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Monthly Archives: July 2013

I admit, whenever I see extra rules for ‘MORE WAYS TO LOP OFF THE PC’S LIMBS!’ I tend to brush over them.

As a GM, I’m fair, reasonably lenient, but at the same time, not afraid to bring down the rules-hammer or the ‘Player be Good’ hammer if something starts getting out of hand.

Now, let me first say; I’m not against death in a campaign, and players have died in games of mine. I’m not a completely soft GM. But for me, I tend to prefer games where, if death happens, it’s really due to the players messing up big time. I won’t shrink away from killing a PC who really blows it, but nor do I go out of my way to murderate the PCs.

”But don’t you have those two bouncers in Spanky’s bar who can turn the PC’s into strawberry jam?” Well, yeah, but notice how they won’t actually attack to kill unless the PCs do something immensely stupid.  Oh, I have guards who use live ammo(as well as stun, depending on the situation), and if a PC frags up and pisses off a Mafia don, yeah, they may well end up with some C-4 under their bike. I tend to leave a lot of things in the hands of the PCs.

Now, I’ve been known to fudge a die roll here and there. Other times-again, I’m a bit more strict on it, once again if the PCs dig themselves into a huge hole. It’s less ‘punishment’ and more ‘you did X, how did you not expect Y to happen.’ They’ll often have a way out, though, and sometimes those can be adventures in and of themselves.

So what is it about high Lethality games that I’m not big on? I like character and character development. Yes, I’m a numbers optimizer as well-but that doesn’t mean I don’t love character development, watching them grow and change. I do love it. I also hate to see a character with oodles of time put into them ruined with one bad die roll. Others are fine with this-and that’s cool, every table is different. But where some find the constant threat of death looming over them 24/7 while they’re gaming, I just find that not quite as fun. It makes me not want to bother doing really deep character stuff if I know they’re going to possibly buy the farm with every single roll. (When I played the Rules Cyclopedia, my characters were often stuff like ‘James the Fighter, off to find his treasure.’ If James failed his Save vs. Death roll, no biggie. Mugsy the Wizard, off to find Great Magic Power, was right around the corner. Of course they’d have SOME personality and such, but they were much more basic.)

I personally go between Low and Moderate. It’s not QUITE all the way down to Low, but it’s a *bit* more gentle in terms of PC mistreatment than ‘Moderate’. Perhaps, to get a better idea, I’ll list stuff I generally won’t do, and stuff I generally will do.

What I don’t usually do:

-Randomly kill characters due to one poor roll.

-I don’t like Glitches, as I said. I will use critical glitches, but I don’t make these fatal. Glitches, IMO, just make things annoying, and get in the way. You succeed, you don’t, or you drop your gun and it shoots of a round that makes it skitter across the floor. (Physics, I am your reckoning.)

-Rip out Magic from magic characters, or cyber from Cyber characters, unless, again, they really, really do something that simply makes me bring down the hammer.

-Make a character so useless they’ll wish they were dead anyway.

-Stuff that makes gaming Not Fun for us.

What I will do:

-Lost body parts can happen, but I give a chance, of course, to get replacements/re-attachments. There are tons of ways to do this(a debt, a loan, their own nuyen, trade a job for a new eye, etc.) They ONLY have a chance of happening on a ‘Deadly’ wound(AKA, the person is going into overflow’, or very, very, very rarely before that(and it generally needs to be pretty specific, like a critically glitched monowhip hit might take a hand off if none of the damage is resisted.) I will never purposefully leave a character crippled unless the player themselves chooses to do so(‘Bah, screw it, I wanted a cyberarm all this time anyway, now I have an excuse! I can live one-armed for a week.’)

-I will, as said, kill a character. If a character is bent on taking part in a series of unfortunate events with absolutely no back up plans or anything, making poor decisions ever single chance, despite several ‘Are you SURE?’…or perhaps they walk up and kick Herr Brackhaus in the balls or something. At that point, there’s nothing more I can do for them; they need to pay the piper. (They can, of course, burn Edge if they wish.)

-I will use things like background count and wireless intrusion, though I will not abuse those things. I’m more likely to use them to add tension. In the latter, now…if someone walks into a highly secure area, with everything on Wireless lighting up like a christmas tree in VR-land without bothering even checking for enemy deckers-welp, again, they sort of need to expect *something* bad to happen, but I’m not likely to abuse these rules.

-Do other things with poor rolls rather than death or dismemberment. Yes, I will fry a piece of gear now and then-it adds tension, but again, I won’t ‘do it just for tension.’ There will be a reason, and it WILL be preventable…and if it does happen, then I’ll make sure to set up an adventure to, for example, get the Decker a new deck or the Rigger a new Steel Lynx that just got scrapped.

-Put the PCs in some tough situations. Sure, I might put them in a ‘you’re captured and need to think your way out and get your gear’, or ‘You need to get out NOW, and you’re limited in what you can take and might need to improvise’ situation or two. Nothing wrong with having to use your brain to puzzle your way out of something or pull some McGyver heroism.

-Say, ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’ a few times. 😉

-Houserule something that I don’t think makes sense, or takes away our table’s fun.

-Work with the PCs with ideas they might have that aren’t in the rules. I am a very, very strong believer in PC-GM communication.

So as you can see, it’s not that I’m against doing harsher things, I just don’t make a habit of them-and when they do come into play, it’s usually something that the PC sort of brings on themselves. I like when things can last awhile, and I’m not against punishment; I like my games to be one part game, one part story, and one part character development and growth-and All Parts Fun for us. I’m sure our table would be too ‘wussy’ for some people, but that’s okay; I am a firm believer that every table is different and that’s cool.

I tend to run, on a scale of Pink Mohawk to Mirrorshades, a game that’s in the middle, or what I like to call ‘Mohawks and Trenchcoats.’ I have a variety of stuff-some loud jobs, some quiet jobs(or they should be), and some in between. I’m a huge fan of Second Edition’s fluff, with everyone from Matador(the posterboy for Professionalism in the shadows), and Wedge(let’s face it, he wore his mohawk loud and proud.) I liked 2e’s mix of dystopia, 1980s cyberpunk, dingy, rainy streets, noodle bars, tall imposing skyscrapers, the Universal Brotherhood-but all of this still had that glimmer of hope, pictures of brightly colored gangers riding cars, chrome cybereyes, big cyberdecks with brightly colored keys, and Spinal Tap ork toxic shaman villains. I like some down to earth stuff, I like some over the top stuff; the adventures back in the day also ran the gamut from ‘Dreamchipper’ to anything with Harlequin.

So yeah, balance is the key for me. I need a little Bladerunner, but also a little ‘over the top bang bang.’

I think there is some merit to a lower-lethality game, though I can respect that it’s not for everyone-some folks find their blood gets pumping more if they’re always afraid for their lives. I guess I’ve mellowed out somewhere. Oddly enough, we don’t use the optional ‘Low Lethality’ rules-since the preference is for something in between Low and Normal, it’s more handwaved stuff.

Generally, my house rules open up the game more. I’ve mentioned around that we never used Availability limits at Chargen. This is something that’s simply been in our games since we started, our first GM didn’t even use them(and he was the type of guy who would play gnome illusionists or chess masters; definitely not a powergamer type.) We usually run on the ‘Pick Stuff that Makes Sense For Your Character” line of thinking, and for us, it works wonderfully. It’s less to worry about, and opens up more things. Even for street level games, we simply work more on the honor system, and it’s never failed.

I also tend to go a little more ‘cinematic.’ Not necessarily ‘Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’ level of over-the-top(okay, for a weekend-shot game, maybe), but a little more on the ‘cool maneuvers, Cool Stuff Happens’ sorta way. (You can actually be cinematic, and still run a more street level game.)

I do agree with pulling some stuff back; even before the +DV damage code for bonus Martial Arts damage was instated, I had houseruled that, and I had mentioned in my last blog that I’m okay with having pulled some of the damage back. I like the idea of teamwork, as I said, so it’s cool if one person can’t kill the tank with a punch. (Unless we’re playing the weekend Fist of the North Star game and the character’s name is Kenshiro the Second.)

There are other odds and ends as well. The newest houserule that is making it in is x3 Knowledge Skill Points, that x2 rule is the bane of my fragging existence. Also, I was turned onto the idea of giving a handful of free points to everyone(I’m thinking 6) to use strictly on ‘Interest Skills.’

In SR5 news, I’ve been tinkering with some more characters I might post up soon. Different priorities and different types. All looking and feeling fun. I look forward to hopefully trying them out soon(though it will likely have to be in a PbP type game, or a forum game.) Here’s hoping!

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Contacts and Places:

First a word of note: these NPCs are a bit on the ‘Higher’ side in terms of skills. The Talismonger is actually also a highly skilled and Initiated mage in her own right, for example-but that doesn’t mean, of course, that the PCs can just take *advantage* of all of that. It was more things that just sorta happened to their characters(in that case, it was ‘So, what happens when there’s a powerful mage who *doesn’t* get into corps or running? They become a talismonger, why not?’

It’s more to show that even some ‘Regular People’ can be more than what they seem, and that maybe out there, there exists people who haven’t let the dystopia completely get them. Just a little. Their character sheets will follow in another update(hopefully this weekend), along with things their facilities have to offer being listed in game-format.

Reginald ‘Spanky’ Mcgee:

Spanky is a Fomori in roughly his mid-thirties; he’s not the tallest troll around, but he’s fairly robust, perhaps with a bit of a beer gut, though he’s not particularly overweight. More stocky if anything. His full-blooded Irish ancestry gave him fair skin, plenty of freckles, and flaming red hair which he wears about to his shoulders; his ram’s horns curve around the sides of his head, and he grows no mustache, but a beard underneath his chin. Like many Fomori, he’s even fairly handsome in a cuddly kind of way. He’s got a friendly smile and is very charismatic upon meeting him. It’s kinda hard to dislike him.

Spanky is actually a very well-connected fixer; he has contacts in both the UCAS and Europe. However, he is the type where trust needs to be established before he shows ‘his best stuff’, so to speak.

Spanky deals in a lot of different things; not as much magical(that would be Mama’s domain, which he can put runners in touch with if they don’t know her), but he does have access to several different types of weapons(even some military-grade), and knows people who are involved in Beta-grade cyberclinics(Namely, one Dr. Douglas.) He can get his hands on some light magical equipment, but he’ll even tell them they’re better off going to Mama. He can find them work, but more of a ‘he can connect them to a Johnson’ sort. He himself doesn’t give the jobs-he can put the runners in contact with Johnsons who do have work. Even though he’s only in his mid thirties, he has a lot of connections around in the northwest UCAS, and even a few in the UK area(though he does not have technical ‘worldwide, anywhere’ connections.)

Spanky loves football(soccer) to the point of near obsession. Sparking up a conversation about football with him is a great way to get started chatting. He always wears a jersey of sorts in his bar; under this he usually wears an armor vest, just in case, and sticks to things like jeans and workboots. His pub-a rather large and well-taken care of place, is appropriately named ‘Goal!'(with the exclamation point at the end, of course), and serves many a microbrew that Spanky had designed himself. Spanky does *not* server soy beer in his bar-he finds the stuff vile and insulting. This does help keep some rabble out(as do his bouncers), but he does not overcharge for some of his more standard designs(though his special Coffee-Hazelnut-Chocolate Mega-Stout runs a pretty nuyen and is so thick you reportedly need to chew it.) Indeed, besides football, brewing is one of Spanky’s passions. He has a small brewery in the basement.

Goal! actually has some rather excellent security if nosy runners try to do things. The building is covered in material that is not quite kind to traveling astrally, and he has a very good ‘decker overwatch’ as well as a security system. Meeting at the pub is generally done in three ways; the ‘general’ spot, the ‘secure’ spot, and the ‘Private’ spot.

The ‘General’ spot is well in the back of the place, in the booth area. His bouncers will ensure basic privacy, but it’s still open for ordering things like dinner and the like, and isn’t 100% private, as there could be other meets and stuff there, and you will be seen.

The ‘Secure’ spot is in the ‘upstairs dining room’, and is more secure both magically and technically. The door is locked, and the crew will ensure it stays decent. However, it’s not ‘Private’ in the sense that other meets can be going on at the same time(in different parts of the room.) You do need to go through the bar to get here though, so you will be seen as well, though no one ‘unauthorized’ can get back there.

The ‘Private’ spot is reached from a different part of the entrance, and is in a specially made basement room. It actually costs considerable nuyen to ‘rent’ this, but it’s extremely secure. Spanky himself uses this for some more of his delicate deals. One of his bouncers will personally escort people down and wait for the meet to get done.

The bar is actually two levels high. The second floor is open to the public(just not the ‘secure dining room’ which needs a heads up from Spanky.) There is plenty of room to drink and enjoy what is most likely a football game playing on one of the many monitors. The bar itself is in a fairly ‘high lifestyle’ part of Seattle, though not quite that of the really high rollers. It does not look terribly out of place, but nor does it look too posh; it looks like a nice, clean, very well maintained sports bar.

