*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 21, 2014, 09:37:27 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 62 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2 3 4
Print
Author Topic: [Shadowrun] Combat Monsters  (Read 12456 times)
Precious Villain
Member

Posts: 64


« on: April 27, 2006, 10:17:00 PM »

I'm playing in a Shadowrun (4th edition) campaign.  Up until last Saturday there were three of us:  Myself (Rob), Sam and Kelsey.  Saturday, we invited an old fellow gamer from our high school days (Tom) to join the group, along with his wife (Misty).

Now, the usual consensus view we had of Tom was that he is a power gamer, building characters solely to get the greatest amount of combat ability.  The character he brought to this game (and the character he designed for his wife, who is new to SR) fit the same mold:  massive fistfuls of dice for fighting, no points spent anywhere else.  We're talking a lump of meat with no social or thinking skills (Logic and Charisma stats at 1).  If I were GMing I simply wouldn't tolerate it - one of my rules is that player characters are vetted and approved before play and I enforce it.  But I'm just a player in this game.  You'd think I'd be happy to have this much firepower around (after all, they're on my side), but it actually bothers me.

In the past, I've written Tom off as a jerk who just wants to "win" the game.  But now, I'm not so sure.  Tom's great formative game experience was playing in a Champions campaign in college - he's a couple years older than the rest of us, so he headed off to college first.  Having read Ron's posts about the Champions play going on over in Buzz's campaign I'm wondering if maybe Tom isn't bringing his Champions habits to every game:  analyzing the combat rules and character creation, and carefully tweaking each character for maximum lethal efficiency, but at the same time blatantly ignoring everything else because he expects it to have no real input.  For example:  in the session, the shadowrunners were hired to break some people out of a corporate facility. In the process (which was quite violent), his character picked up a commlink from some dead guards - and tried to use it to unlock some doors.  This character, by the way, has the negative quality Incompetent with Computers. 

I get the feeling that what it's been adding up to is that Tom is used to playing in a game where his role (as a player) is to act out the part of one character in the GM's story.  Combat skills and character tweaking are the prime ways the player can affect the game, so that's what he works on.  For the rest, Tom concludes that any reasonable plan will work if it furthers the GM's big pre-planned story.  In the meantime, his role is largely coasting along between fight scenes.

Now my view of Shadowrun is entirely different:  I see it as a proactive game, where the players (and their characters) should have a very wide lattitude in terms of strategy to accomplish a given job.  The fun is in being clever and tough and ruthless.  This explains why a Combat Monster character ticks me off as a GM - the player takes the challenge out of the fight scenes and limits every approach to a single tactic.  Worse yet, the Combat Monster player expects the stupidest ideas to work, even when his character has absolutely no realistic chance of pulling it off based on lack of skill/proper equipment, etc.  And the player is pissed off when he gets slapped down, because the GM isn't driving the story anywhere.

So my questions for the Forge community are:

1)  Am I at all right in my analysis of the play styles?  How do I confirm this?

2)  What do I do about it?  Especially given that:  a) I'm just a player and b) I'm not willing to summarily write the guy off without trying SOMETHING. 

I'm well aware that the something involved has to be a conversation with the players and GM (Sam) - but in what way do I start that or proceed?

Any thoughts, advice or commentary would be most gratefully received -

Robert
Logged

My real name is Robert.
Tommi Brander
Member

Posts: 114


WWW
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2006, 01:22:49 AM »

Not that I have anything constructive to say, but is the current GM telling a story and letting practically every plan work?
Logged
DagdaMor
Member

Posts: 3


« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2006, 02:20:31 AM »

Shadowrun has always suffered from players making the Combat Monster, because it allows it so easily (well less easily now with SR4). Players coming from other heavily combat oriented games, will try and break apart the game rules as much as possible, I have seen it time and time again. So your analysis of your friend Tom is probably correct, he is so used to playing a style where the aim is to be as powerful as possible, that when you come to a game like shadowrun, which intrinsically makes it easy to be powerful allowing on groups dynamics to fix the powerlevel for the game.

