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I only really have access to SR4a. I might be able to get my hands on Street Magic before my next game, but I'm not sure.

The short version: I'm going to be taking a backseat to the other runners in the group, as I'm the veteran player and I held their hand a bit through their first run for the GM. Now, I'm going to be in a passive advisory role: The PCs are going to work, for a while, with the Russians in Seattle. I'll be attached to the Russians in order to help provide the players with intel and support that they might not have on their character sheet, while still being in the thick of it.

I was thinking physical adept, with an old Russian commlink (and maybe eyes?) in his head. I couldn't buy up enough Magic at character generation to notice the loss of 1 point, anyway. Then buying into a number of standard skill groups, up to maybe 3 or 4? A generalist approach that will hit most of the spy tropes: athletics, firearms, outdoors, cracking, influence, close combat, electronics and stealth. (Yea... that's a lot of skills...) I'll need some room to pick up a handful of languages and contacts, on top of that.

The group has a face-built character who is still learning to extrovert himself and be a face. Our hacker needs an audit on his sheet, so he might not be nearly as awesome as he was on our first run. Our third is a poorly defined generalist/gunbunny. I'm really hoping to be a resource for them when they don't have the skill required for an appointed task - the whole point of my being an overseer for the Russian who's hiring the players - instead of outsourcing our work to someone else.

(I was amazed at how much we were able to accomplish on our first run with a healthy expense account and a little footwork. But there were also other problems with the original scenario.)

So, first question: Can my above concept be executed on a standard build? I'm having a hard time making the numbers fit and be respectable: lower stats and skills across the board, just to make sure I can fill that generalist role. The GM says there will be karma handed out for last run (which I can apply to this new character) but it's undisclosed how much, as of right now.

Second... Who are Russian spies these days? The original Yakov Bondovich was the KGB, but they dissolved in the 90s after the cold war and became something else, but I can't remember the name of it to wiki me some details.
From Spy Games:

Glavnoye Razvedovatel’noye Upravleniy (Military Intelligence Directorate) (All-Sources, MI; CI)
Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del (Ministry of Internal Affairs) (Domestic All-Sources; CI)

Those links should help you. As to the right balance for a generalist well that is more a matter of personal preference. I would skip the vehicle skills and most of the technical skills. Really the social skill are the important ones, along with maybe Enhanced Perception if you are looking at an adept. Noticing things and people skills are what spying is all about outside of remote surveillance. Hacking is always a specialist job anyway. Since you are pulling the handler role, I would lean on the social.
SKillwires, comrade!

You can cover a great many bases with Skillwires, which don't even take large chunks of your essence if you're worried about magic loss. (Of course, if you decide to leave the adept part out completely, you free up many more points for more upgrades. Eta harasho!)
QUOTE (NiL_FisK_Urd @ Dec 11 2012, 05:31 PM) *
From Spy Games:

Glavnoye Razvedovatel’noye Upravleniy (Military Intelligence Directorate) (All-Sources, MI; CI)
Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del (Ministry of Internal Affairs) (Domestic All-Sources; CI)
Spy Games list of agencies doesn't mention it, but there is a third intelligence agency in Russia, the Upravleniye Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (don't ask me what it can mean) or UGB which get in a brief in the same book on page 115, as well as Target: Smuggler Havens page 49, SOTA: 204 pages 18-19, Shadows of Asia pages 126-127. The UGB is the new name of the KGB, with the Lubyanka HQ and the rest.
QUOTE (Nath @ Dec 11 2012, 08:39 PM) *
But there is a third intelligence agency in Russia, the Upravleniye Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (don't ask me what it can mean)

After doing some digging. It translates to the directorate of state security.
Similarly the KGB was Komitet Gosundarstvennoy Bezopasnosti.
Being ex-russian spy is easy. Drink a lot of vodka, hug bears and sing soviet anthemn %)

As far as i know, Russia is very ill-defined in Shadowrun, it was first written when USSR was still there, then they tried to fit post-soviet Russia in, then the went back to Soviet one, and don't even start speaking about the yakut. Awakened bears ruling Poland are more thruthful than yakut in the borders that are shown on the map. So i can give you some info on the present-day situation, don't know how true it is in 70s.

