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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.

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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.

Okay, so we’re going to make a Street Level character with this, to see how it all works out. This will be one of three-I’ll be posting a Prime character next, and finally, a ‘Normal Mode’ character.

Availability will be limited to 10, and Device Ratings of 4.

We’re going to make a Human Street Shaman, after some thought. First off, we’ll look at the priorities and pick:

Magic: A
Attributes: B
Resources: C(Street gives 25,000 here)
Skills: D
Race: E

It’s going to be a female human Raven shaman, because that jumped into my head and her personality and everything started to form. (Raccoon, sadly, isn’t in this book, or I’d have rather used that.) We’ll get to the Mentor Spirit stuff later.

Attributes B  gives 20 points. We’ll spread these out as so:

Body: 2
Agility: 3
Reaction: 3
Strength: 2
Charisma: 4
Intuition: 5
Logic: 4
Willpower: 5

Not the most impressive set of stats, but Raven can get by on her cleverness and skills. Well, Skills are D here, but we’ll make do. The rundown here is that I see this character being definitely more of a con-artist type; getting by on wits and high Magical skill rather than raw, brute force(Raven doesn’t much favor brute force). 2’s in some Physical stats isn’t infirm or invalid or anything of that nature; she simply did not choose to focus her time on them(except for her manual dexterity), where she did for her mental stats.  For her Special stats, being human starts her with an Edge of 2, and she gets one more point, to give it a 3, making her lucky enough. I particularly wanted her with at least 5’s in her Willpower and Intuition. I’d have liked to have gotten a 5 Charisma as well, but I saw her with at least average manual dexterity and Reaction, and she’s had an education which she took seriously, so I saw her with good-level book smarts; that’ll be something I work toward.

Magic: 6
Edge: 3
Essence: 6
Initiative: 7+1d6

With Magic Priority A, she not only nails her Magic 6, but she gets 10 spells and two Magical Skills at rating 5 each, which will be handy given her lower skill points. I see her as less of a summoner(she will have some skill there though), and more of an ‘enchanter’ type and spellcaster. She gets 22 skill points to divide around. She does not get any Skill Group points, so those will have to come out of Karma if she wants any.

First, the 10 spells:

Power Bolt
Stunbolt
Clairaudience
Clairvoyance
Analyze Magic
Heal
Chaotic World
Improved Invisibility
Shadow
Physical Barrier

Balancing out spells a bit, she has Power Bolt for when drek is just REAL bad, but Stun Bolt as more of a basic combat spell(better to leave ’em alive and knocked before you steal their pants). When considering Stunball, I thought Chaotic World would fit a Raven shaman much better. Other odds and ends help out-like spying with Clairaudience and Clairvoyance, patching up wounds with Heal, or using Shadow and Improved Invisibility to help out stealth some more. Analyze Magic fits the ‘magic artificer’ idea for her. Physical Barrier is a useful defensive spell.

We’ll come back to the skills after Qualities are taken care of.

Street Level games get 13 Bonus Karma, and can only go up to +/- 26, so that is another hit they take over the Normal games. Looking over the Positive Qualities, we know we want Mentor Spirit: Raven as one of them. Others include:

Mentor Spirit: Raven(5)
Analytical Mind(5)
Weak Immune System(10)

Raven grants her the following benefits: +2 Dice for all Con tests, +2 dice for spells, preparations and spell rituals that are Manipulation based. However, she has to make a Charisma+Willpower test to avoid exploit someone’s misfortune for her own gain or to play a prank at a really bad time. Such are the ways of Raven. Analytical Mind fits her clever, problem solving personality well.

As for the negatives, she’s just kinda unlucky that she has a bit more trouble fighting off stuff that other people do. Otherwise, she isn’t terribly saddled with disadvantages. Since they cancel out, she remains with 13 Bonus Karma(to spend later on.)

Now, we’re onto Skills. She gets the free ones, and then we’ll choose the following:

Spellcasting: 5(Free)
Counterspelling: 5(Free)
Artificing: 5
Summoning: 2
Banishing: 3
Sneaking(Urban) 3(+2)
Pistols: 2
Con: 3
Etiquette: 3

I definitely want to spend some Bonus Karma here when that time comes. But it manages to at least cover a wide array of magical skills(between her casting, counterspelling, artificing, summoning, and banishing), as well as some ‘physical world skills’, like her Etiquette knowledge, being rather perceptive, and learning a bit on how to shoot things, just in case(she’s been practicing with that). Her skills aren’t bad for being Priority D though; she’s more of a specialized character, but does have basics like Etiquette  at decent scores to help out. I thought she would have a decently high Sneaking skill as well, and Con was a definite.