The best advice I can give you is to talk to your GM about it, Shadowrun's major saving grace is that all characters are basically impotent when compared to the real power of the world. No matter what a player can throw at the GM, the GM can kick back much harder to prove a point or conversely send you on runs where combat has a much lesser bearing on the outcome of the run. So discuss with your GM whether he has the same opinion of the character and that if he does, that he either forces a rebuild, or (preferably in my eyes) can accomodate the campaign to deal with the mismatched balance within the team.

One final suggestion is that when you next get chance to run a game of shadowrun with Tom in it, try and play a street level campaign, drop build points significantly (200 or so) half availability and rating limits and then have some fun at the bottom of the pile, hopefully Tom will then see that you can actually have fun without being a combat monster all the time.
Logged

All is fair in love and war...

... as long as I'm not losing!
Zamiel
Member

Posts: 145


WWW
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2006, 03:21:19 AM »

So my questions for the Forge community are:

1)  Am I at all right in my analysis of the play styles?  How do I confirm this?

2)  What do I do about it?  Especially given that:  a) I'm just a player and b) I'm not willing to summarily write the guy off without trying SOMETHING. 

I'm well aware that the something involved has to be a conversation with the players and GM (Sam) - but in what way do I start that or proceed?

I think I'll ask the hard question:

Why do you care?

Seriously. Why do you feel that you have to tell him how to have his fun? Especially, possibly most especially, in Shadowrun, which is as much a meat-cannon-friendly setting as ever there was. One of the archetypical SR characters is a Troll with a Panther Cannon as a side-arm, for Hades' sake.

I think the real problem here comes with your statement:

Now my view of Shadowrun is entirely different:  I see it as a proactive game, where the players (and their characters) should have a very wide lattitude in terms of strategy to accomplish a given job.  The fun is in being clever and tough and ruthless.  This explains why a Combat Monster character ticks me off as a GM - the player takes the challenge out of the fight scenes and limits every approach to a single tactic.  Worse yet, the Combat Monster player expects the stupidest ideas to work, even when his character has absolutely no realistic chance of pulling it off based on lack of skill/proper equipment, etc.  And the player is pissed off when he gets slapped down, because the GM isn't driving the story anywhere.

As a frequent GM myself, but perhaps more importantly, as a frequenr cyber-genre GM myself, I'm just sitting here boggling, with jaw agape, looking at this paragraph. A Combat Monster takes away the challenge from a fight? If anything, the presence of a CM in the party increases your options ten-thousand-fold for every single encounter between the characters and the world. You no longer have to be concerned about the characters being overwhelmed in combat unless you truly throw a bus full of ugly at them, which frees you to engage them with the distraction of the physical encounter and work the strings of all the things it connects to, socially, personally, and emotionally, for every character involved. It no longer becomes a question of what is going to happen, but putting it in the characters why the events are unfolding so. That's a far, far more interesting question than "will the characters shoot their way out of this one?" The answer is "yes." That puts it in your hands, as GM, to ask more interesting questions.

Yes, the character is dumb as a brick. Seems to me that's by design. I can't really tell here if you're really saying the CM's Player is having dumb ideas he expects to work or whether he's actually just playing in-character and you are just bad at distinguishing the two. The key issue in this bit is that you say the GM slaps the dumb ideas down, but is simultaneously not driving the story anywhere. He can't have it both ways and have happy players, especially players looking to drive their portion of the story by mechanical interaction with the rest of the world. Which is, notably, a perfectly valid stance to take, even if its not mine. (Usually. Capes-play is almost entirely driven by the interaction between Player and mechanics, but its a whole different universe of play.)

Seems to me Tom has a hammer. Nothing wrong with having a hammer, and sneering at it because its not a screwdriver only gets you laughed at by folks who own a toolbox. Seems a bad plan.

