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The Riggers Plight

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Iron Serpent Prince

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« on: (11:45:32/07-10-19) »
Ask ten different people what the role, purpose, or “shtick” of a Rigger is, and you’ll get at least two different answers.  It is likely, you will get about four or five.  The two primary ones though, will be “wheelman” or team pilot, and “drone bunny.”

As of this writing, I am only privy to the 5e rules.  From the little revealed to date, it looks like this will carry over to Sixth World (6e) as well, but I can not be certain of that.

There are three primary pillars of Shadowrun game play.  Naturally, game play is not limited to these pillars, but excursions beyond them are novelties at best.  The three pillars are:  Combat, Legwork, and Negotiations.  For the purposes of this post, recon falls under Legwork, and any social interaction falls under Negotiation.


Let’s start with the “wheelman.”  There are three main modes of piloting in Shadowrun, manual or “meatspace,” remote, and Jumped In.

Manual Piloting:   Disadvantage, Rigger
   In earlier editions, there was no remote or Jumped In piloting.  In those editions the Rigger’s Control Rig gave mechanical bonuses to meatspace piloting.  When the editions changed Rigging to a Matrix offshoot, all meatspace bonuses were taken away.  Now, any bonuses are only Matrix based.
   That means that any Initiative based character (typically Street Sams and Adepts, though Mages can be as well) can out pilot a Rigger when only comparing meatspace abilities.
   What is worse, those bonuses the Initiative based character gets carry over into combat.
Remote PilotingWash
   For this discussion, Jumped In does not count as Remote Piloting.
   The Rigger doesn’t gain anything in Remote Piloting that others do not.  What is worse, is the Initiative based characters mentioned earlier can use that same initiative in AR to match a Rigger in Remote Piloting.
Jumped InSole Advantage, Rigger
   This is the only area where the Rigger shines.  Not because they are better than any other character in this regard, simply because no other character can even entertain the notion of Jumped In Piloting.
   In 5e, the primary benefit of being Jumped In is reduced Thresholds for Piloting tests.  These are nice, but had the backhanded effect of reducing the usefulness of large piloting pools for Riggers.  In 5e, there are no opposed Piloting rolls (other than whatever the GM makes up), and you are only rolling against the environment.  That makes sense from a simulationist point of view.  When combined with the fact that the Pilot usually chooses the environment they want to be in, that means that most of the time the Rigger gets to set the Threshold.
   Outside of chases and vehicle combat, there isn’t a need for more than 1 net hit on a piloting roll.
   Inside chases and vehicle combat the effects of rolls are restricted by the vehicles Acceleration.  This isn’t a proper Limit, so the Control Rig doesn’t modify it at all.  It also means that there is very rarely any need for more than 3 or 4 net hits, making Piloting pools above 9 or 12 dice less than ideal.

For the wheelman, their abilities only come into play when the GM deems it possible.  Vehicle combats are fairly rare, as they fall outside the “typical” idea of a Shadowrun – slip into some building/facility, and do your nefarious deed, and slip out unnoticed.  Piloting doesn’t add to Negotiations at all.  Its usefulness in Legwork is typically limited to drivebys and then it takes a back seat to Perception and other rolls.  And it isn’t intrinsic to the Combat Pillar, unless the GM (or more likely Rigger player) force the issue in some way.


Now for the “drone bunny.”  For reference, the drone bunny role is someone that has an over abundance of drones, and looks to use them for every obstacle.

Manual Piloting:   Disadvantage, Rigger
   In 5e Drones can accept voice commands.  As with the wheelman role, Initiative based characters excel at issuing commands to drones at a faster rate than the Rigger.
Remote PilotingWash
   Just like in the wheelman role, there is no advantage to a Rigger remote piloting over any other character, and loses out in AR to Initiative based characters.
Jumped InSole Advantage, Rigger
   Also like the wheelman role, Riggers are the only ones capable of Jumping In to a vehicle.  In 5e, this is where the Rigger really stands out.  Not from the mechanical benefits of a Control Rig, no.  Simply by nature of the fact that they can use their own skills through a drone when Jumped In.  That makes them kind of useful in the Legwork Pillar, however given their built-in fragility and the ghastly repair costs in 5e it kind of removes their usefulness in the Combat Pillar.  I mean, is there any other Archetype that has to pay a months rent (or more) per box of damage repaired?

