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Hey, one of my players wants to play a shapeshifter ala Mystique from Xmen. Any suggestions how to do this? I'm still very much the newbie GM.
Quick advice? Don't.

Mystique is a powerful and well-established character, and is far more powerful than a beginning character in SR4. Your player will probably be very disappointed.

I don't have my book here at work, so this is a general guideline, if you are dead set on going forward. The shapeshifting will need to be a spell unless you plan on creating a new race with an Innate Spell ability (which I don't recommend for a new GM)
Make a powerful mage, or a Mystic Adept with at least 4 in magic and some useful adept abilities. Throw plenty of points at Disguise and social skills, also unarmed combat and pistols. Race could be human or elf, but the extra edge makes me lean toward human.
Spell list can be short, with Shapechange and some buffing spells. Heal is a good idea as well.
Good luck, I hope this helps.
Yeah, I already mentioned to my player that Mystique is exceptionally powerful, and no, I don't want to do anything like create a new race. So, there is a shapeshifter spell then? I'll have to check the book.

What about a physad ability? I take it that is something I would have to either make up or maybe look up from a previous edition?

I guess the spell would probably be the best route to go, eh?

Thanks, and please, keep the advice coming!
Ice Hammer
When I read the thread title, I was thinking along the lines of the person whated to be like a bear shapeshifter, eagle shapeshifter, tiger shapeshifter, a la Shadowrun 3. If that were the case, I would have advised not to do that, as I was actually a GM who ran a shadowrun 3 game with a PC shapeshifter, and they are indeed very difficult to deal with from the GM's perspective, and that they basically ruin game balance with their regeneration, and their ability to shift into their animal forms. However, since this is a different type of shapeshifter, let me give you some of my ideas on how to create such a character.

My suggestion might the easiest: as part of their background, during the year Haley's comet passed the Earth in 2061/2062, SURGE (Sudden Recessive Genetic Expression) hit the character, and the character ended up with a new type of skin that is chameleon-like in nature (basically the Altered Skin Coloration surge effect, that is a positive quality, instead of a negative quality). What he/she sees, he/she may become. I don't know when you're setting your campaign, if its pre-comet or post-comet, so that may or may not work. I would establish that the character, if he or she wants to mimic somebody, makes a perception+intuition test, and the number of hits determine how long he or she may mimic another person. Four or more would let him or her mimic another target for as long as he or she wishes. A failure causes him not to be able to mimic the other person, and a glitch or critcial glitch may mean there's something wrong with the image or pattern, or that the mimicry ends very quickly, possibly at a very bad time. Of course, that would only be for the skin. You would actually have to have the adapt power of voice control to change the voice, or similar cybernetic device. There is a Shadowrun 3 adept power called Facial Sculpt in the State of the Art 2064 book that allows the adept to alter the bone and muscle structure of his face to resemble something else. But all this would require you, as the GM, to convert a bunch of stuff from Shadowrun 3 to 4.

It might just be best for him or her to just be very good at disguises, using Nanopaste disguises, and using cyberware and/or magic that is in Shadowrun 4, such as phsyical mask, to become a chameleon like character, ie, the man of many faces. And the player should remember that to play such a character would mean having a very high charisma attribute, so that in the cases where the disguises fail, they can have the opportunity to use the wit and their charm to get past the problem.
How about making the character and Adept and allowing a 1 powerpont power called "Innate Spell" which allows the character to cast one spell (needs to buy spellcasting skill to do this) of their choice. In this case the spell would be physical mask. Encourage the PC to initiate to get Masking and Fexible sig to be able to hide their aura and the spell and there you go, Mystique.
Such a character may be possible as a mystic adept... Though I would probably spend at least 2 points into magic for spell pool...

But then you're using a spell, and would show up as such to other awakened creatures... To make it as a supernatural ability would be absurd - as many metahumans and metavariants as there are, there are no 'mutants' in SR. Creating such or even superheroes in the SR Universe would require significant artistic interpretation to the rules wink.gif
As has been said the physical mask spell will let you do what you want

This will leave the caster with 3 problems,
first she is at -2 to all dice pools (including disguise) because of sustaining the spell unless using an expensive and hard to obtain sustaining focus (up to force 3 available to a starting char).

Second the spell as well as the fact that she is a magician will be easy to notice buy any astraly preserving security magician or guard spirit, this can be countered to a great extent buy initiating and gaining the masking metamagic but it is still possible for other initiates to see threw your masking.

Wards will block the passage of your spell and active focus, with masking you can try to slip them threw but it takes some time (not to long) and you have to notice the ward first, if a ward dispels the spell while your in a target facility you suddenly pop back to your normal appearance.

Ugh -

After reading your various replies on this, hell, it's way too much trouble for me to deal with, all things considered.

Maybe in a few months or so once I've really gotten the hang of the system, maybe then. But now?

Way too much trouble for it to be worth while!

Thanks for the varied and well thought out opinions.
Divine Virus
Personally, it is my beleif that when a player says "I want to be a Y just like character Y" it is bad news. especially when we are dealing with well known characters like Mistique. The key words for me are some phrase along the lines of "just like." I have no problem with inspriation drawn from pop culture figures, I do it all the time when I run characters. The difficulty comes when they try to mirror whatever pop culture figure perfectly. When instead of playing a character of their own, they are playing a photocopy of Mistuiqe, or Ash (army of darkness), or whoever. But thats not what you asksed.

SR is not set up for a character like that. I remember back in the first SR novel (Never Deal with a Dragon?) there was a character like this, a dopperganger that had been genetically engineered by one megacorp to be used agienst another, but it was a multi milltion nuyen project. and if I recall, that doppleganer would be more like a 600 BP character then a 400 BP one. Moral of the story: Wait till you have more expeirence and you are playing a higher level game.
I would tell the player:

"If you want to play someone who is a master of disguise, there are lots of ways to do it, from the magical (magician or mystic adept with physical mask , improved invisibility, and shapechange spells) to the mundane (hi-tech disguise kit, ruthenium sneak suit, and high disguise and con skills)."

There is plenty in the existing rules for someone who wants a disguise-oriented character, with enough build points left to be decent in combat as well. But you will not be able to duplicate a character from a book. Either they will be too powerful to do more than a weak approximation with SR stats (Spider-man, Wolverine, Mystique, Ranma, etc.), or they will be duplicable, stat-wise, but impossible to play with the same level of capability by most players (Phedre, Miles Vorkosigan, McGuyver, etc.). As Divine Virus said, characters from sources such as comics and novels can be a starting point, inspiration-wise, but trying to create an exact duplicate is unwise.
QUOTE (Edward @ May 28 2006, 12:44 PM)
As has been said the physical mask spell will let you do what you want

There were rules that allowed you to take certain spells as an adept power at the cost of 1 power point.

You could use this rule then you could also have the other adept powers to "mimic" the rest of Mystique.
The rules that let you take spells as an adept are mystic adepts I think. You can split your magic rating between power points and conventional magic.
I think he is referring to a second, or even first edition power.

One power point adept power, you get one spell only (you canít learn more) I think you cast using your essence as skill (like a critter would).

Yeah that was it.
It was a really neat idea.
Horrendous in terms of karma costs though.
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