But directly as to your questions:

1) You can never confirm analysis of play styles. Its abstract, but moreover emotional. Far better than trying to analyze him would be asking, "Hey, why are you doing that?" Reasons are far more useful than suppositions.

2) Why do you have to do anything at all? If the GM's OK with it, and Tom's OK with it, why do you care how they have fun? If the GM's not OK with it, then he should start by asking, querilously, "Why are you doing that?"

I do recognize that the Forge has a reputation for being the domain of those with more obsession with analysis than action, but not everyone's fallen into that hole quite yet.
Logged

Blogger, game analyst, autonomous agent architecture engineer.
Capes: This Present Darkness, Dragonstaff
TonyPace
Member

Posts: 38


« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2006, 04:35:58 AM »

Yeah, Zamiel! I volunteer to be a gun bunny in your Shadowrun game!

Good Shadowrun is all about the bang and the boom. Or maye not all, but a big part of it. So you want to be good at the good stuff? Right, awesome, step this way. We got fireballs, we got trolls, we got assault cannons and speed freak gun bunnies, and laser guided missiles and the whole fucking works. We cook it any damned way you like, as long as you like bloody flesh.

I mean, what, you want credible science fiction action with deep characterization? In a game about magical trolls with assault cannons?

All that D&D stuff in Shadowrun used to annoy me to no end, because all the cool cyberpunk was being gummed up with that lame old oldness. But then I picked up the clue-phone - that DnD stuff is telling you something. Let Go of those 80's novels you've been hoarding and embrace the badass factor. Get into it, stir some shit up, and have fun.

There may be multiple paths to BADASS in a good Shadowrun game but never lose sight of that goal. Maybe you enjoy hacking the hell out of security, stealing cash and pimping your employers all over the Matrix. Maybe you like having meets with Mafia capos and call them a punk. You're so damned good they just laugh and slap you on the back. And then again maybe you're cool as steel and twice as hard, barely human but a killing machine. Takes all types, you know.

Frankly, I smell that the real problem is that this guy is stepping all over your character's "Fuck, Precious just hacked the security system to shoot all the security guards! Holy Shit! Jackpot!" moment. He just has to do everything all by himself. You know, hogging the badassery. If that's the real issue, it's a Definite Problem.

I just think that if that's it, you need to talk to him, and tell him that some of the other characters are made to do that flavour of - you guessed it - badass. And if he has a good idea in that line, then he doesn't have to do it himself, just suggest it to you as a human being playing a game instead of always having to do it as a character. And maybe when someone needs to get dead you could go to him for help if that's an option instead of having to do THAT yourself.

Alternately, you're annoyed that his character is a huge lodestone around any more subtle plans you're trying to be cool with. Which is also kind of understandable, but easier to deal with too. You just need a plot device that you can activate to drop his dude in like a deus ex machina. If you have a rich rigger a yellowjacket with a rappelling harness should do the trick... maybe a coffin that attaches under any decent sized vehicle too. And perhaps the GM could be persuaded to make such a thing appear. Make it clear it's a device to let everyone shine at the stuff they do best.

And since the character's as dumb as a post don't whine when he does some funny dumb shit but cheer because:
A)  It's funny.
B)  Someone's pissed! Oh no, they're shooting! Profit!
C)  It helps pull him into the end of the game you're more interested in, which I'm guessing is a more wheeler dealer thing. Since he's a serious liability as a practical thing, you need to find a way for his actions to be a problem for the characters but great fun for everyone anyways. That way it lets him stretch his wings a little instead of being boring shit where you and yours look down on him.