Spanky’s bouncers have been mentioned. While he has some generic, ‘ordinary’ bouncers milling around, his two ‘primary’ ones are old friends of his-Huginn and Munin, a pair of seven foot tall elven twin brothers. Powerful looking, with long white hair, violet eyes and no beard-growth whatsoever, they almost even dress similar; black cargos and combat boots, with tank tops-though Huginn favors a lined leather longcoat, while Munin favors an armored leather jacket. They are roughly around thirty years old, and are extremely good at what they do, being highly experienced near street legends over in Europe(they are apparently mixed Scandinavian, though Icelandic seems to be their primary lineage, given that they sometimes speak it to one another in lieu of English or Sperethiel.)

Spanky’s cook is a firecracker; a tough, no-nonsense British human woman in her late 40s known simply as ‘Maude'(who may resemble Dame Judy Dench a bit, only younger and less refined.) Maude is completely mundane and with no cyber(some say she may also be without humor, but not in her earshot)hates nutrisoy and refuses to cook with it. She’s foul-mouthed and generally grumpy, but good hearted all the same, and is an *excellent* cook. She carries a tazer that she’s not afraid to use, though she is not a combatant. She comes from Spanky’s past, and apparently came over from the UK when he came to the UCAS. It’s rumored she was a cook for a prestigious British boarding school which got bought out and closed. (And yes, Spanky’s pub also only serves real food, but he actually has some reasonably priced burgers on his menu. The steaks will cost you, though.)

Using Spanky:

Under the rules, if he is used in your game, his Connection rating should never be more than 1 point higher than his Loyalty. So a runner can have him at C2/L1, but will have to earn more trust before Spanky shows his more ‘C3’ side, and so on. Spanky’s Connection rating has a Maximum of 7(which the player will need to get to ‘Friend for Life’ level with him to get.

To gain Spanky’s trust, they have to remember he’s more of a ‘Neutral with Good, if Pragmatic Tendencies’ type. He has some friends who have been known to be a bit on the ‘crazy’ side, but at the end of the day, out and out rotten actions are something that he does not like to be a part of. Wetwork is fine, and he’s got a fair limit to how far he’ll accept going, but there are lines.

A good rule of thumb, if the PC’s ‘earn’ Spanky as a contact, he is gotten at C2, L1. (He will give folks he’s dealt with from time to time a *small* discount on food and beer. ;)) It’s then, of course, up to the PCs if they wish to foster a relationship with him to get access to his better goodies. (For a GM note, you could also limit the Availability of gear that he will procure. C2 will be limited to Availability of 12, and then add 2-3 availability, as you feel appropriate, per Connection rating after that.) He will begin introducing his other friends to the PC’s at Loyalty 2(or, well, giving them word where to find them.) Likewise, in regards to the jobs that he can find for him-the higher his Connection rating, the better-paying Johnsons can be procured for the runners.

Note that a character can have a higher Loyalty rating with one of his friends than Spanky himself, should they choose to do so.

Given Spanky’s high Connection rating, screwing him over would be a bad, bad move. Huginn and Munin are more than his bouncers, they are two of his best friends-and he has friends with several other prime runners and more than one street legend at his physical-and magical, or Matrix based-request.

As for his, bar, Goal!, Huginn and Munin are particularly skilled and geared; each one alone would be a match for an entire team of runners. They are extremely good bouncers, in other words. Huginn(the Samurai) is loaded for bear with bioware and Beta-grade cyberware, with Munin a four-times initiated Adept(with some light bioware). Both brothers have Exceptional Attribute: Body and Strength, have max Body, Agility, and Strength base, 5’s in their other stats save Logic(which are 3 each), and have 8-10 in their primary skills, 5-6 in secondary, and 3-4 in their tertiary. (I’ll probably get their sheets into the same section I do Spanky by the numbers.)

However-given that Spanky does not like blood all over his floor(he has a few stories about that-two of the more famous involves Huginn’s decapitating of a would-be assailant with his katana and Munin discovering someone trying to poison one of the taps and curb-stomping him in the corner for his trouble), any of his bouncers, including Huginn and Munin, will generally just strike to knock out and disable people, unless an actual attempt is made on Spanky’s life. In that case, the twins tend to show their lineage’s ‘berserker’ tendencies and turn the would-be assassin into red pastey substance on the floor. (If attempts are made on the lives of the other bouncers, they also are more willing to strike to kill, but if lethal force is attempted to be used on *them*, they are more amused if anything and just perform a good lesson-teaching before depositing the runner onto the concrete outside in a ballistic fashion.)

It should also be said that Maude also helps clean the place and it’s rumored that Huginn and Munin are more wary of her yelling at them about the blood than they are what any general runner can do to them physically.

Huginn and Munin may become contacts, but use them carefully. It can be assured that they just won’t come kill stuff for a phone call. They’re very powerful, so use discretion on what you allow them to do. It’s possible to become better friends with them, but they have a personal code that they just don’t go using their heavy abilities for low reasons-these guys hit AAA-style stuff on the odd time they do it(and then would require a credstick so fat players are likely not able to pay it anyway.) These are the type of runners that *turn down* AA work as being dull, and they also always work together-so they have to be hired by the pair.

Spanky’s other bouncers are more basic. His generic bouncers are the equivalent of Professional Rating 4 with roughly similar stats, wear Armored Jackets, and have either Shock Gloves or Stun Batons and are often armed with an Ares Predator with either Stick n Shock or Gel ammo(depending on the GM’s mood.) They never strike to kill, only disable or knock out.(They have high Non Conductivity ratings on their armor. For a rule of thumb, they probably throw around 6-8 dice for stuff, and have only minor implants to GM discretion; smartlinks, maybe some dermal plating. They do have earbuds/contacts or glasses with audio/visual rating 3, to better see and hear troublemakers, and at least a good Perception score.)

He has two mages who swap shifts; a dwarf and an ork. They are more geared toward Counterspelling and Astral activities, though do have guns(with SnS/Gel rounds), stun batons, and access to Stun Bolt and Stunball spells if necessary. They are often not seen in the primary areas(and are generally made with roughly the same power as starting PCs, if GMs want a rule of thumb. Spanky’s decker friends are never seen, and are likely made with similar stat and skill levels with starting PCs, but they have excellent decks.)

Spanky himself isn’t really much of a fighter. He has some basic self-defense skills, but really, his thing ‘being a fixer.’ He keeps a shotgun loaded with gel or SnS behind the bar, along with a baseball bat, if he really needs them, but he generally dislikes fighting, and isn’t particularly good at it.

Goal’s! security is fairly tight, as said. In terms of ‘Raw’ security, assume the Maglocks are all Rating 8, with a variety of keycard or keypad readers(the tightest stuff has a Biometric lock that only Spanky, Huginn, or Munin can activate.)

Flora Hernandez, ‘Mama’

Mama is a human woman, in her middle fifties. She’s short, heavyset, and has long, slightly curly black hair worn down, streaked with gray. She wears little makeup, but tends toward big dresses(sometimes with a floral print), which gives her a slightly ‘matronly grandmother’ look. She’s tanned, and talks with a noticeable Spanish accent, though her English is fluent. She seems to like jewelry; taking to rings, necklaces, and earrings-these may or may not be foci. Mama walks with a stick at times; her age is starting to somewhat get to her, though she reacts surprisingly quickly for a woman her age. She has been practicing magic since she Awakened before a lot of runners were even born.

Mama is a talismonger, and a powerful mage in her own right, practicing Santeria, whose Patron is Legba. She has much knowledge on magic and everything therein; magical threats, groups, and she is very adept at creating talismans and foci. If she cannot create them, she knows those who can. She is also a skilled herbalist, and is a good magical healer, as well.

Her shop, ‘Elekes’, is located in a more low-key part of town; one needs to go through a few alleys to find it, and then end up going down some seedy looking stairs. It’s well protected though-she is a powerful mage, as is her son, and they can well ward the place. People popping to the Astral may see some rather scary looking spirits hanging out, looking disapprovingly at them.

Mama has a son, Joshua, who is also a practitioner of Santeria, and who follows Ghede. Joshua is an undertaker, and is a strange man for all of that; he can be a contact in his own right. He’s usually seen in black slacks that seem a bit too short, boots, a collared shirt, a jacket, and often does have a serving of of Rum on him, making him fairly obvious, if one finds out what he practices, who his patron is.

Elekes has a smell that is a mix of herbs, burnt woods, smoke(Mama has a penchant for cigarettes), and tea(which she pours and usually spikes with some rather strong liquor, but the woman can hold her drink.) It rather chaotic looking; it almost looks like a bomb hit some parts of it, but Mama can pick out what people need. The shelves are mainly full of low-level stuff like herbs and reagents, giving the shop it’s telltale smell(which isn’t all unpleasant, just a bit reminiscent of an herb attic or something.) There are some shelves full of books; actual paper ones, pharmacopoeias and the like can be found here.

Mama herself can be a bit cranky and sarcastic, but not unfriendly. She more or less has a dry way of speaking and talking, almost nonchalant. If the PC’s behave, she may even offer them some tea. If they really behave, she may offer them some of her ‘special tea.’ Which may be pretty stiff stuff for those unprepared.

Using Mama:

Mama isn’t as strict with Spanky in terms of the whole ‘Connection/Loyalty’ thing; Mama has a Connection rating of 6, but she won’t require the PCs to be super-friends with her to have access. She will, however, demand higher payments the lower Loyalty. This can range from extra nuyen(for more moderate stuff, she’ll sell off the shelf stuff for regular prices, as well as fence magical gear), to flat-out exchange of goods for the best stuff; this could mean her sending the runners out on some rather exciting material gathering adventures.

GMs can roll as they think appropriate if she has(or they want their PCs to have access to) whatever spell formula and foci they deem appropriate on hand, or if it’ll take her a bit to find some.

Joshua’s specialty has more to do with ‘Undertaker Stuff.’ Remembering that he does practice Santeria, the GM is free to be creative with what sorts of services he can provide. (Note: Gaining Mama as a contact does not make her son automatic, though gaining one or the other as a contact will, of course, make it easier to at least get in on the ground floor. Joshua is the more minor of the two; he has a Connection rating of 3 for his appropriate line of work, and is created by standard PC rules.)

As for the shop’s protections, Mama has some high level spirits on hand, bound, and ready to wreak havoc. Mama is Initiated three times, and she’s got rather high magical skills, making her a more uncommon type of talismonger. She does not like to flaunt this power though, and has no interest in shadowrunning itself; which is why she chose the job that she did. However, crossing a woman who is initiated, practices a type of voodoo and is very good at Ritual Sorcery…I’ll just say the GM should have fun with this one. Mama is very smart, and isn’t going to let herself be robbed or gunned down. She has a lot of contingency plans; one does not run a talismonger shop without them, especially with Foci valued as they are. Her Force 8 Spirits(usually several of them) will pop out and give direct attackers a very hard time, but Mama herself-while she has a couple of combat spells-is more the patient type. Again, be creative. 😉

The shop’s basic protections are high-level Maglocks and the like. Her most valuable stuff is kept in the back, under lock.

Dr. Marshall Douglas

Dr. Douglas is an ex-corporate cybersurgeon, and a very good one, who now runs a shadow clinic in one of the more middle-class parts of Seattle. Of course, the shadow part is sorta hidden; it’s a fairly ordinary clinic from the outside, and you need to know what to ask for and whom. Douglas is a man of middling height and build, and probably in his fifties; he might just resemble Morgan Freeman a little bit, with short-cropped gray hair and a bit of a beard. He often wears glasses(which are modified.) Despite being a cybersurgeon, the only ware he has himself is a single datajack.

Dr. Douglas had actually worked for an AAA at one point in his life, ‘long ago,’ though he refuses to say who it was, for safety’s sake. He had a different name then(which he also isn’t telling-though he had gotten it legally changed.) Dr. Douglas was involved in the research and creation of some new, very secret pieces of cyber and bioware before(though he also won’t tell if any of it actually made it to the market.)

Douglas is actually a fairly kindly man, occasionally known to lecture those who come in consistently for ‘repairs'(IE, people who don’t take care of themselves particularly well.) While he wishes the world were a better place, having been through some of the ‘high end’ part of it, he realises the importance of shadowrunners and how some of them at least manage to pick away at the corps enough that they don’t get even more of a foothold than they already do(and ruling almost everything, he figures, is enough of one.) Dr. Douglas, given his time in the field, knows other doctors and cyberware dealers, and can find a lot of things for people who need it. He actually has some Beta grade connections, and it has been rumored once or twice that he can find Delta grade stuff, though whether he doesn’t choose to, or just if it’s quite hard to find, no one knows. He is excellent at installing cyber and bioware, his facility is very clean and ideal to heal up in, and he is good at repairing ware as well.

Dr. Douglas does not deal much in used cyberware. It bothers him; people guess it’s again from his past, though he *will* fence it for others, he will not actually sell it. He also will not fence organs himself…though if pressed, and if in good standing, he is willing to point a runner in the general direction of where one might do that, though he tries to stay as ‘clean’ as a shadow doc can. He actually charges reasonable prices for things like healing and medicine(along with a lecture for ‘regulars’), but fairly standard for the ‘usual’ stuff.

