Riposte 1999
By Blackjack [Blackjack's Shadowrun Page: www.BlackjackSR.com] [BlackjackSRx@gmail.com] [@BlackjackSRx]

Posted: xxxx

I've been reading and re-reading the rules (esp. the Armed and Unarmed Combat ones) and I'm about ready to scrap them all.  How long should I wait before devising my own House Rules?  My players are all newbies (transplanted AD&Ders, that should tell you something), and I don't want to confuse them too quickly, but I do want to eliminate some of the pesky math.

You can develop house rules anytime you want (just make sure the players know what's going on).  Usually they end up coming to life right in the middle of a game.  If you're playing the game, and the rules are making it rough, try something new to see if it works.  You can also simplify rule situations by only using the rules in the main rulebook, or at least thinning out rule systems like VR 2.0 and Rigger 2 by getting rid of certain areas.

I'm trying to work with another GM I know to co-ordinate efforts and get some games going.  I'd be handling Deckers, Riggers and Mages (oh my!), and he'd be handling the Street Sams and other "reality based" characters.  We'd probably end up splitting up the Mages just for speed.  Any suggestions on how to juggle all the different characters without too much confusion? (I read in one of your Ripostes about sitting back to back at a table, but where we would be playing won't allow that.)

Keep a notepad handy so you can scribble stuff to your co-gm without anybody seeing/hearing.  Whispering also works, but only if there's some kind of music source in the room to drown the words.  Also, if you feel that things are getting confused, simply wait for a break in the action and leave the room with the GM for a second or two.  Your main problem will be keeping the sammies from knowing what the mages in astral space are doing, and stuff like that.  I suggest Walkmans for the people who aren't supposed to be listening.  It takes a bit of trust, because nothing is really preventing them from turning down the volume and listening in.

What do you think about physads? To weak? to powerful?

I think they're balanced just fine.  Compared to Samurai, they're a blessing.  Sammies have a much easier time of building themselves up via cyberware.  All they need is money.  Adepts, on the other hand, have to go through initiation, which takes much more time and, while it's less expensive, the progression of power is much, much slower than a Sammy.

The only time Physads get out of hand is when people dump too many points into one category, thus giving them an obscene number of dice for certain tasks.  I usually limit the levels of enhancements for starting PhysAds so they don't blow all their magic in one place.

I got a very big problem with a girl, can you do somethin?

Unless it has something to do with Shadowrun, probably not.  I'm not Dear Abby for Christ sakes.  (Stop by #shadowrun if you ever need to verify my inability to deal with women properly).

I'm GM in a game in Mexico and i have some trouble to find some sourcebooks, but i would like to know: What skills would you say are necessary to be an expert with plant's poisons? Chemicals, Biology, Botany?

Both Biology and Chemistry, since extracting and processing poisons from plants would probably require more than simply squeezing a tree.  The character may have to synthesize parts of the poison if specific plants are unavailable, chemically process the extracted poison in order to make it more potent, etc.  I'd probably allow a concentration skill of Poison to be added to both Chemistry and Biology (i.e. Chemistry: Synthesized Poisons and Biology: Natural Poisons).  You can even take the Natural Poisons concentration a step further by adding Plant Based Poisons as a specialization (since natural poisons could also include those extracted from animals, insects, etc.).  If you don't want to require two skills, you could probably get away with dropping the Chemistry skill, since even Biology requires fundamental knowledge of certain chemical interactions.

It's really easy to create a die rolling program in Basic.

Well, yeah.  I used to use a Commodore VIC 20 for die rolling way the hell back when.  Pain in the ass loading it off of cassette every time somebody kicked the plug out...

Let's assume then that like-minded individuals (read: mages) have agreed to make this trip to Planet Elsewhere. Wouldn't a group of mages create a pocket of astral energy? If rocks, plants, and animals are good enough for an astral pocket, wouldn't capable sapiens suffice not only to quell mundanity, boredom, and potential solitudinous death but provide training-RP etc.?