Bottom line is ditch the high-mindedness and think about what you want from the game that this guy's playing style is preventing. And do something about it at a human, social, level that doesn't come off as talking down to this guy. If he acts like a choad about that, well you've got your answer.
Logged
Precious Villain
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2006, 06:27:19 AM »

Thanks, guy, I knew there was something wrong with my analysis - at some level.  I'll talk to my GM - either he sees a problem with the level of badassery or he doesn't.  If so, problem solved, it'll be a GM/player talk.  If not, my character has some spare nuyen to burn - I'll amp up that vat grown muscle toner and throw some more dice, myself.  As far as the guy being a liability in more complex plans, that'll pass - he's about at the hard caps for combat skills so he'll have no choice but to up the other stuff.

Rob
Logged

My real name is Robert.
Precious Villain
Member

Posts: 64


« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2006, 07:06:36 AM »

Okay, sorry about this guys, but full stop.  I'm putting my gauntlet back down (and never should have picked it up in the first place). 

Tony, your comments are not.  Helpful.  You're trying to tell me, in a sense, what I should enjoy about a shadowrun game and not referencing what I actually do enjoy about the game.  I know what I want out of Shadowrun (or at any rate, at least I know what I don't want) and I don't need suggestions that I'm "doing it wrong."

I take everyone's very PC point about "why should I step on the other guy/s fun?"  Well, folks, I've told you why:  it steps on mine.  I will not sit through a crappy game - I have other alternatives, after all.  Moreover, I've talked to Kelsey and he shares my opinion about Combat Monsters in the game.  His character was our group's previous combat specialist, and he's been relegated to, in his words, "the team's limo driver."  So, guys, I think there's a bigger problem than that I'm just too high minded for a slam-bang action game like Shadowrun. 

Now, I'm sorry if I've hurt people's feelings and pissed everybody off around the Forge.  However, the fact is that, while I'm willing to see some compromise in how the game goes I'm not going to just pick up my gauntlet and play the other guy's way.  I do appreciate suggestions to talk to the GM (Sam) about it.  I will do so tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure he shares my views on the matter.  Which still leaves a group with a problem.

Best,

Rob

Logged

My real name is Robert.
TonyLB
Member

Posts: 3702


WWW
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2006, 07:18:36 AM »

It seems to me that the main beef is that the addition of a meat-cannon or two to your party changes the composition of the party so much that it blocks out many types of scenes ... they just can't be fun while the meat-cannon is present.

Can I suggest that, maybe, adopting some techniques that let you break up the group and tell separate and interacting stories with subsets of the group would help alleviate much of this trouble?

If the previous-combat-specialist and your character are off on their own and get into a fight, it can be a cool fight for them, scaled to their combat power and ripe for their canny strategizing.  Likewise, if the two meat-cannons are off and get into a much less subtle fight it can be a cool fight for them.  Then you can all get together and do some breaking-and-entering, and then two players can go try to lean on a cyber-doc, and so on and so forth.

Basically, rather than view "the group" as the atomic unit which must be dragged through every single scene (and therefore must be a fit protagonist for every single scene) why not fit scenes to sets of characters, and increase the diversity of things that can be offered?  Horses for courses, and all that?
Logged

Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2006, 12:19:05 PM »

Hi Robert,

That's a pretty articulate and insightful analysis, I think.

Worse yet, the Combat Monster player expects the stupidest ideas to work, even when his character has absolutely no realistic chance of pulling it off based on lack of skill/proper equipment, etc.  And the player is pissed off when he gets slapped down, because the GM isn't driving the story anywhere.
Tell me if I'm getting too abstract, but imagine this: A guy is next to a roulette wheel at a casino. He just guesses the next number that comes up, but is wrong. Someone comes up, pulls his wallet from his pocket and takes money from it. He gets pissed off and rightly so, since he didn't put money down. Ie, he didn't give permission for someone to apply a penalty to him.

Is this player actually 'putting his money down'? Even at a social level, like saying "I bet I can get us out of here". Or is he just guessing and then when the failed guess has an effect on the overall game/the money, he's pissed off?

