Shadowrun Character Creation

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Character Creation

First thing to do: Look at the sample characters (page 72). This will give you some ideas of the kinds of things you can make. Don’t forget though, because of how flexible the character generation system is, the sample characters are not like character classes or anything: If you want to do something a bit different, do it. Next step is to get a rough idea of what you want your character to be. It makes the whole process a lot easier if you are working towards something rather than just making it up as you go along. Doesn’t have to be detailed, just something like “an Ork who likes to use guns” or “a human hacker type” or “a dwarf with lots of cybergear for up close combat”. One thing to note, but (if you are using my character sheet) don’t need to worry too much about, is the Build Points (BP) system. Basically, when you add stuff to your character in character creation, it takes BP. You have 400BP to start off with. I’m only telling you this so you have a rough idea what’s going on, if you use my character sheet, it tells you how much you are using, and how much you have left and suchlike.

Now on to the step by step process!

1) Choose a metatype

Metatypes are the races of Shadowrun. You can be Human, Elf, Dwarf, Ork or Troll. They are all fairly fantasy stereotype, but if you want more details, they have nice descriptions starting on page 65. Humans cost nothing; all the other races cost BP to be, because they have cool extras. Specifics on this are at the top of page 73. Once you have chosen one, type it in to cell C3 on the first sheet on your character sheet. If you have typed in anything other than human, and the BP cost doesn’t change (cell H3), then you have spelt it wrong. You fool.

2) Buy your attributes

The attributes are fairly self explanatory, but if you need more details, they are described starting on page 60. Each attribute has a minimum, a maximum, and an augmented maximum. Minimum and maximum are the natural limits, augmented maximum is how high it can get once you have added cyberware/spells/whatever. They are written in the metatype attribute table (top of 73) in the format “min/max(augmented max)”. Again, don’t worry too much about the BP cost, as the sheet does that for you. Two things to note, though: You can only have one of your attributes at the racial max, and although raising an attribute by 1 costs 10BP, raising it to its max costs 25BP. Also, you can only spend up to a total of 200BP on attributes (again, the sheet will tell you how much you have spent in cell K2). Edge isn’t counted in this, as it’s not a mental or physical attribute.

3) Choose Qualities

The book tells you to do skills next, but I would to qualities first. Qualities are things like being ambidextrous, unusually lucky, addicted to a drug, allergic to something, that kind of thing. There are three types of qualities: Positive, Negative and Allergies (although allergies are basically just negative qualities, they are worked out a little different). Qualities are listed from page 77 onwards, just pick what you want, and enter it on the sheet.

Allergies are a little more complicated, in that they have rareness and severity, rather than just a rank. Rareness is decided based on your surroundings (we are largely going to be inner city based). Rubbish, pollutants, plastics would all be common. Silver or jungles or some such would be rare. You can get more details at the top of page 81. On the character sheet, just put y or n for if it’s common, and Mild, Moderate or Severe for its severity, and the bonus will be worked out for you. The last thing to note about qualities is that you cannot spend more than 35BP on positives or gain more than 35BP on negatives. Again, it’s all worked out for you at the top left of the Qualities sheet.

4) Choose skills

You can spend as many BP as you want on active skills, unlike the other two bits (until you run out, obviously). First off, though, select your free language skill. This represents your native language. Be warned, if you only know Sperethiel, and every other bugger in the team only speaks English, you won’t be able to communicate with them. Active and knowledge skills work in pretty much the same way: You have the skill name, the rank, and the optional specialization. For active skills, each rank costs 4BP to increase, and a specialization costs 2BP. For example, if you took Pistols as a skill at rank 4, with Revolvers as the specialization, it would cost a total of 18BP. Taking a specialization basically ups the skill rank by 2 when you are using that type of thing.

You can also get Skill Groups. These are catch all skills, like Firearms. You can only get a Skill Group up to rank 4, and it costs 10BP. Sounds like a lot, but can actually be cheaper than buying the same level in lots of similar skills.