It is easier to bring the Rigger abilities into play as a drone bunny.  However, how rewarding those uses are is highly dependent on the table you play at.  Noise can ruin any drone use, how much it is used is at the sole discretion of the GM.  From a utility standpoint, drone bunnies can shine in the Legwork Pillar.  They are useless in the Negotiation Pillar, and their usefulness in the Combat Pillar is dubious at best.  That is because the drone bunny Rigger can’t bring anything to Combat that a character otherwise designed for combat can, and the other characters will have better heal/repair costs.  It should be noted that this disparity is claimed to have been addressed in Sixth World (6e).
In fact, with the exception of Jumped In drone piloting, it is better for just about any other character who is willing to spend the money and skill points to be the drone bunny.  Unlike with the Rigger, the other Archetypes can do their normal stuff on top of supplementing with drones where the Rigger only really has the drones.  ((Example:  Spirit Army Mage with an RCC and swarm of combat drones.  On top of all that, they can sling spells as well.))

In conclusion, the other Archetypes are defined by where they shine.  Riggers are defined by where they suck.  They have some tiny slices of the game they shine in, however those slices are not intrinsic to the stock Shadowrun play.  This leaves them uniquely at the mercy of the GM as to if they even bring anything to the table.  The rest of the time, Riggers are mediocre at best, and suboptimal usually.

I await the Shadowrun edition that has someone who cares about Riggers doing some writing.  Then maybe this Archetype can get some decent play.

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« Reply #1 on: (16:02:43/07-10-19) »
Or maybe Rigger, as an archetype, is just a poor fit for traditional ShadowRun games?  Perhaps it would be better to make driving and drone activities more available as sidelines for other types, similar to how hacking went in fourth edition?

Although as a general rule I don't need any more 'pets' in combat, there is enough rolling as it is.  Maybe I'll warm up to drones more under 6th edition rules if they really do streamline things.
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Hobbes

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« Reply #2 on: (17:06:02/07-10-19) »
If your Rigger is "Losing" even while Manually piloting to someone who isn't a Rigger you're doing it wrong.

Rigger's should have higher Piloting skills, and maxed out Reaction.  They'll win Chase tests and vehicle tests by miles over other characters.  And there isn't any mechanical reason for Riggers to have low initiative.  Unless the GM has taken away the Rigger's vehicles and stuck them in some kind of Throw Back Vehicle, they should be right up there with the Samurai in initiative. 

And before you say "Hacker", I give you the Internal Router and just plug into your Wireless off vehicle.  And say "hello" to the cheap ass +5 Sleaze from Smoke and Mirrors, along with 3 source books of Matrix upgrades that should make your RCC and Drones essentially invisible on the Matrix.

Now, are Vehicle Riggers utilized fully on every run?  No.  Very difficult to set that up for most GMs.  Most of the time a Rigger is a Drone handler and bus driver, in that order.  Vehicles are overcosted for what value they offer in most runs.  You'll spend 75K on a fancy car, and use it every 5th run if you're lucky.  That is really the Rigger's problem.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #3 on: (17:13:26/07-10-19) »
Spirits are OP.

Any magician able to summon spirits beats a Rigger at the Driving game and the Pet Class game simultaneously.

And of course unique to 5e is the Edgelord, who beats Riggers at driving unless the chase is artificially extended by GM fiat.
« Last Edit: (17:17:46/07-10-19) by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »
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« Reply #4 on: (17:28:47/07-10-19) »
I get the pet class for sure but why driving? Some kind of travel based spirit power?