With her Intuition of 5 and Logic of 4, she gets 18 Knowledge Skill points. These get divided up like so:

Magical Threats: 3
Magical Groups: 3
Local Diners: 2
Magical Engineering: 3
Safehouse Locations: 3
Sinthcore: 1

English: N
Spanish: 3

She has a great interest in magic, so she has corresponding skills to run with that. Being Raven, she enjoys food and so has some knowledge of diner locations. Safehouses are always very good to know about, and Sinthcore is usually found on her Commlink playlist. She picked up Spanish in her old school; believe it or not, she actually graduated high school. She practices sometimes with one of her contacts.

As for gear, she gets 25,000 nuyen worth of stuff. Being Street Level, this is going to limit her, as said, to Availabilities of 10 and Ratings of 4. So, with that in mind, we’ll grab stuff that fits!

*to be continued at bottom of page with character sheet*

Spent: 23400
Left: 1,600
Starting: 3d6x60-780(added to 1600)-2380

Gear list isn’t too bad for her more limited resources; it’s going to be listed at the end of it all so I don’t have to list gear twice in this, since they can run long. She has magical gear, some other odds and ends that help her out, and so on, like some armor(not enough bonus armor to give her encumbrance or anything like that.)

Her Charisma of 4 gives her 12 free points to spend on Contacts. She’ll get:

Fixer(Spanky): C4 L3-She’s known Spanky for awhile and he’s a well-connected guy who magically gets more connected the higher loyalty someone is…somehow. Spanky is the big Irish Fomori that owns a sports bar called Goal, and he’s almost obsessed with football(soccer to the UCAS ‘heathens.’)
Talismonger(Mama): C3 L2-Another decently connected contact, this middle-aged heavyset Hispanic Santeria practicing woman’s shop looks like several bombs hit it, but she has a knack for being able to come across some rather rare magical stuff. She’s a skilled Artificer in her own right.

And finally, we’ll spend up her 13 Bonus Karma. With that, we’ll pick up:

Lockpicking: 2-6 Karma
Perception: 2-6 Karma
Gang Turf(Knowledge): 1-1 Karma

She figured out some Lockpicking due to her occasional thievery, and I didn’t get Perception before; an important skill, and I’d definitely want to raise that a bit later on. Living a little more on the lower end of town, she sorta picked up somewhat of what gangs hang out where; both to stay away(if they’re particularly nasty), or where some of the more helpful ones might be. (Sort of helpful, anyway.)

Now, let’s get some basic stats down:

Name: Jessie Olmar
Alias: Kat

Race: Human

Gender: Female
Height: 5’5”
Weight: 120lbs
Age: 25
Hair: Medium length, dark blonde
Eyes: Gray

General Appearance/Personality: Fairly average height and weight, Kat is a pretty young woman, whom always looks curious about how magical things work. She dresses fairly low key; choosing jeans, sneakers, and tank tops, though puts on an armor jacket if things are going down. She wears her shoulder-length hair rather simply; she prefers a bit more of a comfortable look and style. She’s actually pretty even-tempered-even a bit aloof in the sense that she’ll let a lot of things roll right off of her, but due to her mentor spirit, she’s prone to occasionally playing tricks on people, and she’s also been known to take some nuyen off of a team-mate who is sort of ‘indisposed'(hey, they aren’t using it and it could better the team who didn’t get themselves fragged.) Still, she enjoys keeping her friends and isn’t totally untrustworthy. She leaves the heavy lifting to others, but always looks for creative uses of her magic. She’s happiest in her basement, sinthcore music blaring, while she tinkers with a new foci.

Attributes:

Body: 2
Agility: 3
Reaction: 3
Strength: 2
Charisma: 4
Intuition: 5
Logic: 4
Willpower: 5
Magic: 6
Edge: 3
Essence: 6
Initiative: 7+1d6
Astral Initiative: 10+3d6

Physical Monitor: 9
Stun Monitor: 11
Overflow: 2

Armor: 12

Positive Qualities: Mentor Spirit(Raven), Analytical Mind
Negative Qualities: Weak Immune System

Limits:

Physical: 3
Mental: 6
Social: 7
Astral: 7

Active Skills:

Spellcasting: 5
Counterspelling: 5
Artificing: 4
Summoning: 3
Banishing: 3
Sneaking(Urban) 3(+2)
Pistols: 2
Etiquette: 3
Con: 3
Perception: 2
Lockpicking: 2

Knowledge/Language Skills:

Magical Threats: 3
Magical Groups: 3
Local Diners: 2
Magical Engineering: 3
Safehouse Locations: 3
Sinthcore: 1
Gang Turf: 1

English: N
Spanish: 3

Spells(Note: Raven grants +2 to all Manipulation spells)

