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> A starting character's capabilities, Sorted by archetype
Elfenlied
post Jul 25 2011, 12:15 PM
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Hi all,
due to the ever-present discussions about BP vs Karmagen, or hyper-specialisation vs generalists, I wanted to ask: What can reasonably be expected of a starting character, sorted by the following archetypes:

Everyone (basics to survive in the shadows)
Street Sam/Warrior Adept
Mage
Hacker
Rigger
Face

And any archetype I might have forgotten. For the sake of this discussion, let's assume 400 BP, since it's the most common type of Chargen (at least outside of my country). Also, let's assume standard Shadowrun, e.g. a balanced mix of Cyberpunk and Fantasy, and no pink mohawks. Furthermore, assume that characters with glaring weaknesses (e.g. bunker hackers) will have their weaknesses targeted occassionally (e.g. zero zones).

Here's my take on it:
Basics: Blending into normal society (fake credentials for you and your equipment, basic social skills), basic physical fitness (at least average physical stats and/or athletics), basic stealth skills, ability to survive a firefight
Street Sam/Warrior Adept: Reasonably high attack DP (12-15+), ability to fight at most ranges, at least 2 IPs
Mage: Reliably summon F5-6 spirits without being crippled by drain, reliably bind F4-5 spirits, magical healing, magical defense
Hacker: No idea really, never played one myself. From what I've seen, it's either TMs and threading R9+ stealth programs and humming the "trololo" song, or be a cybered/adept combat hacker
Rigger: basic hacking skills, drones for most situations (recon, stealthy fighting, flying, heavy duty fighting)
Face: have a variety of useful connections (fixers, docs and information sources come to mind) and high social skills. Good looks, forgeries and disguises are a plus.

Also, here are my definitions:
Competent: DP 15+
Semi-competent: DP 12+
Average: DP 8+
Poor: Anything below average

So, what's your take on it?
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PoliteMan
post Jul 25 2011, 12:59 PM
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A hacker can generally be Competent on all Matrix tests (higher on Hacking) with enough nuyen and BP left over to get the basic skills and gear, plus enough shooting gear/ware to back up the Sam in combat. If he knows what he's doing, he'll explode rapidly (since he can use Hardware and Software to generate a lot of his own gear, build his botnet, etc) then he'll peter out spending most of his downtime keeping one or two Military grade hacking programs up-to-date. At this point he'll probably start boosting his other skills and investing in combat ware.
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suoq
post Jul 25 2011, 01:43 PM
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Hacker
Software of 5. Most skills at 4. Encephelon & Pushed is only 11 dice out of the gate (edit: 13 with hot sim). He can go to hacking (exploit) 6 with optimization (exploit) on the commlink and get to 16 dice for part of his job (edit; 18 with hot sim). If he buys the software at 6, adds mute in-game and gets restricted gear for response and system add a die. If he builds an unrestricted agent assistant he can add 2-3 more dice. Ask your GM if your hacker needs logic before building the character as there may be some houserules here.

So that's 13 dice to be expected of a generalist hacker who may have some ability at stealth, athletics, social, combat or a specialist at 16-17 dice with 20-21 dice in exploit.

If piracy rules are being used, the specialist can have more secondary abilities with the understanding that most of his gear "purchases" will happen "in-game". You might as well have a special session for the hacker because he has to do all the pirate haven stuff before he's useful.

Hacking is one of the skills that's not worth taking as a secondary position unless you're using the piracy rules.

-----------------

Face.
Basic simple generalist elf face: 4 influence + 7 charisma + 3 Kinesics + 3 Pheremones = 17 dice (+2 (19) with first impression). You still have plenty of build points for combat, stealth, etc. If Empathy software is allowed, add that in.

The top end for face comes down to your GM saying "Yes, I'll give you dice for that" a lot. http://forums.dumpshock.com/index.php?showtopic=35144 has it at 50+dice.

-------------------

Everyone (basics to survive in the shadows) for non-mages.

Edge: More is always better. Worth soft-capping.

