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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.

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