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Excessive defense and low reward?

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mcv

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« on: (08:18:13/05-11-19) »
I'm running the final fight for SRM 04-00: Back in Business tomorrow, and I'm wondering if it isn't a bit excessive that some smuggler trying to get an artefact that's apparently worth a couple of thousand nuyen, has hired magical defenses with a special ward and a bunch of spirits.

According to the adventure, if they deliver the artefact to a buyer, they get 2000 (up to 4000) nuyen each for the artefact. That makes it a total of 20,000 with optimal negotiation and a team of 5. From someone who has no claim of ownership, hasn't invested anything yet, but is very interested in acquiring it, so you'd expect this to be close to market value. It might be worth a bit more than that, but it's not going to be worth 100,000, especially considering it doesn't actually do anything.

The artefact is in the hands of a smuggler who has a ship and a warehouse, and abducted his client, the owner of the stone. His usual defenses consist of a couple of automated drones, which is fine. To protect this artefact, he apparently hired a quality mage who put up a ward and left a couple of spirits to defend the place. On top of a bunch of armed goons.

How much would such services normally cost? It feels to me like this should be a fairly small-time operation hoping to hit it big this way, but if he spends everything up-front on expensive defenses, he may end up risking more than he's likely to make on this.

I'm not an experienced GM, but I really feel like there should be some more loot to justify these kind of defenses. There's only a crate of very traceable pistols, but it'd be easy to at least give the smuggler an anonymous credstick or something.

I mean, the players are probably going to do their job no matter what, because they want to play Shadowrun. I suppose the mission has been designed to be balanced an interesting, and the total reward for the mission is more than just the value of the rock, but if the market value of the rock itself is only about 20,000 nuyen, and they ask why this guy put up so many defenses for it, I'd like to have an explanation for them. Is this reasonable? Does everybody who has something of that value to protect, hire a mage to summon a bunch of spirits and a ward for them? How much does it cost to hire a mage? Plenty of businesses seem to have far less defenses than that. Or am I wrong about that?
« Last Edit: (08:35:14/05-11-19) by mcv »

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #1 on: (10:07:50/05-11-19) »
I'm not familiar with that SRM, but I feel like I can make a couple observations based on what you've said.

1) I think your assumption about how the money paid to the runners relates to the value of the artifact relate.  That is, if the runners are paid 20,000 then the artifact is worth much more than that, not roughly that.  The reason I say this is because if the artifact were worth something close to 20,000 nuyen, then Mr Johnson probably would have just bought it rather than go to the bother of hiring thieves for 20,000 to get it.

2) Prices for security are not given because they're not germane to regular play.  That is, shadowrunners are expected to deal with security measures in an adversarial manner rather than employing them. Ergo, there's no price given for what it costs to install a Mana Barrier, for example.  They cost as little as you want them to cost when an NPC employs them, and as much as you want them to cost when a PC goes to hire a mage to set one up.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, youíre fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

mcv

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« Reply #2 on: (17:26:44/05-11-19) »
1) I think your assumption about how the money paid to the runners relates to the value of the artifact relate.  That is, if the runners are paid 20,000 then the artifact is worth much more than that, not roughly that.  The reason I say this is because if the artifact were worth something close to 20,000 nuyen, then Mr Johnson probably would have just bought it rather than go to the bother of hiring thieves for 20,000 to get it.
True, but in this particular case, the person offering the 10k-20k is not actually the Mr Johnson hiring them. He was already about to buy the item from the owner when the owner was abducted. Then the runners are hired to free the owner, and the buyer offers them this money if they bring the stone to him. The runners can get paid twice: for freeing the owner and for bringing the stone to the buyer. If they don't sell to the buyer, he can still try to buy it directly from the owner again, but then he'll be in competition with other potential buyers, so his motivation is to cut off other potential buyers. And the PCs are not required to sell to him; he just made them an offer, but they've been hired by someone else. And if they ask, their original employer is also willing to buy the stone from them (for slightly less than the other offer). So there is even the opportunity for a bidding war.

In other words, there's no good reason for him to offer significantly below market value. I mean, everything he pays below value is profit for him of course, and the PCs will have to succeed spectacularly (10 net successes) to get his maximum offer, but that he has such an enormous leeway for his maximum offer when the PCs turn out to be spectacular negotiators, suggests to me that value isn't too far below what the item is worth to him. Or to look at it from another direction: there's no good reason why the smuggler would get a significantly higher sum for the stone than the runners would. So whatever the maximum is the runners would conceivably be able to get, is probably close to the maximum the smuggler would be able to get. Though I suppose it's possible the smuggler overestimates the value or sellability of the stone.

This is somewhat related to an issue I have with a later mission, where a fool hires the runners to extract him from a powerful company and help him sell an extremely valuable document for about a million nuyen, so he can actually pay them for the extraction. Some of the potential buyers will kill the fool and take the document if they get the chance. That leaves me wondering: what if the PCs kill the fool and take his document and try to sell it. Shouldn't they be able to get that million? If ever there was an adventure that looks like it can be easily short-circuited, it's that one. (Also because the fool lied to the PCs in order to get extracted: they might kill him simply because that's the most likely way for them to get paid the money they were promised.)

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2) Prices for security are not given because they're not germane to regular play.  That is, shadowrunners are expected to deal with security measures in an adversarial manner rather than employing them. Ergo, there's no price given for what it costs to install a Mana Barrier, for example.  They cost as little as you want them to cost when an NPC employs them, and as much as you want them to cost when a PC goes to hire a mage to set one up.
Defense costs being irrelevant makes sense when they're up against a large organisation, but this guy is just some smuggler who broke a contract in order to make some extra money. Whatever he can afford to spend to ensure he gets the profit of the stone, can't be that far out of the runners' league if they get to sell the stone.

