GM Rules

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Run Types

A run is __ if ___.

Selection

  • Private: the majority of players were pre-selected
  • Public: not private

Scheduling

  • Scheduled: post and picks were made at least a full day in advance of the run, the post accurately informed players when picks will be decided, and the game started within an hour of the scheduled time
  • Impromptu: post and picks were made within just a few hours of the run
  • Overflow: an Impromptu that was made within two hours of another run's game start in response to high player demand
  • Normal: otherwise

Duration

  • Long: 7 hours or longer
  • Short: under 3 hours
  • Normal: otherwise

Special

  • Multi-Session: a run that takes place across multiple play sessions
  • Mock: a run with zero rewards, consequences, or effect on the canon

Run Rewards

Rewards are primarily based on run threat, as it (usually) represents player risk and GM preparation. However, non-Normal duration and multi-session runs often require an adjustment. Use the following formula as the high end, and feel free to adjust it in favor of lesser rewards at your discretion:

Reward Multiplier: (Total Duration In Hours Across All Sessions) / 5

In general, even if you expect the run to go long, it's best to have the Johnson pay the runners normally and consider any extra allowance from duration to help handle "extra" pay the runners might happen into (like paydata, going out of their way to "get paid twice", fencing loot, etc).

Also, feel free to ask the GM Department and fellow GMs for advice on run rewards.

RVP

Player run rewards are measured in RVP (Reward Value Points). They can be converted to

  • 3,000 nuyen
  • 5,000 nuyen worth of crafting materials (usually fluffed as spare parts, access to factory, or looted/broken gear)
    • Giving out crafting materials for gear above Availability 19 requires approval from a GM Deputy
  • 4,000 nuyen worth of gear, if an NPC has the ability to obtain it at severe discount
    • Giving out gear above Availability 16 requires approval from a GM Deputy
    • All magical foci rewards above Force 5 as well as all upgrades (of any Force) must be approved
  • 1 karma
  • 1 karma of positive qualities adequately roleplayed for (ie. gain at chargen cost if it's a run reward)
  • 1 karma of negative qualities adequately roleplayed for (ie. remove at chargen cost if it's a run reward)
  • 1 Street Cred adequately roleplayed for (more than 1 per run requires approval and even 1 should be uncommon)
  • 0.5 Loyalty for a contact gained that run (no cost for connection)
    • Each run may provide a single X/1 for free, upgradable with rvp as above
    • Examples: The first 2/1 contact is 0 rvp, but a second 2/1 contact is 2 rvp. The first 4/3 contact is 4 rvp.
    • Contacts rewarded can be public or private, but they must be shared (if connection changes or it dies for one character, it does for all the others who have it)
    • Connection or Loyalty above 5 requires approval

Player Rewards

As a general rule, we want to try to emulate the rewards as recommended in the core rule book [SR5 372].

Standard base reward ranges for Normal runs based on threat:

  • Low: 6-9 RVP
  • Medium: 10-13 RVP
  • High: 14-16 RVP
  • Semiprime: up to 40 RVP (a reasonable average is low 20s before reward multiplier)
  • Prime: up to 100 RVP (a reasonable average is low 30s before reward multiplier)

Notes:

  • These are merely guidelines and exceptions can occur, but chronic overpaying is frowned upon and may result in consequences.
  • Someone must write a Full AAR for any run that rewards more than 19 RVP (base) if the run is not a Semiprime or above. There is no additional reward for doing so.

GMP

GMing a run gets you GMP, which can be spent in a few ways:

  • You can redeem 1 GMP for 3000 nuyen or 1 karma on a character for your choosing
  • Certain events may allow spending GMP

All GMP gains and uses must be recorded on the appropriate Player and Character wiki pages.

GM Rewards

Base reward for hosting a run:

  • Low-High: 12
  • Semiprime: 16
  • Prime: 20

(these will change in the future)

Additional rewards, which are not affected by the Reward Multiplier:

  • Overflow: +2. Increased to +3 for weekends
  • Scheduled: +1 per day picks were made in advance, upto +2.
  • Received Coaching: +0
  • Run was record and uploaded to Youtube: +1

Rewards earnable by means other than GMing:

  • Creating a detailed write-up for another GM to run: 8 (Write-ups should go to Runs For GMs)
  • Writing a Full AAR / Narrative Summary for a run you played on/GMed for: 2 (must be added/linked to the run's wiki page).
  • Writing a run's wiki page: 1
  • Stating a contact for a run (max once per run): 1

Note, you must create a wiki page for the run or ensure a player does it (in which case you must verify it's correct). Whoever ends up doing it is the one that gets the 1 GMP.

