bad idea. Mr. Johnson is looking for a reason to kill you, because if you get the job done and then they kill you. They have their money and the job done. I may play a lot more into the dystopianism of the setting than others. But people are blood thirsty, and if you make too many mistakes you'll end up with a knife in your back, 23 times.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Sphinx on (16:38:49/09-09-18)
Let their fixer explain the facts to them before setting up the next meeting.

"Look, I hear things didn't go well last time. I should explain a few things. When I vouch for you to Mr. Johnson, my rep is on the line. When you embarrass yourselves, you also embarrass me. I don't like being embarrassed; it's bad for my business. If it happens again, it'll be the last time I work with you. So ka? Now, some ground rules: 

1. Mr. Johnson has money. You want the money. To get the money, you have to convince Mr. Johnson that you can do the job quick, clean, quiet, professional.

2. Mr. Johnson has information. He knows things about the job. You need to know those things. Listen to what he tells you. Think about what he doesn't tell you. Ask smart questions.

3. Mr. Johnson has secrets. He won't tell you everything; that's normal. You can push a little, but not too far. You can always do some digging later, as long as he never finds out about it. Remember the money. You want the money. You won't get it if Mr. Johnson is not happy.

4. Mr. Johnson has dignity. Sure, you could take him apart if you wanted to; that's beside the point. Be polite. Be professional. Don't screw around. Don't insult him out loud (you've got encrypted comms; use those). Remember the money. You want the money. You won't get it if Mr. Johnson gets offended.

5. Mr. Johnson is important. He has other demands on his time; don't take more of it than necessary. Get the details, get his contact information, assure him that you'll be in touch when the job is done, and leave.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Marcus on (16:51:09/09-09-18)

And insulting Mr. Johnson is a really really bad idea. Mr. Johnson is looking for a reason to kill you, because if you get the job done and then they kill you. They have their money and the job done. I may play a lot more into the dystopianism of the setting than others. But people are blood thirsty, and if you make too many mistakes you'll end up with a knife in your back, 23 times.

I don't have any idea what you're draw that from. But in traditional SR, No. Mr.Johnson is professional negotiator he/she is looking for one thing and one thing only getting her/his job completed successful with no blow back or complications. Paying as little possible is good too but not as important as completion and avoiding complications. Mr.Johnson, doesn't care if the runners kill or lose some of their own, but psycho kill don't make good Johnson, why? b/c Faces are generally good their job and will figure out if your Johnson is psycho. 

Going that direction is going end with failed meeting almost every time, and it mostly likely it's going end with gun fight between the team and Johnson, in which case I don't like his chances. So I'd seriously recommend re-evaluating that concept.

Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Nautilust on (17:17:07/09-09-18)
It comes from the atmosphere of the game as I interpret it, with a little influence from the world around me. People don't matter, they're a dime a dozen. Especially SINless, or people that have Erased. So if Mr. Johnson can get the job done and get rid of all loose ends, that's what Mr. Johnson is going to do.

That has little to do with the meeting. Most Johnson's will smile at you and pretend they love you, then send a team to kill you if they feel the need/have the chance. Mr. Johnson has power, ego, everything that makes a terrible person dangerous and that's what I play up. The world they are playing in is dangerous, and awful. It sucks, they don't want to live in that future. It's not futuristic Disney World; it's the Killing Fields, just better disguised.

However, I don't kill PC's unless I have a good reason to. Whatever situation they get into I provide several ways to get out, a couple which are dark.

There's also a demand for good runners. So if you prove your more useful than a liability, your place is pretty much secured. There's 100's of factors in play.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Michael Chandra on (17:25:49/09-09-18)
Not all Johnsons will betray runners, the same reason runners want to not burn bridges with their Johnsons: Most people want to be able to manage more than 1 run. If a Johnson immediately tries to kill a team simply because they can, they'll never score a fixer again. So treason isn't the default. It will happen occasionally, but you're not going to get backstabbed the second you don't expect it.

