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So, I had my first session and am looking to improve my GM'ing.

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Karrth

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« on: (10:30:55/09-03-18) »
Good day Ladies and Gentlemen.

Some months ago I had my first real taste at running Shadowrun as a Game Master and now that the 2nd game session is coming up I feel I need a bit of help improving.

(We play for the most of Friday and Saturday and leave Sunday for rest and character/game questions/corrections.)
Player Characters:
Human Drone Rigger
Human Street Sam (going sniper route)
Ork street Sam (melee)
Troll weapons expert. (ranged)

I had made up a a small amount missions before hand for the first session so I had a list of possible missions for the weekend and as we played it became obvious that I have players interested in making combat heavy solutions and this is where I would like some advice, I'm not good at the system yet and I'm sort of scared of killing off the party if I overtone stuff but I want to challenge them and make them work for their credits.

As a combat heavy group they have some glaring wholes in their skill sets that I am unsure if I should use to my advantage... Something as simple as a decker that disrupts communications and bricks weapons would be able to cripple the team but without a hacker to counter this the party is defenseless. Same thing with magic although I'm planning on keeping magic very rare as there is no mage or adept in the party, so any encounters will be dramatic and dangerous.


Michael Chandra

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« Reply #1 on: (10:40:49/09-03-18) »
If you want to give them a hard time without risking death, try some enemies that use defensive tricks to buy time while the primary target gets away, or the cops are on their way. As for Deckers: They can reboot their gear, so the Rigger is weakest against a Decker.
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Sphinx

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« Reply #2 on: (11:55:01/09-03-18) »
When you (as GM) and the players are first learning the rules, it's okay for combats to be easy. Send the players into relatively low-security targets at a relatively low threat level, where the guards aren't expected to be elite or hyper-vigilant. Smaller startup companies, independent labs, gang clubhouses, policlub chapters, etc. Opposition should be mostly attribute 3 (Typical) and skill rating 3 (Competent), for dice pools of 6. Armor clothing (rating 6) or armor vests (rating 9) and cheap guns with regular ammo. Players ought to mop the floor with them, and that's okay.

Gradually introduce complexities to the combats. Give the opposition some defensive advantages and tactics (cover, high ground, terrain). Guard animals. Paracritters. Then a spirit. Then a mage. Then a hacker. At the same time, gradually increase the skill levels (rating 4 Proficient, rating 5 Skilled, rating 6 Professional ... see p.131). My personal rule for NPC attributes is that they are always rating 3 ("most people," adjusted for metatype) unless the NPC has a name. Average faceless NPCs get average stats.

Karrth

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« Reply #3 on: (12:40:45/09-03-18) »
If you want to give them a hard time without risking death, try some enemies that use defensive tricks to buy time while the primary target gets away, or the cops are on their way. As for Deckers: They can reboot their gear, so the Rigger is weakest against a Decker.

It isn't that I don't want to risk death of a PC. It's more I don't want a TPK on my hands because I upped the difficulty too much to fast.

But thanks for the answers guys :)

Karrth

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« Reply #4 on: (06:37:20/09-18-18) »
So I've spent the last two weeks trying to come up with a way to ask a question without sounding dumb but I have a session in three weeks and I need the help so here goes:

How do I challenge players in combat? I don't want to 'win' over them but I want to challenge them and I'm failing very badly at it. They breeze through everything I've made so far and it's boring to GM and I can see I'm boring the players.

I've tried using the rating 1 and 2 grunts in the core book and they die or fail horribly (as they should) but when I look at the other grunts they hardly seem a challenge until rating 5 or 6 and at that point it seems to be overkill having Spec Ops guards on a drug run or what have you. Maybe I'm doing it wrong but the PC's have so many dice in their pools that the grunts can't keep up.

Do I make shadowrunners for every mission?

I am as I said new to the game and I don't have every rule memorized but I've used cover, smoke grenades, and tried to suppress them with suppressive fire.

Beta

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« Reply #5 on: (08:54:09/09-18-18) »
With such a combat heavy team, it will be hard to challenge them in combat.  To a large extent their challenge should probably be in getting in and out without getting bogged down in fights, and in making sure not to take out people they don't want to kill. 

But some ideas:
- mix combatants with innocents (in a restaurant or whatever)

- start hitting them with matrix or magic attacks that limit their combat options a bit (a spirit uses engulf on one, a decker or 'mancer gets into their commlinks, the opposition uses heavy duty jammers to shut down wireless bonuses, a mind mage gets one of them to attack others (be careful with the force on that one, you need to make sure that the character can break the control), the opposition is invisible ....)

- put them in an environment where they can't bring larger weapons

- Hit them with paracritters with fear

Good luck -- it is a challenge when the group is fairly focused in one area, because there is not the usual dynamic of "most of the group is challenged to survive until the expert can deal with the situation, then rotate the challenges to require a different expertise" type of dynamic.
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Karrth

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« Reply #6 on: (10:58:45/09-18-18) »
Thanks, I was getting unsure if I was just bad at the game with the speed they where killing off my NPC's, so it's good to hear that the character setup might have something to do with it.

I will make a few Deckers, Technomancers and mages to cause a stir.

Going to try a few critters as well.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #7 on: (12:00:22/09-18-18) »
Imagine having to extract a family, including their Barghests.
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Karrth

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« Reply #8 on: (13:00:54/09-18-18) »
I'm sorry to say these guys don't do that kind of work...

