Herein lie my guidelines for creating a character. Please look
them over and consider them carefully. The minutes you spend
reading this could save us both many hours and result in a character
concept that you find more enjoyable.
First, here are some basic high points:
Use the Priority system from the main book
to build your character.
- Use the NSRCG software to make
You do not need lots of 6's in Attributes
and Skills! A few are OK, but don't get carried away.
Making the stats fit the idea. A prime example
- if your PC has a low Charisma and no Intimidation skill,
he is not generally intimidating. Your PC may very well
be able to crush the life out of the person in question
but the PC is simply unable to convey that capability or
the willingness to do it.
Cultured Bioware is not allowed in character
generation, but if your concept demands it, ask me.
are useful and I have created a few more for your amusement.
Race will be an issue in the world of
Shadowrun. Humans are pretty much everywhere and orks
are often there doing their dirty work. Dwarves generally
get under everyone's radar. Elves are both loved and reviled.
Trolls are generally feared and shunned.
A safe all-around PC concept is a human
that is fast, tough, and can skillfully shoot a gun and
brawl; e.g. a Street Samurai or a well-made Adept with a
gun. If you have one of them, you'll probably always be
handy to have around, especially if they have one or two
If you like Awakened (able to use magic)
characters, consider having at least one character that
is Mundane (no magic ability) as there may be a run that
would be a problem for Awakened PCs.
You might consider making one of
your PCs an ork or dwarf as orks are ubiquitous and dwarves
suffer very little racial tension compared to other metas.
Dedicated Decker or Rigger characters will
probably not get a lot of play. I don't like to have the
rest of the party wait around while we hash out matrix runs.
As such, hybrids such as Combat Deckers or Combat Riggers
are a better approach, i.e. someone that can handle a computer,
but not overly specialized for it and capable of serving
in a combat role.
Step 0: The Concept
For some people this comes to them as they go through the
process, for others, it's easier to work this out in advance.
I have some general character creation
guidelines of my own. I consider the characters
I created for myself a good example of
what I am looking for. Remember, it's Shadowrun, so your PC
should have opinions on other races, corporations, magic, cyberwear,
sprawl vs. nature, etc.
Step 1: Check out the Archetypes
Take a look at them, they may inspire you or they may be right
on target for what you want. The advantages are many, as Archetypes
- A well-defined aesthetic that is reflected in their skills,
gear, and contacts
- A good and functional skill set
- Functional and complete gear (there is so much gear that
sometimes you lose the important things in the shuffle)
- Useful contacts as well as good aesthetically-driven contacts
So go take a look. I'll be waiting
patiently for you right here.
Step 2: Pick your Priorities
It's a balancing act, but there are some obvious implications
to certain choices
- Try not to let your Attributes rank fall too low. This can
create some significant weaknesses.
- A Hermetic Mage needs a Conjuring Library and Sorcery Library,
which totals up to 72 k¥. So if you make a Troll Mage
(like the Combat Mage archetype) and don't want to put your
skills and attributes dead last, you'll need to rent libraries
and space to conjure elementals or research new spells. Shamans
can get by with 5 k¥, as that can buy them a strong Shamanic
Lodge, and they do not need materials to conjure.
- Trolls are tough and elves make good Shamans (high Charisma)
but that Rank C price tag is more expensive than it seems
at first glance. If you are going to take a troll or elf,
don't use up both A & B on Resources and Magic. Take a
look at the Archetype Street Mage, she was built this way
and she redefines "feeble"; one good shot and she's
not just down, she's dead.
- Orks and dwarves almost seem like free bonus points, but
do not forget that metahumans gain karma pool half as fast;
veteran SR players will realize that is a significant disadvantage.
However, because of the low Rank of ork/dwarf, it is definitely
the less difficult race to buy. Orks and Dwarves can get into
some places a human cannot.
- Humans - if you want high magic and/or resources ratings,
this is the way to go. Adepts make great humans as they can
use their Adept powers to gain the benefits of natural vision
enhancements and cyber enhancements alike, which levels the
field somewhat with metas. Of course, humans gain karma pool
twice as fast, which is very nice. They can also get into
many places a meta cannot.