Now, this might help foster a greater understanding of your game, but it's trickier to ask than before. What about you and the other players? Do you lay down 'money', even if it's at a social level of saying you can, using those strategies you mentioned before? I know it's a tough question, but I'm trying to help by figuring out in what way you might be clashing. This will help eliminate possiblities.
Logged

Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Dav
Member

Posts: 432


WWW
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2006, 12:30:19 PM »

Try this: avoid combat.  Or, even better:

If the guy made a character completely within the guidelines of your gaming group, don't go whining about it, buck-up, look at the guy making the character that you feel is causing a problem and... here's something better than passive-aggressive: FUCKING TELL HIM.

What is this, revenge of high school?

Dav
Logged
Zamiel
Member

Posts: 145


WWW
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2006, 01:20:42 PM »

Tony, your comments are not.  Helpful.  You're trying to tell me, in a sense, what I should enjoy about a shadowrun game and not referencing what I actually do enjoy about the game.  I know what I want out of Shadowrun (or at any rate, at least I know what I don't want) and I don't need suggestions that I'm "doing it wrong."

No, actually, Tony was telling you what Shadowrun in particular and the cyber-genre in general pretty much iconizes as the core protagonist strategy: doing big things in front of big people and making it look good. Whether it be the extremely archetypal hackery done by Case in Neuromancer or the driving by the Deliverator in Snow Crash (where everyone listens to Reason), cyberpunk has been a grand exposition on "the revelation of the badass" from day one. Shadowrun is just an amplification of that, by adding in the fantasy tropes associated with the heroic archetypes and fusing them to characters of a different social class. Just as if you said, "Well, I find associating with the hoity-toity movers-and-shakers of the world at dinner parties fun in Shadowrun," we would not say, "Well, that's just wrong," but we would and have said, "That's not what the genre is really set up to do, so its not surprising that you feel your fun is getting stepped on." The gun bunny is set up to echo the assumptions of the setting; he's getting reinforced. You're not.

Honestly, that's more your problem than his.

I take everyone's very PC point about "why should I step on the other guy/s fun?"  Well, folks, I've told you why:  it steps on mine.  I will not sit through a crappy game - I have other alternatives, after all.  Moreover, I've talked to Kelsey and he shares my opinion about Combat Monsters in the game.  His character was our group's previous combat specialist, and he's been relegated to, in his words, "the team's limo driver."  So, guys, I think there's a bigger problem than that I'm just too high minded for a slam-bang action game like Shadowrun. 

I heartily object to being referred to as PC in any context. Its a serious question, why do you want to step on his fun? Is he having fun? Is he really wanting something else from the game but what he's doing is "rewarding enough," because he is in tune with the archetypal underpinnings of the setting and you're trying to fight against them with no support? Until and unless you recognize why you should be bothering to step on his fun instead of stepping up your own, you end up looking like a hungus dong.

Seems to me that if there was a previous "combat specialist," the problem is obviously not the presence of gun-bunnies. The problem, not to put too fine a point on it, is your GM kind of sucks. He can't seem to manage spotlight time, he can't seem to discover conflicts that put get all the players invested through their characters, and he has a couple whiny passive-aggressive wonks who aren't stepping up to the plate the way they have to, out of game, and actually engaging socially with the other folk. What your GM needs, frankly, is a system that concentrates more on the conflicts between player-intentionality and less on modeling the sprays of bullets and manabolts. Were it up to me, I'd say port your game over to With Great Power or Primetime Adventures for a while, because both of them are systems geared to put the spotlight directly on the things the characters find important about themselves and don't start getting into the decoupling between Player-as-Author and Character that Capes goes for the jugular with ... you guys are clearly not ready for that degree of decentralized control, yet.

(Yes, for the players at home, I know WGP is a supers system, and archetected for such. That's why I say its perfect for Shadowrun. The Story Arc system coupled with the emphasis on picking only the facets of character important to the Player, plus the rotating scene-setting seems to be damn near perfect to help work out issues in a group that has problems with spotlighting. Likewise with PTA, with an even deeper focus on system-minimal descriptions. Get them away from obsessing on the damage-code of the latest Fireball and back on obsessing about who they have relationships with and how they matter.)