Douglas looks tired sometimes; like his past manages to wear on him, and occasionally likes to take a shot of strong scotch, though he’s never seemed to have a problem with the stuff. Even though he seems skilled enough to be able to perhaps disappear to another country, he seems rooted here for reasons that stay unknown. In reality, he wants to sort of ‘repay’ the ‘little guy’ for the stuff he did/sold his soul out for the twenty or so years he worked for a corporation, doing some pretty nasty testing stuff.

The clinic is known simply as the Autumn Sunset Clinic, and it needs a little bit of legwork to discover the shadow side of it. Dr. Douglas does actually work there as a regular doctor as well. The receptionist knows what to listen for. The true nature of the place can be found through Spanky, or by asking around other avenues, as it’s not a Super Secret Shadow Clinic. While your general non gangers or whatnot won’t know, the ‘shadow community’ probably heard of the place.

Using Dr. Douglas:

Dr. Douglas works a little more like Spanky in terms of his ‘connection/loyalty’, though not as extreme: he is actually Connection 7 maximum, but will have a potential connection rating of 2 higher than Loyalty. (So at Loyalty 1, it’s 3, at 2 it can go up to 4, and so on.) He can get ahold of Standard grade, Alpha grade, and Regular/Cultured Bioware as anyone else can. He generally needs Connection of around 6 to net the Beta Grade, and for the people who manage to get him as a very close contact, he can point them in the direction of Delta Grade, and he’ll install it for them(if they get it, of course.)

As said, he won’t fence organs, but at Loyalty 4+ he’ll nonchalantly point runners in a direction where to unload that type of stuff.

Douglas is not a combatant at all, having only extremely basic training in a sidearm. Security at the clinic is likewise standard. However, he is a Friend for Life with Spanky and co, so crossing him will still potentially screw up the runners’ lives rather efficiently.Douglas and the clinic itself actually has a bit of gang protection. He’s been known to patch them up, and since his patching-up prices are very reasonable, gangers don’t want to lose their source of rather inexpensive healing. It’s a trade off thing.

There’s been some discussion going on about the ‘nerfing’ of unarmed combat in Shadowrun, particularly that you can’t stack the damage beyond infinity anymore.

Now, look. I’ll make it clear; I love me some unarmed characters. I mean I love the shit out of Hokuto no Ken and Souten no Ken, my favorite manga type stuff(when I read it, which isn’t often) is ‘Huge Manly Dudes with Shaggy Hair and Big Eyebrows Beating Up Other Dudes.’

That being said…in SR4, after all the sourcebooks-stuff got completely redonk. I mean Monster, my favorite super-handsome Fomori(Fomori+Cosmetic Surgery=Very Hot Fomori dude who looked like a 10 and a half foot tall Jackie Estacado with horns), could essentially pulverize anything with a kick. I mean he was completely optimized and made with the OLD karmagen system and completely ridiculous but was fun for a couple of games(he’s now a super-powered street legend in my SR world, which is the normal SR world with some different NPCs.)

But, to be honest, stuff had to be pulled back. The regular opposition couldn’t really challenge groups of runners anymore, because single runners could take them out with 20P unarmed damage codes, or, from a weapons perspective-highly customized full-auto guns loaded with AV ammo with practically no recoil that rendered Military Grade Full Body Armor into swiss cheese in one round.

So, naturally, SR5 is out now, and the power level is back to ‘Normal’, as what usually happens with new expansions, before the sourcebooks hit. And I almost guarantee we’ll be seeing ways that they help keep stuff under control-where you can still be a badass, but it might take a little bit to be the ULTRA badass.

Apparently some think that to be a useful unarmed adept you need to be able to one shot every type of enemy, regardless of armor, power, prestige, Edge, or whatnot. I’m not sure how this started. It may be a chicken/egg thing with two types of starts. Hell, it probably varies by table.

Some tables may have started with highly optimizing players, and the GM was forced to meet that, making the players improve more, etc. The other side may have seen very, very vicious GMs who put the players against such nasty stuff they felt they had to start doing crazy things. In any case, the power level is back to ‘normal.’

Here’s the thing. The sample adept I made, Downfall, hits for 11P. This is, regardless of what anyone says, extremely hard. He kicks as hard as a gun shoots someone for. There is no armor penetration on it yet(I’m guessing we’ll see Penetrating Strike come back in the Magic sourcebook), but still-he can-and I have tested in several things-take out anything up to and including Professional Rating 4 enemies single-handedly, sometimes in one round, and not even by surprise.

Now, beginning unarmed adepts are going to likely run into some trouble with stuff like Red Samurai and Tir Ghosts, with skills of 8-9, stats of 5-6 before modifications, 3d6 initiative, and full body armor and helmets. Guess what-maybe a starting character isn’t *supposed* to solo one of them right out of the gate?

I should also say-I’m someone who prefers a more ‘cinematic’ type of game, but even in over the top cinematic movies, there are enemies whom the hero has a nice ‘Boss Fight’ against. Arnold in Commando, for example, is awesome. That movie is over the top as hell. He takes out mooks, and even better mooks, left and right. But he still has his ‘Boss Fights.’ Matrix in the movie doesn’t kill Bennett instantly. He has a knockdown fight with them. Many, many highly cinematic movies have their ‘Boss Fights.’ There is nothing wrong with not being able to one-shot a tank coming down the street at you.

Also, what’s wrong with team-work? My Adept has his own strengths, and the team sniper with APDS ammo has his, for example. The team sniper? Now that character could probably, through the use of surprise and that nasty gun, be able to one-shot one of the heavy armor Red Samurai. But…well, he can’t really take that sniper rifle certain other places to take care of other targets. What’s wrong with characters having little ‘things’ they’re good at?

For example, unarmed adepts are excellent at discreetly taking out ‘soft targets’. I’ve pit Downfall against Armor Jacket wearing people-with decent Dodge and Body to boot-and he can one shot them. Sometimes two if they get luckier on the roll. They CAN deal with heavier armor foes(I should note that, in the SR4 book, the only NPCs that come with the Super Armor with Helmets are stuff like Red Samurai and the like-standard cops and security-even BETTER security, even Knight-Errant Lieutenants-use armored jackets), but they need to get the element of surprise on them to tip things in their favor.

The ‘Gun-Nuts?’ They have strengths. They deal in things like cover-fire, and when it comes to the actual shootin’, they deal very nicely with ‘harder’ targets. Heavy weapons folks deal with the Really Hard Targets, like vehicles. Is a regular gun specialist useless because they can’t one-shot a vehicle like the Heavy Weapons specialist? Guys, people have their specialties. Others might have a more generalist spread.

But apparently being unable to kill anything with a punch anymore makes you a ‘scrub’ in some people’s eyes. I have no idea, besides the guesses I took above about dealing with extremely harsh GMs who pit endless armies of power-armor wearing, Panther-Cannon wielding Prime Runners against regular Shadowrunners.

Now, let me jump on the other side a second; the loss of potential unarmed damage does have a *couple* of drawbacks. For one, it sort of makes the Old Wuxia Master a little more obsolete. He can’t quite get a lot of damage anymore. Now, a high skill could help with staging it up, but he definitely isn’t what he used to be. Yes, a harder hit is more damaging in reality, but in this case, I kinda think heading a little away from reality might have been better, though it would have been rough to try to balance out the ‘Old Wuxia Master’ with ‘Musclebound the Musclehead.’

The other small drawback IS that weapon adepts are more damaging now, flat out, than unarmed. Now, again-yeah, they’re using weapons, and I don’t think this instance of realism is *so* bad, since Weapon adepts pretty much were second fiddle for an entire edition. Weapon Adept’s advantages at the moment are A. Extra damage and possible reach and B. Armor penetration. Their disadvantages are A. Needing a weapon focus to do things that unarmed adepts can do with Killing Hands, and B. Needing a weapon itself, which means you need to conceal and hide the thing. Unarmed melee adepts are essentially the reverse. They might not do the sheer damage or have armor penetration(at the moment, this could be equalized), and B. NOT needing a weapon or active focus to do what they need to. It’s a trade-off, though I think what’s happening is this:

People had a power shift in their characters, and are chafing against it. It’s understandable, sure. It does suck when an old concept doesn’t work anymore in a new system, and I always hope that at least most can make it out.(Here’s a note: Not being able to kill everything you come across with one roll does not mean a character is ruined. If you think it does, then perhaps a different game would be more your thing; a Supers type game, perhaps. I don’t say that as snarky, either-I say that as genuinely, ‘Maybe you’d like a crazy Supers system.’) I remember between SR2-3 and SR4, when Dikote disappeared, weapon-based melee adepts feeling some of that sting. In SR3, I will say, the tables were a little more even than 4. Dikote was insanely powerful for melee weapon folks. In older editions(for those who didn’t get to play them), damage was sort of a ‘Power’ and ‘Damage Code.’ The Power was what you had to roll against, and the Damage Code was how much damage it did-which used to be a condition monitor with Light, Moderate, Serious, and Deadly. Everyone’s Monitor was 10 boxes long. A Deadly wound would fill in all 10. Serious would fill a base 6. Moderate 3, and light 1.

Dikote added +1 to the Power and +1 to the Damage code of a weapon. So a Katana(which was normally Str+3M in those days), would become Str+4S. Against Vehicles or hardened armor, melee weapons would take a -1 to their Damage Code(and I believe use half power, but it’s been awhile.) Dikote meant they’d do *regular damage* which is where you heard about Street Sam+Dikote Combat Axe vs. Armored Truck stories where the sam won. Dikote was vicious stuff.

Now Unarmed adepts in those days used to choose the ‘level’ of their Killing Hands-L, M, S, or D, for .5, 1, 2, or 4 Power Points.

Now, in the older days, it was a bit rarer that magically active people took cyber or bioware. They took some, sure, but they were generally a little less augmented in those days than in SR4. Often they’d take maybe an Essence’s worth(boosted reflexes, cybereyes, or a smartlink or something, but remember with the old Priority system, Full Mage was prio A, Adept/Aspected Magician was Prio B, period, so they often didn’t have a ton of money.) Now cyber folks? They could hang-Dikote worked for them like anyone else, and unarmed cyber folks took Bone Lacing.

I just wanted to give a little background, btw, of how power has shifted over time a little bit. Dikote was removed in 4e, and yeah, weapon adepts sorta suffered-and then unarmed types were boosted through the roof.

Now people actually have, well, things they’re good at, and things they might want to rely on other team-members for. Remember Teamwork? Was that so bad? I don’t just mean ‘the decker decks, the rigger rigs, the mage mages, and the combat people combat’, I mean more in there. Maybe Mage 1 is more into conjuring and Mage 2 is more into spellcasting. Maybe the unarmed combat specialist has his strengths of being able to paste soft armor targets quickly, while the sniper/longarms expert takes care of harder targets, and the rigger has his mounted heavy weapons to take care of those pesky vehicles. Sure people can have backup skills and that’s awesome.

Runners can still be ‘one man Armies’ like Matrix in Commando. Just perhaps they might *actually* have to deal with a ‘boss fight’ once in awhile that they can’t blow past in one roll.

And once again a disclaimer: This was written by a person who A. Loves unarmed combat on characters in Shadowrun, and B. Prefers cinematic games and has houserules that help with them. (Hell, I’m knocking down the prices on some cyber and bioware because I feel they’re a bit too expensive, for example.)

Also-for the record, if you don’t like it that much-if you can’t stand the fact that runners can no longer one shot anything or anyone in melee from the getgo-then houserule. Use the old variant of Critical Strike. Bring the old Martial Arts rules back(they’d drop into SR5 perfectly.) Bring back Dikote if you want. It’s your table, do what you want with it. No one is going to break down your door and stop you.

I wanted to edit this with a comment- I’m not saying ‘don’t make characters who can do other things’. By all means, make a weapons adept who can hold his own if he loses his sword and can fight a little at ranged if need be. Make a decker who can pull out a staff and hang in melee if it comes to it. Give them all some backup social or repair skills or something. I wasn’t speaking of that as much as ‘Don’t be so hasty to call an unarmed character useless because he can’t take out super heavy armor targets instantly like the Sniper can or blow up vehicles like the Heavy Weapons specialist can.’

I am changing the Race setup as follows:

-Race Cost so far will be 35(Elf), 55(Dwarf), 65(Ork), and 130(Troll.) All stats are purchased from 1. No minuses, but then the new stats are added on. In-game, stats are purchased the same. So at chargen, it costs an Elf 25 Karma for Agility 4. (3+1=4.) In game, if he wants to buy it to 5, he’ll pay 20 Karma(since a 4 would be 20 Karma normally.) A Troll buying Body 6 at chargen pays 10 Karma. In-game, they’ll pay 15 Karma for a 7. They’ll pay 25 Karma to raise their Charisma to 3 at the start. If they buy their Cha to 2 at chargen, it’s 10 Karma, the 3 in game will cost 15. So all costs are the same, solving that issue. Yes-this means Humans purchase Edge as if it were one point lower; their 3 edge at Chargen will cost 10 Karma, or their 3 Edge in game will cost 10 Karma.