Also, runners are less of a loose end than you might expect. Generally, a corp will go 'whelp, we got robbed 3 hours ago, they took project X, no doubt it's in the hands of a Johnson and another corp by now'. The runners are irrelevant, so why waste time and resources taking them out? And not all Johnsons have power and ego, since often they're someone in a bind or a middle man sent by someone more powerful as well. So no, it's not full Killing Fields out there in the Shadows. You got to watch your back, but you're not gonna get stabbed in it every week.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Nautilust on (17:33:38/09-09-18)
Not every Johnson is going to try to kill you, but there's plenty of them out there that will. There's all kinds of personalities you can enact, limiting it just to the murderous Johnson's is limiting yourself.

But they're out there and I make that obvious. There's always someone looking to stab you in the back, not everyone out there. If I was going to do that I'd run a horror game.

On why a corp would take the effort to go after the team. It's because they can, people are chaotic, they don't always make the sensible conclusion. But that's the exception not the average.

I make a very dark, bloody atmosphere; but I don't make it like that 24/7. That'd be like hitting them over the head with a hammer repeatedly. I take breaks into lighter story lines, I add comic relief, etc.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Marcus on (18:48:29/09-09-18)
Dark and gritty is perfectly fine, but Corps of any size don't do things "b/c they can", that's the realm of the Greek Gods, and makes for a great D&D game. Corps do things because that action results in profit or mitigates loss. Yes a Johnson, will sacrifice a team. But the Shadows aren't a vacuum, and even a really dumb Johnson knows that, get a team killed or just send one out to die and your Johnson better be prepared for consequences of doing so, Johnson aren't combat monster quite the opposite in fact. Runner have friends, and friends take it personally when people break the unspoken contract. So by all means make it dark and gritty but if that's really the feel you're after you would be way better off in a street level game. I think it would also help you get a better feel for the how the various level of play interact.


Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Nautilust on (19:16:30/09-09-18)
People do, do things just because they can. You're taking the human element out of the corporation. People like that do pop up, constantly, because positions like that draw that kind of person like wasps to a flame. Most are picked out early, the few that remain are the really scary ones. Don't tell me how people work. I won't tell you what you know.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: fseperent on (20:50:19/09-09-18)
Nautilust, I would advise you read the Bosses & Betrayers section of Run Faster.
Mr. Js won't do anything during the meet, it's just bad form.

When it's time to collect the merchandise, only the very best items or R & D plans warrant tying up some loose threads.
More than likely, though, it's a bad gamble to waste any shadow asset.
Other runners or teams WILL find out.
Azzie and organized crime Mr. Js, however, are more inclined to pull the trigger.

As for looking out for the bottom line, it's REALLY going to cut into your bottom line if you can't hire anyone.

If you want a dark SR campaign, go as dark as you want.
Just remember, Mr. Js have people they have to answer to.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Marcus on (21:03:21/09-09-18)
Don't tell me how people work. I won't tell you what you know.

I told you how corps in SR works, not how people work. But you don't have to take my word for it, go read the source see for yourself.  I don't appreciate people putting words in my mouth, thank you.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: The Wyrm Ouroboros on (03:31:37/09-12-18)
Don't tell me how people work. I won't tell you what you know.

You ... might not want to approach advice with this attitude, particularly when you're asking for advice.  This isn't the first time you've gone off on what you apparently see as people insulting you, your intelligence, whatever.

You're a new GM; listen, learn, take advice.  Use that advice change your tactics for different Johnsons, whatever.  Don't lash out because you think our advice offends you.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Michael Chandra on (07:15:05/09-12-18)
I'm afraid that if you're unwilling to listen to feedback after stating Johnsons WILL betray a team, I don't think I have any advice left to offer you. I wish you all the best at your table, but I don't think I can make any contributions to your requests. Good luck.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: Nautilust on (18:46:58/09-13-18)
I was being cranky the other day, my blood sugar was out of control and I wasn't in the best mood. I apologize.

