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Ambient Muggers and Murderers
Low-level dangers on the streets

It might be interesting to consider adding NPCs to streets that occasionally attack players; muggers, killers, crazed mixers. No equipment on them or anything, just like human versions of hostile animals that are found in some areas.

The rationale is that I've found wanting to play as 'security' or as bodyguards is one of the more common immediate goals for new players, and these coded types of jobs are both not numerous and mostly intended for experienced PCs.

And while you do see new characters often attempting to play as freelance security of various kinds, there's not often a lot of actual purpose for this role: Immy on immy violence does happen, but the threats a new immigrant often will face are not anything that can be deferred by an immy combatant-for-hire.

Having some relatively weak ambient threats around that are a danger to non-combat characters but can be managed by relatively inexperienced combat characters, might encourage more 'bodyguard for hire' type roles. Give a reason for someone to ask an immy combatant to escort them over to the shops or whatever.

To make sure they're not wiping people out and discouraging characters going outside, they could only be hostile occasionally and also not inflict bleeding injuries, and maybe no cutting that would damage clothing.

Could even have the rare ambient terrorist or vee-addled mixer on Gold to encourage running errands with someone from your Corporation's security team.

Might lead to imbalance in terms of people targetting NPCs vs PCs, getting loot from such, and the like.

You wouldn't be able to introduce something like that without the risk/reward (and simple threat required) meaning those NPCs would have equipment and weaponry that, someone that rightfully defends themselves against them, would have every right to take. And since they chose to attack, it wasn't the player targetting them. Though of course players could "happen" to repeatedly expose themselves to those risks, thus leading to farming.

I think this is a great idea. I might give them crappy, cheap weapons, too -- maybe carbon steel pipes / axe handles / etc. They attack people, and then if they drop they 'pick X' and then 'get 1st wallet from X' and then bounce.
Right, which is why I mentioned they would have no equipment to take, like with current ambient NPCs who have the appearance of having a bunch of drek but it's not codedly present.
Please search before posting.

https://www.sindome.org/bgbb/game-discussion/ideas/random-automated-npc-events-1362/

I'd rather leave this to the realm of PCs and weighted GM "encounters"

Be the mugger you want to see in the world. Create the demand for bodyguards, bouncers, and other things. Make the interaction entertaining/compelling/interesting.

What happens once they're captured and interrogated?
Ambient *murder* really sounds like going too far. While it *could* introduce enough randomness to deflect a certain amount of why-was-I-killed type RP, for better or for worse, it could also drive the same type of RP when there's literally no answer.

We try to impress on new players that their actions have consequences and if they're being killed it's probably because of something specific they did or said to someone specific. I'm not in favor of diluting that.

It's an interesting idea, but my immediate thought is that things are already severely tilted in favor (both mechanically as well as in terms of opportunities, both in terms of RP and flash) toward combat characters and against non-combat characters as it is. I don't know that the former need more opportunity for work at the monetary and risk expense of the latter who are already the easiest victims and get preyed upon plenty as it is. No one is going to want to pay someone to protect them while they run crates because crates already don't pay much.
My experience has been players that play as 'ambient threat' PCs, who will attack or mug characters, fall into two groups.

Inexperienced players who perm in a few days.

Experienced players who quickly and then dramatically outpace any immy who fight them.

In my experience there are very few of both at any given time.

Ambient *murder* really sounds like going too far.

I agree, that would be way too much. I just say 'killers' and 'murderers' in a descriptive sense to mean NPCs that would attack sometimes, but not neck-snap or bleed their targets, so there's no vatting outcomes involved.

Perhaps related, I think having some NPC shrouds and tourists be badasses would be good too.
things are already severely tilted in favor (both mechanically as well as in terms of opportunities, both in terms of RP and flash) toward combat characters and against non-combat characters

I wish we'd stop perpetuating this mis-conception. The only skew is that to make flash from combat, you don't need a how-to guide at all. To make flash without combat, there appears to be no how-to guide, which itself is a partial mis-conception.

Find out IC, make something up IC, see what works and what doesn't, and create opportunities which others reward when they see how good your hustle is.

I am not making this up. It is extremely do-able without ever touching a weapon or choking a bitch out.

remove player characters
One of the reasons I think players do not often fill these sorts of roles is that Sindome is primarily a social game, and players are subject to social pressures that NPCs are not.