Now, I'm sorry if I've hurt people's feelings and pissed everybody off around the Forge.  However, the fact is that, while I'm willing to see some compromise in how the game goes I'm not going to just pick up my gauntlet and play the other guy's way.  I do appreciate suggestions to talk to the GM (Sam) about it.  I will do so tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure he shares my views on the matter.  Which still leaves a group with a problem.

I can say safely you've never hurt me feelings or pissed me off. I just don't suffer foolishness gladly, and you have a serious wall to break through before you're ready to actually deal with the core issues in the group you're in. Think of me as the old wuxia master who repeatedly cracks the young protagonist across the head with his oaken staff out of his grandfatherly kindness.
Logged

Blogger, game analyst, autonomous agent architecture engineer.
Capes: This Present Darkness, Dragonstaff
JongWK
Member

Posts: 5


« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2006, 04:05:22 PM »

Especially, possibly most especially, in Shadowrun, which is as much a meat-cannon-friendly setting as ever there was. One of the archetypical SR characters is a Troll with a Panther Cannon as a side-arm, for Hades' sake.

The Troll Street Samurai appeared in 1992, in the Street Samurai Catalogue sourcebook. Things have changed a bit since then. ;)
Logged
JongWK
Member

Posts: 5


« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2006, 04:06:55 PM »

Ack, forgot to add: It's impossible to get an assault cannon from the start, if you follow the rules. This has been so since SR3.
Logged
Zamiel
Member

Posts: 145


WWW
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2006, 12:47:53 AM »

The Troll Street Samurai appeared in 1992, in the Street Samurai Catalogue sourcebook. Things have changed a bit since then. ;)

If you can be a socket-jockey gun bunny still, it ain't changed that much, or so says my copy of SR4 ...

Big troll with big axe? Check. Heavily cybered humie with a induction gun grip and overlayed targeting data? Check. Mages with up-blown hair and crackling auras of power just before they throw huge balls of energy? Check. Urban shaman commanding the streets themselves to shake off a fleeing car? Check.

Change? Not s'much.
Logged

Blogger, game analyst, autonomous agent architecture engineer.
Capes: This Present Darkness, Dragonstaff
Ramidel
Member

Posts: 54


« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2006, 01:31:08 AM »

I'd come up with something witty about combat monsters in Shadowrun, but I think Tastes Like Phoenix Games, in their Harlequin review (http://www.tasteslikephoenix.com/review/harleqrevue.html) did a better job than I can:

Lexical note: a "munchkin" in Shadowrun is a combat machine who doesn't know when to use a silencer. Combat machines who do use silencers are called "team players" or "me chummer here," at least until you find someone else who provides as much cover.

Seriously, at least in Second Edition (which is the Shadowrun I'm most familiar with, may have changed since then), no matter how badass a war engine is, he is still not going to be able to solve every problem by making with the huge-assed assault cannon 'cuz there's always someone with a -lot- bigger guns (which is very much supported by the cyberpunk genre). If a shadowrun team makes too much noise, Lone Star or someone else will target them and they will die. So having a troll samurai with 0.1 Essence and an atomic bazooka doesn't tread on anyone's fun unless the GM allows every problem to be solved by breaking out the heavy metal.

Now my view of Shadowrun is entirely different:  I see it as a proactive game, where the players (and their characters) should have a very wide lattitude in terms of strategy to accomplish a given job.

It is. But Combat Monsters don't take this out of the game for the reasons above. A CM or two in a group is a good thing and fills a team niche; without one, the team has a much harder time coping when they've hosed the run and have to make an exit over a huge pile of dead bodies. But even a complete team of brick-brained assault cannon trolls will not be able to simply force their way into a corp headquarters to steal a genetically engineered rabbit.
Logged

My real name is B.J. Lapham.
Pages: [1] 2 3 4
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!