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This is a bit of an out there thought but bear with me:

Character creation is one of the most contentious parts of Shadowrun. Which is best? Priority; Build Points; Karma; each have their defenders and detractors. I am not saying any of them is better or worse than any of the others (I know that there are other people who'll happily do that for me), but here's another idea: question based character generation.

Here's the general concept: Character creation takes the form of a long in character multiple choice questionnaire that determines skills, attributes, magic, qualities and gear.

The first problem I can see with this is that it will be a big thing. As in, a full book just for this one character generation system, as each choice is going to need to lead to a different set of questions (with some overlap) so that it's harder to game the system by just picking the best options for each question, as the branching choices mean that by picking one option others close to you.

Shouldn't that go into this thread as Shadowrun/Jagged Alliance crossover? nyahnyah.gif
tasti man LH
...soooo the G.O.A.T. from Fallout 3?
QUOTE (tasti man LH @ Apr 2 2014, 07:00 PM) *
...soooo the G.O.A.T. from Fallout 3?

Kinda like that, but a little more in-depth.
QUOTE (FuelDrop @ Apr 2 2014, 07:02 AM) *
Kinda like that, but a little more in-depth.

Not sure I want to hear how in deep with Goats you get. nyahnyah.gif
QUOTE (FuelDrop @ Apr 2 2014, 10:44 AM) *
The first problem I can see with this is that it will be a big thing. As in, a full book just for this one character generation system, as each choice is going to need to lead to a different set of questions (with some overlap) so that it's harder to game the system by just picking the best options for each question, as the branching choices mean that by picking one option others close to you.


It's an interesting concept and attractive conceptually (I like the idea of handing this thing to a player, too, but I foresee a few problems:

1) Anyone who seriously wants to game the system is going to go through the book backwards and forwards to find out the best possible result.

The counter-move to this is to hide the mechanics, but at that point, you might as well be simply getting the players to describe the PC they want and making them for them (and you don't need the system you propose to do that - I've done it before for SR players, particularly newbies), and that will be really really off-putting for a lot of players.

So anyway, assuming you are transparent about it (like all the other chargen systems mentioned, which are 100% transparent), people will still game the system. You will likely prevent some particularly obnoxious combinations, but you will probably totally allow others (unintentionally - no-one is perfect! I know I'm not! And it would take a huge amount of play-testing to track down all the potential issues - and some people wouldn't even see them as issues).

2) At certain points, you will just have to break down and use some kind of standard chargen rules, because it's too fiddly to go with a questionnaire.

Gear in general, particularly cyberware, would be one area, unless you are willing to come up with dozens of "gear packages" and "cyber packages" (which will no doubt bring their own woes, as some will be equal in nuyen cost but clearly far more or less optimal than others). Spells would be another area, because there are just too many to account for. Adept powers likewise. Knowledge skills, too, as they're meant to be completely personalized. Even normal skills will be difficult to account for.

3) Accounting for new material will be difficult.

Eventually new magical traditions, new approaches to power and so on are likely to appear, as well as new spells, cyberware, gear and adept powers, some of which may just not fit into the questionnaire you've created. You may have to re-work significant parts of it to account for them, which seems like it would be a great deal of work for something that you would only ever use at the beginning of a campaign or occasionally when a 'runner gets gacked.

The main upside would be for new players who don't really understand SR's rather complex chargen rules (it's particularly difficult for them to understand the value of certain choices without having actually played quite a bit), and it could also introduce them to aspects of the Shadowrun world which might be a bit weird and make sure that they don't miss out on things like Commlinks and Fake SINs.

Like you say, though, it'd be a huge amount of work, especially ensuring the results ended up reasonably balanced. I personally couldn't see it being worthwhile unless you were constantly introducing new players to SR (like, on a monthly basis), because if you just want to avoid people taking options you feel are obnoxious, you have two far more simple options:

A) Get them to describe the character to you and then build it yourself, not allowing them to use the rulebooks to make decisions - this requires fairly extreme trust between ref and player and also will make characters less fun for a significant percentage of players, because they enjoy chargen and/or characters who are perfectly customized - but your proposed system also has these problems AND means a lot more work for the ref.