Being known as someone who attacks people at random will, often at best, isolate that player from other players, at worst they will be quickly targetted and wiped out.

If they manage to survive this, and are willing to play a social pariah, they tend to be very strong combatants, to whom immies are an irrelevant challenge.

I'm also presenting this as someone who plays a non-combatant. I never have any reason to hire 'bodyguards' that aren't like, unstoppable solos themselves. It would be a fun way to interact with immies more.

Sindome isn't a hack and slash game where you have mobs or random people attacking other random people for no reason. This never happens with NPC or PCs.
The reason you don't have a reason is because you're deciding not to make reasons. A reason can literally exist for.. any reason.

If players want to see more bodyguard type characters of lower tiers, then players of non-combat characters (or hell, even oldbie advance characters) can just make up any excuse to do it. Someone giving your character the shifty eye? PC or ambient? Hire a lowbie immigrant to walk them down the street or scout out behind them as they leave.

Got drunk and feeling vulnerable? Hire the immie bodyguard. Had a spat on sic with someone? Hire the lowbie bodyguard. The midbie bodyguard. Making a delivery of an important item? (and important is subjective here, could be your first big tailored piece for example) Hire a bodyguard. Have a bad drug experience? Feeling paranoid for absolutely no reason at all?

Hire a bodyguard!

You don't have to hire bodyguards for big events or only out of the fear that you may actually be attacked. You can hire them for literally any reason. Don't need ambient muggers to make that happen.

This never happens with NPC or PCs.

The game is full of hostile NPCs in several areas already. I'm not proposing anything that doesn't exist already, they just don't spawn on the streets.

You could argue 'players should fill X' for every possible role, but no one is saying 'we can't have NPC dogs, players should aspire to be the dogs they want to see in the world'.

There's a lot of generic concepts better filled by NPCs than players, for a variety of reasons. There are already ambient gangers, Judges, pick-pockets, and various animals. I don't think this is an unimaginable stretch that would outmod players wanting to fill this role themselves.

Ok but attack on sight is literally turning the game into PvE. It provides no RP. I beat up the person attacking me (or they beat me) and then... what? We have to get a GM's attention to puppet some blank-minded memento who attacked me just for the sake of it? Again, RP, not hack and slash.
You could make the same argument that the animals shouldn't exist, but the point is not to generate RP with the NPC themselves, but create RP between players working with (and against) the coded systems.

I think all these arguments could apply to NPC gangers and make a stronger case, but I think it's obvious the player advantages and roleplay that NPC gangers generate.

Not all coded systems detract from RP, otherwise you could argue a MUSH is superior to a MOO. Coded systems very often create the need or desire for RP where otherwise none would exist.

Your idea was to implement NPCs that are randomly hostile to players so I don't know what's the relevance of that... animals are animals, they're not real people. NPCs aren't mobs, they're real characters with ambitions, fears, goals, and personalities.

You could bite the hook with other players that are out and about seeking conflict, you know, REAL humans that provide REAL interactions and meaningful RP. If a NPC tries to pull that shit out on me I'm not going to bother reciprocating nor trying to make anything out of it. If you want a dose of conflict without having to upset other players, then Sindome isn't the game for you.

But why do you needed an added coded system to generate this specific RP?

This isn't a solution. It's a bandage.

The solution is for players of non-combat characters to come up with reasons to hire bodyguard PCs for their PC to help move stories along. Putting in a coded system of ambient muggings, a system that players will likely grow tired of or learn to avoid if possible, doesn't change that mindset. It also only creates on scenario in which to hire lowbie, immigrant bodyguards.

You need to treat the symptoms and not just push them down the road a bit.

*one scenario, sorry.
I'd say working against the culture of dogpiling muggers and other antags is a good start. Maybe if Mixers were more callous or fearful for their lives, these kinds of characters would have the chance to grow and create this kind of RP without fearing the entire "neighborhood watch" coming out to stop them.
If you want a dose of conflict without having to upset other players, then Sindome isn't the game for you.

Let's not shift this to 'Sindome isn't the game for you', please. These systems are already present, I'm not proposing anything novel, nor anything I would interact with directly, I am thinking of the new player experience.

