Character Creation: Shadowrun, 5th edition

Here comes the next entry in the Character Creation series. Today, the fifth (and currently latest) edition of a beloved game, Shadowrun, published by Catalyst Game Labs and developed by Jason M. Hardy. It is available in DriveTrhuRPG.

Shadowrun is a dark setting, mixing the cyberpunk from the 80’s with the idea of the return of the magic and the surging of old species like Elves and Dwarves. The players are shadowrunners, criminals doing whatever they are contracted for and trying to survive one more day in a world owned by megacorporations.

Now, let’s go to the creation!

Step 1: Choose concept

Shadowrun character creation is not random, so it starts by choosing a valid concept. Some of the classic Shadowrun character concepts are: Face (the one with a lot of contacts and good with the people), Spellcaster (a magic user), Decker (expert in using the Matrix, the evolved Internet of the setting), Technomancer (a user of the Matrix with a mystical base), Rigger (the driver, but with a total connection to the vehicles and to drones) and Street Samurai (experts in combat, usually mixing big weapons with cybernetic technology).

I’m going to create a spellcaster, a mage who studied magic in some old magic school in Europe.

All characters start with 25 Karma to improve themselves.

The next five steps are actually kind of concurrent: there are five elections (metatype, attributes, magic/resonance, skills and resources) and five priorities to assign to them (from A to E). The election which gets A is the better for you, the election with the E is the worst.

Step 2: Choose Metatype and raise Attributes

Metatype is just the magical race of the character. This election gives you also special attribute points to increase your Magic, Resonance or Edge.

I’m going to be an Ork. I can be an Ork with priorities A, B or C. I’ll set with the priority C in Metatype, to be an Ork with 0 special attribute points.

As an Ork I get Low-Light Vision, and the starting and maximum values in my attributes: Body 4/9, Agility 1/6, Reaction 1/6, Strength 3/8, Willpower 1/6, Logic 1/5, Intuition 1/6, Charisma 1/5, Edge 1/6, Essence 6.

For the Attributes I’m going to assign only the priority D: he is not very naturally gifted in many areas. This gives me 14 points to distribute among my attributes. I end with the following attributes:

Body 4, Agility 3, Reaction 3, Strength 3, Willpower 3, Logic 5, Intuition 3, Charisma 2, Edge 2, Essence 6.

Step 3: Choose Magic or Resonance

This one is easy: I’m giving priority A to Magic. This means I can choose to be a magician, a Mystic Adept or a Technomancer. I choose to be a Magician, which gives me: Magic 6, two Rating 5 Magical Skills, and 10 spells.

As magic tradition, I choose to be a Hermetic Mage. My Drain Resistance (which allows me to avoid being exhausted after using magic) is Logic+Willpower.

For the two skills I choose Spellcasting and Counterspelling.

For the spells, I choose Blast, Manabolt,Fireball, Improved Invisibility, Heal, Analyze Magic, Armor, Clairvoyance, Detect Magic Extended, Detect Individual.

Step 4: Purchase Qualities

There are positive Qualities, which cost Karma, and negative Qualities, which give Karma (you can get a maximum of 25 additional Karma for negative Qualities).

From the list of available Qualities, I buy:

  • Analytical Mind (-5 karma): +2 to Logic to analyze clues, recognize patterns, etc.
  • Aptitude: Spellcasting (-14 karma): I can start with Spellcasting at rating 7, and eventually rise it up to 13.
  • Exceptional Attribute: Magic (-14 karma): I can rise my Magic to 7.
  • Focused Concentration 2 (-8 karma): I can sustain better some magic.
  • Bad Luck (+12 karma): When using Edge, there is a chance in 6 of it turning to be bad.
  • Distinctive Style (+5 karma): I am very european, with a thick english-dutch-french accent I can’t avoid.
  • Simsense Vertigo (+5 karma): I am very bad at augmented reality or virtual reality situations.
  • Sinner (+5 karma): I am registered in the system. I have a national SIM from some european nation.

And I still have 9 karma left (from the negative qualities I only receive 25 karma, not 27).

Step 5: Purchase Skills

For Skills, I have assigned the priority B. That gives me 36 skill points to divide among my skills, and can use up to 5 of those points to buy skill groups (skill bundles, cheaper to buy than the individual skills they contain). The maximum rank for a skill in creation is 6 (but I can raise Spellcasting to 7 thanks to my Aptitude Quality). The skill points can also be used to buy skill specializations, which cost 1 point and give +2 to use the specialization.