Various scatterings of writings in FASA books make it apparent that, even if you're sitting in a Semi-Ballistic that's packed with people, you'll still bite the big one of you try to cast a spell or pop into astral space.  The actual type of individual going along for the ride (be they mages or tax accountants) doesn't really matter since there isn't any more 'life' emanating from one or the other.  Solitude or loneliness is more of a sociological factor than magical, and I'm sure you'd find many a person who would be perfectly content to say 'fuck the world' and rocket off into the unknown alone. 
  
What about other possible natural non-"living" energy sources: Comets, Asteroids, Pulsars, Black Holes

Well, we're a tad bit far away from any Pulsars and Black Holes, landing on a Comet would probably prove to be fatal - but an Asteroid may work.  Again, FASA writings seem to point to the idea that simple rock doesn't always do the trick as far as generating astral space is concerned.  You need something actually living - plants (lots of plants), critters, etc.

I have been gaming with the biggest group of social retards I have ever been unlucky enough to meet.  Not to mention the fact that the GM was one of the weakest and most trival that I have met as well.  I suffered through this until I finally blurted out that they all sucked, and the GM was a fucking moron.  I told them they couldn't handle a real campaign if they were given delta grade shit to start out with.

Well as things would turn out, I'm the GM now, and the first session is coming on friday.  I was wondering if you had some ideas on how to keep these little goobers from point mongering their way to the grave, without having them whine like the losers they are.  Usually I would just find another group, but the gaming community is so dry here (it took me months to find this one)  Any info you can give me on how to start a new group and keep them under control would be most appreciated.

I don't know what I can write that I haven't written before.  Just do your best to push them away from combat situations at first and try - try hard - to get them to engage in actual social role-playing.  You may have to write up a 'wild goose chase' run, during which the runners follow clues from place to place - clues that have the sole purpose of forcing the runners to interact.  Clubs, bars, stores, stuff like that - send them around and try to slightly cater the surroundings to the likings of the PCs (or the player if you have to).  Throw in a or two, but make it apparent that outright slaughter would be a bad idea, considering how many buddies the bad guy has waiting outside the bar.  Hopefully you'll get the players into a more mellow, less trigger happy mood than they would be if you just tossed them into the middle of a gunfight.

My gaming group consists mostly of novices (less than ten runs).  They are enthusiastic and enjoy playing, but are not quite as committed as I would like.  A gaming session tends to have anywhere from 3 to 8 people.  Iím sure this is something every GM has had to deal with, but I could use some wisdom or perhaps a cattle prod to round them up.  Normally I would just accept this, but the team is currently in Aztlan (though based in Seattle), and it is becoming very difficult to teleport PCs from week to week.

If you have a lot of on and off players you may have to pull out a few mundane tricks in order to explain their PC's disappearances.  A good one is capture.  In other words, the missing PC somehow fell into the hands of the 'enemy' (perhaps while they were off taking a leak or something).  Then, when the runners re-appear at a later time, you can just have the rest of the group come across the 'camp' where they're being held.  Tacky, sure, but it usually works.

So start out with ALL of the PCs beginning the mission (whether their players are actually there or not) and just have the nonparticipating PCs take a different route to their destination.  If only one of them shows up next week, just have the one meet up with the rest of the group and explain how the rest of the PCs were kidnapped/captured/etc. 

The first time I GMed there was a PC who is also a GM. He broke the most important rule of any RPG game: The GM is never wrong. Anyway, how do you deal with such a person?

P.S. that PC is my boyfriend

I think you should dump him and move to Philadelphia.

Just kidding.  If a player keeps refusing to obey the wishes to the GM you can try a few different things:

#1: Get all of the other players on your side so, next time you GM, he'll be the only one being a jerk.  Perhaps he'll feel foolish enough to give you control.

#2: If he's a decent person, simply talking to him may do the trick.  I have no idea how old you people are, nor the mental maturity of your group, so this plan may not work.  Anyway, if he's a decent, logical person you should just be able to talk it out.  Point of the fact that you don't give him any problems when he GMs and there's no reason for him not to listen to you.