Perception: Almost always a secondary skill worth investing in chargen. I've built characters whose primary skill was perception. (The face, above, can have a 6 in perception with no issue to his primary role, and it's a good investment considering the situations he tends to find himself in.)

Combat: 4 in the weapon of choice, I frequently go with an agility of 9 because muscle toner 4 (restricted gear) is so cheap as to be broken. Add a smartlink & tacnet 2 and you're tossing 13 dice as a secondary.

Stealth: Incredibly useful and chances are you already have the intuition and agility (see above). Purchased at chargen, it's a 4 in the skill, otherwise it's worth taking to at least a 2 with karma.

Athletics: I never have enough in this dice pool unless I'm a troll. I find my strength to usually be in the 3 range and I think of it as a tertiary skill (one that I bump in in play as the first 2 levels of the skill are cheap to buy with karma and I'd rather use my BPs buying secondary skills at 4. Athletics makes me glad I soft-cap edge.

Pilot skills: Get a 1, either in chargen or in karma. Personally, I like having 2 in ground, 1 in boats, and 1 in planes after I have enough karma. It's always worth having a car early in the game, and it's so rarely worth spending the BPs to get it at chargen.

Contacts: Missions - DO NOT BUY CONTACTS in MISSIONS. They fall like rain. Contacts are basically, broken. They basically relate to characters in 3 ways. Their loyalty (when you get down to it) is the least valuable thing to buy at chargen. They can become more loyal in play. They're not going to become better connected. Their connection is worth buying up at chargen IF they're the type of contact that needs to be connected. The most important trait of a contact, their actual skillset, is not part of the contact creation rules.. Dr Allcome the brilliant street surgeon costs the same BP as Dr. Sweeney Todd, the street surgeon of Seville. You can't, RAW, buy a more skilled surgeon as a contact.

First Aid: Ask your GM for houserules before buying this skill because it's broken. The Medkit is smarter than you will be. Trying to help the medkit will make it worse.

Social: As shown above, it's easy to get more dice for faces and skills like CON become very necessary unless you plan to shoot your way in and out of and everything. When things go wrong, CON is a great fall back skill. Likewise, Negotiation comes into play every time you go shopping, so unless you plan to have the face shop for you as well, invest in social skills, either at chargen or in play.

Armor: Armor depends on Body. Personally, I like 6/4+ffba half + ppp shin/forearm at 4 body. 6/4 + ppp at 3 body and 6/4 softweave at 2 body. Since there's so many useful 6/4s and I like to interchange them, I prefer the body of 4 option which also allows a softweave armored jacket + FFBA (half).

Guns: Defiance ex-shocker, Ingram X (off the shelf) or HK 227 (customized), Predator IV.

Commlink: Firewall 5. Ask if Stealth has been houseruled to help vs detect hidden nodes. Carry spare meta-links to assign to people who may need to leave you a message. Your shadowrun commlink needs to remain hidden and hard to detect as much as possible. Your Fake ID commlink will often need to be active. Yeah, that's a lot of commlinks...
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Neurosis
post Jul 25 2011, 07:16 PM
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Street Sam/Warrior: Agree with OP, but I'd bump it up to 3IP.
Mage: Magic 5+ or otherwise able to summon Force 5 Spirits and cast Force 5 Spells. ~10 Dice for Drain Resistance, preferably not less. Practically required spells include Stunbolt, Improved Invisibility, Heal, and Increase Reflexes. Ability to sustain one of those without taking a penalty. And, if at all possible, lots and lots of Psyche.
Hacker: It's complicated. At a minimum, high rating (5-6) Stealth and Exploit and all Commlink attributes at at least 5, 6 if possible.
Rigger: Depends on if you mean a vehicle guy or a drone guy, they have slightly different roles/skill sets.
Face: Charisma 6+, Major Social Skills 4+. Good Perception, decent combat skills.

Overall My Definitions Are:

Preposterously Elite: 15+ Dice
Superhumanly Good: 12+ Dice
Competent/Trained: 8+ Dice
Average/Semi-Trained: 6+ Dice
Poor/Untrained: Everything below average.