Part of being the rigger is having the vehicle, lets also keep in mind, that doesn't necessarily translate to sports car. The decker stays in the Van. It's was a van for a reason.   I agree that expectation hasn't translated forward across 4th and 5th edition.
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Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #5 on: (17:36:06/07-10-19) »
Yeah the Movement power from a high force spirit not only wins chase tests, it renders vehicles unnecessary in the first place.
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.

Hobbes

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« Reply #6 on: (17:57:57/07-10-19) »
Well, yeah, the Movement Power is broken as are Spirits in general.  I'm not sure any Shadowrun balance discussion goes by without "Well Spirits can...."   

And Riggers can Edge too, but they should rarely need to on vehicle tests.  And you can argue that the 7 Edge Human build can out do any other mundane character.  7 times per run anyway.    :P

From a Metagame perspective I could see a team going with a Edgelord and a couple ranks in piloting as the wheelman since chases and vehicle tests come up rarely. 

Iron Serpent Prince

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« Reply #7 on: (18:51:40/07-10-19) »
You know Hobbes, every time you post about Riggers in Shadowrun you prove, time and time again, that you have never, ever, eeevvveeerrrrrr played a Rigger in Shadowrun.  At least not without some house rules that fix Riggers pretty handily.

Let me address a couple of your points.

Riggers shouldn't have lower initiatives when piloting.
    I take it that was in response to my comparison of Riggers versus other characters in meatspace piloting?  Then how do you explain Riggers even coming close to Street Sams / Adepts / sometimes Mages with Reaction + Intuition + 1D6?  Do you suggest the character spend resources not on vehicles or drones, but on low level Wired Reflexes to squeeze in next to their Control Rig?  Or are you suggesting the Rigger is in VR, in which case said Rigger can't be meatspace piloting, can she?

Riggers should drive donuts around others in vehicle chases / combat.
    That is the lie of someone who hasn't grasped the rules for vehicle chases / combats.  Lets take one Bad Ass Rigger (BAR for short) with a dice pool of over 9000!!!!  And pit BAR up against Gutter Punk (GP for short).  For this example we will give BAR a Control Rig 3, and GP is a Street Sam with Wired Reflexes 2.  Let us also say that GP either aspires to be in a go-gang, or is already a part of one.  Reaction 8 (with WR) and a Piloting with specialization of 7 to give a pool of 15.
    Now, let's put them in a chase.  It doesn't matter who is chasing who...  Hell, we will call it a race, with whoever pulls away first is the winner.  In that case, the environment is almost certainly a Speed environment.  We will put BAR in a "classic" rigger vehicle of a Bulldog Step Van with a stock Acceleration (don't worry, we will fix that later).  GP with be on a Yamaha Rapier.
    If you are right, BAR with a dice pool of over 9000!!!! should be able to win this race handily, yes?
    Each of them make their piloting rolls and cap them at Speed (+3 for BAR) and then.....  Only move a number of Range Bands up to their vehicles Acceleration.
    BAR only moves 1 Range Band.  GP moves, well assuming average roll with a Threshold of one or two, 3 Range Bands.
    Each and every IP, save 1 for a control test.  Even with the extra die for BAR, losing on average 2 Range Bands per IP and only making up one or two by the end of the round means BAR gets smoked.

Lets upgrade the Bulldog Step Van to max Acceleration now.  3.  Three is the max, so the max shall be three.

    Even in this case, BAR doesn't drive donuts around GP.  Through attrition, if the race is long enough, BAR squeaks out a victory.

    Alright, how about if we bump BAR up to something more serious?  I am going from memory, but I am pretty sure no ground vehicle has a stock Acceleration of over 3.  Max'ed out it would be 5.
    In this case, BAR would certainly win.  Even so, it won't be so obvious as to be like driving donuts around GP.  It would be a definetive victory, however.