Kiirnodel

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« Reply #3 on: (10:03:26/05-14-19) »
As far as the defenses go, who said that those defenses were for the stone alone? If I recall, you are raiding a smuggler's warehouse in that instance. All those defenses could easily be just what he's built up to defend himself regardless of what he is holding.

mcv

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« Reply #4 on: (10:44:01/05-14-19) »
As far as the defenses go, who said that those defenses were for the stone alone? If I recall, you are raiding a smuggler's warehouse in that instance. All those defenses could easily be just what he's built up to defend himself regardless of what he is holding.
Some of them are, like the drones protecting the place. But the magical defenses have been explicitly added for this, according to the mission.

In the end, I completely forgot to have the fire spirit materialize, though the ward did stop the mage from lobbing spells in from the outside. Wards force mages to enter the building before they can do anything.

One question that came up was what happens when you cast a spell on someone outside, and that person then passes through the ward. It feels like the spell might be dispelled, but the book provides no rules for that as far as I can tell, so I allowed it.

Shinobi Killfist

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« Reply #5 on: (14:35:03/05-14-19) »
My understanding is itís a spell vs ward test. The spell could get dispelled but the ward could crash. Iím not at my books so Iím not sure about that.

Kiirnodel

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« Reply #6 on: (04:35:44/05-15-19) »
Yeah, crossing a ward with an active magical effect would fall under the "Astral Intersection" part of the rules.

And right about now I'm realizing that I'm not sure if I should be citing 4e or 5e rules. You mentioned running a 4th edition mission, but you could also easily be converting that to 5th...
Either way, the rules are basically the same. The ward and magical effect each roll a test (usually double Force vs. double Force) and the winner gets to stay put.

If I'm remembering the adventure, the ward is like Force 8, so it probably wins unless that mage went super serious about something...

mcv

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« Reply #7 on: (05:37:49/05-15-19) »
Yeah, crossing a ward with an active magical effect would fall under the "Astral Intersection" part of the rules.

And right about now I'm realizing that I'm not sure if I should be citing 4e or 5e rules. You mentioned running a 4th edition mission, but you could also easily be converting that to 5th...
Yeah, I'm using 5e. Using 4e missions is not that hard most of the time, except that Matrix stuff is really different. Armor is a bit different. I'm mostly using the same stats and replacing the armor and weapons with their 5e equivalent.

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Either way, the rules are basically the same. The ward and magical effect each roll a test (usually double Force vs. double Force) and the winner gets to stay put.
And the other is dispelled? That seems like a really easy way to get rid of a ward.

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If I'm remembering the adventure, the ward is like Force 8, so it probably wins unless that mage went super serious about something...
The ward is Force 6, so powerful, but not out of range for a decent mage.

Can the mage use Edge on this? Because that could make it really easy to dispel a ward.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #8 on: (06:48:21/05-15-19) »
Wards tend to restore after 1 turn right?_?
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mcv

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« Reply #9 on: (07:11:15/05-15-19) »
Wards tend to restore after 1 turn right?_?
I don't have the rules with me, but that would certainly help. But then why not simply have the spell pass through the barrier if it wins the roll, but keep the ward in place? If the ward is down for one turn, you could use a cheap high-Force spell to make way for a couple of people with expensive low-Force spells, which I guess is tactically interesting.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #10 on: (07:15:24/05-15-19) »
If the spell wins the roll on a clash, nothing else risks disruption during the turn that it's down. So yeah, letting a high-Force take the lead is best.

Looked it up: When you cast Ward, you can expend karma to make it 'permanent'. In Astral intersections, it notes that a permanent mana barrier that is disrupted, regains all its Structure at the end of the Combat Turn.
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mcv

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« Reply #11 on: (03:16:24/05-17-19) »
I've read the CRB on this, and it's not remotely clear. The part about intersecting barriers seems to be when one barrier or other thing is forced by outside forces (a van or elevator, are the examples) into another one. Weirdly, the elevator example mentions an astrally perceiving mage, despite the part on mana barriers not saying that dual natured creatures are blocked by a mana barrier.

It is possible for awakened creatures to push through a barrier with a Magic+Charisma roll, but it's not clear to me which awakened creatures would have to do that.

Basically, this rule seems woefully incomplete, and never even mentions active spells anywhere.

Does this get explained better in Street Grimoire?

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #12 on: (03:33:42/05-17-19) »
The spell itself would be subject, but people being under influence from it is not really touched on afaik. I guess you could argue it clears the spell, unless it was cast on them specifically rather than an area-impact, assuming a barrier won't let you cast through it normally?_?
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Kiirnodel

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« Reply #13 on: (03:19:16/05-18-19) »
mcv, reread the section on Astral Intersections (p. 316) again. A spell, would qualify as an astral form which is bound to a physical object (the spell is tied to the person it is cast upon). When the person passes through a barrier it causes an astral intersection and the two would make an opposed test.

If the spell fails the test, then it is disrupted and ends. That's why spells are listed in the list of things that can be disrupted.

Dual-natured creatures have an astral form, so they are subject to the same limitations as other astral forms, so they can't walk through a ward without being subject to an astral intersection.

Pushing through a barrier is available to any awakened creature, but it takes an action, so they wouldn't be able to do it without warning. If you are trying to move any active magical effect through a ward, you would need to push through.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #14 on: (03:32:53/05-18-19) »
It all depends on if the spell is on a person or an area, but yeah, if it's cast on a specific person it accompanies them.
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