Power Bolt(C)
Stunbolt(C)
Clairaudience(D)
Clairvoyance(D)
Analyze Magic(D)
Heal(H)
Chaotic World(I)
Improved Invisibility(M)
Shadow(M)
Physical Barrier(M)

Weapons, Armor, and Gear:

1 Fake Sin(Rating 2)
2 Silver Certified Credsticks
Fake Magic License(Rating 4)
Browning Ultra-Power(8P, Acc. 5(6), 10c, SA, AP-1)
w/Gas Vent 1
50 Regular rounds
50 Gel Rounds
10 Clips
Concealable Holster
Armor Jacket
Flash-Pak
Renraku Sensei Commlink
Subvocal Mic
Glasses(Capacity 4)
w/Low-Light Vision,  Vision Magnification
Earbuds(Capacity 3)
w/Audio Enhancement Rating 3
Autopicker 4
Sequencer Rating 3
Lockpick Set
Survival Kit
Chemsuit 4
Gas Mask
Medkit Rating 4
2 Supplies
3 Antidote Patches(Rating 4 each)
Trauma Patch:
Magical Lodge Materials(Rating 4)
Reagants: Assorted, 1,000 nuyen worth

Lifestyle:

Low(1 month)

Nuyen: 2,380

Background:  Kat was actually born to a more upper middle-class corporate family; however, after being found for magical aptitude while she was entering high school, she was quickly funneled to the ‘AP Classes’ as they were nicknamed. Learning all sorts of magical theory and the like, she was attacking every lesson with zeal; she loved Magic, and particularly liked any lessons in Artificing as well. However, she was a bright girl-and after awhile, she came to realize that the destination at the end of this fun, scholastic magical journey would be corporate slavery.

After being visited one night in a dream by a bit of a comically sarcastic Raven spirit, she began to embrace those teachings, and started to look for a way out. Through some of her knowledge and the resources she had available to her, upon graduating high school, she managed to adjust some things here and there before walking out of her life, getting settled with a Talismonger she had met during one of her magical gear explorations one weekend. The Talismonger, nicknamed ‘Mama’, set her up with some work with enchanting on the side as Kat tried to build her new life in the shadows. She does not have a lot of her old resources or contacts available to her, but she was introduced to an Irish Fomori by the name of Spanky, a friendly fixer who owned a sports bar and loved watching football(soccer to the UCAS folks.)

She hopes to be able to eventually enjoy her previous almost luxury life, and perhaps a bit more than that; but she pretty much had to pick up from nothing. She thinks, perhaps, if she were able to get a Fake SIN good enough, that she could actually enroll in a university for even more  magical training one day.

Final Verdict: You can make extremely serviceable, and versatile, Street level characters with this system. Some might think that this character could even fit into a primary game, and you know, she may well be able to; however, she does lack the Resources of your ‘Regular’ character. Thing is-IMO, this is good. Resources and the like are what should separate the runner types, rather than raw Skills and Attributes(however, the others get more Bonus Karma; so they usually will have at least a little more in those areas as well, which is fine; it just shouldn’t be as limited.) You still feel like your Street level character has lots of room to grow(as well it should), but I didn’t feel like I was completely squeezing and squishing points(which, IMO, in a ‘basic’ street level game, you should not. In a total gutter-rat bottom of the barrel game? Sure, but not ordinary street level. I think you should feel less powerful than an average runner, but not like you’re a bare-bones nobody. I think of ‘Street Level’ along the lines of Snatch-badass at what they do but pretty specialized.)

I admit, making a magically active human for the Street level game may have been ‘cheating’ a little bit. I’ll say that, judging by costs of Cyberware and the like and the hits to Availability, Street Level cyber characters are going to take a bigger hit. Oh, they can be viable, but they’ll most likely end up taking Resources A and some used cyber(ew.) Hell, if you’re really not squicky, used cyber can make a pretty scary street level samurai. Just don’t try to think about it too hard.

Street level Deckers, now…given the cost of cyberdecks and the like, they would definitely need Resources A to work with. Technomancers actually would probably work out a little better with this.

But really, this is very playable, and a very solid set of Street level rules. I’ll say I rate it eight Mohawks out of 10. It loses couple of Mohawks due to the fact that magically(or Resonance…ly) active people will be considerably ahead of their non magically active folks. Now from a certain standpoint, this makes perfect sense-less Resources means less ware/gear/less top of the line ware/both, but this is one of those instances where ‘it makes sense’ may end up frustrating those who wish to play more ‘gear-oriented types’. Of course, as long as they know what they’re getting into, I think it’s fine, but the GM will need to take special care.

How would she had differed from a normal character? Well, she’d have had more Bonus karma for extra skills, and she’d have had a lot more resources for her magical stuff; namely things like Foci, which are very good to have. Or, quite possibly, she would have taken Resources D and have had a lot more base skills to work with(as well as more money for Foci), but there would have been a clear difference.