B) Just ban stuff you don't like. What people find "too much" varies from group to group, which is partly why SR has so many different chargen systems.

Finally, I'd just say, you'd also be much better off making this a website rather than a physical book, if you have the skills or know someone who does (questionnaires which produce complex results like this are not trivial but they are not likely to be weeks of work, either - esp. if you work it out fully in theory before "webifying" it).
Yeah, I completely overlooked expansions.

For gear I was thinking of answers giving cash to a certain category of gear or other (EG Cyberware, Bioware, Cyberlimb, B&E gear, Light pistols, ect) rather than assigning individual gear. Ditto with spells, simply assign x spells split between schools A, B and C. I would probably do something similar with adept powers, or at the very least be very vague (Split x points among powers on this list as you choose, y points on this other list, remaining points are yours to assign as you see fit.
Questions about weapons skills would generally assign cash to purchase the relevant weapons, answers that favored B&E skills like locksmith would increase your B&E gear budget, ect.
Not sure how one could deal with splat books and expansions without constantly updating the work, making a website or program far and away superior to a book for the purpose. I'd also need to focus pretty heavily on user feedback and tweak the design for balance and usability, which would be a not-insignificant undertaking.

Given my lack of experience in both game design and programming (I have basic programming experience but am not at all confident it would be up to the task) I think that at best I can do up some rough ideas and hand the project over to someone competent, or more likely several competent people.

Heck, this might even make a decent project for dumpshock in general to get behind, with everyone who's interested throwing in ideas or suggestions and someone who thinks they can make something of it sorting through the messy results and actually getting things done. If there's enough interest I might even blow the dust off my old programming textbooks and give it a shot myself... *Three weeks later, the internet was destroyed in what will forevermore be known as 'The FuelDrop incident'. Survivors spoke in shocked horror of the unending loops of uncompileable code growing sentience and feasting on the data of the internet-that-was until its bloated mass ran every processor it touched into meltdown.*
A character generation system which doesn't allow me to see where I'm going doesn't sound like a very useful tool for creating the concepts that I might want to portray. It might be interesting for brand-new players who have no prior idea what kind of character they want to play, though.

One of the Mechwarrior editions had something similar (3rd edition, I think). You would choose a childhood template which would give you certain attribute modifiers, traits, etc ... and options for the next path. You would then do the same for late-childhood/early-adulthood. Then you would choose paths for periods of several years each, or leave the character alone and start playing. If I remember correctly, Cyberpunk 2020 had something along those lines, too. It's a good method for getting people who don't put much thought into background to create a more full character, but in my experience, the people who don't put thought into background generally only want a superficial role playing experience.
I'm reminded of Ogre Battle, where everyone I know who ever played the damn thing looked up the proper answers to give to get the starting units and gear they wanted.

I'm a BP or Karma kind of guy. Universal costs for skills, spells, et cetera, is a good thing. Two players can spend the same points and be equally skilled in two completely different things. It gives you a fair baseline and lots of customization.

The only really rough spots of BP or Karma are the one-off costs, like pricing certain Adept Powers or Changeling qualities and whatnot, but that's a balance issue, not a mechanical one.

Rogue trader had a pseudo version similar to what you are describing.

All players rolled the same dice for attributes. Each archetype/class had a set basis for themselves in regards to gear, talents and skills (like most class based games), but where the questionnaire idea came in was with their character path. Starting from what home world try are from all the way to what their primary motive for starting the adventure was, is connected in a semi linear fashion, with each of three choices based on the previous choice giving a differen bonus and possible negative to the character. Resulted in some builds being more powerful then others for sure, but also allowed a whole group of players to essentially make the same class and have all their characters be radically different.
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