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Advice for a party with no magic users or Deckers?

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3 of Spades

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« on: <08-28-14/1412:15> »
Not sure if this is the place. I've played quite a bit of Shadowrun before, 2nd and 4th. Most of the time however its been an all decker party or a magic centric game. Part of me feels that not having either of that character type in the party excludes a lot of the game world, kinda locking it off from exploration. maybe? any advice?

Poindexter

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« Reply #1 on: <08-28-14/1521:34> »
Are you running the game?

if so, just tailor make the jobs they get offered fit around their strengths. The fluff bit in the 5th ed book about the dwarf and troll backup team is a good example.
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emsquared

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« Reply #2 on: <08-28-14/2049:44> »
There really shouldn't be many/any types of jobs that such a lacking party couldn't do that a "fully equipped" party could. It may be harder for them with some job types, and may require some slight strategic GM tweaking in other types, but in yet others it could even conceivably be easier. Awakened generally have high profiles, easily attracting the attention of patrolling spirits or other awakened. Similarly with Deckers, if you're actively pursuing avenues of the job on the Matrix, your risk of exposure there is greater too. Lacking both of those profiles means you have fewer ways of drawing attention to yourself (granted, along with the fewer tools to overcome challenges).

The advice, in short, should be kind of obvious; everyone have good social and combat skills. :P Not even joking, just be good at the other stuff. More broadly, orient your group toward hiding in plain sight. Make a solid plan, make sure everyone knows the plan back to front (don't use a whole lot of matrix chatter, or if you do, keep it low profile - code words), walk in do your thing and hopefully walk out. If something goes awry, everyone needs to be able to cover their own butt in a fight. Truly, a party of Faces is probably one of the scariest things a corp could ... face.

You'll probably not be getting any wireless bonus' from your 'ware, and be carrying around a lot of AP rounds, but it's not that big of a problem really in the end. Especially if the GM is tailoring his campaign even just a little to the party's strengths (since the weaknesses are easy). Runners shouldn't be getting jobs they're not qualified to handle.

Also, there's always NPCs. Could be contacts, run/story specific assets, or straight up contracting another runner (or two) for a job (or two). As the GM, don't just use such NPCs as magic wands that make certain problems in the run go away, use them to complicate some dynamic of the run and to make the story more interesting.

No decker, no magic is no death sentence.

LionofPerth

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« Reply #3 on: <08-30-14/0956:29> »
There really shouldn't be many/any types of jobs that such a lacking party couldn't do that a "fully equipped" party could. It may be harder for them with some job types, and may require some slight strategic GM tweaking in other types, but in yet others it could even conceivably be easier. Awakened generally have high profiles, easily attracting the attention of patrolling spirits or other awakened. Similarly with Deckers, if you're actively pursuing avenues of the job on the Matrix, your risk of exposure there is greater too. Lacking both of those profiles means you have fewer ways of drawing attention to yourself (granted, along with the fewer tools to overcome challenges).

The advice, in short, should be kind of obvious; everyone have good social and combat skills. :P Not even joking, just be good at the other stuff. More broadly, orient your group toward hiding in plain sight. Make a solid plan, make sure everyone knows the plan back to front (don't use a whole lot of matrix chatter, or if you do, keep it low profile - code words), walk in do your thing and hopefully walk out. If something goes awry, everyone needs to be able to cover their own butt in a fight. Truly, a party of Faces is probably one of the scariest things a corp could ... face.

You'll probably not be getting any wireless bonus' from your 'ware, and be carrying around a lot of AP rounds, but it's not that big of a problem really in the end. Especially if the GM is tailoring his campaign even just a little to the party's strengths (since the weaknesses are easy). Runners shouldn't be getting jobs they're not qualified to handle.

Also, there's always NPCs. Could be contacts, run/story specific assets, or straight up contracting another runner (or two) for a job (or two). As the GM, don't just use such NPCs as magic wands that make certain problems in the run go away, use them to complicate some dynamic of the run and to make the story more interesting.

No decker, no magic is no death sentence.

My thoughts on the matter.

Well said sir.
When in doubt, C4.

Glyph

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« Reply #4 on: <08-30-14/1500:42> »
Also, if you come up with a run that requires hacking or magic, there are always NPCs.  They could be added to the team (temporarily) by the fixer, hired separately by the Johnson to work with the team, be a subcontractor, or be subcontracting the team themselves.  Be careful about them stealing spotlight time from the PCs.  They are best as support characters, with their contributions de-emphasized.  Obviously, NPCs should not be as optimal as PCs.  They should be competent (usually) but not great, and should occasionally have a quirk that complicates things for the PCs, or be working at cross-purposes with the group in some areas.  But don't go overboard - the PCs shouldn't feel they are being "punished" because no one wanted to play a certain team role.