To put it short, if a stat would have a minus, it’s purchased as normal in game or in chargen. If a stat has a bonus, it’s purchased at a level of ‘Current Stat-Bonus’. It will still cost a Troll who wants to get maxed-out Body; yes, his Body 10 will cost the same in game as a Human 6, but the Human also started with more Karma.

Metahuman Costs were adjusted appropriately, using the formula I had whipped up in a lower post. With a higher cost at the start, it’ll help counterbalance the attribute costs in game. It will also make it so people aren’t pushed to play a ‘stereotype’ for a certain race, but they won’t be penalized if they wish to, either.

Whew. Again-this is the first draft. I’m still tinkering with concepts to ensure certain concepts don’t end up destroying or not. It’s going to take more time to perfect.

EDIT 1: Changed Race costs and how that’s purchased. No more minuses. Currently: Draft 2. Took out examples since they were made under the old draft.

New Concerns: Trolls may still be undercost. Other races feel fine. Concern for Trolls being able to raise their big stats super fast in game, though it won’t be cheap to do so in any case(a Troll who starts with Body 8 and wants a 10 in game will still need to pay 25 for the 9, and 30 for the 10, and 55 Karma is nothing to sneeze at. I don’t think it sounds that inappropriate, but tables who heap on extraordinary amounts of Karma awards may find them progressing quickly.)
Next up, I did some testing to see if the 730 starting Karma was appropriate.
Now-I know you can’t do 100% conversions. But, I DID at least convert the archetypes to Karma. I did this for a reason; I wanted to at LEAST get a ballpark together. The only way, IMO, to get a ballpark of a good Karma starting point, is to convert the characters. Yes-I know it’s not 1 for 1 for 1. But it is, IMHO, a very good way to at least see ‘Am I giving enough Karma to these characters that will enable them to hang properly with other Archetypes if people pick them, as well as not completely overshadow Archetypes if people use them at a table. Also, since the game is tuned roughly with Archetypes in mind, the amount of Karma given should be something around what the Archetypes are built with. (In SR4, I agree that 600-650 was good enough, since 400 BP characters were under what this new Priority system gives, but with the boost in power out of the gate, so there has to be a boost in Karma, to ensure the characters are equipped to deal with the ‘median’ of challenges that a GM might use.)

Another thing I had to factor in, Karmagen gives no freebies. All that free Edge and Magic and stuff needs to be compensated for, since it needs to be purchased.

As I suspected, 730 is a pretty good pick. They ranged of course-the lowest was under 650, the highest was actually well over *800* Karma.

Again, folks can pick a number that works for their table, but I’m of the opinion that a number of Karma that equals *roughly* what you can make with the Priority system is over 700 and under 730. I took the highest and lowest and removed them; I think they were sort of ‘fringe builds’ that could get what it needed on low(FWIW, that one was the Combat Mage at around 630), and high with insane skills(the Decker clocked in at 838 Karma.)

Also, sticking with the 410-420 absolute max Attributes I think is another good plan-several of the Archetypes have over 375. Some go to nearly 400.

Essentially, after looking them all over-730 feels right. Keep in mind, these numbers were found doing A. Buy from 1, no minuses on stats, and B. Using the following Race costs: Troll 130, Elf 35, Ork 65, Dwarf 55.

For those curious of the numbers(NOTE: There are some rougher numbers here: Assume each build is +/- 10 karma due to things like Bonus Karma on Resources-I counted Resources as the minimum you get in the Prio in calculating karma. So E Resources was 3 Karma, though they may have gotten more with Bonus Karma.)

Also factor in, due to *not* giving Bonus Karma with the Karmagen system, rolling it into the actual Karma is another reason for the Starting amount.

Bounty Hunter: 697 Karma
Smuggler: 731 Karma
Drone Rigger: 785 Karma
Gunslinger Adept: 706(Note: My rebuild clocked in at 692)
Technomancer: 721
Decker: 838
Tank: 701
Face: 746
Weapons Specialist: 716
Combat Mage: 626
Street Shaman: 704
Occult Investigator: 729-769(depending if Alchemical Preps count as spells)
Covert Ops: 671
Sam: 706
Physad: 745
Sprawl Ganger: 626

I highlighted some of the more ‘exceptional’ outliers on the low and high end. Only 4 of the 16 clock in under 700 Karma(and only 2 of those are under 650, the other 2 are closer to 700.) 10 are between 700-750. 2 clock in over 760(with a potential 3rd, I actually forgot the part about the Alchemical Preparations vs. Spells, so I’m going to need to re-read that.)

Again, using a very rough guideline, I think we found a good starting amount.

The Gunslinger Adept: Reborn

Out of all the archetypes, out of looking them over, two stood out at me a bit much. (Besides the lack of a 3rd dwarf, but that would just require getting a picture of that Mafiaoso Cigar-Smoking Dwarf slapped over the Brawler Adept and some stat adjustments. ;)) I had mentioned in my review about one, but the more I looked at it, the more I really wasn’t pleased with out it turned out.

It was the Gunslinger Adept. I felt that…he just didn’t seem to make much sense. His physical stats were way too low for a guy who did mad Gymnastics and had things like Natural Athlete. A new player would be suffering from extra recoil due to low Strength. Mistakes, thanks to his average Body(fine for a non-combat character, for a combat character, it’s a bit low and some of the less combat characters are harder-bodied…and no, the Technomancer and Occult Investigators are both human, not Orks), would be pretty harsh on the dude.

A lot of the archetypes are very well made this time around, but this guy definitely jumped out as ‘If I were new, I’d pass this guy over most like or want to build my own.’

I decided to rebuild him to a setup that I felt was more solid. Most of the stuff is staying the same-I’m keeping knowledge and language skills generally as they are, and so on. I’m mostly keeping his Active Skills the same, though they’ll need some adjustments.

First off, his new Priority setup:
A: Attributes
B: Race(Elf, 6 SA points. 4 to Magic, 2 to Edge.)
C: Skills(28/2)
D: Magic(2)
E: Resources: 6,000

Attributes:

Body: 5
Agility: 7
Reaction: 5(7)
Strength: 5
Charisma: 3
Intuition: 4
Logic: 2
Willpower: 3
Edge: 3
Magic: 6
Initiative: 9(11)+1d6(3d6)

Limits:
Physical: 7
Mental: 4
Social: 5

Physical Condition Monitor: 11
Stun Monitor: 10

Needless to say, MUCH MUCH better now, IMO. The guy has a little more in the Mental department, he has an extra Physical and Stun Monitor, he has Strength to get rid of some Recoil, higher Reaction and Intuition both for Initiative, and even a higher Agility to help out those skills. His Limits are nicer, to boot.

Adept Powers:

Attribute Boost(Agility 4, 1 PP)
Combat Sense(1, .5 PP)
Enhanced Accuracy(Pistols, Automatics-2, .5 PP)
Improved Reflexes(2, 2.5 PP)
Mystic Armor(2, 1 PP)
Spell Resistance(1, .5 PP)

Active Skills:

Survival Skill Group: 2

Automatics: 5
Pistols: 5
Longarms: 3
Unarmed Combat: 3
Gymnastics: 4
Running: 2
Sneaking(Urban): 3(+2)

Perception: 3
Etiquette: 2
Con: 2
First Aid: 1
Pilot Ground Craft: 1

Knowledge/Language Skills: 12 free points

Egyptian Ceramics 2, Weapon Manufacturers 4, BTL Dealers 1, Lakota N, English 4, Sperethiel 3

Qualities-Addiction(Mild, BTLs), Code of Honor(Assassin’s Creed), Natural Athlete
(20 Negative-7 Positive=13 more Bonus Karma, bringing total to 38)

3 Bonus Karma: Sperethiel 3

Bonus Karma Left: 35

Okay, to get more Bonus Karma for skills, he lost the Guts quality. But he did gain better attributes to help resist that stuff-I felt it was a good trade-off in general.

Contacts:

Black Market Gun Dealer: C3 L3
Target Ranger Operator: C 3 L 2

2 Bonus Karma: Used on Contacts

Left: 33

10 Bonus Karma: 20,000 nuyen(for 26,000 total)

Left: 23

Skills purchased or upgraded:

Etiquette 2(6 Karma)
Con 2(6 Karma)
First Aid 1(2 Karma)
Pilot Ground Craft: 1(2 Karma)

Left: 7 Karma

Perception: raised to 3(6 Karma)

1 Bonus Karma left. I used this to give him ‘BTL Dealers’ at 1, to match his Addiction.

Now, he’s going to lose some gear. But this guy I think had resources higher than he really needed to. We can make 26k work for this fellow rather easily.

Low Lifestyle(1 month)
Armor Jacket(1,000)-with Chem 2, Fire Res 2, Non Conductivity 3
Contacts(Capacity 3, w/ Smartlink and Vision Enhancement 1)
Earbuds(Capacity 3 with Audio Enhancement 1)
Fake Sin(Rating 2)
2 Fake Gun Licences Rating 4
Gecko Tape Gloves
Medkit(Rating 3, 2 refills
Sony Emperor Commlink

Knucks: 100(Unarmed Damage: 6P)

Ares Predator 5(w/ 100 regular rounds, 60 APDS rounds, Concealable Holster)

Ingram Smartgun X(w/ 100 rounds, 70 Stick n Shock)

PJSS Model 55 (w/50 regular, 40 Fletchette rounds)

Ruger Super Warhawk(w/ 60 Regular Rounds, Concealable Holster)

AK-97(Smartlinked,  w/ Gas Vent 3, Shock Pad, 100 Regular Rounds, 50 Gel Rounds, 50 APDS Rounds)

25,960 Spent

Starting Nuyen: 40+(3d6x60)

Okay, I had decided to swap out the Machine Pistol. I felt his Predator and Ruger were fine for pistols, and wanted to give him  2 Pistols, 2 Automatics, and a Shotgun. This character is, as his powers say, more focused on the former; though he is very capable in the Shotgun/Longarm department if need be. He’ll get himself a Sporting Rifle at some point later on(the book one, for what it’s worth, did not start with a rifle either.) He’s got a good Knowledge skill I think to find someone to get a reasonably low-Availability, low cost Machine Pistol.

Here we go, the updated Gunslinger Adept Archetype. IMO, this guy is a lot better for an archetype/sample character for a new player; I think his attributes and skills make more sense together with his physical skills, he holds up better, moves faster, and in general he’s got a nice range of stuff.

I’ll probably be upping Meta costs and swapping out the minus thing-runs into too many problems when it comes to progression. Becomes too optimal to increase things at one point instead of the other, which is one thing I want to get away from with Karmagen, while at the same time not pushing Metas into ‘stereotypes.’ Adjusted costs(tentative: 35 Elf, 55 Dwarf, 65 Ork, 130 Troll), but then everyone just buys their stats as if they were 1 at the start or in game. Could take care of that, though I need to test some Dwarf and Ork characters out. Elves and Trolls seem fine.)

We have the first draft so far. Will likely need more tweaking and fine tuning, of course.

I’m running with *730* Karma. After considering the freebies people got in the line(and they’re taken out, so you need to buy Magic and such), as well as some changes here and there, and the Bonus Karma, it was between 700-750, and I decided on 700+Bonus Karma and then rounded up 5 more for 730.

I’m nixing the freebie points; no free Magic or Skills. As cool as they are, it’s give and take, and Karmagen gives up the bennies for what is essentially complete character control. It’s a fair enough trade, IMO.

Meta costs I’m tentatively setting at 50(Trolls), 35(Orks) 40(Dwarves) and 25(Elves.) After doing some Mathy Things, I felt these costs would keep them from being ‘The Autopick over a Human’, but not making them so prohibitive that people won’t want ot pick them. (See below though for how I am handling stats.)

-Nuyen will be on a 1 for 2,000 basis, capping at 450k. Which means up to 225 Karma can be spent. (Debating up to 500k. I might go with 500k. Need to consider. It’s 250 Karma, so it’s a over a third of it, which sounds pretty fair to me. Or 470k, reflecting what one can get with Bonus Karma included. That would be 235 points worth. Still waffling on the maximum here.)

-Attributes cost as the book, New Rating x 5. See the next section, though, for how I deal with modifiers in this. You are allowed to spend up to 420 Karma on Attributes. Special Attributes are not counted in this, but you don’t get the freebie points either, remember. You can still only have 1 at the natural max(again, special attributes not counted.)

-Skills are skills. They cost skill cost from the book.

-Under Karmagen, as said, no more freebie points for Magic or other Special Attributes-they’re going to come right from the pool, but NOT count against the max allowed Attribute Points.

-Magic, Adept, and Technomancy should have a cost, but I don’t feel this should be excessive-20 Karma for a Full Mage or Mystic Adept, 10 for an Adept or Technomancer is what I’m playing with.

