View Full Version : Question for experienced Shadowrun players

05-15-2013, 01:39 PM
I have recently gotten back into Shadowrun (my previous experience was 1st edition.) I've been making a bunch of different characters, preparing for a new campaign to start up in a couple of weeks. I've noticed something troubling, and I was hoping to get some feedback from those more experienced with the 4th edition.

The system seems to work well enough as long as the attributes stay close to the 1-6 scale, but when characters get much past that the system appears to break down. Offense scales so much higher than defense that who wins just comes down to who attacks first. Two examples:

A troll street samurai with a 14 Strength appears to be a total killing machine. His sword damage is 11P, and his bow damage is 16P. At that rate, his bow can kill a Force 7 spirit (overcoming its Immunity to Normal Weapons.) An enemy in melee combat will never get to strike back, since the first hit will knock him down and, assuming he survives the hit, he will have to spend a simple action to rise up, which prevents him from making a complex action to attack back or go Full Defense. His only option would be to run.

Ok, so your first response might be "Well no duh, a troll with 14 strength SHOULD be a terror in melee combat!" My objection is that his offense is so high, yet his defense cannot scale similarly. If you pit this troll against his doppelgänger, then either one will insta-kill the other meaning who wins just comes down to who attacks first.

Second example: A starting Magician can have a Magic attribute of 10. 6 from the attribute itself, +4 from a Power Focus (availability 20, "Restricted Gear" Quality for 5 BP). The damage this character can dish out (and the spirits he can summon) are overwhelming. Again, his defense is pitiful compared to his offense, and if he faced an opponent with identical stats then, just like the troll above, whoever attacked first would insta-kill the other.

So my question is: am I missing something? Am I overlooking some critical piece of the system that allows NPCs to have any defense against these character's attacks? Even more important, something that would allow the PCs to have some defense against NPCs who are similarly powerful? I don't want every combat to come down to "Whoever attacks first wins" because the players are going to lose sometimes and that will mean a lot of character deaths.

is the system really so heavily weighted towards offense?

09-04-2013, 09:21 AM
Depending on the PCs, it can be...however, SR5 was recently released which corrects many of those issues. I would scrap your plans for an SR4 (or SR4a) campaign and switch to SR5.

09-04-2013, 10:11 AM
that is the same fault that many game system designers allow to creep in.

i wonder if it stems from their sources of inspiration and how flashy attacks are frequently viewed as being so much cooler than defenses.