Plus be real: Combat with NPCs is common. It doesn't make a hack and slash game to fill out certain ambient pressures with NPCs.

There is ambient pick-pocketing because there are rarely many actual player dips, but there is a desire to make people worry about having their things stolen.

There are ambient judges (which I have argued against, and you have argued for, Villa) because there is a desire to make topside feel more secure than the player-driven reality.

There are ambient gangers to provide gameplay depth and ambiance to the 7-9 player ganger characters that may be active.

The odd semi-hostile NPC thrown into the sea of existent NPCs, to provide a little baseline risk to Mix streets, is not such a dramatic idea that Sindome would suddenly become cyberpunk Diablo.

I agree HC, but cultural shifts usually require more than 'people should do X, and like Y more'. They need a reason. Like much time has been spent on trying to exact cultural shifts, but players will always move, on average, towards optimal gameplay.

I actually think, if anything, having this become more common would normalize it.

If someone occasionally is getting attacked just regardless of how nice and ally-laden they are, I think you could argue that would actually normalize antisocial PCs.

As it stands, they stand out in their singularity, so they're easy to call out and focus down. If that was normal to expect, I don't think they'd be viewed as exceptionally dangerous or violent.

The reason can be entirely IC, with your character voicing this opinion and convincing others of the same. As well as GM puppets who voice similar as well.

I not only think a coded solution wouldn't solve this particular situation, but instead create a multitude of others.

I don't think there isn't already a 'baseline risk' to Mix streets for anyone except hyper-fresh immies who have done essentially zero interacting at all for maybe their first couple days, and even then it's there. The fact there's some initial safety is a good thing. People are risk-averse enough as it is, adding non-player risk this way would just further dampen activity on the streets I think.

The coded hostility that already exists, where it does, serves very distinct purpose. I get you're justifying the purpose this would hope to serve but I just don't think it'd have the desired effect and would have a more direct negative affect. Players wouldn't feel incentivized enough to hire low-level muscle because what they earn isn't decent enough, most of the time. They'll just do less stuff or do it when they have their muscle-friends around, they're not going to hire immies. It would just negatively impact those without the flash to hire muscle at all, or those without muscle-friends around, or those who can't defend themselves against even weak attackers, and after a while it'd continue to mean even fewer folks wanting to roll anything out of char-gen that couldn't handle the ambient attackers because they don't want the hassle.

I think this would help to drive home the sense of danger that the Mix holds. Much too often do I see PCs who are completely incapable of combat feel entirely safe walking alone through the Mix.

As 0x1mm pointed out in the last post, there are ambient threats in all other bits of the dome, why not here? You live in a dangerous, dangerous place. One of the most lawless and crime-riddled places on earth, if not THE most. Having low-tier ambient attackers that target people for their money or items on random is themely, and as suggested, this would be a great job for immigrant security guards that would otherwise get no interaction from people actually looking for security.

As for people saying it makes no sense-- what? Drugs are extremely common in Withmore, they make you do really dumb things, especially if you're really hopped up on Vee or you're desperate for a fix. Lots of people in the Mix are hounding for enough chy for their next hit. If they see someone they think they can take, what's stopping them from just beating you down and taking your flash?

This could also give some purpose to wandering TERRA agent NPCs, as a note.

Well I agree that a coded solution won't solve the problem of antisocial PCs being viewed negatively.

That will probably never change as long as Sindome remains a social-oriented game.

I'm not suggesting this as panacea to that, only that it might help normalize that, but I am only vaguely speculating.

I am thinking mainly of giving new players more low-stakes combat interaction while they get used to focusing on primarily player-driven conflict.

Right now only the gangs provide that and there are limited opportunities for new players to get involved there.

They'll just do less stuff or do it when they have their muscle-friends around, they're not going to hire immies.

This is a legitimate concern.

You know what gives new players and immigrants low-stakes combat interaction?

Hiring them. Hire them to beat up other immigrants that maybe annoyed you. Hire them to walk you down the street. Hire them to mug someone for you. Hire them to scout something for you. Hire them to entertain you fighting each other in front of you. Hire them to be your punching bag. Hire them to do stupid shit.