As Prime, she’d probably have a better lifestyle for sure, along with some pretty piles of foci and a workshop to do her Artificing stuff with. She’d have had a lot more Bonus Karma to spend on skills-I’d have been able to get her several more skills at 2 or even a couple more at 3(or some combination thereof), if I wanted to.

We continue with Part 3-The Rest

The Gamemaster Advice chapter, IMO, is fantastic. It teaches new GMs how to build and plan runs, what to discuss and decide before a game, and other important things. They even have Random Run tables for stuff on the fly, and the NPC creation rules are likewise great(with similar tables.) They discuss NPC builds as Full(created like Player Characters), Story(A bit simpler, the GM assigns appropriate numbers for the story), and Improvised(rules to quickly be able to toss in appropriately leveled NPCs.)

It breaks down even longer campaigns, time advancement, and the whole nine; I imagine GMs will be able to make much, much smoother things with this chapter. (Of course, crap can always go wrong. It’s Shadowrun.)

They even have extra rules for different campaign types-‘Street Scum'(which is even lower powered than the Street Level campaign rules), or ‘High Life'(even more powerful than Prime character creation rules), along with things like Mercenary campaigns, Criminal Syndicates, and the like.

There are plenty of charts, suggested Target Numbers, and so on to keep things moving along smoothly. There are even little example maps that a GM can use.

They added in lifestyle options in the main book, which is nice to see. There are options like Extra Secure and Difficult to Find(which make a lifestyle cost more), Cramped(‘Cozy’, which makes it cheaper), or Dangerous Area(also makes it cheaper.)

There is also a formula for calculating run payments, finally! This may end up a bit YMMV, for some folks may agree-or disagree-on how much the payments are. Generally, the more ‘milk like’ the run is, the cheaper it is, the more dangerous, the more expensive. Cost is by head, rather than by group. It takes into consideration the highest opposing Dice Pool they face, if they were outnumbered(and by how powerful an NPC they were outnumbered by), if they face critters, if they pulled it off fast and quietly, and many other things.

Another interesting thing are percentage increases depending on the *type* of run-nastier runs(wetwork, drug running) get bonuses, while ‘helping the little man’ or ‘making the world a better place’ get minuses. (‘Typical’ work gets no modifier-I’m guessing things like corporate sabotage, extraction, and the like.)

On the flipside, ‘bonus pay nasty runs’ tend to get less Karma, where the lower paying ones get more(this, I feel needs to be handled with care-and it could end up with a lot of meanie cybered people, deckers, and riggers and a lot of ‘kinda nice’ magically active folks or technomancers.) I would, IMO, not use this rule for my own games, but it’s there if folks want to do it.

Karma Awards seem moderate. Higher than the older days of 2e and 3e. Typical ‘base’ awards are things like survival, objectives completed, extra karma depending on the highest dice pool faced(rounding down). Of course, whatever else the GM wants to tack on for ideas, roleplaying, and the like can be added into this.

We get a whole chapter on NPCs and different professional ratings, as well as critters. They seem, from reading it, pretty well built and fitting enough opposition. I like how they have some example NPCs that aren’t just textbook combatants, but some rules for magically active ones and hackers as well. They also touch on Prime Runner creation.

The chart describing what Connection and Loyalty ratings are(connection up to 12, Loyalty to 6) is nice and detailed.

For those GMs who prefer a more supernatural game, there is plenty of Critter information and stats to be found in this chapter as well. It ends with a fun and flavorful drug discussion, for those hardline tables.

Street Gear:

So, gear. The stuff that lots of runners need. Has a nice glossary at the start, with the usual rules for black market stuff, Availability, Fencing the loot, and all of that stuff that runners need to know.

And then we get to ‘Wireless Functionality’ and ‘Wireless Bonuses’ and here be the big Room Elephant in all of his glory.

Practically every piece of gear and cyberware is capable of being wireless, and wireless gear gets bonuses over gear that turned off. Toggling it off is a free action, which costs wireless bonuses, but means it won’t be open to hacking. Yes, wireless gear that’s turned on is vulnerable to hacking. Now, gear can be slaved to a decker, who can protect it…but that requires you to have a decker on hand who isn’t so busy that they can’t protect your gear.

Even some melee weapons have wireless functionality. Monowhips, for example, gain 2 more accuracy, the ability to ready it on a free action, and a safety system that retracts on a glitch. (Oh yeah, Monowhips are AP-8 now. Yes, they got nastier.)

Even throwing knives and shuriken can get wireless functionality. It’s pretty crazy. There are essentially rules for each weapon’s wireless bonuses.