Step 3: Pick A Race
Yes, the various races have nice bonuses. However, there are
two chief downsides to being a metahuman:
- Slower karma pool development - these are the dice used
to re-roll failures and often these will mean the difference
between success and failure, life and death, crippling blows
and a flesh wound. Metahumans gain karma pool dice at half
the speed of humans.
- Racial prejudice - Shadowrun is a dark place and you tend
to play in the darker places, which means...it's really dark.
So racial bias abounds. Trolls have it the worst, but when
you are as massive as a small car and have horns, it's hard
not to appear threatening. Orks are next; there are a lot
of them and they can be found in may menial/dangerous jobs,
usually getting paid less and treated worse than their human
colleagues. Dwarves and Elves see a lot less grief. Elves
actually enjoy some measure of awe from many. Heck , there
are people that use plastic surgery to look more like Elves.
Regardless, it will affect where you can go. Interestingly,
an ork may be able to go many places more easily than others,
especially the Ork Underground.
Step 4: Buy Attributes
My general advice, try to avoid a "2" in any attribute
and absolutely avoid a "1". You will not be happy.
And here are some reasons why you would not want to have low
values in your various attributes.
- Low Body - no amount of armor can save your PC if he has
only two dice to roll for his Damage Resistance test. This
is a double whammy because he tends to take more damage and
since his overflow is equal to his Body, he is more likely
to get killed; also limits Athletics.
- Low Quickness - affects Combat Pool dice and Reaction (and
thus initiative), determines move rate, and limits Stealth,
Firearms, and Vehicles (indirectly via lower Reaction).
- Low Strength - your PC can only carry Strength x 5 kg in
combat without fatigue, and a gun (with accessories and ammo)
and armor usually takes at least 5 kg on its own. Melee skills
and throwing range are limited by strength.
- Low Charisma - your PC simply is neither impressive nor
attractive and people feel no compulsion to keep them around.
Some PCs may try to justify a "bad ass" with a low
Charisma..."But he's just an ass", well if his Charisma
is 1 or 2, then he's a whiny ineffectual ass that people tend
to dismiss. Yes, if he's a troll he is scarier, but a troll
with Charisma 4 and Intimidation 4 will truly be frightening.
Social skills are as important in Shadowrun as they are in
life, and my campaigns live up to that.
- Low Intelligence - your PC is slow, inattentive, and uneducated.
This affects Reaction and Combat Pool dice, determined the
number of initial Knowledge skill points a PC starts with,
determines their Perception dice, is used to resist illusion
spells, and limits all technical and build/repair skills.
- Low Willpower - your PC is spineless, easily manipulated,
and scares easily. Small wounds, setbacks, threats, etc. discourage
him. He is a puppet for any halfway competent magician, so
don't be surprised when a Mana Bolt sends his brains squirting
out his nose or a Control Thoughts sends him into the guns
of his own team. Willpower affects the Combat dice pool, limits
Sorcery and Conjuring, determines the dice used to resist
spells, and figures into the Spell Pool.
Things to keep in mind:
- If you are planning to increase your attributes with cyberwear
and/or physical adept abilities, keep that in mind.
- If you plan to use a spell to enhance your attributes,
pay attention to the mechanics of that spell; it is likely
that the current value of the attribute will be the target
number, which means a very high value could be very difficult
- If you are going to make a dedicated melee fighter, you
will want a high Quickness so you can close with the enemy
quickly, high Body so you can survive, and high Strength so
that you can make it past your opponent's armor.
- If you are making a Full Shaman or Shamanic Conjurer, you
will want a high Charisma. Mages and Hermetic Conjurers need
a decent Charisma.
- If your character can use Astral Projection, remember that
your mental attributes determine your physical attributes
in Astral space.
Step 5: Buy skills
Unless your character concept defies this please purchase
the following at a minimum, with at least Rating 3. If you need
to specialize to reach your minimum 3 in Etiquette or your combat
skill, that's fine. Otherwise, you need my approval to shirk
any of these:
- Vocation skill. Take a knowledge skill that reflects your
character's general vocation, e.g. Detective, Bounty Hunter,
Ganger, Prostitute, whatever. I will use this skill as a fudge
factor for knowledge that we think your character might have,
but did not buy a specific skill for.