There are two foreign intelligence services in Russia. One is GRU, it's the military intelligence working for the armed forces. The other is SVR (Slyzhba Vneshney Razvedki (Foreign Intelligence Service)), which is more of a general foreign intelligence service, not strictly military. Both services are direct subject to the president. That sexy red-haired spy caught few years back was from SVR. KGB (and now FSB - Federalnaya Sluzba Bezopasnosti (Federal Security Service)) is more concerned with internal security and counter-intelligence. And as all this is probably subject to national security issues, they are already tearing down the door to my apartment...
QUOTE (Smirnov @ Dec 14 2012, 11:26 PM) *
As far as i know, Russia is very ill-defined in Shadowrun, it was first written when USSR was still there, then they tried to fit post-soviet Russia in, then the went back to Soviet one

Post CCCP Russia is pretty ill-defined in peoples minds in general I think...

Yeah, Putin, Khokhloma, Chapelnik ))
QUOTE (Smirnov @ Dec 14 2012, 11:26 PM) *
Being ex-russian spy is easy. Drink a lot of vodka, hug bears and sing soviet anthemn %)

1) Steal potato from Latvian
1.5) Rape Latvian's daughter (optional)
2) Make vodka from potato
3) Drink vodka
4) Hug bear
5) Sing glorious Soviet anthem
6) ???
7) Profit.
QUOTE (Halinn @ Dec 15 2012, 12:37 AM) *
2) Make vodka from potato

You don't make proper vodka from potatoes!
What is the world coming to...
QUOTE (Lionhearted @ Dec 15 2012, 01:11 AM) *
What is the world coming to...

The world is coming to an end. You have one week. Make the most of it.
Hey! Potato vodka is national heritage! Ask Batka, he knows the stuff! biggrin.gif

@DnDer, if you have any questions on intelligence services, feel free to ask, I'll answer what I can.
QUOTE (Smirnov @ Dec 15 2012, 09:44 AM) *
Hey! Potato vodka is national heritage! Ask Batka, he knows the stuff! biggrin.gif

It would seem quite strange to use potatoes as the first choice here. Russian vodka is okey by me, but it's not as good as our grain vodka tavarisch smile.gif
On a serious note, vodka can be made from abythung. Wheat, rye, potatoes, turnip... Anything you have plenty of will do. All in all, whiskey is just samogon (moonshine) with a better PR smile.gif)
Guys, try to be a bit more helpful, ok?
If I remember right, the 2070 Russia has lost Siberia to a faction of spirits, sheapeshifters and other asorted magical critters. So odds are you charcter will be from Russia proper. Also what kind of spying was he trained for ? If he went east, I'd expect a decent amount of outdoor/survival skills and a a bias toward the heavier end of the weapon spectrum. And probably knowledge point into the magical side of things. Also proably more reliant on bioware than cyber : harder to spot, less likely to piss of magical critters and easier on maintenance when you're in the middle of the tundra.

IF his job was more oriented west, breaking and entring skills, decent to good social skills to get information out of peoples and a weapon selection oriented toward ubran, close range and discretion.
There is a chapter on Russia in Shadows over Europe, as well as one in Sixth World Almanac.
Also, the UGB is mentioned, say, in Arsenal a few times (and for some reason it's FSB in the German edition).
E: Ack, totally beaten by Fatums presence. Well, check it out, it's good!

It so happens that DS user Fatum has begun making a shadowrun supplement for Neo-Russia!

Unique russian spy skills, toxins, gear and a shitton of background information on everything from matrix spies to GRU spetznaz can be found right here:
@Manunancy: The short version would be, "James Bond from Russia," as far as archetypes go. So, you're probably right on the B&E instead of the survivalist track. But since Double-Oh can do everything, I was having a hard time working a generalist angle by the math, so I hoped knowing more about the agencies would help me get a better (ie not as expensive) skill set without sacrificing versatility he'll need to be handler for the team.

@everyone else: Big help. Big thanks!

@Tias: Oh, sweet mercy, there's more in that document than I could probably ever need or get through.

@Smirnov & Fatum, specifically: I love that we have such an international community. And you guys know you've just volunteered yourself for what will probably become a lot of Stupid American Questions About Russia, right? I feel bad about it... But when is an American not ugly, right?
Personally I'd say forget about the Adept quality and go with some ware in stead. Forget about James Bond. Your character build by the standard rules will not be able to fit in anything close to a James bond like skill set.