As for other gear-Fake SINs got more expensive; from 1,000 a level in SR4 to 2500 a level. I’m guessing this is due to the inflated nuyen you get at the start, as it seems somewhat in line with it(though I do feel they may be a bit too expensive, I’d have felt 2k/level would have been more appropriate, or maybe even 1.5k/level.)

The Cyberware is where the wireless functionality becomes the most pronounced, and the most controversial in the ol’ Magic v. Tech debate. Some of it is normal(Bone Lacing is Bone Lacing, for example-it actually has the added benefit of adding to Body now instead of just damage reduction), but the Reflexes are the big thing.

Initiative is an important thing for a combat-oriented character(or hell, just someone wanting to defend by wanting to get the (/”& out of Dodge), and IMO, Reflexes need a workover, and it’s one of the big contending spots. Adepts get their Reflexes at a cost of 1.5, 2.5, or 3.5 Power Points. Wired Reflexes are still as invasive as ever(and aren’t too cheap, either-they were inflated, IMO a bit too much.) For Reflexes to be able to stack with Reaction Enhancers nowadays(they were able to before), they need to be run in Wireless mode. It sounds to me this was a nerf to something that *really didn’t need nerfing.* Also, you need to activate BOTH the Wired Reflex and Reaction Enhancer wireless systems to be able to go above a +4 Reaction bonus.

In my opinion, they either need to make Wired Reflexes cheaper(and stackable with Reaction Enhancers, with Wireless allowing them to go above +4), OR they need to lower the Essence Cost to match the Adept PP cost(still making them compatible with Reaction Enhancers.) It’s a houserule I’m strongly considering myself.

Cyberlimbs also have wireless capability, and they are really good in this, at least. The rules for Custom Cyberlimbs are in the core book, and you can still enhance them after that as per normal. The Wireless bonuses here, though, are more actual bonuses, rather than having the piece nerfed and the bonus bringing back a function(like with the Reflexes.)

All in all, the wireless system I fear is going to cause more issues than it fixes, but it has potential to actually work in a cool way. I actually don’t mind the fact it can be hacked as much as I’m afraid of what sorts of extra work this can potentially pile onto the GM.

Bioware got a boost in price-in some cases, *much much more* than the inflated Starting Nuyen would allow. Muscle Augmentation and Toner are now-wait for it-more than what they used to be back in the 2nd edition days, when the maximum nuyen you could have was 1,000,000. In those days, Muscle Augmentation and Toner were combined, and they cost 45,000 nuyen per level in the old Shadowtech book. In 3e, this was split up(but still equaled 45k after it was done, with Toner being the more expensive per level of the two, given Quickness’ power.) Now, Muscle Augmentation is 31k/Level. Muscle Toner is 32k/level. That’s 63k/level. It’s cheaper in essence, yes, but that is…confusing and I don’t think it was necessary. It’s strong, yes, and everything should have a price, yes(the ongoing thing to this book), but come on, at LEAST have brought it back to the ol’ 45k/level combination(with Augmentation sitting at 21k, perhaps, and Toner at 24k.) Another houserule I’m considering, since I think that price is kinda ridiculous, and I think it’s part of what is adding into the ‘Magic v. Tech’ divide.

The Suprathyroid gland is literally 100,000 nuyen more expensive than it used to be.

There is a bright side with this: Bone Density Augmentation is a measly 5k/level and even though it has an Availability variable now(it was a flat 12 in 4e) making Level 4 out of reach of starting characters who use Availability rules, it’s still a very good purchase. (Arguably, better than Bone Lacing.)

The prices, I admit, seem very…slapdash and done without much of a rhyme or reason. If it has a rhyme or reason, it certainly does not come off like it. As mentioned above, some raised far too much, some lowered, and then you have oddities like the Suprathyroid tripling in price per level, but the coveted Synaptic Booster only increasing 15k/level(which seems very much on point with nuyen inflation.) And then we have the Cerebral Booster which more than tripled in price per level. Damage Compensators get utterly liquidated from 15k a level in 4e to 2k a level in 5e. Symbiotes dropped more than half price. WHAT IS HAPPENING I DON’T KNOW.

The prices need a serious work-over, IMO. I think it’s pretty cool some stuff dropped, and I can understand wanting to raise some of the prices on the ‘better’ stuff(both to reflect how good it is and to reflect, again, the starting nuyen inflation), but these prices are up, down, and sideways.

But yeah, in short, Wired Reflexes need a buff, IMO, and some more forgiving Essence(I feel this is a holdover from the old 1e/2e days when you could go multiple times before someone could even act), Wireless bonuses should be looked at as to be a bonus for using it and not a heavy hindrance for not(being able to be hacked is a pretty big disadvantage), and the Bioware prices need some adjusting(mostly some pieces needing to be a at least a bit cheaper, as I said. the Booster’s price raise is fine, the Augmentation/Toner is far too much.)

