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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.

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