Knowledge skills are a little different. You get free knowledge skill points based on your Intuition and Logic. These can be spent however you like. You can then buy extra knowledge skill points for 2BP each, but only up to the same amount of free points you got. So, if you had 20 free knowledge skill points, you could get an extra 20 for a total of 40BP. Each rank of a knowledge skill takes one of these knowledge skill points. You can buy specializations, just like action skills, for 1BP each. There’s some useful info about skill ranks and language skills on page 129 and 109 that’s worth looking at. All the active skills are on pages 110-127, all the knowledge skills information is on 128-129. It doesn’t really list knowledge skills, as they can be based on pretty much anything. Take a look at the kind of things the sample characters have used for inspiration in this area.

5) Purchasing Gear

This is the catch all term for anything bought with monies. You get 5000 nuyen (the in game currency) for every BP you plump into resources, up to a maximum of 250000 nuyen (50BP). With this money, you need to buy all your equipment, cybernetic implants, housing, medical contracts, EVERYTHING. It’s basically split into three bits though: Housing, implants, everything else.

6) Choose Housing

It might seem silly, but everyone needs somewhere to live. Keep in mind that, as a Shadowrunner, you are basically a criminal, so you need somewhere to bolt to when things go bad. Also, you are supposed to be making a character, not just a walking method of killing things. Think about your character, if you were him, would you really spend all your money on guns then live in a cardboard box? Course not. Lifestyle doesn’t just cover your actual home, either: it’s your clothes, your food, everything. If you have a posh lifestyle, you will be better dressed and eat better quality foods too (unless you don’t want to, of course). If you live on the street, you will *look* like someone who lives on the street. The lifestyle you choose also affects how much money you start the game with. Lifestyles are, annoyingly, on the borders of pages 84 & 85. Look it up, spend your monies wisely. You pay monthly, but can prepay as many months ahead as you want. You can buy a lifestyle for a one off payment, but its lots. Don’t.

7) Purchase Implants

Implants are things like cybernetic arms, eyes, lungs, legs…basically everything. You can get implanted guns, wolverine style arm blades, interfaces for various machines, all sorts of stuff. All implants have two costs: Money and Essence. All characters start off with an essence of 6. All implants take a bit of that essence away. If your essence ever hits 0, you are no longer a living human being. However, you can get as infinitesimally small as you like with your essence; as long as it’s not actually 0, you are fine. The only thing to bear in mind is if you are a magic character, lower essence is BAD. Keep the implants to a minimum or you will no longer be able to throw spells at people. Like all other equipment, you can’t start with anything rated over 6, or with an availability rating of higher than 12. Cyberware and Bioware (basically squidgy organic cyberware) is listed on pages 330-340.

8) Purchase Equipment

The other stuff is everything from syringes to guns to assault helicopters. You can buy basically any amount of anything, as long as it doesn’t have a rating higher than 6, doesn’t have availability over 12, and you can afford it. Go crazy.

9) Contacts

The final thing you need to sort out is contacts. As in life, in shadowrun it’s often not what you know but who you know. A local bike gang leader is more likely to help you out if he is your buddy than if he doesn’t know you from Adam. It’s also worth noting that although you might use a contact a lot, it could be a purely professional relationship: you don’t actually have to like the guy. All you really need to know about contacts is on page 278, but basically each contact has a name, a type, a rating and a connection rating. Name is his actual name, type describes who he is (Bike gang leader, local judge, club owner etc), rating is how good he is (a rating 1 biker is just some fella who rides around with a load of other bikers, a rank 6 would be internationally known), and connection rating is how much they like you (1 being they know you, work with you, but don’t necessarily like you, 6 being would do anything for you, including putting their life at risk).


And that’s it, you now have a character. You can work out your starting monies using the information on page 87, or just let the character sheet work it out for you (it does the dice rolls and everything!). Flesh the character out with a bit of background and personality. “He’s a big Ork with a gun” will no longer cut it, you need to think about where the character came from, why they do what they do, what made them a Shadowrunner, etc. Copy all the info off the character creation spreadsheet into a proper character sheet (page 350), and you are done!

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