Monday, October 13, 2014

Run Hooks: Monster of the Week: Ghouls

This is the second part to my discussion of how to build a game arc out of separate pieces. What I want to talk about today is an issue that I see all too often in Shadowrun, and one I've had to deal with a number of times myself in my groups.

Shadowrun, unlike D&D and Pathfinder, isn't built to encourage a single play style. This is the biggest draw of Shadowrun in my mind, but it poses some interesting challenges for a GM. If you have a group of players with separate focus, it can be hard to keep the entire group happy. let me explain.

Take the following party: A troll ganger, with a heavy combat focus. A dwarf Rigger, with a mixed focus on vehicles, and drones, a elf Decker/face, and a human ex-Corp Shaman, with a focus on Conjuring. This is a great party, good diversity, tons of run hooks, and no obvious gaps in capabilities. However, with that diversity comes the challenge for the GM to keep the players who are combat focused, and not combat focused, both happy.

My previous run hook, 'The Long Con : Part 1' allowed the group Rigger, Face, and Shaman to flex their muscled, but it left the ganger in the cold. Simply put, a good, well-planned run, shouldn't involve a lot of shooting. This is great if your party doesn't like combat, but every now and again it's a lot of fun to simply shoot things.

So, as a GM, with a vested interest in keeping everyone happy, what do you do? You have an old fashioned monster hunt. This is a run hook with a million variations. Pick your favorite metacritter, and your resident fixer/talismonger/magical contact, and voila! You've got a run.

Simply put, your contact needs pieces from a certain critter. Or, your police contact is having issues on his beat with a pack of devil rats/ghouls/random hell hound etc. The variations are limited only by your imagination. The result, is a shorter, action-packed session that's sure to leave your combat heavy characters grinning, and the rest of your team thinking how nice the quiet runs are.

I'm going to give you my favorite setup here. One of the players, at least in my group, always has a safe house in the Redmond barrens. It's become a bit of a running joke, right along with the 'local dive-bar bouncer/bartender' contact. One of the locals around your safe house has started complaining about the local pack of ghouls. I, frankly, love ghouls. A local talismonger heard the griping down at your local dive bar, and the bouncer/bartender slipped them your card.

Simply put, you're going hunting. Every kill is worth a certain amount of money. Usually, in my games, a few hundred ¥ for a corpse, and a smaller sum for pieces. Makes it worth the team's time to be surgical and not simply blow up everything that moves.

The best thing about this Monster of the Week run is that it's infinitely tailorable. Want it to be harder? Throw a few higher intelligence ghouls into the mix, or some other metacritters. Things going south for the group? It's easy to add a police response to the mix, to let the group grab their bounty and retreat. It's ideal to introduce new contacts, or to flesh out a part of the city for use in later runs.

Runs like this are great to keep in your folio of run hooks for when a session ends early, or you're in the mood for one more game.

Now, how does this work with the wider run arc laid out in 'The Long Con : Part 1'? As the team wraps up the hunt, and gets ready to bag, and tag, their prizes they notice trackers on the ghouls. Monitors, that are reporting via the Matrix.

This is a great way to loop in your Decker, and/or tech-centric character into a combat heavy run. What are the trackers for? Who's monitoring the Ghouls behavior? If the team doesn't notice tyhe trackers, or if the team doesn't have a tech heavy character feel free to have the contact they deliver the corpses to mention the hardware, even in passing.

I've often had the receiving mage grumble about having to remove a bunch of implants from the bodies. Innocuous in itself, but it gives you a point to hook back to in later runs.

In my next entry, I'll tie back to the Long Con, and give you part two of the arc!

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