-Going to be giving free Knowledge and Language, as well as Contact Karma. Knowledge/Language Karma, I saw how much Karma it would cost to take 4 Knowledge Skills at Rating 3, Plus 1 Language at 3. That’s 30 Karma. This, IMO, is appropriate for someone with 3’s in Intuition and Logic. 3+3=6×5=30, so I think Int+Logx5 Knowledge and Language Karma is pretty solid.

-Contacts. I think a cost of Loyalty + Connection x2 works for the Contact Costs. Under standard rules, a 3 Charisma nets 9 Contact Points. I’d say Cha x 6 Karma would equalize it. Since 9 contact points would come out to two Contacts, one 2/3, one 2/2. Under Karma, these guys would cost 10 and 8 each. 3×6=18. Works out well.

-Spells cost 5 Karma each, up to twice a person’s Magic is allowed.

-Mystic Adept Power Points costs 5 Karma each, up to their Magic rating.

-Technomancer Complex Forms are 4 Karma each as per the book.

Okay, now for another rundown.

With Metas, I decided to have a Minimum of 1 point required in a stat. This means ANY Race with a ‘minus’, needs to ensure that stat is bought UP to at least one. Which means Trolls MUST put at least a 2 in their Agility, Reaction, Intuition, and Logic, and at LEAST 3 into their Charisma. A Dwarf must buy a Reaction of at least 2. Yes, they have to buy their races too. They get plenty of bennies to go with that. A 7 is a 7, regardless of who has it, and a troll can get a 7 very easily.

In other words, in order:

1. Stats start at 1.
2. Stats are purchased.
3. Bonuses-and penalties-are added or subtracted to stats.

Looking at Trolls, here’s a sample, ‘Balanced’ Troll Karma-Wise.

Body: 45 Karma(4+4=8)
Agility: 45 Karma(4-1=3)
Reaction: 45 Karma(4-1=3)
Strength: 25 Karma(3+4=7)
Charisma: 70 Karma(5-2=3)
Intuition: 45 Karma(4-1=3)
Logic: 45 Karma(4-1=3)
Willpower: 25 Karma=3

So our Troll here spent 345-almost half his Karma-and ends up with 8, 3, 3, 7, 3, 3, 3, 3. I don’t think that’s too bad at all, to be frank. Now let’s take a Dwarf, who gets less minuses. He’ll spend the same amount of points; 345. He gets 6, 4, 3, 6, 5, 4, 4, 4. His highs aren’t as highs, and his lows aren’t as lows. An Elf would be  4, 5, 4, 3, 7, 4, 4, 3.

Okay, let’s go back to Trolls. It is, I feel, important to be *somewhat* fair to the big guys and not force them to take really low stats in their big scores if they don’t want. But it should ALSO cost them, like it does everyone.

The Troll in question here-he can spend, by this rule, up to about 75 more points on Attributes. That’s actually pretty hefty. But keep in mind, he’s already spent 50 on his Race…and he hasn’t bought anything else. Give and take, that’s how it always is. I think a troll *should* be able to get big stats, but I also think they need to *pay* for them.

No free rides, no free lunches, and as people can see, you can *still* make a perfectly good meta, WITH big stats in their primary stats with this method. Yes, it costs. But that’s what stuff does. Cost. I understand this method is ‘but I need to pay for something I don’t use.’ It worked that way for years, and I think it’s about time it comes back. Those 5’s you start with in two stats? They are no worse than any other 5’s. And honestly, this way is *way* less brutal than the old way. I didn’t think the other way was harsh enough though.

So let’s say he’s like ‘I want to be Mr. Body.’ Looking at above, he popped 45 on his Body. He wants Body to be his one Max Stat, so he buys it up to a 6, which is another 55 Karma. He’s up to 400 Karma spent(plus his race), and he’s got 280 left as it is. Again, no Resources or Skills spent yet. He finally bites the bullet and adds 1 more to his Strength(he’ll stay a tank), spending another 20, so now he’s down to 260 Karma. He has a 10/3/3/8/3/3/3/3. Oh yeah-he hasn’t bought any Edge yet, either. He CAN spend another 20 on an attribute, but he decides to leave it well enough alone so he can get some other stuff.

He’ll raise his Edge by 1 point to 2, bringing him down to 250 Karma. Actually, he’s a tank. Tanks don’t live on 2 edge. Make that a 3, so he’s down to 235.

To buy an Active Skill of 6 is 42 Karma. An Active Skill GROUP of 6 is a whopping 105. Specializations cost 7 Karma now.

Now Mr. Troll here COULD just go and spend a bunch of Karma on, say, Skills of 4. 4, I always found in Karmagen, is a great middle ground. A Skill of 4 would run 20. A Skill Group of 4 is 50. Let’s say he decides to spend 200 Karma on Skills. He gets Close Combat 4, Firearms 4, and then picks 5 more skills at 4(Etiquette, Gymnastics, Sneaking, and 2 others.) This leaves him with 35 Karma. If he blew it ALL on Resources he’d get 70k, but he might want more Contacts or something as well.

But he’s not getting much ware at that point since he’s now officially down to 45 Karma, so any Combat Die pools are actually *not* going to be very impressive, when you think about it. That 3 Agility links to them. He’ll have 7 dice in any combat skills. Which actually for a Street Troll is pretty good. If he was to start dumping 6’s in things, he’s going to be giving up a lot for that, and he’ll pay for it, like anyone does who ditches stuff.

(And when it comes down to it, there’s no way to really prevent all hyperspecializing around the world; I am of the opinion eventually one needs to let it go and let the GM bring down the gavel when something gets out of control. People can balance a system as much as possible, but too much and it starts to feel shackley like 4e(and it’s not like 4e didn’t end up as Hyper Specialized Ork Land.)

If he had stuck with his first spread, he’d have had a lot more left for Resources, or more Edge. The first spread cost him 345 Karma, and he would have 75 more Karma to spend on Resources and Skills if he’d have stuck with it. Not unbalanced, though-by any means, since that first spread wasn’t all that high. He COULD dump all that into Resources and get 150k, which he could spend on ‘ware to boost his die pools a bit, but with +2 Agility, his 9 Combat Pool dice aren’t anywhere near out of place, and his other stats are more generalist, as well.

Let’s see a Human Sam-he wants ALL the money, so pops 225 Karma on it for the 450k, leaving him with 500. He goes with 4, 5, 4, 4, 3, 4, 3, 3,. That’s 325 Karma. Well below his limit. But now he’s only got 175 Karma for Skills, and his Edge is a Base 2. It’s pretty much up to him now what he wants to do with this.

For an example of a Hacker ‘I don’t care about Body and Strength’ troll, we have this:

Race: Troll(50 Karma)

Remaining: 680

B: 5(0 Karma, 1+4)
A: 3(45 Karma, 4-1)
R: 3(45 Karma, 4-1)
S: 5(0 Karma, 1+4)
C: 3(70 Karma, 5-2)
I: 4(70 Karma, 5-1)
L: 4(70 Karma, 5-1)
W: 5(70 Karma)

Total Karma: 370 on Attributes.

Remaining: 310

Edge: 3(25 Karma)

Remaining: 285

Skills: 200 Karma

Remaining: 85(Resources=170,000)

As I’m testing with these builds, it really isn’t a problem with the whole stat thing. I’ve built a Heavy Troll(and yes, this cost most points, but that’s how it IS if you have a lot of higher stats), a Middle Troll, and a Smart Troll. Of course the Middle Troll has the most to spend extra, but guess what-so does a Middle Human. I do respect that some may be twitchy at having to pay for stats they lower, but again-no freebies here. I wanted to go back to 1-1=0, not 1.

[Notes on Side: I did, under this method, consider free Metas due to minuses, making the minuses what you had to pay, but…well, you can blame Orks and Dwarves for that. They really do get far too much and have to pay far too little to not pay at all, and they would have, I’m afraid, become the absolute best pick for anything. I also didn’t want some to be free and some not. Trolls also do get other good things like the dermal armor and Reach. (They’ve generally been the problem race when it comes to balancing, though I’ll be fair here, and it was Orks and Dwarves that made me not want to give free metas. However, when paying, I also don’t feel they should pay AS much, but I felt that 30 Karma was pretty appropriate for them.]

In fact, I’ll sketch up a dwarf. We’ll say a Full Magician.

Dwarf: 40
Full Magician: 20

Karma Left: 670

Body: 4(10 Karma, 2+2)
Agility: 3(25 Karma)
Reaction: 3(45 Karma, 4-1)
Strength: 4(10 Karma, 2+2)
Charisma: 4(45 Karma)
Intuition: 4(45 Karma)
Logic: 5(70 Karma)
Willpower: 6(70 Karma, 5+1)
´
Total Base Attributes: 320
Left: 350

Edge: 3(25 Karma)
Magic: 6(100 karma)

Karma Left: 225

Active Skills:

Spellcasting: 5(30)
Counterspelling: 5(30)

Conjuring Skill Group: 4(50)

Assensing: 3(12)
Perception: 3(12)
Pistols: 3(12)
Gymnastics: 2(6)
Clubs: 2(6)
Artificing: 2(6)
Etiquette: 2(6)

Spells(50 Karma)

Choose 10

Left: 5 Karma(10,000 Resources)

Now, he of course hasn’t spent or gotten any Bonus Karma. I think we have a good, functioning Dwarf mage, with strengths and weaknesses. He could have, for example, dropped Edge by a point to save 15 and gotten more spells or skills, or gotten more Resources. I just got some very base stuff here(covering all of his magical skills, for example.) His Resources are a bit low. Pistols 2 might be appropriate enough to drop for that.

Another test: Stabby the Ork. He has spikey red hair and likes swords. Adept. The test here is to see how much a Hyperspecialist holds up, and if they lose *enough* for hyperspecializing.

Ork: 35
Adept: 10
Qualities(Aptitude/Equal Negative, to zero out)

Left: 685

Body: 8(70 Karma, 5+3)
Agility: 6(100 Karma)
Reaction: 4(45 Karma)
Strength: 7(70, 5+2)
Charisma: 2(25 Karma, 3-1)
Intuition: 4(45 Karma)
Logic: 2(25 Karma, 3-1)
Willpower: 3(25 Karma)

Magic: 6(100 Karma)
Edge: 2(10 Karma)

Total Spent on Primary: 405
Special: 110

Karma Left: 170

Blades(Swords): 7(+2)(63)
Gymnastics: 4(20)

Spent(On Primary Skills here, just to show the hyperspecialization): 83. He has 87 Karma to buy other skills and use on Resources. Now he could spend 15 to drag his Charisma up to 3 to throw more backup Social dice or something, but that will only leave him with 77 Karma. That’s enough for 3 more skills at 4 and 1 at 3, or a bunch of 2’s, but he won’t be particularly good outside his specialty.

Now, one can spend up to 420 on Attributes. 8 4’s come out to 360. I wanted to give specialists a little more wiggle room. 420 allows 2 5’s and 6 4’s.

A Human, Elf, Ork or Dwarf could be a pretty good ‘budget samurai’ with this setup(their extra Resources could at least get some of the ‘Sammy Standard’ Wired Reflexes and Muscle Replacement, though heavy Bioware is probably out of the picture) , but I don’t think they’d be overpowered.

My main goal with this is to be able to make a character without feeling like your scrimping left and right, but give some limitations, of course. 730 felt the best Karma wise-I tried out 700-750, and beyond 730 felt like a bit too much, but 700 felt like I could make better characters under the Priority System.

Now, naturally, one needs to see some of the ridiculous stuff to see just how bad it is:

[spoiler]Elf-25
Attributes: 410 (5, 6, 4, 4, 6, 4, 4, 4)
Total
Edge: 3(25)

270 Karma Remaining

Influence Skill Group: 4
Firearms Skill Group: 4
Close Combat Skill Group: 4
Stealth Skill Group: 4

(200 Karma)

70: Resources(140k)

Well, this guy looks pretty scary. He can afford Wired 1(39k), Muscle Replacement 2(50k), and that’s about 2/3 of his Resources. Dare I say though he’s not OP. 10 dice for Influence skills, 12 dice for combat skills, and Agility Linked stealth skills. He doesn’t have any Perception or Gymnastics, though, to help him out with combat.

Again I want to touch on the minuses. I tried other things. Stat Bonus Point Total x10, for example, would make Elves cost 30, Orks 70, Dwarves 50, and Trolls 80. I feel Trolls are undercost with this. See, the stat caps, IMO, aren’t disadvantages if you never plan on using them. I mean, a Human or Troll leaving a 2 in Charisma will have the same social issues, yes-but the Troll gets two free 5’s, where the human doesn’t. (Yes, Edge is good, don’t get me wrong.) Now, at the same time, x 20? And metas are suddenly too expensive. At 60, 140, 100, and 160? Yeah, that’s too harsh. Might as well do the old Companion method at that point.

Now, I considered x 15. This would put the costs at 45, 105, 75, and 120, but those…eh, something just doesn’t feel right about them. Elves are still a bit too expensive, and Orks are, IMO; pretty damn expensive under this one.