I wasn't being completely accurate with how I was wording things. I took a step back and calmed down a little.

You've all given good advice.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: elbruce on (23:38:31/10-01-18)
It is a fact that we've seen adventures and stories where the Johnson does turn on his runners.  Whether it's sending them into a suicide run, stiffing them at the payoff, or trying to eliminate them as soon as the job is done, it does happen.  There are good Johnsons and bad Johnsons.

And that's also something that should be impressed on the characters, perhaps by their friendly neighborhood fixer.  Act like worthless street scum and you're more and more likely to only get the bad Johnsons to be willing to hire you.  Act professional and you'll attract more professional employers over time.  Hopefully you won't have to go so far as have all their runs go south just impress that on them (sounds as if they might take that the wrong way and be even more uncouth towards future Johnsons) but try to get it into their heads both IC and OOC.
Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: gilga on (15:23:10/10-02-18)
From the Jhonson perspective, spending plenty of money because some punk told him to 'watch cop shows' seems awfully unprofessional. Heck, even not calling the team again if they did the job very well because he personally dislikes them - seems strange to me. The Jhonson is a professional and he calls these runners because they get the job done, if they insult him - they'll just find it harder to negotiate their pay later. Or they would not get to improve his loyalty at the end of a successful run. Johnson is not an all mighty demi-god - he is a middleman. Getting people killed just for saying the wrong thing in a meetup would get him such a dreadful reputation that runners would not work for him. 

For these aspects, I agree that the players behaved in a way that should be sanctioned - but I'd settle with negative dice pool to social roles with him (wrong clothes, wrong attitude etc). Less social rewards, e.g. he would not become a contact after the run, and likely slightly less pay due to less dice to negotiate with.  I think it should be enough - I don't think you get notoriety for being rude to a Jhonson, I think you get it from failing to do your job. But if the Jhonson dislikes you personally, well - you should know better whom to ask for favors afterward.

Remember that the Jhonson works with misfits, people at the edges of society, he cannot be so volatile if he wants to keep doing this kind of job. He should be reasonably loyal to his team - as it is his reputation too. He'll just damage himself by mistreating the people he just hired. The worst thing I think is that he does not hire them, the team lost all income and has to do drek jobs to pay rent. Or worse, borrow money for lifestyle - (In debt quality?). Then the next time, they are more eager to work and more polite. Problem solved nobody died.

Title: Re: Failed Meetings.
Post by: DocRock089 on (07:13:09/10-17-18)
Stuff like this happens, don't take it too hard, chum. Think we've all been there at some point. I remember a "first run" years ago which ended with 3/5 characters, another 2 severely wounded and the johnson dead, because they got into each others hair in a pissing match, which ended with someone popping a handgrenade in the middle of a downtown street cafe just to show the others they were serious. Suffice it to say, I took my shit and ran and never hosted that group again :).

Sounds to me, like you lost control there and just went along with the situation. I recommend either having the Johnson be the adult at the meet and just outright call the runners on it ("Your conduct seems really unprofessional, what do you hope to gain by insulting me and discussing things in front of me? There is a reason why shadowrunners are called deniable assets and I want to make sure we're on the same page here."), or - if you don't think of a solution in that situation, just calling things to a halt. If things go this awry (and yes, it happens), I am willing to call a break out of game to discuss it. This is something I do rarely as a GM (actually: something I try to avoid at all times), but sometimes it can't be avoided if you don't wanna scrap the whole evening. You are there to have fun as well. 

If playing with a new group, I usually tend to write up something like the "20 most important dos and don'ts" for my shadowrun universe, because I want to make sure were all on the same assumptions about how things are "supposed" to go. I will start emailing documents to the players about 1 week before the first "run". Usually one or two dossiers a day, just to get them excited and in the mood for the session. This usually includes a "professional conduct in the shadowrun community dossier" with something like 20 dos and don'ts.
 
Especially since I am forcing some choices on the characters before we even start.