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Character Creation

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:

  1. Use the Priority system from the main book to build your character.
  2. Use the NSRCG software to make your PC.
  3. You do not need lots of 6's in Attributes and Skills! A few are OK, but don't get carried away.
  4. 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.
  5. Take a look at "What The Numbers Mean" on my Shadowreality page.
  6. Cultured Bioware is not allowed in character generation, but if your concept demands it, ask me.
  7. Edges & Flaws are not being used, with the exception of Ambidexterity, see Using Two Weapons & Ambidexterity.
  8. Archetypes are useful and I have created a few more for your amusement.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 useful skills.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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 have:

  • 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Racial prejudice - Shadowrun is a dark place and you tend to play in the darker places, which'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:

  1. If you are planning to increase your attributes with cyberwear and/or physical adept abilities, keep that in mind.
  2. 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 to enhance.
  3. 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.
  4. If you are making a Full Shaman or Shamanic Conjurer, you will want a high Charisma. Mages and Hermetic Conjurers need a decent Charisma.
  5. If your character can use Astral Projection, remember that your mental attributes determine your physical attributes in Astral space.


Step 5: Buy skills

Mandatory 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.

Recommended Skills

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 game too.
  • 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 Negotiation
    • Do you inspire people to take action? Perhaps Leadership
    • Do you have a knack for getting information out of people? Perhaps Interrogation
    • Do you fit in better than others? Maybe a higher than unusual Etiquette.
    • 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 with later.

Useful Team Skills

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):

  • Biotech*
  • Car
  • Computer
  • Demolitions
  • Electronics*
  • Electronics Build/Repair*
  • Etiquette
  • Gunnery (and/or Launch Weapons)
  • Heavy Weapons*
  • Interrogation
  • Negotiation
  • Stealth


Step 6: Assigning Resources

Reminder: 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.

Mandatory gear - You must buy a phone for your character.

Please 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.

Contacts 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.

Mandatory 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 characters
  • Man & Machine - if you have any cyber from this book, bring it
  • 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