When it came down to it, I felt the minuses were the most balanced way to do this. It’s not crippling. You can still make a wide variety of metas. It’s simply a cost.

‘So why not take the cost of what it would take to bring those stats up to 2, add that to the base Karma costs, and run with that?’

Well, this is why. It costs a Human 140 points to get 2 5’s like a Troll. To get their other stats at 2, it would cost 60. That’s 200 Karma. Say a Troll cost 100 Karma. They get the 2 5’s…and then, to raise all of their other stats to 2-by the non minus rules-would run them 40 points for Agility, Reaction, Logic, and Intuition(total), and another 25 for Charisma, meaning they’d get the same stats for 165 Karma total. It felt too cheap.

Under this method, it costs the Troll a total of 205 Karma, but they get other things as well, making it not an ‘autopick’. You can still pick the race you want and you’ll be fine. I’ve really made up several characters of different races here-both playing for type and against type, and these minuses are not nasty.

Okay-Humans get that Edge point, so it would cost a Troll a total of 215 to get the 2 5’s, all 2’s and an edge of 2, where a human it would cost 200 to get that. But with the other benefits(reach, etc), I feel it evens out.

For a final attempt, I’m going to try an Adept Generalist. No *glaring* weaknesses, but no massive specialities, either.

Human: 0 Karma
Adept: 10 Karma
Left: 720

Attributes:
B 4
A 5
R 4
S 4
C 4
I 4
L 4
W 4

Total: 375

Left: 345
Edge: 3(15 Karma)
Left: 330

Magic: 6(100 Karma)-6 PP’s worth of assorted generalist powers

Left: 230

Active Skills: 210

Stealth Skill Group: 4(50)
Athletics Skill Group: 3(30)
Influence Skill Group: 3(30)
Blades: 5(30)
Pistols(Semi-Automatic): 4(+2)(27)
Longarms: 3(12)
Perception: 3(12)
Pilot Ground Craft: 1(2)
Unarmed Combat: 3(12)
Electronics Skill Group: 1

Left: 20

(He’d get 40 Karma for Knowledge and Language skills, and 24 Contact Karma.)

Resources: 20(40,000 nuyen)

Well, I dunno-I think it works. Once again, not too OP, fits a generalist.

Whew. Again-this is the first draft. I’m still tinkering with concepts to ensure certain concepts don’t end up destroying or not.

Working a little here on a possible Karmagen system for SR5. It’s early, but why not? Variety is always good. I have something working here, but I want to give it a little more tweaking before I post it up. I have pretty high hopes for it that it’ll work out well. It’s going to try to keep metas balanced and I’m tweaking starting Karma; trying to take some of the freebies into account.

 

Hopefully I’ll have it up over the next day or two.

So, now it’s finally time for the ‘Normal Mode’ character. This is the character that’s made with the standard Priority system in SR5, to see how it rolls. The character in question is going to be a big Elven unarmed Adept fellow.

A:  Attributes(24)
B: Race(6 Special Attribute Points)
C: Skills(28 points, 2 skill group points)
D: Magic(Magic Rating 2)
E: Resources(6,000)

Attributes: A(24)

B: 5
A: 6
R: 4
S: 7
C: 4
I: 4
L: 2
W: 3

I see this guy as being extremely strong, tough, and physically imposing; an elf of rather enormous size. Taking attributes for A in this case, getting 24 points, and thinking ahead(I want Exceptional Attribute: Strength for him to show just how strong he is.) He’s also very agile, which is kinda scary on a big dude. Charisma is at a 4; it’s less ‘elven charm’ and more ‘scary magnetism’ in his place, he’s not particularly the type who spends a lot of time in the likability department. Everything else is average or above average, save Logic; he’s more street smart than book smart, though he’s not stupid, so I wanted at least a 2 there, showing it’s more something that he doesn’t particularly focus on(though he does own books about fighting history and technique, so this is something that could get improved later on.)

Now to fix his special attributes. His magic seems low for now, but no worries; with 6 Special Attribute points, we’re going to stuff 4 into Magic(bringing it to the max of 6), and another 2 into Edge, giving him a respectable 3.

Edge: 3
Magic: 6
Essence: 6
Initiative: 8+1d6

Active Skills I decided will be C, for 28 points. This will give him enough skills I feel that will make him good at what he does, and let him get a few other rounded skills as well. He also gets 2 Skill Group points, which will come in handy.

Athletics Skill Group: 2

Pistols(Semi-Automatics): 3(+2)-4
Etiquette(Street): 3(+2)-4
Intimidation(Physical): 3(+2)-4
Sneaking(Urban): 1(+2)-2
Unarmed Combat(Savate): 6(+2)-7
Pilot Ground Craft(Wheeled): 1(+2)-2
Perception: 3-3
Free Fall: 2-2

His skillset is fairly broad and well enough taken care of. While he’s definitely specialized, he has some other things he can do. I specialized him in Savate; a style that suits his huge frame and long legs(being a heavily kicking oriented style), though I imagine he had some decent Carromeleg training growing up(though it’s not his actual ‘specialty’ so to speak.) The two probably mix for a pretty impressive looking style, though his hits are *hard* and brutal. If he grounds someone-especially if they tried to use excessive force on him-he’s not one to let them get up again. He learned to shoot pretty well, as it’s a helpful skill to have if you end up in combat with people that have ranged weapons. He’s not terrible in the social department either if need be.

His Logic of 2 and Intuition of 4 gives him 12 Knowledge/Language skill points. After some thought, these ended up fitting:

Underground Bloodsport Rings: 3
Magical Theory: 2
Underground Clubs: 2
Industrial Metal Music: 2
Fine Spirits: 1

English: N
Sperethiel: N
German: 2

Being Bilingual(see Qualities), he has two fluent, native languages which can come in very handy. He picked up some German in his old studies, though he’s not particularly fluent, he can get around. He knows where the bloodsport rings are, and he’s started to get more into magical theory, given that he is magically active. He also knows spots to hang out and his favorite music. As for fine spirits, he can’t drink the soy stuff, after all!

Moving onto the Magic side, being an Adept, he gets to pick 6 Power Points worth of Adept Powers. Looking them all over, I give him this set:

Killing Hands: .5
Imp. Reflex 1-1.5
Critical Strike(Unarmed 1)-.5
Imp. Ability(Unarmed 1)-.5
Combat Sense 1-.5
Mystic Armor 1-.5
Improved Strength 2-2

Picked powers, of course, for what I see him with. It’s a very ‘basic’ set. There of course were some considerations; more levels of Critical Strike(Unarmed), but with his 9 strength and that he’s hitting like a sledgehammer anyway. The extra ability point to Unarmed gives him 15 dice to roll in his specialty. Improved Reflexes is expensive but extremely useful for a combat character, doubly one in melee. Killing Hands is probably something he had developed while in the bloodsport rings, along with light Combat Sense and Mystic Armor.

Finally, since the theme of ‘this character is fragging strong’, developing some levels of Improved Strength(and that tattoo on him might just turn into a Qi focus for more of that…) seemed fitting and natural despite the high cost.

Now, it’s time for Qualities.

Thinking about Qualities, I knew I wanted Exceptional Attribute: Strength. For a character bit, I wanted Bilingual. He’s completely fluent in both English and Sperethiel, having grown for awhile in the elven areas before he decided to leave them behind(his family was a bit too supremacist for him, and he’s actually very cool with the rest of the races. He doesn’t see himself as better for being an elf. Shock! But due to this, I can see this character having both languages as fluent.)

Positive Qualities:

Exceptional Attribute: 14(Strength)
Bilingual: 5
total: 19

For negative, given the resources he’ll end up with (E, AKA: Priority Broke Ass) , a Mild Soy allergy is actually kinda harsh. Unless he starts making more money quickly, he’ll be eating stuff that leaves him with a serious stomach-ache. Having been born into a proper household, SINner fits him. His Bad Rep around underground gambling comes from his underground ring fights. He had a habit of coming into fights where he was placed as the underdog and literally killing the competition, costing some high gambling people a lot of money; he’s not well liked in some of these circles(even though it’s not *his* fault that they bet against him.) He would like to try to figure out a way to shed this rep, but he wasn’t about to start losing to do it, since underground gambling crime rings aren’t exactly uncommon.

Negative Qualities:

Allergy(Mild, Soy): 10
SINner: 5
Bad Rep(Underground gambling rings): 7

Total: 22

Karma Left: 28

With 28 Bonus Karma, that gives him a wide array of stuff he can do. Given his physical skill, and the amount of martial arts type stuff he does, thinking about it, I think he’d be fitting if I broke the Athletics Group up and increased Gymnastics to 3, with 6 of those 28 Points. So he’d have Gymnastics 3, Climbing 2, and Running 2. He’d probably have put a little more time into the Gymnastics, but his natural monstrous strength helps him along with the other two(perhaps he relies too much on it, in fact, rather than developing proper form.) [Note: The SR5 book does NOT have breaking skill groups on the ‘Additional Restrictions’ chart, nor does it specifically forbid it in any of the pages I can see, so I’ll be doing it with this sample character.]

This leaves him with 22.

Bonus Nuyen:  He’s really broke at the moment having bailed his partner out of a bad situation, along with his fights drying up since the gambling dens seem to have a problem with him winning a lot. However, perhaps he came into a small windfall somewhere(maybe he ‘accidentally’ tripped over an angry bookie’s face several times after he was attacked, and grabbed his cred.) He’ll convert 5 Karma into 10,000 Nuyen, giving him a more respectable starting total of 16,000 to take care of business with.

That leaves him with 17, which after some thought, will be spent:

Extra Contact(2C 1L)-3 Karma: Jackson, Club Owner. Frequenting industrial-style clubs these days on his spare time, he got to know one of the owners. While he’s still getting to know him, there is a chance, after developing just a bit more trust-he’s got a bit of a violent reputation in the underground, after all-that he could start doing some bouncer work there.)
Computer: 1-2 Karma(He’s a regular Sixth World citizen and is naturally somewhat literate in this)
Knowledge Skills(3 Karma): Taking Japanese at 2 to show that he’s brushed up on that, since it’s a useful language to have(and sort of showing how he’s trying to expand his academic knowledge a bit).
Blades 1(2 Karma) : While he much, much prefers the visceral edge of unarmed combat and is much better at it, given his upbringing, I can see him having dabbled in swordplay. He may decide to do more with the katana he had picked up on a whim one day when he had more nuyen coming in.
First Aid 2(6 Karma): A handy skill to have, he’s got some very basic ideas of what to do, though he’s definitely not going to put anyone completely broken back together again. Stuff picked up from having to do some basic fixing to himself after a ring match.
Realizing he should have a Fake SIN, and they’re more expensive now, 1 Karma goes to more Nuyen, for an extra 2,000.

That takes care of his Bonus Karma. He has a pretty good skillset; specialized but with some extra things to help out here and there. His 1’s will be able to turn into 2’s with some Karma expenditure, but he’s at least started on them.

He has 18,000 nuyen to spend on equipment. Like the others, I’ll do the complete list at the end. His Lifestyle is going to be Middle, despite his shorter resources-he needs that real food and needs to buy extra on his own. After rolling, he will be starting with 2,065 nuyen(he had 65 left after all of his purchases.

Contact time! His Charisma of 4 gets him 12 points free. He’ll grab:

Spanky: C4 L3 Fixer, Spanky. He had met Spanky through his partner, and is getting to know him better. Spanky is actually quite well connected, though his ‘connections’ seem to match his ‘loyalty’ in the sense that the better he knows you, the more ‘connected’ he seems. So he’s working his way up. He’s ‘almost pals’ with him at the moment. (For the record, Spanky is the main fixer and a very prominent NPC at my Shadowrun table. Which is why the whole gang has him in particular.)
Derrik: C1 L5-A tall human male of about 25 years, he frequents the clubs. He counts as a contact since he does seem to have some information here and there. They have not dug too far into each other’s pasts, Derrik actually has some physical augmentations for sports(he seems to play football, which Spanky fully supports), though he looks(and really acts) nothing like a jock and everything like a rivethead, much like Downfall. They are kind of an item, despite such a thing sometimes being a little dangerous in the shadows. He doesn’t seem to mind this dude is more than a head taller.
And he has his bonus, Jackson, at C2, L1.

So, what’s the whole thing look like?

Name: Gaelorite Tighearnach
Alias:  Downfall
Race: Elf
Gender: Male
Height: 7’7”
Weight: 365lbs
Age: 28
Hair: Long, black
Eyes: Ice blue

General Appearance/Personality:   Downfall is a massive man; what a large professional basketball player might be next to an average human, he is next to an average elf. While he does still have a bit more of the ‘elven slender’ build, calling him slender would be a misnomer, he’s built like a powerful martial artist. He wears his black hair long, and is naturally rather pale. He has a very much ‘industrial/gothic/rivethead’ look in his appearance and dress; cargos, huge, steel-reinforced combat boots(oft used in his Savate to nasty effect), tank tops and longcoats(though an armor jacket is worn when protection is needed.) Downfall can be downright scary at times, though both Derrik and Spanky have seen the nicer side of him, which does exist. He’s not too picky about the work he takes though-yes, even the dirty, nasty jobs that turn you into a cold hearted bastard. He’s not one to take threats against his person(or those close to him, but don’t tell anyone), and he’ll respond with sheer brutality if lethal force is used(note: what he perceives as lethal force), but he knows the importance of Not Doing Really Bad Stuff In Broad Daylight, so he’s far from an uncouth liability. He just sometimes needs to get a favor from Spanky to clean up some(literal)mess from time to time.