I start raising my Spellcasting from 5 to 7, spending 2 points, and buy a specialization in combat spells (1 point). I also want to know how to summon spirits, so I buy the Conjuring skill group up to 3. With my other 2 group points I buy the Enchanting skill group up to 2. I still have 29 skill points to spend. I buy the following skills:

  • Spellcasting 7 (specialization: Combat Spells)
  • Counterspelling 5
  • Skill group: Conjuring 3
  • Skill group: Enchanting 2
  • Pistols 2 (specialization: semiautomatics)
  • Sneaking 2
  • Pilot Ground Craft 1
  • Running 2
  • Swimming 1
  • Etiquette 2
  • Intimidation 2
  • Negotiation 1 (specialization: Contracts)
  • Blades 1 (specialization: swords)
  • Perception 3
  • Assensing 2 (this is used to read astral auras)
  • Arcana 2
  • Astral Combat 2
  • Computer 1
  • Navigation 1

Now I also get free Knowledge and Language skill points, equal to my (INT+LOG)x2. So 16 points in total. And, also, a language as native language. For me it is English. I buy the following Knowledge skills:

  • Language: English (N)
  • Language: German 2
  • Language: French 1
  • Magic theory (Academic) 3
  • History (Academic) 2
  • Music (Academic) 1
  • Parazoology (Academic) 1
  • 20th Century Trivia (Interests) 2
  • Smuggling Routes (Street) 3
  • Law (Professional) 1

Step 6: Spend your Resources

For Resources I only have left the priority E. This means I only have 6,000 NuYens to spend. I can always spend some karma to get more NuYens in this step, obtaining 2,000 extra NuYens per Karma point spent. I spend 7 points of karma in this, to get 14,000 additional NuYens, for a total of 20,000 NuYens.

I have also to select (and pay) for my level of lifestyle. I’m going to spend 2,000 NuYens to have a Low Lifestyle.

I spend the rest of my money as follows:

  • Katana (1,000 NuYens) (I always associate katanas with shadowrun, due to the Street Samurai Catalog cover)
  • Colt America L36 (320 NuYens) (a light semiautomatic pistol)
  • Hidden arm slide for the Colt America (350 NuYens) (allows me to ready the weapon faster)
  • Regular ammo for the Colt (20 reloads) (400 NuYens)
  • Normal clothing (300 NuYens)
  • Lined coat (a wild west style coat which offers protection and allows to hide things better) (900 NuYens)
  • CommLink: Sony Emperor (700 NuYens) (the smartphones/computers of the future)
  • MicroTransceiver (100 NuYens) (a professional walkie-talkie)
  • Silver CredStick (20 NuYens) (to store up to 20,000 NuYens)
  • Gold CredStick (100 NuYens) (to store up to 100,000 NuYens) (this is me being optimistic of my future contracts)
  • Fake SIN (rating 2) (5,000 NuYens) (To avoid using my real SIN when possible)
  • Flashlight (25 NuYens)
  • Spell Focus (Combat Spells) (Force 1) (5,000 NuYens)

And I keep 3,785 NuYens for me, that I add to my standard initial money, which based in my Low Lifestyle is 3d6 x 60 NuYens. I roll and get 540 NuYens. So I have 4,325 Nuyens.

Step 7: Spending your leftover Karma

I have two points of Karma, that I use to bond to my Spell Focus (it costs Force x 2 in karma). This will allow me to add the Force of the Focus to my spells.

In this step I also get additional free Karma to spend in contacts. I get CHA x 3, so I have 6 points of Karma to spend in contacts. Each contact has two values: Connection (how much influence the contact has) and Loyalty (how much is he willing to do not to betray me).

With only six points, I’m going to settle with only two contacts:

  • The owner of “Ye Olde Magic Boutique” (Connection 1, Loyalty 2)
  • A not very important Corporation middle-manager (Connection 2, Loyalty 1)

Step 8: Final calculations

This step consists only in calculating some values derived from the previous.

  • Initiative determines the order in combat. It is INT+REA and a dice, which starts in 1D6. My Initiative is 6+1D6.
  • As a mage, I can have Astral Initiative. It is INT+INT, with a base dice of 3D&. My Astral Initiative is 6+3D6.
  • Inherent limits are determined by your attributes, and limit how many hits (successes) you can get in your rolls.
    • Mental limit is ((LOGx2)+INT+WIL)/3). My Mental limit is 6.
    • Physical limit is ((STRx2)+BOD+REA)/3). My physical limit is 5.
    • Social limit is ((CHAx2)+WIL+ESS)/3) My social limit is 5.
  • The Condition Monitor tells how much Physical and Stun damage you can sustain.
    • You have (BOD/2)+8 Physical boxes. That’s 10 for me.
    • You have (WIL/2)+8 Stun boxes. That’s 10 for me.
    • You have some extra Overflow boxes, equal to your BOD + bonus from augmentations. As I have no augmentations (they do not mix well with magic), I have 4 overflow boxes.
  • With my bad luck quality, I start with a Notoriety of -1. My Street Cred and my Public Awareness are, of course, 0 (as I have yet to do anything).

Step 9: Final touches

This is the step for the background and the rounding of the character. I see him as a traveller, born close to England, educated in ancient European magic schools, and recently arrived to Seattle. He is called Harry Chemnitz.