#3: If he still refuses to listen, just continue the game over his objections.  Basically: If he does something that defies what you've said, just say it never happened.  You're the GM, so you're allowed to do that.  Then, just continue playing as if nothing had happened.  It helps if the other players keep playing along with you, so, again, try to get them on your side.

Why do heavy weapons have a larger recoil modifier than light ones?

Heavy weapons (along with shotguns) have a larger recoil simply because they have to push more mass out of the end of the barrel (i.e. the bullet is bigger).  Think of it this way: If you push a carton of milk across the floor, you'll feel some resistance (but not much) pushing back on you.  If, however, you push a chest of drawers across the floor, odds are the chest will move, but you'll move as well, your feet sliding backwards across the floor.  The same principle works in firearms.  The bigger the bullet, the more the gun will feel this backward push.  Recoil represents how much the barrel climbs (as a result of this push) from its original position every time you pull the trigger.  The bigger the bullet, the more the climb, the higher the recoil modifier.

What's the best state of mind to be in when GMing?

I'm not too sure what you mean by 'state of mind'.  You basically have to have a split personality.  Part of you has to remain grounded in reality so you can deal with rule issues, while the other has to be a schizoid freak so you can successfully role-play your NPCs.  The bottom line is: You have to be relaxed.  Don't go into a game feeling like you have to impress everybody and run a perfect world.  Don't over analyze your own actions.  Just sit back and let everything come to you.

Of course, by 'state of mind' you might also be referring to what drugs or alcohol would be best to take while GMing.  The answer is: None.  A fucked up GM will never be able to role-play effectively.  Even if the rest of your group is messed up in the same way, you game will still deteriorate into a mess of confusion and arguments since nobody will have any idea what the hell anybody's talking about. 

Would you accept a ghoul metahuman PC?

I don't see why not.  It's not like they have any obscene advantages or anything.  It may be difficult getting over the smell, but I'm sure everybody could learn how to deal with it.

As a female GM working with a group of 4-5 male players, all of whom decided it would be a great idea to play a street sam (I do have one decker, but he might as well be a sam), do you have any suggestions as to how I can get them to choose different character types?  Currently they have an NPC mage and rigger to help them out (although the rigger is gunning for the decker because he iced her friend, the Snake shaman - long story), but I want them to play the different types. Otherwise it's just too easy to explain away magic and transportation.

Tough issue.  Unless you can somehow convince them to make the character changes themselves (via a long argument or a good dose of sweet-talk) you may have to get mean.  First of all - stop helping them out with NPCs.  Sure, it's nice to give them a hand every once in a while, but not perpetually.  Second - create some runs that require the use of skill categories the runners don't have, such as driving, decking, etc.  Basically what I'm saying is that you have to make the lives of the big batch o' sammys as miserable as possible.  Have their fixer give them a run that they need to go on immediately - and that's located somewhere only a rigger can get to.  They won't have time to hire a rigger and will miss out on the run.  Also, throw in more 5 meter thick doors that can only be defeated through Electronics, toss in some mages so the runners will realize that they need magical support, require some decking, etc.  Sure, the runners may be able to 'sub-contract' some of this stuff out to  NPC runners, but not only do they lose part of their profit, they'll also find that their NPC "employee" will be unreliable in many instances.  Sooner or later the PCs should realize that perhaps it's time to use some new Archetypes or, at the very least, diversify their skills a bit more.

Of course, you can also simply put limits on the number of a particual archetype allowed in a game (i.e. 2 sammies, 1 full mage, 1 adept, 1 rigger, 1 decker, etc.).  After all, you're the GM.

When are you going to write some more RPP?  I miss Razor, Smudge and Fudge.

All were killed in a tragic sloppy soy accident.  Every last one of them.

One of my players has been bugging me for about 2 months now, if he can change his character from a Street Samurai to a Physical adept.  Since he has had this character for over a year, I was curious as to why he wanted to change it.