Attributes:

B: 5
A: 6
R: 4(5)
S: 7(9)
C: 4
I: 4
L: 2
W: 3

Edge: 3
Magic: 6
Essence: 6
Initiative: 8(9)+1d6(2d6)

Physical Monitor: 11
Stun Monitor: 10
Overflow: 5

Armor: 13

Positive Qualities: Exceptional Attribute(Strength), Bilingual
Negative Qualities: Allergy(Mild, Soy), SINner(Normal), Bad Rep(Underground gambling rings)

Limits:

Physical: 8(9)
Social: 6
Mental: 4

Active Skills:

Climbing: 2
Running: 2
Gymnastics: 3
Pistols(Semi-Automatics): 3(+2)
Etiquette(Street): 3(+2)
Intimidation(Physical): 3(+2)
Sneaking(Urban): 1(+2)
Unarmed Combat(Savate): 6(+2)[7+2]
Pilot Ground Craft(Wheeled): 1(+2)
Perception: 3
Free Fall: 2
First Aid: 2
Blades: 1
Computer: 1

Knowledge/Language:

Underground Bloodsport Rings: 3
Magical Theory: 2
Underground Clubs: 2
Industrial Metal Music: 2
Fine Spirits: 1

English: N
Sperethiel: N
German: 2
Japanese: 2

Adept Powers:

Killing Hands
Improved Reflex(1)
Critical Strike(Unarmed, 1)
Improved Ability(Unarmed, 1)
Combat Sense(1)
Mystic Armor(1)
Improved Strength(2)

Equipment and Lifestyle:

Middle Lifestyle(1 month)
Fake Sin Rating 1
Katana(Acc 7, Reach 1, 12P, AP-3)
Knucks/Bootknucks(Str+1 Damage)
Unarmed Strike(11P, Limit 9)
Combat Knife(Acc 6, 11P, AP-3)
Survival Knife(Acc 5, 11P, AP-1)
Ares Predator V(Acc 5(7), AP -1, 8P, 15(c))
4 spare clips
60 rounds APDS ammo(-4 AP)
Concealable Holster
Armor Jacket(12 Armor)
Leather Duster(4 armor)
Sony Emperor Commlink w/Hot Sim Mod
Subvocal Mic
Certified Credstick(Silver)
Capacity 3 Contacts
w/Vision Magnification, Flare Compensation, and Thermographic Vision
Survival Kit
Chemsuit 3
Climbing Gear
Medkit Rating 3
Medkit Supplies(1)
Gas Mask

Starting Nuyen: 2,115

Contacts:

Jackson(Club Owner): C2/L1
Derrik(Partner): C1/L5
Spanky(Fixer): C3/L2

Background: His legal name alone pretty much marks him as a red-blooded member of Tir, though he could care less either way. He’s not ashamed of his heritage, nor does he particularly embrace it, except for speaking the language fluently(and for him it’s just something that’s useful.)

After breaking away from Tir after an unfortunate altercation with a family rival’s son, he made his way to Seattle, being kinda happy he was away from his parent’s not-quite-racist but not-particularly-welcoming ways. He was being groomed for high level security work before he left since he was an early teenager(magically active? Check. Exceptionally large and strong for his age? Check. Wealthy family? Check), being eighteen when he left home he had quite a bit of skills under his belt, but no money to speak of(and discovered that the nutrisoy that was more common in the lower rungs made him kinda ill.) He needed money, so he turned toward fighting in underground rings.

He found he won fight after fight, and his sort of retro-gothic rivethead appearance and brutal tactics won the crowd over. Over the years, he ended up tied up in the nastier bloodsport rings after getting an unscrupulous ‘manager’, which he began pulling in bigger winnings with. One of his more famous brutal kills came when his own manager had set in to throw the fight. The other guy pulled a gun, and all bets were off; no matter how much the manager tried to call him off, the opponent was killed in a spectacularly messy manner in the ring, though not with a machinegun, but with a series of rapid hits from Downfall’s hands, knee, and finally his giant, steel-laced boot.

After he started costing some of the other managers far too much money(in both bets AND dead fighters), his reputation in the ring soured. (Oh, the managers knew their fighters were probably destined to either die or be maimed horribly…but not THAT quickly or THAT often.) His way of earning money drying up, he began to take what odd jobs in the shadows he could. Through a guy he was(and still is) seeing, he met a fixer by the name of Spanky, who began to set him up with work. Spanky also serves real alcohol in his sports bar, which is of an extra benefit.

Final Verdict: The standard rules can make very, very good characters. Allowing myself to make a comparison, I always felt held back in SR4. This could be a result of our typically more cinematic-style games, but I just didn’t like what I felt were the artifical limiters(only one skill at 6 or two at 5, the extreme cost of maxing an attribute felt like less balance and more arbitrary(really, it was ONE die, and it takes 3 dice to average a success in this system), as well as the rather low limit placed on attributes. In this, you have a lot of freedom picking-is your character naturally very talented? Are they rich? Are they skill monkeys? You get enough points IMO not to feel stifled, BUT still you don’t get enough to feel like there is nowhere to go-which I also think is important. As much as I loved SR3, I felt that with some character builds(namely, mundane orks and dwarves, thanks to their fairly beefy bonuses and low priority) you could get about everything you wanted and have to strain to figure out what else to get. The bonus skill(s)-as with the Street level mage I made-is wonderful, and I’m glad it’s in.

As a runner, I feel like Downfall here has what he needs to be successful at what he does, even though he’s specialized. His main duty would be heavy-hitting front line brutality, but he’s got enough other skills to back up his team-mates and be far from a liability, which is important I feel for a ‘regular’ power game. Now, of course, people can still end up building a super-specialized character even in the most cinematic of rules, but I found that I had enough to get him what I wanted him to be really good at, as well as extra things. I somehow feel that, despite skills going up to 12, smaller skill die pools for backup skills feel more viable again(and skills aren’t terribly difficult to raise so it’s always something to work toward.)

I actually feel like I can make a character with attributes in any priority-even E. However, I feel that the lower the Attribute priority goes, the more valuable the ‘bigger stat races’ get. I mean sure, take a high bonus stat race with high Attributes and you’re sitting nice, but where the real value gets seen are low. I can make Handsome Bob(Short for Bobert), Troll Face, with Attributes in E, and his base Body and Strength of 5 will still make him plenty tough and able to handle himself with a club if need be. Hell, you can make a damn good Ork/Dwarf/Troll combat character with lower attributes; remember, that 7 in Body may be average for a Troll, but it doesn’t make it any less a 7. Also-and this is important to keep in mind-even though die pools can potentially get pretty nice-sized when you start buying that Blades skill up to 8, 9, and 10, it does take time; and a Physical Limit past 10 I don’t see too many people needing to worry about. You’d need to get more than 10 successes a pop, and if you’re in a situation where you DO need to worry about getting more than 10 to do anything, you might want to be looking at that Edge anyway. (Of course, I sorta broke this a bit with Downfall here, but it was more for character purposes. If I wanted to optimize 100% rather than some light to moderate minmaxing, I’d have probably done something else with those 2 power points.)

Skills I feel are good. While I haven’t done Priority A or B yet with Skills(perhaps I will for another fun test), at FIRST I thought maybe D and E were a little too low even for the ‘Below Average’ and ‘Broke Ass’ priorities. However, then I gave it some more thought. If you’re taking skills at a lower Priority, it’s probably either A. Character purposes-your character just isn’t a skill monkey, in other words-or B. You may be magically active, in which case you get a free skill(or even two, my Shaman got a whopping 10 points of free skills.) So I think at the end it works out.

I would say this ranks eight and a half Mohawks out of five. It DOES lose a bit-while this character does not have cyber, I feel that Beta grade cyberware should be allowed at the start; the +4 to Availability under the book rules would balance out itself, I think, preventing the ‘big nasties’ from being available for too cheap.

Well, that was fun. I’m actually tempted to do some character fiction now.I’ll probably be doing some more testing of this with these characters as well in situations for the blog, which I’ll be watching SR5 closely for.

Alrighty, and next, we’re going to do the Prime runner, a la the regular prime runner rules(not the one in the back of the book where you can take two Priority A’s or anything.)

For this, I’ll be taking advantage of the high Resources and taking them A. The idea I have is a human male ‘street sam’ type whose resemblance to Adam Jensen is strictly coincidental. Kinda.

The major differences between Prime and Normal are:

-More starting resources
-More Contacts
-More Bonus Karma
-A bit higher Availability allowed
-Able to convert more Karma to Nuyen, up to 50,000(essentially allowing up to 550,000 resources.)

Welp, knowing that, let’s get started!

Resources: A(500,000)
Attributes: B(20)
Skills: C(28/2)
Race: D(3 Special Attribute points)
E: –

Being a Mundane Human, he essentially gets to start with a 4 Edge. This is great, IMO, since mundanes should have a bit of that extra edge. I’m here all week, guys.

So, attributes. He’s going to be a sam, so I’ll be weighing in Physical attributes higher than Mental Attributes, but I don’t want to leave him completely deficient; in fact, I think I’m going to go with a balanced spread. I can see that on this guy, anyway; improved in the Physical sense, perhaps average in the Mental sense, but thanks to the cyberware, he’s going to be boosted considerably higher.

Body: 4
Agility: 5
Reaction: 4
Strength: 4
Charisma: 2
Intuition: 3
Logic: 3
Willpower: 3
Edge: 4
Essence: 6
Initiative: 7+1d6

There, nice and easy. He’ll be well-primed to take the giant pile of bio and cyberware I’m going to stuff into him for big bonuses. Thinking things over, I had decided to swap a point out of Charisma for Agility; he can be a bit abrasive at times, though he’s not socially inept.

With no Magic or Resonance to worry about, we can skip pretty quickly right to the Qualities part of the character creation. Looking over the Qualities, this still un-named fellow’s personality and background are starting to come out a bit(perhaps he never asked for that.)

Positive Qualities: Toughness(9 Karma), High Pain Tolerance Lv. 2(14 Karma). Total: 23 Karma
Negative Qualities: Mild Addiction(Alcohol, +4 Karma), Insomnia(+10 Karma), SINner(+5 Karma). Total: +19 Karma

Okay, so SINner gets used again. It’s fitting for this guy though-I see him having been a member of society(and possibly coerced through the use of cyberware, which could explain some of his high-grade heavy implants.) The stress of his job led him to take to the drink a bit(though he’s not bad with it), and the heavy implants took a toll on his biorhythms, causing mild insomnia; sometimes he has those bad nights where he stays in his dark pad, up late with the trid on.

As for his positive qualities, I like the idea of him being really tough; both Toughness and Pain Resistance are great for this.

This combination leaves him with 31 Bonus Karma to spend at the end.

And that brings us to Active Skills, since there is no magic or Matrix like things to deal with. He gets 28 points and 2 Skill Group points to spend. Thinking over his skillset, he’ll have plenty of combat skills and a few other skills appropriate to his role.

Athletics Skill Group: 2
Pistols: 4
Automatics: 5
Longarms(Shotguns): 2(+2)
Unarmed Combat: 5
Pilot Ground Craft: 2
Etiquette(Corporate): 2(+2)
Negotiation: 3
Intimidation: 3

Skilled in guns and close combat, he’s got enough other skills that he picked up to help out. He’s learned to deal mainly with corporate entities, hence his specialization in Corporate Etiquette, and he’s learned to both strongarm folks and deal with them in a more civilized manner. If he feels like it. I didn’t specialize him in a ton of stuff, since I generally see him as fairly well schooled in many aspects. His close combat style is ‘”&%¤ you up style” utilizing fists, knees, elbows, feet, heads, walls, desks, pavements, and the like, though perhaps he may decide to focus on a style(he’s studied a few styles that he mashed together into that one.) As for Longarms, he’s used shotguns more than rifles, though he’s had some rifle training(he just doesn’t own one at the moment.
More Bonus Karma will definitely be spent here, though; he lacks a few skills I really wanted for him along with these, but 31 is a pretty hefty amount of Bonus Karma to play with(and he won’t need Resources or any Attribute increases.) I’ll do that when it’s time to spend the Bonus Karma(I’ll be doing these in the book order.)

Let’s do some Knowledge and Language skills. His Intuition+Logicx2=12 points to spend.

Shadowrunner Haunts: 2
Safehouse Locations: 3
Security Procedures(Corporate):2(+2)
Cyberclinics Locations: 1

English: N
Japanese: 3

Next, we move onto Resources. With 500,000 to spend, before gear, we’re going to head RIGHT on into the ol’ Cyberware and Bioware section, and starting loading our friend up with stuff to let him hurt people better(and, well, do that quiet thing too maybe.) To make this simpler, I’m going to go down the line with the ware I would like for him, and then explain things about some of it.