Which I think are more in line with the 'What skill/attribute X means' tables in the BBB.

QUOTE
Software of 5. Most skills at 4. Encephelon & Pushed is only 11 dice out of the gate. He can go to hacking (exploit) 6 with optimization (exploit) on the commlink and get to 16 dice for part of his job. If he buys the software at 6, adds mute in-game and gets restricted gear for response and system add a die. If he builds an unrestricted agent assistant he can add 2-3 more dice. Ask your GM if your hacker needs logic before building the character as there may be some houserules here.


Are you forgetting Hot Sim bonus?
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Tymeaus Jalynsfe...
post Jul 25 2011, 07:48 PM
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QUOTE (Neurosis @ Jul 25 2011, 01:16 PM) *
Overall My Definitions Are:

Preposterously Elite: 15+ Dice
Superhumanly Good: 12+ Dice
Competent/Trained: 8+ Dice
Average/Semi-Trained: 6+ Dice
Poor/Untrained: Everything below average.

Which I think are more in line with the 'What skill/attribute X means' tables in the BBB.


I like your breakdown of the DP Definitions... (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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suoq
post Jul 25 2011, 08:20 PM
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QUOTE (Neurosis @ Jul 25 2011, 02:16 PM) *
Are you forgetting Hot Sim bonus?

Yep. I am. Mentally add two more dice to what I wrote above. I'll make the edits.
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Glyph
post Jul 25 2011, 09:57 PM
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I think that "basics" might be a tad overoptimistic in the OP. I would say generally, you want at least a 3 Body for basic survivability, and you need the perception skill, the etiquette skill, and either gymnastics or dodge. You need armor, a weapon (unless you use spells), a commlink, a fake SIN and fake licenses for your illegal gear (although most shadowrunners should break two or three laws simply by existing). It is nice to have athletics or sneaking ability, and certainly useful, but not every build will have it.

Street Sam/Warrior Adept: You need high combat dice pools, multiple initiative passes, and the ability to both dodge and soak damage. Senseware and a high perception are useful. Keep in mind that this character will usually be outnumbered, often picking up the slack for teammates who are not combat-oriented, and frequently functioning while fatigued or wounded despite his best efforts. So consider this before you dismiss a dice pool as "overkill" for him. It might not be. For skills, I tend to have a primary ranged skill, a secondary ranged skill, and a melee skill. You can expand these skills, but often the Street Sam/Warrior Adept is better served by branching out a bit, instead.

Mages and hackers: These characters are both skill and resource intensive. To be good at their main function, they will usually be very limited outside of it - just enough to get by, in other skills. But their specialties are very versatile, and they can often be used to contribute to the legwork, execution, and aftermath of the job.

Faces: It is easy to make hybrids such as face/street samurai, if your main concern is high social dice pools. A full-bore face also needs lots of contacts and identities. Tech can help them out a lot, and not just augmentations. A half a dozen linguisofts, an agent with a decent browse program, and some nanopaste disguises can work wonders. Social skill dice pools are curious, in that it is relatively easy to get them into the stratospere, but unlike combat, you often don't need a super high dice pool to be effective.
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suoq
post Jul 25 2011, 10:39 PM
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Gymnastics or Dodge: I may be misremembering the rules. I think they only matter if the player is "actively dodging" which I seem to think of as "not shooting back". Is this correct and if so, do you really use them a lot?

Etiquette: Is this used a lot? What are some common situations? I seem to be more prone to infiltration than etiquette. It may be me.
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Glyph
post Jul 25 2011, 11:00 PM
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Dodge takes an action if you are using it in ranged combat, but not if you are using it in melee combat (unless you are using full defense). Gymnastics can only be used for full defense, so it is only worth taking if you also happen to have a melee skill, to block with, in melee combat. I would consider it moderately useful - full defense is good to use in conjunction with running to cover.