And to be clear, the restriction of Acceleration isn't a proper Limit, so not only can the Control Rig not modify it - Edge can't push it either.


Or maybe Rigger, as an archetype, is just a poor fit for traditional ShadowRun games?  Perhaps it would be better to make driving and drone activities more available as sidelines for other types, similar to how hacking went in fourth edition?

Although as a general rule I don't need any more 'pets' in combat, there is enough rolling as it is.  Maybe I'll warm up to drones more under 6th edition rules if they really do streamline things.

At this point I would not cry if Riggers were just completely removed.  And this is coming from a player who routinely plays Riggers.  I keep waiting for them to be shown the love they deserve, and they keep getting  put in the corner.  Sometimes with Dunce caps on.  ;)
« Last Edit: (18:53:53/07-10-19) by Iron Serpent Prince »

Hobbes

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« Reply #8 on: (22:15:17/07-10-19) »
Riggers can pump Reaction / Intuition the same way everyone else can.  Riggers should also be in AR or VR for the Bonus dice.  Should be hitting 21+ for 3 Actions just like every other character.  Why would a Rigger be in Meat Space, simply no reason.  It's like saying a Decker without the Matrix ain't that great.  Well duh. 

And Bulldog v Rapier?  Maybe, don't bring a Van to a Bike Race?  Just a thought. 

Does a Rigger's investment in Vehicles and Driving skills pay off like a Samurai's combat or a Mages Spell slinging?  Not at any table I've played at because vehicle tests are uncommon at best.  I don't think anyone would dispute that.  But to say anyone can out drive a Rigger is silly. 

Iron Serpent Prince

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« Reply #9 on: (00:23:36/07-11-19) »
Since my point is still not finding purchase, let me spell it out.

Unless you, as a player, know your table and / or know your GM, and know, really know that there will be any rewarding activity as a Rigger...

You are much better off making another character Archetype and invest points into Piloting or Nuyen into drones and an RCC.

That way you get nearly all of the benifits of a Rigger (look ma!  I can drive!) without any of the drawbacks (your character will have other areas they are innately good at with their "primary" Archetype).

I strongly recommend you actually try playing Riggers for a campaign (at least 20 sessions) with RAW before you make any ignorant claims that what others say is silly.  It will serve you well Hobbes.

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« Reply #10 on: (07:08:53/07-11-19) »
The real question isn't how a rigger in meatspace performs against a street sam in meatspace, or how they both perform jumped in, but it's how a jumped-in rigger performs against a vehicle-oriented street sam in meatspace. Does being jumped-in provide meaningful bonuses? Because if a wired street sam can still keep up with a rigger there, then rigging is pointless.

Hobbes

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« Reply #11 on: (07:13:32/07-11-19) »
I'm sincerely sorry that your GM doesn't make your Rigger feel valued.  That's terrible.  As a GM Riggers are the most difficult AT to work in to a run in a meaningful way, even if you're creating your own runs.  Spotlight moments for a Rigger are few and far between, and many of those moments are simply "Did someone bring a vehicle with X feature?" 

I can tell you the challenge to the GM has been the same for all 5 (now 6) editions.  The Rigger PC has a very expensive, very fragile, and totally essential part of their character that is risked every time the GM puts a challenge up for the Rigger.  The repair rules have either been punitive, or non-existant, depending on where you are in an editions life-cycle.  Handing out free disposable sports cars and killer robot armies to the Rigger player risks alienating the other players.  And Car Wars arenas and chase scenes often leave other players sidelined, and can be insta-won by Spirits and Hackers anyway.  It's an extremely tricky mark to hit as a GM. 

Talk with your GM and other players about your expectations.  That's really all you can do. 

As an aside, the best Rigger concept I've seen work for a Shadowrun was a car thief.  Steal a car, trash a car, leave a car, repeat.  Doesn't scratch that Car Wars itch though. 

Best of luck!