Finally, Alphaware, Betaware, and Deltaware are all cheaper. They add to Availability, however. Alphaware adds +2, Beta +4, and Delta +8. By normal rules, you can’t get Beta or Delta at chargen(Prime Games should allow at LEAST beta, IMO), but once again, Wired Reflexes get the shaft here-you can’t get level 2 Alphaware at the start. That’s just not good. (On the bright side, if you don’t mind used ware, it actually takes OFF the Availability, and is cheaper though costs more Essence.)

We’re also forgetting one thing-cybered people also take a Social hit. They always have, it’s understandable, but it feels like-just a little bit-that magic is moving ahead far faster than technology, which seemed to get stuck in a bit of a rut in some ways.

Shut up already, what’s the verdict?!

I’ll actually be continuing this by creating three characters-yes, even with personalities and everything-to really dig into the character creation system. They’ll be separate from this, but kinda tied into the review.

Now you’re all probably wondering at this point, ‘After you babbled on for three parts of a review of a single core book, what do you actually think about it?’

My thoughts essentially come together as follows:

+ Love the new priority system chargen. I feel like they managed to perfect it here.(See more thoughts in the character creation examples I’ll be doing.) It lets you make characters that feel badass, and it’s a lot faster than 4e.

+ Love how they give optional rules for different styles of games, like Street, Prime, etc.

+ I do enjoy many of the ‘small’ rule changes, like Attribute Augmented Maximums being Stat+4, which brings up the lower end, while lowering the higher ends.

+ Mystic Adepts are awesome now.

+ I like being able to make a Technomancer that isn’t completely deficient in anything physical at the start.

+ The book’s layout is wonderful. The charts are clear cut, all the chapters include very clean examples, and it makes things very easy to learn. The sidebars are used well and I just really like how everything is set up. The book has useful information for both GMs and Players, old and new alike.(It should be noted that there ARE errors about, and perhaps a few more than I’d like, but the general layout of where everything is located I really, really like.)

+ Matrix and Rigging seem a lot easier to understand.

+ ‘Old School Terminology’ brought back. Riggers and Deckers, Hermetic and Shamanic magic.

* Limits bring an interesting new level to the game, though it seems to be mixed good and not as good.

*/- Wireless bonuses I think have good intentions, but they could use some looking at. They end up, I feel, causing more problems than they’re going to fix, in particular with GM workload, which typically isn’t a good thing to add onto.

Cyberware needs some love, in particularly the Reflexes. They need to be cheaper either in cost or essence. Heavy Cyber fans may want to houserule some stuff. I don’t think Adepts are overpowered-I think that cyber, in some ways, needs to be brought up a bit.

Beta grade should be allowed at chargen, at the VERY least for Prime games.

Prime games should have the allowed Availability increased.

Bioware costs make little sense. They’re up, down, and everywhere. Some were raised with good reason, but far too much.

Some qualities are simply bad. Uncouth and Uneducated long, LONG needed a workover, for example.

Only getting Int+Logx2 Knowledge Skills.

Some flaws, I feel, are holdovers from things in the old days, since some things changed but others did not, while some things changed more than others, and it’s starting to catch up.

All in all, I’d say-I dislike giving ‘number ratings’, but for me, I’d put this as a…

7.75 Mohawks out of 10.

If you’d like to know how it would stack up, I’d say I’d have put 3e(my fav), as an 8/10, 1e/2e as a 7/10, and 4E as a 6.5/10(to be raised to a 7/10 after the Karmagen rules were released.) So from my first impressions, I’d suggest grabbing this PDF. If you’re a longtime Shadowrun fan, I think you will appreciate the shout-outs to us oldheads that sometimes felt to be left a bit behind. A newer player will be able to get into it rather easily, thanks to the nice layout and all the examples. It reads better than 4e as well(though dare I say it doesn’t quite match the ‘flavor’of the 1e/2e days, but I wasn’t expecting it to.) Despite the book’s flaws(and there will be errata), I feel like it’s a strong contender for continuing one of my favorite tabletop games(if not my favorite tabletop game of all time), and I do not regret buying it; indeed, I look forward to playing.

It definitely isn’t perfect though, and will need some smoothing out over the months rule-wise, I think.

Til’ next time, when I go over Chargen, and how the different types of games work out! (For the record, the three characters will be a Street level human shaman, a Normal level elven adept, and a Prime level human samurai.)

Combat, The Matrix, and Riggers:

As we all know, the Combat chapter can be all but ignored, because all shadowrunners sneak in, silently perform everything and get out without a hitch.

…Yeah, that’s an old joke. I’m sorry.

In any case, Combat is quite similar to 4e’s style, but there are notable differences; as some other things in this book, I feel there are some positives, but some extra negatives as well.