- One Combat Skill - Even if you are a Street Mage, some form
of firearm or melee combat is useful. I would recommend one
of each, but I understand that there are only so many points.
- Character's socialization
- Etiquette; specialize Etiquette in a subculture appropriate
to the character's background unless there is an in-character
rationale for not being specialized.
- One Area Knowledge
skill that reflects a place the character knows well, e.g.
the neighborhood he grew up in or the area he has worked
in for years.
These skills are often neglected when creating characters
that need them. Just consider the following:
- Stealth - You will probably need to sneak some time. If
you don't have the skill, please have something that makes
up for it, e.g. magic spells. Still, it may not make any sense
for your character concept. You can always learn this in the
- Athletics - If you pan to jump from moving vehicles onto
other moving vehicles, shimmy down drain pipes, etc., buy
this at 3 or better.
- Appropriate social skills: there are only so many points
to go around, so the skills cannot be perfect representations
of your character, but some character concepts really demand
certain social skills.
- Are you a scary tough guy? Buy Intimidation
- Do people like giving you what you want? Perhaps some
- Do you inspire people to take action? Perhaps Leadership
- Do you have a knack for getting information out of people?
- Do you fit in better than others? Maybe a higher than
- A note on Intimidation - Some concepts demand it, others
don't. It can be a catch all social panacea for accomplishing
all of the above, but the important point is that Intimidation
usually leaves a trail of pissed off people. So don't
throw it around with people that you want to be friendly
If you want to be employable, you should consider buying a
few of these useful team skills at level 3+ (asterisks denote
skills that can make a PC very useful):
- Electronics Build/Repair*
- Gunnery (and/or Launch Weapons)
- Heavy Weapons*
Step 6: Assigning Resources
Rating 6 or less, Availability 8 or less, and all purchases
must be approved by me.
- Starting gear is limited to Availability 8
- Starting gear is limited to a rating of 6.
- Spells are limited to a rating of 6 after any bonuses
for limitations are factored in, i.e. nothing above 6, period.
gear - You must buy a phone for your character.
buy only what you use: Try only to buy what your character would
take on a run. If you must take stockpiles of equipment, then
please purchase them in appropriate increments in your character
file so that you can select/unselect the gear as necessary to
reflect your current load.
limit: You start the game with the two free contacts from the
book and buy more as usual but you can have a maximum of (Charisma
x 2) extra contacts beyond the two freebies, or 2 x (Charisma+1),
e.g. a Charisma 2 PC can have a maximum of 6 contacts. This
makes our lives easier and avoids the creation of a repellant
and/or socially awkward PC with scores of people that like him.
contact - You must
buy a contact that can get you Shadowrunning work, e.g. a Fixer,
Mr. Johnson. Some can be indirect, such as a Talismonger (they
know magic folks), Armorer (they know guys that are good with
guns), Arms Dealer (Mercs and more) etc.
Step 7: Send It To Me
Please send me the .sr3 file from NSRCG, preferably at least
a week in advance of the game. If you are running an archetype,
then it's easier to process.
Step 8: Print It Out
Have all of your characters printed out and ready to go for
game day. If one of your PCs dies, we will try and get one of
your other PCs into the game so you can keep playing. :)
Step 9: Show Up and Play!
Please bring any books necessary for your characters, and realize
that buying the books supports the game. I like the game and
want to see it survive, so please buy the books. :)
- Shadowrun 3rd edition main book - essential, get one before
you show up
- Sprawl Survival Guide - this is great and helps give you
a better feel for the world
- Cannon Companion - handy for most, essential for combat
- Man & Machine - if you have any cyber from this book,
- Magic in the Shadows - if you have an Awakened character,
this is very handy
- Rigger - Not as essential, but the intro stuff on vehicles
in the world of Shadowrun is very nice
- Matrix - Not as essential, but the intro stuff on computers
in the world of Shadowrun is very nice