There is an endless sea of reasons to hire people of all tiers. But you aren't answering that question or why a coded system is needed in place of players hiring players. You've just said 'my character has no reason to hire them.' Which is a part of the broader problem in this situation - people not coming up with reasons that are right there in front of them and instead wanting to rely on coded systems to create reasons for them.

If you want to change the culture you have to be an active part of the culture change, not just asking coded systems to be introduced.

My experience is this: I have noticed players are more likely to hire player-character assistance or co-operate with other players at a greater rate than normal when in areas with ambient hostile NPCs.

However I am pretty swayed by Jameson's arguments here. I think it's still worth something worth considering, maybe as a very limited experimental trial (the odd dog getting out onto the street perhaps, just to see).

Don't GMs want people to treat NPCs like they would any PC?

I don't see how anyone would treat a haha random attak NPC like they would with PC who has an actual reason/way to interact with. It will only make people brush NPCs off more.

Look, I really understand what you're trying to propose. You want new players to be involved. But, hate to break it to you, they WON'T get involved in anything if they're just randomly walking around, carrying crates, and some random braindead NPC jumps out of nowhere and attacks them. It's not only jarring but it provides no organic interactions, no involvement in plots and it's pretty much a dead end when the NPC walks away.

Coded systems are present in Sindome to aid RP and not to create it. You mention a few analogies such as Judges, pickpockets, and gangers. No Judge NPC goes around randomly searching people for the sake of it. No ganger NPC goes around randomly attacking other characters just to "create RP". All of those characters are supportive to player driven plots and occassionally, GM plots, but never automated.

Plus, not everyone is into combat. I don't want the immy decker or aspiring media star to have to wait around until someone's feeling like "watching over him" every time he wants to go from Sinn to Ashlin. Can you picture how restrictive this would be to actual RP created by players?

If the lack of meaningful conflict for new players affects you, then stop being a fluffy bunny and go involve them yourself. Code won't fix it.

Hrm.

Eh... I could see this being a thing in markets? You've made a valid point about ambient NPC hostilities, so it wouldn't be groundbreaking new mechanics but an expansion thereof... But still. Balance is definitely a finer issue. Pretty easy to cheese, and make non-combat char's lives a living hell if they don't make the connections necessary to hire bodyguards. But I guess that's part of the point?

Sure would make folks dicking about -alone- in the markets more inherently risky, as opposed to just being about whether a player happens to wander by and try to dip you. I don't know if the 'chatter' system covers this, but it'd be logical for NPC's to 'gossip' that someone was seen buyin' expensive drek in market xyz, maybe trigger some local tough come harass ya but they don't usually attack and mostly talk shit if you have backup? Make noncombat fixers need bodyguards, and combat-focused chars diversify their portfolio to fill the elite tier of that role. Would also create a bridge between the two diametrically-opposed playstyles - that way if everyone wants their precious fixers around, they gotta invest in keeping them safe.

This could arguably be handled by a sort of neutral non-gang vigilante enforcer / local militia thing. Hire a bunch of immies to carry clubs and escort people? Maybe even lease a joint and have players run ops out of it like a civvy security company. Pay their dues to the local gangs, protection money-like, and profit off the extra. Would sure give combat-inclined immies something constructive to do beside murderhoboing then perming.

Ps: love the touch added by some NPC's telling you to fuck off if you ask them things.

Actually one of my inspirations here was the frequent use of escorts because markets have NPC hazards the streets do not.

I do agree that non-combat characters already play at disadvantages compared to just dumping a bunch of UE in combat skills to ignore most threats, and that combat-oriented PCs are already disproportionately represented.

I understand the reasoning of this and it would be more realistic , but I think it would impose an unfair burden anyone who doesn't want to pop out of cgen minmaxed for combat, as @villa mentioned. The game world is expensive enough as it is for broke immies who potentially don't know the system, requiring them to constantly hire bodyguards to get around the world and RP just seems very unfun. There are enough PC antags (props to you all!) who fill the gap of making the Mix dangerous IMO, and piling this on top of that would just make it unbearable.

Since there ARE already areas with auto-hostile NPCs in them, however, perhaps new activities can be added to those to encourage optional bodyguard-like activities?