The chapter itself is actually set up rather nicely; charts and such I find are easy to read and understand, so from a layout perspective, it’s well done. As for the content, it’s simple: roll initiative as always(highest to lowest), begin the pass, declare actions, resolve actions of acting characters, and then go down the line according to Initiative scores. However, there’s some old school here; you roll Initiative dice(from 1 to 4d6), add to your Initiative score(Reaction+Intuition), and then, for extra passes, subtract 10. I have a soft spot for the 1e-3e ways, so I’m digging this. (So in the case of someone with an Initiative score of 21, and then someone else with a 7, the 21 would go, then the 7, then the 21 would subtract to 11, and he’d go again, and then so on.) Edge can be used to go first.

Melee attacks are still Complex Actions, while firing a shot is still a Simple Action, so anyone who wished melee was a simple action, sadly, it’s not. (Even as a melee fan, I admit this rule never bothered me too much, but YMMV.)

There are pages and tables of modifiers which I’m not really going to go over since it would make this review about sixteen parts instead of three.

I’m going to touch on Interrupts. This is pretty cool I find. Essentially, you can declare an Interrupt not on your turn and take a -5 to your Initiative score in the process. You can declare to Block(add your unarmed skill to block an incoming melee attack, it’s not like going on Full Defense as it’s a one-time deal), Dodge(Add Gymnastics to your defense, same thing, also: Dodge as a skill is out, it’s all Gymnastics now), Hit the Dirt, Parry, Intercept(attempt to counterattack, cannot do this if you have no Initiative left), or go on Full Defense for a -10 to the score. It’s a nice, solid system so you aren’t sitting there like a patsy in between turns(though it could drag combat on rather efficiently.)

Armor this time around is much more simplified. Armor got beefed up, but you can no longer stack it, and it’s no longer Ballistic and Impact; it’s just one Armor skill. While part of me kinda likes the ol’ Ballistic/Impact cross, I can see why they did it, and i don’t think it really loses anything. Stacking armor does nothing, but there are certain pieces of armor, like shields, that can add bonuses to your already armored self(but you start taking Encumbrance due to your Strength score. So someone with a low Strength using a Riot Shield will take a hit to their Agility and Reaction scores.) Actually, it’s pretty clean cut and smooth, and I don’t have any complaints here(also, the game managed to make Strength-while not super-important-more than the useless dumpstat it was in SR4. For the record, Recoil uses Strength to help it out as well.) Finally, if the Power of the attack doesn’t beat the Armor, it’s Stun damage(a rule I always liked.)

The rest of the rules-vehicle, first aid, and so on, are listed in a nice, clear, concise manner as well.

Combat, in some test runs I did-can, as I mentioned, potentially run a little long. (Yet another reason why I don’t particularly like non-critical glitching; it just adds another layer of drag-out. I don’t mind stuff going long due to feints and parries, but there you go.)

The Matrix chapter is nicely written, with lots of jargon to help get you into what’s generally seen as a more complicated part of the game, so you’ll find out what GOD is fairly quickly, for example. It has more small sidebars for important info; for example, what a non-hacker would want to use(like Change Icon.) It even goes through a typical situation on how folks would use AR and VR.

Oh yeah, nowadays ‘Hackers’ is more the catch-all term; Technomancers are, of course, the folks who sorta treat it like ‘Matrix Magic’, and they brought back the Decker term, as well as cyberdecks. Thank you, guys. As far as I’m concerned, it was always deckers. I refused to believe they changed the term to generic ‘hacker.’ Tastes and all.

Going through varied Matrix situations helps a lot in understanding it, and with the way stuff works, a GM can still run deckers and technomancers in a party and not end up turning it into the dreaded ‘queue key adventure.’

Deckers also will be playing another important role…and one that’s had a lot of controversy, and one that I’m not sure if I agree with 100% myself. I’ll be getting into that in a bit when I discuss cyberware.

Technomancers are sort of the ‘mages/adepts’ to the Decker’s ‘Samurai’ in that analogy; only in their case, they are greatly improved, IMO, from their SR4 counterparts. Technomancers in those days suffered big from being able to do anything else crippled them in, well, Technomancing. Nowadays you can actually, gods help you, play a Technomancer that isn’t a walking target in the meat world with low stats in everything except their important ones. They can go through Submersion like a magically active person goes through Initiation, though Technomancers seem to have more trouble slaving things, like cyberware, in addition to having to submerge to deal with vehicles now, so by all intents and purposes, they took a nerf in other areas for being able to come out of the gate with more competence in multiple skills.

