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

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« on: (16:50:16/05-02-18) »
In my local SRM environment, spellcasters dominate.  Not just demographics, but combat.  And it's largely due to one thing: area indirect combat spells.  Sustained/quickened spells and/or adept initiative enhancers contribute to the problem of "initiative is rolled:  Set up the minis.  Mage goes on 30 or 40 something initiative, and kills most of the bad guys before they ever act.  And if the bad guys survive, they get one action at wounded penalties before being unceremoniously mopped up before they ever get a 2nd pass. Combat is over..." but amazing initiative isn't what I'm looking to get a handle on controlling.  I'm wrestling with how much more effective Indirect Combat spells are than Direct Combat spells.  Like, why ever even cast a Manaball levels of inferiority to Indirect Combat spells.

I played quite a bit of 1st and 2nd edition Shadowrun back in the 80s and 90s, so 5th ed has had some learning curves for me.  Balancing magic in this edition is proving challenging, especially so since you can't just introduce House Rules to address power issues in SRM.  I kind of suspect that the writers never expected player to play like powergamers given examples of fireballs being thrown at force 4-5.  No, they get thrown at force 12-14 in my experience.  A) the DV is set by the Force, B) the AP is set by the force, and C) you don't get to dodge Area Indirect spells, only indirect single target combat spells are given a dodge test, rendering spell defense dice useless vs area indirect spells.

So what would be some tips from veterans of 5th ed to GM for SRM players who's shadowrunners can throw F12+ Lightning/Fireballs 3-4 times per turn? Each?  And never take drain because of course they have max casting stats and max augmented buffs from sustained/quickened spells?  I'm realizing that taking the pathfinder approach of setting up a map and showing "you're here, bad guys are there" just results in bad guys dying before they do anything.  Maybe not putting any minis for bad guys on the map until someone spends a complex action to "observe" to locate said bad guys would be a help?  Staggering bad guys so that no amount of AoE can wipe them out in one combat round?  How Kosher is it to just provide un-listed extra support (magical or otherwise) to the opposition described in SRM scenarios?




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« Reply #1 on: (17:01:13/05-02-18) »
First of all, I hope that the force 12-14 lightning ball is an exaggeration.  First of all spell force is limited to 2x magic, so out of the box 12 would likely be the highest.  Second the drain on a force 12 lightning ball would be 11, so on average would take 33 soak dice to deal with it, and I don't see how even veteran characters get that many soak dice.  Third the area effected is also set by the force, so barring spell shaping the amount of secondary damage (or even damage to their own team) is apt to be high!

But aside from that, my house rule is that counter-spell successes are directly subtracted from spell-casting successes (instead of being added to individual defense tests).  Which make indirect AOE combat spells far riskier, because the odds of them scattering are far higher.  Lightning ball is still very strong, but at least it isn't as reliable.
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« Reply #2 on: (17:17:45/05-02-18) »
No exaggeration.  F12 for those who haven't initiated yet, F14 for those with MAG7.

They just never take serious drain...usually none but never worse than 2 boxes or so. Granted they're spending edge to reroll drain failures each time they cast such a spell, but with such spells ending combat it's not THAT expensive to spend an edge or at worst 2 per combat.  Could well also be that I need to stop taking their words for it and start really looking at their dice rather than letting them tell me how many hits they got.  Still I don't REALLY doubt the result of no drain.  I mean it's F-1, so 11 or 13 hits necessary.  Between ~20 dice from drain stats, some foci, and burning edge, it's about mathematically right.

As for the area: yeah the huge area largely works in their favor as bad guys REALLY need to be spread out to not all be killed by one spell.  And those that initiate obviously take the metamagic to make friendly fire less of a concern.  Still, having bad guys just "appear" in close proximity (after having successfully snuck up or such) is a very doable idea... won't be dropping F12-14 if you're hitting your whole team, too.  And barring that, I suppose making a big deal out of the collateral damage might be a viable angle.  The regular SRM GM just flat out doesn't let the players loot the bad guys, so there's no disincentive in destroying the NPC's gear.  However leaving smoking ruins wherever you fight certainly could be "rewarded" with notoriety, and arguably even public awareness as you'd certainly be a high priority for law enforcement to put a stop to...
« Last Edit: (17:25:54/05-02-18) by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »

ShadowcatX

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« Reply #3 on: (17:22:02/05-02-18) »
While there are tons of things a GM can do, SRM kind of chains you. There is an anti-aoe move opponents can do, I don't recall the move name though or it's book.