Etiquette is the skill a character uses any time he wants to, more or less, fit in. As in, not be the outsider who gets challenged, or remembered when the cops swing by. A minimal etiquette will protect you a bit from critically glitching in social situations.

Obviously, some campaigns won't use full defense, or have a lot of social interaction. But as far as useful skills for a "typical" Shadowrun campaign, if there is such a thing, yeah, I would recommend both of them as very basic skills to have.
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Whipstitch
post Jul 25 2011, 11:07 PM
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QUOTE (suoq @ Jul 25 2011, 07:43 AM) *
Pilot skills: Get a 1, either in chargen or in karma. Personally, I like having 2 in ground, 1 in boats, and 1 in planes after I have enough karma. It's always worth having a car early in the game, and it's so rarely worth spending the BPs to get it at chargen.


It's also worth keeping in mind that a Control Rig is only 0.5 essence and 10k nuyen, so being a half-assed rigger is something a fair number of my players (particularly dwarves and trolls due to the middling Reaction) have aspired to over time. You won't be outperforming a tweaked pursuit rigger, obviously, but given how little karma it takes to hit Pilot Groundcraft w/ the Wheeled specialization there's no reason why you can't give go gangers and other lower end thugs a run for their money as long as you have a nice ride.


On Gymnastics vs. Dodge: Don't forget that Gymnastics is also the prime candidate for a lot of non-standard "action movie" checks that don't come up every run like navigating a narrow walkway and other miscellaneous balance checks. The classic high rise show down or fist fight in the industrial park may not come up every run but when they do show up the extra dice never hurts.
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CanRay
post Jul 26 2011, 01:01 AM
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Remember folks: Hitter, Hacker, Grifter, Thief, Mastermind. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)
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Makki
post Jul 26 2011, 01:05 AM
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QUOTE (CanRay @ Jul 25 2011, 08:01 PM) *
Remember folks: Hitter, Hacker, Grifter, Thief, Mastermind. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)

but they're not starting characters
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CanRay
post Jul 26 2011, 01:23 AM
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Oh, right...

I'm still stealing that "Pants Safety Pistol Is Very Unsafe" trick that was pulled in one episode someday...
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PoliteMan
post Jul 26 2011, 01:56 AM
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QUOTE (Glyph @ Jul 26 2011, 05:57 AM) *
Mages and hackers: These characters are both skill and resource intensive. To be good at their main function, they will usually be very limited outside of it - just enough to get by, in other skills. But their specialties are very versatile, and they can often be used to contribute to the legwork, execution, and aftermath of the job.

I agree on mages but I think hackers are a bit more versatile than you think.

For basic hacking skills, you need:
Hacking 6
Cracked Skill group 4
Electronics skill group 4
so 88 BP

And then for gear (presuming no pirating)
about 6,500 for a Transys Avalon with a Novatech Navi
roughly 60,000 for various programs/options.
15,000 for PuSHeD
Then you probably want another +3 to logic skills from somewhere. Your options are:
75,000 for Encephelon R2
20,000-35,000 for Nanites, although you'll need to get Focus pretty quick.
BADs, which you'll acquire during gameplay.
So you're looking at 88 BP and somewhere between 80,000 and 150,000 nuyen. Oh, and +4 to all your hacking skills.

Presuming you're spending all 50 BP on resources, that's 262 BP and 100-150k nuyen left. I'm pretty sure you could pick up enough ware and skills to backup the Sam in combat, or take the role of Face or Rigger if your team doesn't have one. There's some flexibility there.
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Udoshi
post Jul 26 2011, 02:48 AM
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There's one thing the Hacker steriotype has that others don't.

And thats free points to get a bucket full of edge.
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Whipstitch
post Jul 26 2011, 02:53 AM
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It really depends on the table environment since affording misc. stuff does require some real sacrifices, particularly given that the GM is under no obligation to let you break up skill groups before play. And yeah, I kinda think of soft capped Edge as standard issue equipment for Hackers at this point, so when I look at those totals I'm already mentally totting up an extra 60 or so BP that is spoken for.
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suoq
post Jul 26 2011, 12:10 PM
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QUOTE (PoliteMan @ Jul 25 2011, 08:56 PM) *
I agree on mages but I think hackers are a bit more versatile than you think.