ME: Steven, why do you want to change 
HIM: I want "Killing Hands" 
ME: Any reason? 
HIM: I want "Killing Hands" 
ME: Why though?  You already are a high-grade killing machine.  Wired, bioed, and with enough guns to kill a large gang, and you have shock gloves, which replicate the effect. 
HIM: I want "Killin......"

How would you suggest to handle it?

Two options:

#1. Tell him to go to hell.  This has to be one of the most pathetic cases of player whining I've ever seen and to cave in would simply invite another pathetic request, probably for full fledged magician status.

#2. Tell him to go to hell, but then invent some way for him to get his killing hands.  (Weird things happen in 2060).  Perhaps he stuck his hands in some magical water or something.  But, here's the catch: Anybody he touches with his bare hands - even in a friendly manner - has to resist damage as if the sammy has just punched him.  In other words - you're giving the sammy a pair of CURSED killing hands.  If you want more fun, you can also have it break glasses at random, perhaps destroy a keyboard or two when the sammy tries to use it, and so on.  It may be fun.

The Mage in my group has a Gunnery of 6 and a Conjuring of 0. Despite encouragement from the rest of the players, he never saw a need. How do I exploit this in such a way he will put the Vindicator down and start summoning? (I am aware he never HAS to, but it's really bugging the rest of my players when an elemental of mine pops out, and they are caught with their pants down. (Back when I was an actual PC, the mage in the group always had one just to watch his back).

First of all, make sure the Mage gets shot up to Deadly a few times.  If he's using a Vindicator, so will everyone else.

Second, make sure you're not holding back with your elementals, spirits, and so on.  Let the elementals and whatnot kick some butt for a while until the Mage decides to pick up the skill.

Third, create a run in which the mage MUST use his nonexistent conjuring ability.  A nice weirdo spirit that's immune to pretty much everything but banishing might do the trick. 

A Rigger in my group wants to convert his RV into a machine-gun armed Ice Cream truck. Help.

That sounds kind of fun, actually.  Anyway, once he finishes with it, just have a rumor float around that some sicko has an armored ice cream truck and they're scaring all the kids.  Then get the cops on his butt.

Is the Docwagon contract ubiquitous? Is it available to everybody? Or, is it a little harder to come by?  I've read the costs on the various contracts, but the numbers don't seem to tell me much.

Detailed info about DocWagon is available in The Neoanarchist's Guide To Real Life (if you can find it).  In any case, DocWagon contracts are pretty easy to come by.  They ask few questions, give you a little alert bracelet when you sign up, and scrape your ass off the pavement when you get hurt.  They even run a few private hospitals, thus allowing the runner's identity to be protected while they're healing.

How should I handle Doc Wagon contracts for brand-new PC's who have just joined a gang in hopes of eventually running the shadows?

Just have them wander over to their local Doc Wagon center and buy a contract.  DocWagon contracts are one of the few aspects of SR that, thank god, remains rather simple.

I have started a gang campaign with my players, and they seem to be  going a little crazy. I think they think that they are immune to Lone Star.  Do you have any advice for me on what I could do change this, without arresting the whole gang?

If the gang PCs have done a lot to piss off the cops, the cops might opt to destroy their lives rather than simply arrest them.  In other words, the cops will start pulling in the gang's associates, contacts, etc. and either start putting them away, scaring the hell out of them, or beating them up.  Soon, the gang's friends and associates are going to be terrified to so much as stop by gang headquarters for a beer for fear that the cops might rough them up again.  Also, the cops might get some undercover agents involved and start setting the gang up for failure.  More weak willed associates of the gang might actually become police informants.  It is very important that the cops don't actually kill any of the gang's friends or associates, because then the gang members would have a reason to start nixing police officers.

Since you'll need to create a reason why the cops would rather fuck with the gang than arrest it, start increasing the number of turf conflicts between the gang and various Yakuza or Mafia groups.  So, if the gang begins to wonder what's up with the cops, you can give them the impression that the cops don't want the gang to go away because the gang is currently keeping more undesirable groups from advancing their hold of the city.

Throughout all of this, try to create the impression that the cops will lay off the gang if they kinda tone down their act.