It’s actually kind of interesting-but I notice deckers feel less threatened by Technomancers than cybered folks do by mages. I don’t know a lot of decker players who feel like they’re left behind like cybered players do. Deckers still have high upkeeps(good decks are expensive, programs cost money, agents cost money, the build and repair stuff that they likely want to have are skills and resources, and so on), but it seems that they managed to nail some sort of balance that makes the deckers feel like they’re less ‘expendable’ or something.

Much like the Matrix chapter, Riggers get their due-and yes, they’re called Riggers again and not bloody ‘Vehicle Hackers.’ I have to say this chapter impressed me for a similar reason as the Matrix chapter; it took something that was shown as pretty damn confusing in the past(have you ever read the 2e/3e decking and rigging rules? It’s a fun time, and by fun I mean special.) As with many parts of the book, ‘easy does it’ is the name of the game and it talks you through everything with good uses of sidebars, examples, and useful page numbers listed.

I never thought I’d see the Rigger rules so easy to understand, but they pulled it off.

Magic:

Mojo’s seen some changes; some good, some perhaps not as good.

Cyberware still hurts magic as always, but it might be a little worse now, given that you don’t half the lowest of cyber or bioware anymore. Then again, if the mage sticks to high cost, low Essence Bio(bioware IS still low essence), they can become a nasty piece of work. Character creation handles mages of all stripes great, at least.

Magic rules are just as clear-cut as the rest, listing everything in the same manner. Really, this keeps up through the whole book, making stuff so much easier to understand.

When casting a spell, you choose it’s Force. You can cast a spell up to twice your Magic rating…but if the number of hits after the Limit is applied exceeds your Magic rating, Drain is physical, which is actually kind of nasty. They also introduced Reckless Casting, where you can cast a spell with a Simple Action instead-at a +3 Drain modifier. That can also be nasty(for both sides.)

The Spell List is familiar; old standards like Stunbolt and Manaball are around. (Stun spells no longer have less Drain than their physical damage causing counterparts.)

Adepts are quite awesome in this; and that is another level of controversy at the moment. I play both sams and adepts, and reading these rules, I can understand where this comes from. Now, I’ll say this much; they aren’t the indomitable gods that some of the complaints make them sound like, to be able to walk into a room, snap their fingers, and make all traces of samurai disappear with a single thought. But they’re very good. They have had some nerfs, however. One will find making a pornomancer(Re: twinked out social adept) is much harder this time, and Critical Strike is more expensive.

On a bright side, Critical Strike now applies to weapons-which, honestly, manages to push weapon adepts past unarmed adepts now. Which, I have to say…this is coming from someone who likes Unarmed adepts…as well they should be. They’re swinging swords and axes at you. They SHOULD have advantages over someone without a weapon! Now, I imagine when martial arts rules come into play unarmed ones will climb back up a bit, but they DO have the advantage of Killing Hands(being able to hit things with Immunity to Normal Weapons), which melee weapon adepts need to invest in a Weapon Focus for(said focus also boosts their melee ability on top of that, though, so it’s not like it’s a bad investment.) That’s not to say unarmed adepts are weak-they aren’t at all-but they gave weapons-based adepts a much needed boost.(Weapon foci are actually quite feasible to get at the beginning, as well, if your GM is cool with that kinda thing.)

Social adepts are still very good, by the way. Non combat adepts will find that they have to pay just as much for their bonus dice now-and that, I think, was probably a change for the best.

Mystic Adepts are very awesome. Rather than being forced to split their Magic score(far too harsh on them in the past, IMO), they now spend Karma(which, I’m told, is meant to be higher than it is in the book-5 Karma per PP) to get Power Points. At the start, this comes from their Bonus Karma, and that’s the only way they can get Power Points. So on one hand, they can actually get quite a few at the start, on the other, they’ll probably suck down most of their Bonus Karma to do it. Fair trade off, IMO, though there are mumblings that they seem a bit overpowered. I don’t feel they are; they need to take Magic A through C on the list for priority, they can’t project astrally, and like Adepts they need to purchase Astral Perception. Of course, they run the risk of spreading themselves too thin as well.

Alchemy allows mages to bind spells to items, almost making classic magical items, like a potion or wand. This is actually a neat touch for those who wish to play a more Artificing style mage.

Initiating still costs Karma and time, of course. Would-be Initiates would probably want to wait until whenever a Magic sourcebook hits and the rules for reducing costs come in(for groups, ordeals, and whatnot.) As powerful as magic can be, though, I can see why it’s pretty costly, and honestly think those rules are pretty on point for what they give.

I forgot to mention-it’s great to see some of the Totems back(no Coyote in the core book, though?? Come ON!) and they now include benefits for Adepts who wish to take them.

Welp, stay tuned for part 3, where I’ll go over the last part of the book, including gear, cyber, and the like(and a couple more elephants in the room when it comes to that.)