Which is another thing I feel I need to ask for help about: I've got a bit of a problem player at the table who seems to think any job not involving his LMG on full auto 70% of the mission is a waste of time (the troll character). I'm not new to GM'ing but I'm honestly unsure how to handle it. In pathfinder he could always go outside the city and hunt something but that's not how a civilized world works and the only thing I can do is tell them that murder is a serious crime and that leaving a trail of bodies "because I can" will end very badly. I can't remember how many NPC's died in the first weekend but it was between 20 and 30 (we play for the full weekends), most of them was thugs or gangers but there was a large pool of Corp security on one mission.

The next thing (and hopefully last thing) is that the the arms race has already started, I made some dumb mistakes during the first session weekend and now the race to out gun and out armor the NPC's are already running wild. I was finding that SMG's and pistols couldn't get past the characters soak rolls and I ended up upgrading to assault rifles on a mission and it went rolling from there. Any easy way of stopping this? They've already put feelers out for milspec armor.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #9 on: (13:47:10/09-18-18) »
Have a contact contact them and go 'hey, there's some serious heat looking into you, and your enquiries into MilSpec aren't helping. You might want to lay low for a while, before they decide you're probably terrorists and fire first. I found a good distraction job for you, but all I managed to arrange for the planeride was a small smuggling crate so it won't fit lots of stuff of yours'. Then, while they're off elsewhere in a low-firearm setting with collapsing buildings and/or sneaky magic, you pass them a news bulletin that the Army sent a Helicopter after a group of runners in FBA and had them gunned down.
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Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #10 on: (13:54:43/09-18-18) »
The combat dynamic in Shadowrun is very different from a game like D&D/Pathfinder.  The challenge isn't in whether the PCs win (they assuredly will) but whether they can win in such a way that overwhelming reinforcements don't get called in/arrive before the PCs can get out.

If the players relish the idea of facing off with HTR as a challenge, Shadowrun might not be the game for them.

As a GM, you can tamp down the arms race by remembering that while the Sixth world is a dangerous place where guns and armor are much more socially acceptable than in real life, even that has limits.  Remember that many (if not most) places will turn someone away for wearing an Armored Jacket.  If the players have soak rolls that render Pistols/SMGs obsolete, odds are good that they're wearing armor that you can start having NPCs hassle them for wearing (No, you can't come in and meet Mr Johnson dressed like that.  We have a dress code here...)  (Hello citizen, halt where you are.  Your armor is technically legal, but you look like a troublemaker.  I'm 'randomly' selecting you for a pat down..)
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Karrth

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« Reply #11 on: (14:19:56/09-18-18) »
Thanks for the answers guys, they are helping me a lot with these issues.

How do you handle the gun laws in your games? I don't know much about gun laws in shadowrun but I'm thinking about doing it a bit like the currentl law in the country I live in blended with the very few things I know of U.S gun law.

if you have a license to own a pistol you will also need a license to conceal and carry it in public (that's the only thing I think I know of U.S gun law) but if you have anything bigger like a hunting rifle or an SMG you need a reason to carry it outside your home, ie you are on your way too a shooting range or a hunt or whatever.

I am in essence trying to tell my players that having a license is not a good enough reason to walk into a mall with a fully automatic SMG.

It seems logical to me, but I am more than open to advice from y'all.

Beta

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« Reply #12 on: (14:22:24/09-18-18) »
That player will be a challenge.  Some people can take a hint and will modify how they play, others won't get the hint or just don't care.

In game, give them a job that has big pay penalties for excess casualties.  Also read up on the notoriety mechanic, explain it to the players, and maybe start enforcing that.

Out of game, explain that rule 0 is that things will scale to the characters.  Any tricks, exploits, power ups, etc that they use, expect the opposition to be using similarly.  When you need a major threat it will (somehow) be tougher and have heavier weapons than they do.  When you throw grunts at them they will be somewhat weaker, but always scaled to their power. 

And also remind them that the big players -- the corps (including knight errant and corp security), dragons -- are unkillable and unbeatable in the big picture.  (That is a basic feature of the world, unlike D&D where you can eventually challenge gods.)  You only survive in ShadowRun by going unnoticed, or by not being worth the bother.  Killing the everyone and damaging the everything tends to make you both noticed and a bother.

Of course, if you lay it out clearly enough, one or more players may decide that they don't care to play in this setting.  :-/  It isn't an easy balance.
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Karrth

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« Reply #13 on: (14:36:01/09-18-18) »
Quote from: Stainless Steel Devil Rat
If the players relish the idea of facing off with HTR as a challenge, Shadowrun might not be the game for them.

Quote from: Beta
Of course, if you lay it out clearly enough, one or more players may decide that they don't care to play in this setting.  :-/  It isn't an easy balance.

Yeah I agree, and I'm all for picking another game if that is what they want, combat as a GM in this setting is not as fun as I thought it'd be. But I have a meeting with the team Thursday where we will go over stuff I'm changing for the next session.

Beta

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« Reply #14 on: (14:46:43/09-18-18) »
Someone on one of the Shadowrun boards has or used to have a signature that read something like:

"Plan A is The Plan.
Plan B is plan A plus guns.
Plan C is plan B minus plan A.
Plan D is complete mayhem."

And to be honest, sometimes plan A includes a bit of surgical violence, depending on the group and the target (close combat character sneaks up on guard 1 and takes him out quietly just as the sniper character drops guard 2.   Or when you break into the office you shoot the body guard immediately to make the target more compliant.  Or whatever). 

But maybe read that to the players, get a chuckle, and see if they'll start trying to think of a plan A before jumping right to plan C?
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