Hobbes

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« Reply #12 on: (07:25:27/07-11-19) »
The real question isn't how a rigger in meatspace performs against a street sam in meatspace, or how they both perform jumped in, but it's how a jumped-in rigger performs against a vehicle-oriented street sam in meatspace. Does being jumped-in provide meaningful bonuses? Because if a wired street sam can still keep up with a rigger there, then rigging is pointless.


A racing bike beats a mini-van in a drag race.  A mage on a Skateboard beats them both.  Who wins a drag race isn't really the important question because Shadowrunners don't have drag Races.  What capabilities does a Rigger bring to the team that another character doesn't, how much does it cost a Rigger, what are the risk/reward factors that a Rigger PC faces...

Iron Serpent Prince

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« Reply #13 on: (08:59:35/07-11-19) »
The real question isn't how a rigger in meatspace performs against a street sam in meatspace, or how they both perform jumped in, but it's how a jumped-in rigger performs against a vehicle-oriented street sam in meatspace. Does being jumped-in provide meaningful bonuses? Because if a wired street sam can still keep up with a rigger there, then rigging is pointless.
(Emphasis is mine alone.)

As my contrived race example above shows, the Rigger isn't allowed to be be better because of the vehicle rules.  The benefits of the Control Rig simply allow the Rigger to max out the use of net hits easier than someone else in the same situation (assuming they can roll enough net hits to also max out their use).

Let me reword things a bit.

The typical "classic" Rigger vehicles, such as the Bulldog and the Roadmaster, all have a stock Acceleration of 1.  I'm picking these vehicles as they are the ones that are large enough to tote a team and their gear (Unless we are talking about an "undersized" group of three or less runners).

In that case, if a Rigger's Pilot pool is greater than about 6 dice, that is a waste of resources.  That is Attribute and Skill points that would be better served being put somewhere else.  If the Rigger spent nuyen on Reaction Enhancers?  They were a sucker and could have used that cash on something else.

In short, if your Piloting pool is greater than ((Threshold + Acceleration) * 3) that is "wasted" dice.

A Control Rig reduces the Threshold by an amount equal to it's rating, making rolls easier for the Rigger.  It has the added "benefit" of reducing the amount of dice that can be used effectively.



On top of that, all security vehicles designed to intercept and overcome in a pursuit have a stock Acceleration of 3.  That means it is almost impossible* to out run them if your team has the "soccer van" no matter who is driving.

Even if the "soccer van" has it's Acceleration maxed out - by the way, it still isn't clear if you must purchase the Level 1 Increase and then the Level 2 increase, or if you can skip Level 1 and just install the Level 2... - that will bring the vehicle chase down to who has the better Initiative (number of IP).  It also relies on the the Security Interceptor not having its Acceleration modded as well.
As long as the Wired Up Street Sam has a similar Initiative to the Rigger and has enough of a die pool to roll Threshold + 3 Net Hits reliably, they are just as good as a Rigger in that regard, no matter what the Rigger has as a Piloting Pool.
And they get to carry their Archetype bonus into combat, which a Rigger can't really do.

*The only way a stock "soccer van" can outrun a Security Interceptor is if the Security driver can't roll enough (3) Net Hits reliably, and / or can't get more than one IP per turn.  In other words, the Security driver can't drive...
« Last Edit: (09:01:53/07-11-19) by Iron Serpent Prince »

Banshee

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« Reply #14 on: (09:17:12/07-11-19) »
seems to me that you actually think the issue is the vehicle rules and not riggers themselves. every scenario and example you have provided has shown that riggers are the hands down the masters of their domain (which is jumped in control) ... so the problem is the limits of what the vehicle rules put on things

on that note my personal experience from 30 years of GM'ing SR is that I have had less than probably a dozen scenes where vehicles were the primary limiting factor, it chase scene is more often limited by the environment where piloting check to avoid crashing and positioning is WAY more important than simple acceleration checks ... and nobody can do that better than a jumped in rigger
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