Run Chains

GMs receive a bonus for participating in Run Chains. See that page for more details

Run Content

Reusing Material

Re-using run concepts, ideas, locations, npcs, etc is allowed.

GMs are encouraged to make their games as unique as possible for the benefit of the players, but the GM department recognizes there is value in reducing the burden of creation on GMs. Also, that there is value in establishing interesting locations and people in the setting by their repeated usage.

GMPCs

You need a run proposal (not plan) and approval to have a GM-controlled PC in the game. It is strongly discouraged to have GM PCs in game without good reason.

PvP

PVP is always at the GM’s discretion, and should only occur if both players are ok with it. If PVP does happen, don’t let players burn edge to smackdown in PVP, and if edge is burnt for Not Dead Yet, the player who burnt the edge gets to live. Players are not allowed to circumvent Not Dead Yet (“I shoot him in the head just to be sure”, for example) in PVP.

Space-time

  • Downtime

The community operates in real-time. A day in the real world is a day on The Dark. However, some games take place over the course of a couple days, a week, maybe even longer. These games are considered to be part of a “pocket universe.”

Character adjustments, purchases, and other time-sensitive cooldowns are unaffected by pocket universe time. As an example, a character who initiates before a run that spans a month in-game will not be able to initiate at the run’s conclusion as though a month has passed in real-time. Similarly, a character who learns a skill or spell, or increases an attribute during a long run only has that skill in the pocket universe of that run: they must pay for the change in downtime as normal before they can use it on other runs.

  • Multi-Session Exclusivity

Note, characters in the middle of Multi-Session runs are assumed to be free to go on other runs unless either of the GMs in question elect to not let them. This should be clearly communicated in advance to avoid any issues.

Lore Issues

The GM Department has the right to deny or retcon a run based on it's content. As a general rule, anything that would majorly affect the setting (the usage of WMDs, great dragons, blowing up downtown Seattle, involvement of named canon characters, etc) needs to be approved by the GM Department.

Generally this is quite easy and just involves giving a brief explanation over a PM of what you're doing and why, though they're within their right to request more extensive paperwork (eg. a run proposal), a discussion over voice, or anything else they deem necessary.

GM Style

Style Guide

GMs should maintain a document covering their personal GMing style, linked on their run post

  • For now, use whatever structure and information you feel best, but the following questions must be covered
    • Whether you're okay with players applying to jobs their character has a high chance of declining at the meet
    • Whether you're okay with players applying to jobs their character will actively attempt to thwart or derail
    • Views on realism and seriousness of the setting
    • Views on consequences and failure
  • Runs that notably differ from your normal style as described in your document must be noted as such

If you are vehemently opposed to having a style guide, you may choose not to have one but should note this on the run post.

Expectations

  • Players should have fun. We’re fundamentally here to play games together and have fun, and as the GM you have a lot of control over how the game goes; with that great power comes great responsibility, and the responsibility is to try to make sure people have a good time.
  • If you have a major obstacle, know the rules related to that obstacle. If a big part of the run involves a car chase or a host dive, you should have a good grasp of the rules related to car chases or host dives (or whatever the obstacle is).
  • Players (and GMs) can play the kind of Shadowrun they want to play. If you have a specific view of how shadowrun should be, you’re entirely free to pick people who conform to that philosophy, but it’s not okay to tell other people how to have fun, or their kind of fun is wrong. As the GM, it's your responsibility to communicate your particular style to your players - through a Style Guide as well as pre-game discussion.
  • Stay within reasonable expectations. It may be fun for a character to get milspec armor from a ganger in the barrens on a low-threat run, but it really cheapens the experience of the player who slogged through the amazon to pry that same armor off a super-soldier during a prime run.
  • Play with the players, not against them. Challenge and risk can make for a great and memorable experience -- but don’t make the game you vs. the players. Assume competence, and don’t try to catch players in “gotchas” -- competent runners might make a mistake or forget something if they’re pressured for time or under fire, but it’s good practice to give them the benefit of the doubt when they aren’t.