What about players that attack on sight with no negotiation constantly on the same person? That sounds like hack and slash, and has been going on for some time.
Konata, that's a PC behavior that can be and is countered by other PC behavior. That's what arguments, bodyguards, revenge attacks, solos, and bounties are for.

Kinda totally separate topic.

Konata,

That's a very specific IC, player-driven event, while your concerns are valid, I think a good discussion could come out of it, in its own thread.

I don't think there is any solution to the problems outlined here. I'd say it's more of a cultural and systemic problem than it is a coded mechanic - or lack thereof - problem.

People tend range from somewhat risk adverse to entirely risk adverse and it's only though repetitive loss or a good amount of time playing that that they tend to come to the conclusion that loot and money is just that- numbers and items, both easily replaced. Some people can never get over this, to the point that if you rough them up ICly (with reason) they disappear into cubes for days/weeks/months, vacation, or just straight up-quit. I think there is something to be said about part of that sting being taken away by losing to NPCs, but at the same time, these are experiences you could be taking away from players trying to experiment and try this very thing.

People, as mentioned above, are also probably not replaying and developing their characters to the extent that the nature of their IC reality demands. Namely, our characters (let's just assume mixers here, for the sake of simplicity) see violence, death, kidnapping, child violence, etc. on every street, alley and corner. Anyone living in this situation should be thinking: even in part, "Maybe I should be doing something to defend myself." Be that hiring bodyguards, big ugly cromag sidekicks, learning to defend themselves, making strong political and interpersonal relationships, etc. If you're -not- doing these things, then you absolutely are inviting in violence and murder upon yourself. and you (both the player and character) should be cognizant of that.

Finally: There's already an absolute glut of white-knighting and not nearly enough selfish survival instinct going on. I'm not sure if having toned-down murderhobo NPC's wandering around will do anything to help alleviate this. It can be legitimately hard at times to pull off crimes without getting dogpiled on as a lower UE character. So bodyguard and muscle chum prospects, market your skills, and to everyone else: it's just another example of senseless violence in Withmore, and you're running late to that topless cardgame to gamble your week's wages away as it is.

I really just wanna piggyback on what Talon said and reiterate that point. Lower end crime and violence is mostly a non-issue because it often invites the wrath of older players, to which there is very little the contact-less, money-less, weak newbie can do about it. Like a few posts above mentioned, players who consistently fight through that are very rare, most end up perming out, because losing can be fun, but getting killed by solos over and over with no real recourse because you stole their friend's delivery crate is not fun. So people who want to do this join gangs instead, or do cube-fu whilst being social only for a few months.

Which all leads to the mix feeling... Pretty safe, most of the time. I have never felt unsafe in the mix. And I've died, been dipped, robbed, beaten up, etc, plenty, like most people. But it's never because it's the Mix, it's because I stepped on someone's toes, somewhere.

A few NPCs who aggro randomly won't change that. Higher end players completely ignore it and newbies just get more frustrated than they already are with running crates, not having any money, and having everyone treat them like they're useless.

I agree that the solution to this is player behaviour. Hire those immie combatants. Another post listed a lot of possible reasons. The problem is, a people don't think of the RP, they just think of the efficiency and money. Yeah, they won't save your ass from a solo, but maybe they'll catch a dip. Maybe they scare off that ganger asking for tolls.

But I'd definitely say the more grievous issue is lower-end combat and crime being completely and utterly stamped out by older players. As soon as someone does anything without a shroud, people leap at the opportunity to kill them and I think we can all do better than that.

I'm just going to go out on a limb here, but RE: all the posting bemoaning 'white knighting' and 'dogpiling' ...

For as often as we get mass-shouts from staff that 'help sex' and 'help chastity' being good help files to read, there are rules against murder-hobo and...I don't know, 'mugger-hobo' too.

'Make out until someone gets angry' is as poor a gameplay / RP approach as 'mug / bokken everyone until something interesting happens', IMO. You don't get to say one is poor form but not the other. If you run around being a bokken baka all the time you don't get to whine about the repercussions.

People make allies and friendships and lovers in all kinds of ways every single day in all kinds of ways. Maybe they exchange flash, or services, or sex, or trust, or goodwill -- it can be simple or it can be nuanced. But when you beat down the medic or the decker or the tailor or the joy because they seem like an easy target and suddenly you're getting vatted, I don't think you get to just jump on some 'omg the culture' train. Please.