IMO you want great skills at Perception. You want decent Pistol and unarmed skills, a bit of Automatics. You'll also want some stalking and infiltration skills, as well as some social skills and some contacts. Add a bit of computer skills and a bit of driving skills. Personally I'd considder the "Made Man" quality to represent the Vory connection, and also the Perceptive and Blandness qualities. I'd probably also considder some eye 'ware, Agility boost of some sort, and then I'd go with a Move-by-Wire system and maybe a build-in Comlink. Naturally you will also need some connections.

The role of a spy is to gather information, conduct covert operations, and never draw attention to themselves. James Bond would make a lousy spy in the real world.

Hope you can use this for something.
Having heavily regulated cyberware implants probably counts as drawing attention to yourself.
Synaptic boosters, harder to detect, less detrimental if they do.
Skillwires, totally legal just make sure to encrypt and hide your unsavory software.
Well.. Going by the info in Fatums Yakut supplement, I've learned the following:

The "superspy" agencies that would fit your dude are likely to be either GRU or UGB:

We learn that the GRU is "the Ministry’s of Defense military intelligence. It is concerned with raising the Red Army’s fighting chances first and foremost, but it’s taking its task broadly: in addition to direct military espionage, it also busies itself with acquiring whatever technologies might give Russian forces a fighting edge; political espionage to determine Russia’s enemies and potential allies, undermining the former’s positions and helping the latter; protecting Russian assets from espionage attempts, and covert operations.

>> And by covert operations here Novichok means every dirty trick in the sleeve, including such niceties as assassinating anyone from front line commanders to top politicians, kidnapping, blackmail or sabotaging infrastructure, employing terror tactics. They’re no strangers to hiring side talent, too.


They also have a code of honour, rejecting "criminal orders" if they perceive leadership to be acting against russian interest. In comparison to..

..The UGB, who does state security/counterintelligence, and is more "no holds barred" than the GRU. Their prime operatives are described as "field agents, handlers or operative engineers."

My thoughts on your concept:

If your role as a veteran player guiding the group is sanctioned by the game master, and you work together, I should think he/she could let you create your player with more Build Points than the standard 400 - I know I would, if I had faith you would perform the character role you worked out, and didn't abuse the privilege granted in some stupid or plot-breaking way.

Also, synaptic boosters and skillwires were suggested by others, and I heartily concur. Extra reactions are a must-have for higher-level operatives, and having a skillwire set (I'd add an expert skillwire system, too) can let you pick up any skills you suddenly need, but don't have. If you really want to play up the hard boiled, tough-as-nails vet thing, Damage Compensator and up-armoring/stat-boosing bioware might also be an idea.

If build points are a big concern, I'd say go virgin human, stock up on good augmentations that boost a wide spectrum of uses, and then look at equipment. You can definitely get a lot of good gear off the bat, and remember that gear and contacts can replace specific competences that you cannot afford to start with.

Examples: You can't become a good stealthy people person that can kill a man, and also be a genial hacker - but! You can load your commlink with a "Pocket Hacker" agent that can crack systems, fight spiders and hide your location for you! Alternatively, you can have a loyal contact in "Sektor K", the ministry of internal security's drek-hot Matrix Crime hacker corps, who just so feels obligated to erase your data trails, and fry your matrix adversaries for you.

B&E is a great example of the power of gear. High rating autopicker can frag most mechanical locks for you, and a good mag-lock sequencer can do the same with the mag-locks that are ubiquitous in the sixth world. You don't even need a good hardware rating to do it!

Hope this helps, anything else just ask.

Edit: The Runner's Companion quality "Black Market Pipeline" is a godsend for gear as well. It only works for one kind of gear, but having that for something like drugs, augmentations, or electronics really gives an edge when reacting to threats.

Edit2: And the reason I solely recommended bioware is, as others correctly pointed out, less detectible by magic and scanner. Cybereyes and implanted commlinks are probably common enough not to raise a stink, but you'd have to have a forged SIN with military or security credentials to explain restricted vision spectrums and smartlinks.
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