Assumed Competence

There are a lot of trivial decisions -- that is, decisions with a clear best choice and no downside -- that shadowrunners routinely make. These are things like wiping an astral signature, infiltrating in disguise, wearing a mask in a firefight, setting up a DNI before the meet, running silent while hacking, and turning off SINs before committing crimes. In general it’s best to assume that players do these things unless they say otherwise (or some kind of constraint -- like time -- prevents them). Exactly what assumed competence covers is a matter for debate and should be discussed with the players at your table in the event it comes up. When in doubt, rule in the player’s favour; try to avoid “gotcha” moments. Generally for the sake of tidiness and expedient gameplay most GMs choose to assume competence, but each GM table is unique.

The standard is to assume competence. The onus is on the GM to explain what they mean when they say they won’t assume competence, and it something they need to ensure players are aware of before a game begins, whether through the application thread, their style guide, or before the game begins.

Keep in mind that a lack of assumed competence doesn’t mean assumed incompetence. The nature of a community means that players will need to adjust to different GMing styles. Consider giving your players the benefit of the doubt in case they forget something obvious, or making use of the Common Sense quality to prevent potentially derailing situations.

Gamemasters

GM Types

GMs are either Probational, Standard, or Advanced.

  • Advanced can run any sort of run they'd like and have no plan or proposal requirements. Additionally, they are allowed to have their own table specific house rules and have npcs burn edge defensively.
  • Standard require a Run Proposal (or Run Plan + Sit-in GM Deputy) to run semi or full Primes runs. No other pre-run paperwork required.
  • Probational are similar to Standard, except their runs must be tagged [PROBIE], they cannot run semi or full Primes, and they need run plans (unless given an exception).

Anyone (GM or not) can run a Mock run of any difficulty, with no requirements whatsoever, for zero pressure practice or just to have fun, so long as it clearly noted as such by tagging the run post title with [MOCK]. It doesn't even need to use valid characters from here.

Note: additional paperwork may be (and often is) requested by when approving non-standard elements or rewards.

Becoming a GM

If you'd like to become a GM, all you need is to interview with a GM Deputy. This is less of an approval process and more of an initial measurement of your strengths and weaknesses so we can assist your improvement- essentially anyone that wants to GM can GM.

That said, we want new GMs to have a feel for the Shadowrun game and our community's culture. Try to learn this through playing in runs, watching runs (recorded or live), RPing, and interacting on discord. Apply for an interview once you feel comfortable.

Advancement

Advancement occurs at the discretion of the GM staff, based on input from Coaches. There are no requirements on quantity of runs or how long you've been doing it- just feedback from Coaches.

That said, at a bare minimum, going from Standard to Advanced requires having completed at least one Semiprime run and demonstration of the ability to run just about any sort of run with any sort of group of players. Similarly, going from Probational to Standard requires at least one classic High Threat corporate datasteal run and demonstration of basic competence in all major aspects of the game.

It is highly recommend to receive coaching from multiple people per run if you want to get promoted quickly.

Improving

Every GM is welcome to chat with the GM Head to discuss their progress. As an incentive to do this, once a month they may be given a goal to achieve during such a discussion (usually to do a run of a certain type or one that incorporates certain elements) that will reward them with a GMP bonus upon successful completion.

GM Guidelines

Note the following are not rules, merely guidelines.

Rewards

Less is More

  • When possible, it is often better to give less immediate reward and instead create the promise of future reward (ie. "delayed" rewards, if you will). For example, instead of giving the players a discount on an expensive or rare item, give them a business card for a contact who will help them obtain it later...after doing just one more favor for them.
    • Not only does this reduce reward inflation, but it makes the obtainment of those rewards more memorable.

Try to engage players in our other systems.

  • Rather than cash or gear characters need, give the characters crafting materials and gear they don't need. This will get them to craft, fence, or trade with other characters.
    • This is especially useful for handling "extra" rvp budget from players negotiating well, run duration multiplier, selling paydata, looting, etc
  • Create interesting contacts to get characters to spend time working together improving them.
    • Not only is it fun to work together improving the contact, but then there's many people invested in keeping that contact safe (which is great fodder for future runs)

Picking

Power

Characters slots exist in 3 tiers, and this is not an accident- it creates a "soft" tiering of power levels. While there's no cut and dry system, it's highly recommended to be careful when mixing characters of different power tiers.

Career RVP and archetypes are valuable information, but so is how power focused a character is. Generally a "scum" character is a player's chance to enjoy getting their teeth kicked and thus are not at all focused on power...whereas as "premium" slot character probably had a lot more attention to detail and optimization (and slot isn't the only way to gauge this- it's just one way- talking to the player and learning about the character is always the best solution).


Threat

The following are rough guidelines on threat- not hard and fast rules. Ultimately context and situational modifiers can change things drastically.