For basic hacking skills, you need:
Hacking 6
Cracked Skill group 4
Electronics skill group 4
so 88 BP
SR4A, PG 84:
QUOTE
Skill groups may not be broken up into individual skills for further improvement and specializations may not be taken for skill group skills at character creation—although, as always, individual gamemasters are free to allow this option.
QUOTE (PoliteMan @ Jul 25 2011, 08:56 PM) *
And then for gear (presuming no pirating)
about 6,500 for a Transys Avalon with a Novatech Navi

That's 4/4/4/3 - Incapable of running any software over a rating 4 and protecting your central role with only a rating 3 firewall.
QUOTE (PoliteMan @ Jul 25 2011, 08:56 PM) *
roughly 60,000 for various programs/options.
Not sure what programs you're buying here because of the above limitations
QUOTE (PoliteMan @ Jul 25 2011, 08:56 PM) *
15,000 for PuSHeD
Then you probably want another +3 to logic skills from somewhere. Your options are:
75,000 for Encephelon R2
Encephelon R2, depending on your GM's interpretation of the badly written rules may only be Logic +1.
QUOTE (PoliteMan @ Jul 25 2011, 08:56 PM) *
20,000-35,000 for Nanites, although you'll need to get Focus pretty quick.
BADs, which you'll acquire during gameplay.
So you're looking at 88 BP and somewhere between 80,000 and 150,000 nuyen. Oh, and +4 to all your hacking skills.

Note that the nanites lose 1 rating every time you take 3 boxes of damage and only function (according to Augmentation)
QUOTE
as long as the character is able to concentrate on the problem at hand without major distractions or encroaching stressful situations (such as a raging firefight, an ongoing chase, or hacking an ultra-secure system).
(I believe there's some sort of positive quality that aids in stressful situations, but I can't recall it or find it at the moment and I don't see it in this build.)
QUOTE (PoliteMan @ Jul 25 2011, 08:56 PM) *
Presuming you're spending all 50 BP on resources, that's 262 BP and 100-150k nuyen left. I'm pretty sure you could pick up enough ware and skills to backup the Sam in combat, or take the role of Face or Rigger if your team doesn't have one. There's some flexibility there.

In order to get the versatility, the GM has to play by optional character creation rules, a friendly interpretation of the Encephelon Rules, another friendly interpretation on the nanite rules, and I still don't know what you're running for software.

-------------------

Agreed on hackers and edge.
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PoliteMan
post Jul 26 2011, 01:13 PM
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On skills:
Good catch, for some reason I thought you could break them. Still, you can easily under buy Electronic Warfare and Data Search, even Hardware if you need to.

On the Commlink:
Yes, but rating 6 Response is availability 16, and why pay for Restricted Gear when you can just build the Response 6 later for (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) 4,000, easily the pay of the first run, maybe the second in a very skimpy campaign. . If there's no pirating, then I guess you might as well go and buy Firewall and System up to 6. You can still use them, their ratings just drop to 4. With +4 to logic linked skills, a temporary -2 to rolls shouldn't be an issue. If it's really bugging you, just buy Optimization after Chargen for 200-300

Encephelon is poorly written but there's not much doubt what the intent is, +2 to all logic skills and +1 to the "hacker" skills. This shouldn't be an issue. Out of the three options, Encephelon is by far the most expensive in cash and Essence terms. Why would a GM use poor writing to gimp the least powerful of the 3 options.

For nanites, you use the Focus Reality Filter from Unwired. As for damage, yes it's a problem if you take a lot of damage and then try to hack, it's usually difficult to hack after getting shot a couple times. And the Nanohive will generally restore your nanites to full use before the next mission.