Cybereyes(Rating 4)-14,000, .5 Essence
Low-Light, Thermographic, Flare Compensation, Smartlink, Vision Enhancement 3: 20,000 nuyen
Internal Air Tank(Rating 3)-.25 Essence, 13,500
Datajack-.1 essence, 1,000
Muscle Augmentation Lv. 3: 63,000, .6 Essence
Muscle Toner Lv. 3: 66,000, .6 Essence
Tailored Pheremones Lv. 1: 31,000, .2 Essence
Aluminum Bone Lacing: 1 essence, 18,000
Synaptic Boosters Lv. 2: 190,000, 1 essence
Orthoskin Lv. 3: 18,000, .9 Essence

=434,500, 5.15 Essence

Whew! Well he almost blew his entire wad of nuyen, but he’s got plenty left over for a decent Lifestyle, a vehicle, and plenty of gear. Those Synaptic Boosters really set him back. But this setup gives him a rather impressive set of Attributes now. Perhaps later on he’ll get stuff increased to Alphaware to plug even more into himself. He’s still got SOME level of Essence left at least, though he’s pretty well loaded.

This loadout will give him +3 to his Agility, Body, and Strength, +1 to his Influence/Acting skill groups(or the skills within), enhanced vision, +2 to his Reaction and +2d6 Initiative Dice to get him faster. Eventually, some Skillwires wouldn’t go un-noticed, though right now, they’re even a bit out of a prime runner’s price range. I’m considering trying to fiddle out a bit more for Orthoskin to help out there.

His ware is all suitable to the work he’s in; which is heavy firepower and close quarters combat, along with a bit of the ‘tank’ between his bone lacing and positive qualities.

Now, for gear. This is stuff that he had from his past, as well as some of the newer stuff he picked up. (i’m actually just going to list this on his character sheet at the end so you don’t have to sit through two of this guy’s lists; his gear list is considerably more extensive than the other two characters.)

180 left.
Starting: 2100 rolled=2,180

We’ve managed to blow it all down to 1780, and with rolled money, he starts with 2,180 on his credsticks. As you’ll see on the finished sheet, he had enough for a Low Lifestyle(safehouse) along with his normal Middle Lifestyle, a Docwagon Basic Contract, and a motorcycle, along with a lot of other useful odds and ends.

Now, we’re going to go and figure out two things: Contacts, and Bonus Karma. The Prime rules grant him Chax6 Contact Points. He gets 12, as he’s not the most charismatic guy around. For him, I decide on:

Fixer: C4 L3(7 points)
Street Doc: C3 L2(5 points)

Two decently connected contacts. His fixer is Spanky, the Irish Troll, for the reason that in my Shadowrun games, he is the primary fixer around the area. The Street Doc is a man who goes by the name of Douglas, an aging fellow who might resemble Morgan Freeman a bit(in his early fifties) who was likewise part of the same corp whom ended up leaving after an ‘incident.’ The two have known each other long enough to build up the trust a bit, though they’re still a little more on the business standpoint. Douglas likes to lecture this fellow over his slowly overloading himself.

Bonus Karma is 31, and that is going to go to some skills I really wanted him to have:

Sneaking 3-12 Karma
Perception 3-12 Karma
Throwing Weapons 2-6 Karma
With the last Karma, he’ll get a point in Video Games of the 21st Century, one of his interests that he’s getting more and more into.

For some final calculations, he has a Mental limit of 4, a Social Limit of 4(thanks to Tailored Pheremones), and a Physical limit of 9. He’ll probably want to use some Karma to increase those other Limits a little bit eventually. Hes got 10’s in his two Condition Monitors and an overflow of 4. His total armor is a rather impressive 17(12 for his coat, 2 for his Bone Lacing and 3 for his Orthoskin.)

As with the Street Shaman, now we’re going to do a little fleshing out here.

Name: Stephen Harker
Alias: Jensen

Race: Human

Gender: Male
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 300lbs(Cybered)
Age: 32
Hair: Dark brown, medium length
Eyes: Light Green(Cyber)

General Appearance/Personality: Jensen, who took his nickname from an old game that he played before, is a pretty physically imposing guy, standing over six feet and fairly well built. He keeps his dark brown hair medium length, sometimes nicely combed back, other times not really caring if it gets windblown. Given his lower key personality, he tends to stick to basic clothing-army trousers, boots, and shirts depending on the weather-sometimes sleeveless, sometimes long sleeved, with a leather jacket worn as normal armor. He can swap to a business suit if the situation calls for it. Jensen generally keeps to himself, though he’s able to work with others, albeit his occasional snark or abrasiveness can cause just a little headbutting now and then, he’s loyal enough and mostly wants to get his job done. He has a fondness, however, for retro video games and gets genuinely happy and interested when speaking to folks about them.

Attributes:

Body: 4(7 for Damage Reduction)
Agility: 5(8)
Reaction: 4(6)
Strength: 4(7)
Charisma: 2(+1 to all Influence and Acting Skill Group die pools)
Intuition: 3
Logic: 3
Willpower: 3
Edge: 4
Essence: .85
Initiative: 7(9)+1d6(3d6)

Physical Monitor: 10
Stun Monitor: 10
Overflow: 4

Armor: 17(Armor Jacket+Orthoskin+Aluminum Bone Lacing)

Positive Qualities: Pain Tolerance(2), Toughness
Negative Qualities: SINner(5), Insomnia(10), Mild Addiction(Alcohol)

Limits:

Physical: 8
Mental: 4
Social:  4

Active Skills:

Athletics Skill Group: 2
Pistols: 4
Automatics: 5
Longarms(Shotguns): 2(+2)
Unarmed Combat: 5
Pilot Ground Craft: 2
Etiquette(Corporate): 2(+2)
Negotiation: 3
Intimidation: 3
Sneaking: 3
Perception: 3
Throwing Weapons: 2

Knowledge/Language Skills:

Shadowrunner Haunts: 2
Safehouse Locations: 3
Security Procedures(Corporate):2(+2)
Cyberclinic Locations: 1
Video Games of the 21st Century: 1

English: N
Japanese: 3

Cyber and Bioware:

Cybereyes(Rating 4)
w/Low-Light, Thermographic, Flare Compensation, Smartlink, Vision Enhancement 3
Internal Air Tank(Rating 3)
Datajack
Muscle Augmentation Lv. 3
Muscle Toner Lv. 3
Tailored Pheremones Lv. 1
Aluminum Bone Lacing
Synaptic Boosters Lv. 2
Orthoskin Lv. 3

Lifestyle:

Middle(1 Month)
Low(1 Month, Safehouse)

Weapons and Armor:

Knucks(10P damage)

Colt America L36(Smartlinked)(Acc 7(9), 7P, SA, 11c)
w/4 spare clips, 50 rounds regular ammo, and Concealable Holster

Ares Predator V(Acc 5(7), 8P, SA, 15c, AP-1)
w/12 spare clips, 60 rounds regular, 60 rounds gel, 60 rounds APDS(-4 AP) and Concealable Holster

SCK Model 100 SMG(Acc 5(7), 8P, SA/BF, 30c)
w/6 spare clips, 60 rounds regular, 60 rounds gel, 60 APDS rounds(-4 AP), and Gas Vent 3(4 points total recoil comp on gun)

AK-97(Smartlinked)(Acc 5(7), 10P, -2 AP, SA/BF/FA, 38c)
w/6 spare clips, 80 rounds regular, 80 rounds gel, 80 rounds APDS(-4 AP), Gas Vent 3 and Shock Pad(4 points total recoil comp on gun)

PJSS Model 55(Smartlinked)(Acc 6(8), 11P, -1 AP, SS, 2(b), 1 point RC on gun)
w/30 APDS rounds(-4 AP), 20 Fletchette Rounds

5 Flash-Bang Grenades
5 Frag Grenades
5 HE Grenades
5 Thermal Smoke grenades
6 Throwing Knives

Armor Jacket(12 armor) w/Rating 2 Chem Protection, Fire Resistance, Insulation, and NonConductivity
Actioneer Business Clothes(8 Armor)

Gear:

Renraku Sensei Commlink(Hot Sim Mod)
Subvocal Mic
Micro-Transceiver
White Noise Generator(Rating 6)
Fake SIN Rating 4
Certified Credsticks(2 Gold, 1 Silver)
Fake Licences(All Rating 5): Pistols, Bioware, Automatics
Earbuds(Capacity 3)-150 w/ Audio Enhancement 3
Autopicker(Rating 4)
Sequencer(Rating 5)
Climbing Gear
Survival Kit
Chemsuit 4
Gas Mask
Respirator 6
Medkit 4
2 Supplies
Assortment of retro video games and systems
Docwagon Basic Contract
Leather Jacket
Harley-Davidson Scorpion

Contacts:
Spanky(Fixer): C4 L3
Douglas(Street Doc): C3 L2

Background:  Born of a middle-class wageslave family, Stephen Harker actually got to witness some of the more scary things that happened in the early 2050s at an age that was actually fairly impressionable, though he’s not particularly old or anything. His life was actually one of ‘nothing particularly exciting’-he mostly kept to himself, occasionally enjoying some sort of sport or club in his teenage years.

Around his late teens, his parents apparently ‘got involved with something’, and Stephen’s life changed. His parents explained that he’d have to meet with one of their ‘co-workers’ about something; something to do with work. While Stephen wasn’t exactly fond of the idea of corporate life, he could sense that something was dreadfully wrong, and that the ‘meet’ wasn’t exactly optional. His parents, unbeknownst to him, ended up sort of promising him to the corp in exchange for their lives; they’d rather have themselves-and him-alive(and as far as he knows, they are still around, though have different names and probably live somewhere in Europe), than the…other choice.

In any case, upon finishing whatever growth spurts he had, he was not magically active and thus funneled more toward the ‘company man’ style of work. Being fitted with cyberware changed Stephen a bit; he actually liked the power it gave him, and he became quite good at what he did. However, upon finding out what actually happened all those years ago, it soured him quite a lot; he managed, after a time, to cut himself loose(it did take some gentle coercion with a gun, his fists, and a xerox machine upside someone’s head) and take to the shadows. Using the resources he managed to scrounge up, he managed to set himself up with work; he was a skilled and well-oiled man with inside knowledge, and he made it a point to hit his particular old corp any chance he got. He’s not a picky man about his work otherwise. He’ll do it quiet, he’ll do it loud, or he’ll do it in the middle, but he’ll make sure it gets done.

Final Verdict:  The Prime rules work very well, though I feel they aren’t quite as strong as the Street ruleset or the ‘Normal Mode’ ruleset. I stand by my assertion that Prime could use a better Availability cap(16 at least, I’d say 18 wouldn’t go un-noticed, though keeping Device Ratings at 6 is fine), and Beta grade ware available(though, to be fair, I didn’t get this guy any Alphaware as it was…mostly because I was trying to save essence through Bioware since I couldn’t do it through Betaware.) Had I been able to run Betaware, I could have ran this more as a body-conversion job.

This experiment did actually show me more of how resources and the like really does change the playing field for cybered characters, but not *as* much Magical characters. Looking at Jensen’s sheet, and then Downfall’s sheet(whom is in the 3rd part, I saved ‘normal mode’ for last), Downfall would have ended up with one bonded Qi Focus difference. A difference, yes, but not all that much of one. Kat, now, going from Street to Prime would have had a lot more magical toys.

Overall I think this one is 7 out of 10 Mohawks. It’s good(on my scale, 7 is ‘good’, with 6 being ‘above average’), but I feel it can actually be a LITTLE more powerful without turning it into the ‘High Life’ game listed in the back(which I’d see as more of a short, fun, big, loud game). Now, again-at my OWN table, we ignore Availability rules at chargen regardless of game style and leave it at an honor system, so this wouldn’t matter, but for tables that follow it, I’d have probably just ended up going body conversion anyway with Normal Mode Jensen and taking the mega Essence Loss to the face. I basically feel that with the prime game they were a little bit TOO conservative. Now, don’t get me wrong-I’m glad that the ‘basic Prime’ game doesn’t give you so much that you don’t feel like you need more, indeed; I’m glad I can still see this guy growing; I feel like you can play a Prime game as a regular, ongoing campaign. That’s not as much my issue as it is thinking it could have used a little bit of opening up.

You know, I’m looking at him, and I actually started to think I’d have been better off with Resources B. I’d have sacked Synaptic 2 for Wired 1, dropped the Air Tank, and shuffled a little nuyen around to throw an extra point into his Body, Strength, Charisma, and Intuition. He’d have less Initative, but he’d have better Limits, even more survivability, and an extra point of damage on his unarmed hits to boot. (He’d also have gotten a couple more Knowledge Skill points(NERDRAGE) and even a little more on the Contacts side.) Both are viable builds, and his skillset wouldn’t have been changed at all.