Threat Descriptions

  • Milk Run

Milk Runs are extremely low threat games, intended as a way to introduce a player or GM to a new mechanic they may not be familiar with at minimal risk. Failure states are exceptionally rare, and opposition, if there is any at all, usually consists of Professional Rating 0 or 1 grunts that the PCs may even outnumber. A typical Milk Run could be anything from binding a mischievous but harmless spirit, graffiting a Stuffer Shack Host, or beating up a stalker. Rewards should consist of little more than bragging rights but in some cases a few RVP is acceptable (certainly never more than 5).

  • Low Threat

Low threat runs have rewards between 6-9 RVP (an example payout would be 9,000nY and 4 Karma). Opposition is fairly light, consisting of Professional Rating 1 or 2 grunts that may minorly outnumber the PCs, low Force spirits with limited powers, or low rating IC. Generally, opposition will be rolling between 8-12 dice in their primary skills, and 5-6 in secondary skills. Static defenses and obstacles, such as mana barriers, can go a bit higher in dicepools, since runners can generally circumvent them. Opposition will be disorganized and unlikely to do much other than point and shoot.

A Low Threat run typically involves people or organizations incapable of maintaining long-term consequences on a PC.

  • Medium Threat

Medium threat runs reward between 10-13 RVP (an example reward would be 15,000nY and 6 Karma). Opposition gets much more serious at this level and consists of PR 3 or 4 grunts who outnumber the PCs in most encounters, medium Force Spirits with the occasional disruptive power, or strong IC with the possibility of Black IC if the players aren’t careful. Opposing NPCs will usually roll between 12-16 dice for their primary roles, and 8-12 for secondary. Static defenses and obstacles, such as mana barriers, can go higher, and circumventing them might be important. Opposition will use low-level tactics like suppression, drugs, alchemical preps, and flanking attempts.

A player is expected to do their legwork to avoid failures, and be comfortable with their role in a team. At this level, weak “landmine” effects begin to show up; an opposing mage might Turn to Goo the Street Sam, gas may flood out of vents, etc. These effects often come up easily in legwork, and can be defended against by a prepared team.

  • High Threat

High threat runs reward up to 16 RVP (an example reward is 21,000nY and 7 karma). Opposition consists of PR 5 grunts, with elements of PR 6 opponents. Opposing dice pools approach 14-18 in all roles, with the strongest being no higher than 20. They will use clever tactics like focused fire, hacking unsecured ‘ware, illusion and manipulation spells, and attempts to lure PCs into traps. Often, opposing forces have the means to discover if Runners are working against them and the resources to counter the team. Static factors and obstacles, such as mana barriers, might be prohibitively difficult to overcome directly.

Comprehensive legwork is essential to discovering the full extent of the opposition players will face, with the occasional unexpected wrench thrown in to derail their plan. Proper planning is necessary to avoid failure, and contingencies are an asset. Players are expected to be fully capable in their given role, with a strong understanding of mechanics attached to it. High threat runs include people and organizations that punish failure severely, and are capable of being major detriments to PCs.

  • Semi-prime

Semi-prime runs reward up to 40 RVP. At this point, rewards typically come in the form of rare equipment or powerful contacts, in addition to money and karma.

Opposing forces consist of PR6 units, often matching or slightly outnumbering the PCs. Dice pools start at 18 and have no real limit; much of the difficulty from semi-prime runs comes from how opposition behaves. Landmines are hidden behind difficult legwork, and failure comes from PCs being unable to handle rapidly shifting mission parameters. Semi-prime runs involve people, things, and organizations that have the means and the will to invest significant resources towards thwarting attacks by Runner teams.

  • Prime

Prime runs are the height of a Shadowrunner’s career. Reward can be upwards of 100 RVP depending on threat and consist of extremely rare and powerful gear, along with elite contacts and sizable cash and karma payouts.

Opposing forces in Prime runs have no listed PR or dice pools. As a GM hosting a Prime run you are expected to have full working knowledge of all the game’s systems, as well as the ability to provide a challenging experience that will push your player’s abilities to their limits. Prime runs are not to be taken lightly, and contain serious risk of PC death or retirement.

Escalation

Generally, the threat of escalation is often enough to encourage players to carry on with their mission. However, occasionally the players might trip an alarm, anger a mob boss, or make enough Matrix noise that GOD converges on the team. In the event that players escalate a situation to the point where the realistic response exceeds the GM’s intended threat level, the GM is free to use their best discretion to resolve the issue.