Backing up, you need to lower a few non-critical skills and either spend the BP for Restricted Quality or suffer a -2 peanlty for the first mission.
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KCKitsune
post Jul 26 2011, 05:04 PM
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Firewall is not affected by Response.
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Glyph
post Jul 27 2011, 03:12 AM
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I would say there is plenty of doubt about what an Encephalon II does. "Provides the same bonus" is pretty clear - it's kind of stretching it to make it say "gives another +1 bonus", when all other 'ware that gives a bonus based on its rating states so very clearly. I have always read it to mean that you get +1 for Encephalon I, and get a more limited additional bonus for the Encephalon II (dice pool modifiers for hacking are hard to come by, and making the last point of something disproportionately expensive is a common tactic in the rules).

Hackers are not that limited by skills - two skill groups, basically, and the electronics you could even get away with starting out at 2 or 3, if you had to. The real limitation is resources, although I tend to want at least 5 response, some response enhancer, and a simsense accelerator, most of the utilities out there at rating: 5 or 6, and PuSHeD at the very least. Preferably an encephalon and/or a simsense booster. A hacker going a bit more bare bones, or having a narrower selection of utilities, can certainly afford a wider variety of gear.
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Glyph
post Jul 27 2011, 03:13 AM
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QUOTE (KCKitsune @ Jul 26 2011, 10:04 AM) *
Firewall is not affected by Response.

Where does it actually say this? I'm not doubting you, since I've heard a lot of other people say this. I just haven't been able to find it.
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DWC
post Jul 27 2011, 03:22 AM
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QUOTE (Glyph @ Jul 26 2011, 10:13 PM) *
Where does it actually say this? I'm not doubting you, since I've heard a lot of other people say this. I just haven't been able to find it.

Nothing ever says it isn't capped by Response. Hwever, it is the only Matrix attribute that does not have an explicit limit that ties back to Response. Programs are capped by System, System is capped by Response. Firewall is a device attribute rather than a program, so it doesn't get hit by any of the restrictions.
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PoliteMan
post Jul 27 2011, 04:48 AM
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QUOTE (Glyph @ Jul 27 2011, 12:12 PM) *
I would say there is plenty of doubt about what an Encephalon II does.

Really?

The most expensive booster a hacker can get, essence and nuyen expensive, while the two alternatives basically cost no essence and are much cheaper, and there's a demand to tone it down?
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Glyph
post Jul 27 2011, 07:54 AM
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QUOTE (DWC @ Jul 26 2011, 08:22 PM) *
Nothing ever says it isn't capped by Response. Hwever, it is the only Matrix attribute that does not have an explicit limit that ties back to Response. Programs are capped by System, System is capped by Response. Firewall is a device attribute rather than a program, so it doesn't get hit by any of the restrictions.

Thanks. So it's more of an inferred rule, then. Makes sense, though.

QUOTE (PoliteMan @ Jul 26 2011, 09:48 PM) *
Really?

The most expensive booster a hacker can get, essence and nuyen expensive, while the two alternatives basically cost no essence and are much cheaper, and there's a demand to tone it down?

I wouldn't call it a demand to tone it down - I don't care that much either way. I'm just saying, that's how I've always read the description.
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suoq
post Jul 27 2011, 11:30 AM
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QUOTE (PoliteMan @ Jul 26 2011, 11:48 PM) *
The most expensive booster a hacker can get, essence and nuyen expensive, while the two alternatives basically cost no essence and are much cheaper, and there's a demand to tone it down?

Discussed in http://forums.dumpshock.com/index.php?showtopic=30152 possibly the shortest debate on dumpshock (which then turns into a regular style debate about logic and hacking....). Feel free to start a new debate thread if you need to.
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RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 25th July 2024 - 05:51 PM

Topps, Inc has sole ownership of the names, logo, artwork, marks, photographs, sounds, audio, video and/or any proprietary material used in connection with the game Shadowrun. Topps, Inc has granted permission to the Dumpshock Forums to use such names, logos, artwork, marks and/or any proprietary materials for promotional and informational purposes on its website but does not endorse, and is not affiliated with the Dumpshock Forums in any official capacity whatsoever.