LionofPerth

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« Reply #5 on: <08-31-14/1012:34> »
Also, if you come up with a run that requires hacking or magic, there are always NPCs.  They could be added to the team (temporarily) by the fixer, hired separately by the Johnson to work with the team, be a subcontractor, or be subcontracting the team themselves.  Be careful about them stealing spotlight time from the PCs.  They are best as support characters, with their contributions de-emphasized.  Obviously, NPCs should not be as optimal as PCs.  They should be competent (usually) but not great, and should occasionally have a quirk that complicates things for the PCs, or be working at cross-purposes with the group in some areas.  But don't go overboard - the PCs shouldn't feel they are being "punished" because no one wanted to play a certain team role.

Subcontracting, a time honoured and well respected means of getting what you want without having it on staff. A very good way of getting some skills in.

Personally, though I'd think about having them do the set up for a hack or spell, if that makes sense.

Say, they've been sent into a place, with orders to make sure the onsite security team can't effectively deal with the upcoming hack. From disabling physical devices, through to less direct, more subtle methods, making sure the building is ready for the attack.
When in doubt, C4.

Wreck

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« Reply #6 on: <09-02-14/2123:59> »
Deckers are easily the best downplayable NPCs a GM can use. The PCs can't get into the building because no one has lock picking skills? Then the NPC Decker does his thing, and the door pops open. Of course, as Glyph said, they aren't great, maybe they trip the alarm, but were able to catch it and put it on a 10 minute delay.

The nice part about Decker NPCs, is they can often be run in Overwatch, not as easy anymore what with Noise and all, but still doable.

Reiper

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« Reply #7 on: <09-12-14/0354:38> »
If you are GMing, be flexible.

But in instances where a decker is required, NPC it. For example, when my guys didn't have a decker I made an AI that they could talk into helping them out. It helped them out quite a bit, and added a fun element (he was basically a teen that got caught in a crash and his mind kind of lived in the Matrix) because he liked to play pranks.

As far as no magic goes, just don't overdo it on the "need" for it. And most of all, make sure your guys have enough freedom to try to make up for their weaknesses. That's the funnest thing I find about GMing SR, I'll have all kinds of things set up, and then the team says, "hey lets take door number 23 instead" and then I have to think on my feet.
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Nodecrash

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« Reply #8 on: <09-16-14/0810:45> »
Think of it as a fun way of introducing complications that require more thought now that the team doesn't have an easy way of answering it. For instance, they have to steal somethingsomething and to do they must breach a door. Without a hacker, they can't hack the controls to get it to open, so they must now get the keycard from the security office. A single spirit is on guard duty in the halls, and it's a nasty one, but the name of the mage is on the publically available rooster, so step one of this plan will be to go "talk" to the mage in charge of security services and "convince" them to "release" the "spirit" (ie: pump him full of lead / drugs).

It doesn't block the progress of the party itself, but it changes the surroundings and alters their interactions with the world. It also means the focus will neccesarily have to be more on social and combat roles, which is fun.

Finally: Subcontracting is good (and a great way of introducing contacts and npcs). But you can also just have Mr. Johnson offer a easily usable black box.
"I need you to do X, so I have this thing. Plug it into the access port at location Y, and it will shut down security / open doors / blackout the building"
"I'm told the location has spirit guardians on staff to ward the research, and I'm sending in you mundanes because you won't leave an astral signature anyone can trace. To deal with the spirits, I am prepared to offer these cannisters of anti-Astral material, for a 50 % reduction in your final pay out. Or you can figure out your own approach"

It's only ever going to be as much of a complication as you feel it needs to be, because at all times, in setting, you can call up others who have the knowledge you do not have and get them to answer questions about your current technological/spiritual problems.

Killstring

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« Reply #9 on: <09-17-14/1535:18> »
I personally love the idea of subcontracting. But! I run a lot of 1-player games, and my strength is in NPC's, so it's a natural fit.

Still. The appeal of introducing different characters to handle different types of jobs can lead to oceans of cool content, so I heartily reccomend it, alongside echoing most of what's been said here.

Spooky

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« Reply #10 on: <11-23-14/2259:19> »
When they need the help, hire a Decker. Mages are harder, but it is relatively easy to not have them be around much in the way of magic. And I agree with what's been said about ways around the problems. Just encourage your players' thought process on finding solutions.
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Walks Through Walls

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« Reply #11 on: <11-24-14/1836:55> »
For the convention missions in the ones I wrote that were involving downloading a file they group was given a chip that did the job that way if there isn't a decked available they could still finish the mission. Of course this came with the downside of probably setting off alarms. Using an NPC can be another great method as several people have already mentioned. The only thing to be careful where this is concerned is that they don't become the center of attention or stars. The only exception of this is if they betray the group or have a massive failure that makes it so the characters then have to bail them out otherwise they should stay out of the spotlight.

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