Also, if you're dealing with initiates that have enough karma to raise their magic to 7 and bond foci that help with drain (hint: there's only one anti-drain focus and it isn't available until after becoming an initiate and only if you take that metamagic) you are dealing with virtual gods, don't be surprised starter level adventures aren't especially challenging.

« Last Edit: (17:46:16/05-02-18) by ShadowcatX »

mbisber

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« Reply #4 on: (18:14:31/05-02-18) »
In my local SRM environment, spellcasters dominate.
So, have more spellcasters to oppose them.

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« Reply #5 on: (20:01:32/05-02-18) »
There very easy way to stop that nonsense. Just put some non-hostile targets in there. Force them to take collateral damage losses and they learn knock the nonsense off. How are your mages hitting 30-40 initiative is more interesting to me. In general tech should achieve higher initiatives more often, they just have stuff that adds. If you wanna discourage this stuff, just have some folks bring some tech character who can show those jokers up. Approve some sum 2 ten three A nut busters and the balance settle back out.
« Last Edit: (20:08:02/05-02-18) by Marcus »
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Senko

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« Reply #6 on: (20:12:09/05-02-18) »
I have to say something sounds wrong in those scenarios unless your mages have a lot of karma. From the sounds of it you’ve got magic users with extremely high initiative, magic, drain resistance and multiple initations. Is this right and if so how badly are they minmaxed to get that?

The simplest way to counter it aside from hostages or the horror of background count would be narrow corridors and melee enemies. It doesn’t do them any good to avoid an allies square if the opposing fighter is attacking with an axe or martial arts rather than firearms. Send in some minions to soak the initial response then open the doors and melee attack the mages face.

Still id like to hear more on these super powered mages because even to some relatively inexperienced at gming it sounds like something is not right there.

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« Reply #7 on: (21:02:37/05-02-18) »
So if you have the true cheese mongers, you run elf with max cha and will so lets say 7 base +4 from cha boost 11+5 will =16 if your really cheese and boost will too to hit 20.
Then force 13 lightening ball is F-1 so needing 12 hits the pre-edge your roll 25ish dice, with 6 exploding. average says taking a little bit of drain, a little bit lucky and your taking none. For doing a lot of damage. They would be more effect to be a little more subtle, that killing everyone kinda numbers, Just sloppy imo.


Or meta-magic centering would also work.
« Last Edit: (21:04:33/05-02-18) by Marcus »
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« Reply #8 on: (21:07:02/05-02-18) »
There very easy way to stop that nonsense. Just put some non-hostile targets in there. Force them to take collateral damage losses and they learn knock the nonsense off. How are your mages hitting 30-40 initiative is more interesting to me. In general tech should achieve higher initiatives more often, they just have stuff that adds. If you wanna discourage this stuff, just have some folks bring some tech character who can show those jokers up. Approve some sum 2 ten three A nut busters and the balance settle back out.

Sustained/quickened imp reflexes coupled with Adrenaline Surge adept power


Anyway, not looking to make people fail a mission or anything... just looking to actually challenge.  Making it not so automatic to be fully stat and initiative buffed (see my involvement in the "Can mundanes see magic" thread) can help, but it really won't solve anything.  Even if a mage only gets 2 passes, that's one more pass than it takes to kill everyone with a lightning ball :]

I'm really thinking I'd like to explore what kinds of things are allowed to be done in SRM.  My organized play background is just Pathfinder Society, where not only is that a game with a "Weak GM" paradigm but the GMs are also very strictly not allowed to alter the scenario as written.  SRM is much more vague on providing info about the opposition, often even lacking #s entirely.

In the case of a group of high karma/prime runners playing a non-prime runner mission, how kosher is it to just add in say an NPC mage with the Reflection metamagic?  That'd go quite a long way towards toning down "nuke them all on initiative score 42!"

« Reply #9 on: (21:11:21/05-02-18) »
I have to say something sounds wrong in those scenarios unless your mages have a lot of karma. From the sounds of it you’ve got magic users with extremely high initiative, magic, drain resistance and multiple initations. Is this right and if so how badly are they minmaxed to get that?