You don't know what you don't know, right?

@Jameson

There's a vast gulf of roleplaying styles, experience and skill levels between trying to be a combat character just starting out and offering some bodyguard services and being a 'boken baka.'

I'm specifically referring to people trying to play the good guy savior when it doesn't make sense contextually. Examples include when staff puppets one of the 'big bad' characters to mess with someone specific and 15 players show up to save the day, despite the fact that they'll likely be killed for interference. Or when some random shout goes out on pubsic of someone being attacked at X and Y intersection, or a car alarm goes off, or gangers call for backup and complete randos show up for the show with popcorn.

It's this activity that makes trying to start a combat character difficult, and discourages people with very low UE from getting involved in fighting players without the structure and support of a gang. And while it's great that we have a path for combat characters to follow, it's not ideal that we tell characters to jump into the cookie cutter production line. More disgruntled fallen corpies, more people coming up doing what they can to survive, and more low-level PVP are good things, in my mind.

Talon,

Fair enough, I think I understand more clearly now what you're criticizing and it's not what I was getting at I think, I think what you're saying is fair.

@Talon: several great points.

Its on us as a -community- to ensure we measure our behavior to a sensibly appropriate response in accordance with need and circumstance. There are -plenty- of gray areas we can explore. Too often you disproportionately risk all the effort put into your character just by speaking out on pubSIC, much less picking a two-party fight with an -equal- that promptly spirals out of control. Conflict doesn't -have- to end with wholesale gangbang or perming at the slightest offense.

I've seen great examples of organic conflict escalation, smearing or vatting, then subsequent deescalation. Likewise, the slightest bit of provocation can lead to all-out war between completely unrelated parties whose reasons for involvement make so little sense as to border on meta. Total hypothetical here: you don't start a full-scale gang war over a baka immy pledge selling on the wrong corner, or bounty because someone served you the wrong drink and you decided to argue rather than take it for what it is - a negligible human mistake easily and enjoyably rectified through minimal RP.

Methinks the rando combat-porn voyeurism and general shenaniganry is a clear sign of players feeling starved for sensible, -meaningful- conflict.

All things die - so goes entropy - but the prevalence of near-suicidal behavior atop borderline-psychotic murderboning flies in the face of any self-preservation your character should have as a living, breathing human being.

At this point I'm just rambling, but... Isn't the -point- of cloning so that we can have our spats and drama without it meaning the permanent loss of weeks, months, or -years- of effort into building your character from the ground-up?

@CryptPhoenix

Just a minor correction I'd make to your train of thought: In my experience, it's generally less of an issue of people not having conflict, and therefore going out to seek it it out. That certainly does happen, of course. I think that generally, it's a result of limited resources. Many combat-related jobs pay very little, or even, nothing at all, and it's entirely on the players to 'hustle up' that flash they need to live. Often this takes the form of mugging, robbery, occasionally vatting, etc.

As for unfathomable and extreme escalation, chances are that there is a lot more going on behind the scene and/or that it's one of the many FOIC situations. SD's very much like a big onion. You can get through 10 layers and think you're well connected and in the know, and in reality, not know just how far away from the core of things! :)

Good point :) Will keep that in mind.
I feel like there's something to be said about bodyguard pay rates being way higher than a non-combat mix character can afford. Either that or they flat-out refuse to take the job out of fear. Especially when there are lower-risk, higher-profit ventures for those kinds of characters.

I'm not sure what can remedy that, or if it's even a thing that should be remedied. Perhaps being a non-combat mix character should come with the acceptance that death will be a normal occurrence.

If you really want bodyguards, you need bodyguard mechanics. The game really doesn't support that kind of RP in all honesty, and I imagine that's one big reason no one wants to take the jobs when they can't even effectively protect their clients.
Wasn't a command like protect suggested before for taking bullets or defending clients? I don't think it's too much to ask on top of escort and would make it infinitely easier to work as a bodyguard for hire.

Generally though, I think the "disappear" option is preferable for non-combat mix characters if you're faced with paying extortionate rates for a good bodyguard, or hiring an immy who'll get cut down immediately with no remorse - which is unfortunate.