The simplest way to counter it aside from hostages or the horror of background count would be narrow corridors and melee enemies. It doesn’t do them any good to avoid an allies square if the opposing fighter is attacking with an axe or martial arts rather than firearms. Send in some minions to soak the initial response then open the doors and melee attack the mages face.

Still id like to hear more on these super powered mages because even to some relatively inexperienced at gming it sounds like something is not right there.

I think it's mainly just that they're the Shadowrun equivalent of high levelled characters.  100+ karma at the minimum.   Hence my interest in the possibility of just cranking up the opposition to handle higher than starting level shadowrunners.  Obviously that'd be a route to be managed carefully if some prime runners are teammates with fresh-out-of-chargen noobies.

« Reply #10 on: (21:19:52/05-02-18) »
Also, if you're dealing with initiates that have enough karma to raise their magic to 7 and bond foci that help with drain (hint: there's only one anti-drain focus and it isn't available until after becoming an initiate and only if you take that metamagic) you are dealing with virtual gods, don't be surprised starter level adventures aren't especially challenging.

You're talking about the centering focus?  Hrm.  I think they may be using Power Foci to enhance their drain pools.  I suppose the language "any test where Magic is involved" is a world of difference from "any test where magic is involved".  Capital M infers a formal rules concept/mechanic, as opposed to the descriptive lowercase m.  I suppose I see the argument that since Drain doesn't invoke the Magic attribute, the Power Focus doesn't help on Drain?

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« Reply #11 on: (21:33:08/05-02-18) »
It would have to be mystic adept, I hate those things. Adrenaline boost maxed yea that would work.

I mean you could easily develop a lot situations and put together some scenario where they go off book and then you can put the in kind
 of opposition that could put them down but it will be fairly obvious and odds are you will kill any low karma players with them if ya go to that kinda ball. But the easier option is just let Neo-tokyo arrive and retire those characters. Other solutions just go hard on background counts. They are running adepts so -5 dice everything the do. Won't break those character but it'll slow down a little.

But honestly i would really do collateral damage thing. Common sense says you just don't throw that kinda of damage in AoE.  Hitting runs in the rep and in the karma score is much more educational then try to beat stick them. Most player want tough fights, so doing that gives them what they want.

Power foci add to magic so only casting and summoning tests. Drain is pure attribute and meta-magic, where have you been SSDR not to know that?

« Last Edit: (21:35:01/05-02-18) by Marcus »
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« Reply #12 on: (21:47:26/05-02-18) »
you need to have those enemies use the interrupt action: run for your life from Run and Gun to avoid AoE attacks.

but really your main problem is your are playing an unmodified version of the rules with some people who are apparently good at optimizing characters/ have a bunch of karma.

i've been playing since 1e.

in order to not make magic OP in 5e you need to do a few things:

1). ban MAs
2). ban Quickening
3). ban channeling and possession traditions
4). put a cap on the total force of spirits in use at any one time (we use (magic+initiate grade)x2)
5). use background counts

without the above modifications you will continue to have a single mage render the rest of the party irrelevant. the mage might as well do the run by himself and take all the money for himself.

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« Reply #13 on: (21:57:17/05-02-18) »
That's all well and good Adzling, but you can't do most of that in the SRM paradigm. So you gotta manage that nonsense.
Teaching players to chill i think is the safer way to go. Quickening is easily solvable, possession is a lot weaker then it was in the past editions, and is also solvable, and MA sadly for them suffer from Adept background count problems, so just run background counts, in Chicago your free to have all kinds of background counts.

Quickening you truce and if anyone pushes it, you just dispel it and loss the spent karma. They will get the message .
Possession solves itself, just have their spirit start doing things they don't want, loss of agency is a strong motivator.

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« Reply #14 on: (22:00:41/05-02-18) »
Yeah power foci add dice to any test that involves your magic attribute, which is not a drain test, only centering and centering foci add to those. Also bear in mind that centering is the opposite of subtle, so any spell casters using centering will be very obvious.

You should absolutely change the scenarios to provide some extra challenge. There's already been mentioned some good suggestions,  but remember the good old axiom "anything the players can do,  the opposition can do too ", also spirits,  visibility, surprise, background count. ....etc.  are all examples of things that can make life a little bit harder and ultimately more fun. My GM recently dropped a high force shadow spell into the fight area which was very cramped, it made the fight much more intense and difficult and ultimately more fun.