Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Character Creation
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun
Just throwing a question out there to see what kind of fish are biting.
I'm curious to see how others develop their chars. Do you begin with the archtype? Begin with background? Well rounded as opposed to specialized chars? Fill some spaces with "useless" knowledge/active skills? Do you like to develop home-lives for chars? Are home-lives ever brought into the game by GM's out there. In general, I want to know how you do that voodoo that you do. Im done now talk amongst yourselves.
I come up with a loop-hole in the rules, and then design my entire character around exploiting that loop-hole. My attributes are either 6 or 1, and all my skills are at 6. My spells are only at force 1, 5, or 6. My knowledge skills are selected for their ability to add successes in a complementary fashion to an active skill. Then I make up a one-line background for the character if the GM insists. If anyone has a better loop-hole, I call them a munchkin, for I am only a min-maxer wink.gif
Lord Ver'an
I usually start with a character concept or background and go from there using the build point system. Once I have a basic idea of what I want, I guesstimate how much the equipment I want would cost and toss around attribute and skill levels during dull parts of my classes. When I know almost exactly what I want, I print out new character sheets and spend a couple hours putting everything down and balancing everything within the rules (like making sure that my character can lift his/her basic weapon loadout without fainting.) About then I curse the fact that I am the only person I know who A) is interested in shadowrun, B) has enough time to possibly GM and C) can run a game that doesn't suck. Ah well, school will be out soon...
Sometimes I start with a concept, sometimes an archetype, sometimes a vague idea of what I want to be able to do. I pop up and, set to 128 (or 123 or however many build points I get) and start subtracting.

I wait for OurTeam to post a character somewhere, then I shamelessly steal it smile.gif.
It definitely varies. It just depends on where the inspiration comes from really. Although I usually like to get the character and the background worked out before I get down to the numbers. And it's either build points or becks for the numbers.

My preferred tools are similar to Kagetenshi's, although I go for RPN Calculator and BBEdit.
I always start with two things:

1. Race

2. Archtype

After that I spend a great deal of time creating the background for the character. Twenty questions or whatever to get inside his head and see if I can play the character. Then I go to the numbers and fill in the holes. If I see that I am spreading too thin to be effective in the game I back up a little and increase skills/attributes that I plan on using most. I prefer build points but don't have a problem with the priority system. (Never used BECKS.)

- theartthief
QUOTE (Connor)
My preferred tools are similar to Kagetenshi's, although I go for RPN Calculator and BBEdit.

!!!!!!!!Thank you.

I'm not going to switch calculators for Shadowrun chargen, but you just made any future math class I might take much much easier.

I'll come up with a general idea, either being inspired by something I see or read, or filling in a niche that I've noticed, then go to the NSRCG and chug away, usually in sum-to-ten. Then figure out magic type and race next.

If I like how a character turns out, or end up using the character, then I'll go and create the backstory to match the stats. I know, kind of reverse from how it's supposed to be done, but works well enough. I keep a binder with about 60 printed characters in it, about a dozen or so of them have really thought out backstories.
I start with a concept most often, usally something i've seen or read has given me the idea, Then i tweak it. i start answering questions "like why is he/she a shadowrunner" or "why would a team want them to work with them" at this point i've usally got a good idea on basic capabilities as well. from this point i just expand on what i have.

second to last stage is number cruching, last being me going through it again to determine wheather or not it's playable (Some are not no matter how "good" the idea/ concept is)

Example: My recent attempt at a character (Ghoul Cyclops) started on the concept of being "unbreakable" tweaking it was easy, add in effects of the sixth world (metahuman) Stupidly strong (Cyclops) All mostly natural ability (physad) but being "unbreakable" really required bone lacing it finnish it off (ceramic). Why is he a shadowrunner?? cos he can't get a legal job any more. Why? Was a Bouncer (variation on security guard) killed someone by accident. Hunted and hide from the law. During this he got attack by ghoul and was infected.

I fleshed it out from this point, number crunching is proving a little difficult mind....
QUOTE (Kagetenshi)
QUOTE (Connor @ May 5 2004, 11:40 PM)
My preferred tools are similar to Kagetenshi's, although I go for RPN Calculator and BBEdit.

!!!!!!!!Thank you.

I'm not going to switch calculators for Shadowrun chargen, but you just made any future math class I might take much much easier.


Hahah, glad to hear it!

RPN is the only way! And truth be told a regular calculator is fine for SR chargen, I'm just used to using the RPN action...

The guy does have a Windows version on the site if you go back to the main page and didn't notice...
It's funny for me... In WW games, or that other game I have a hellva hard time finding a character in the stats.

But in SR I have about ten concepts or variations of concepts bouncing around in my head at any one time, and almost always have two copies of NSRCG up at any one time.

The sheer amount of developed history, even if it's not somewhat logical at times, is an immense help for me to grab a character outline from.

Usually, I get an idea while reading a sourcebook, and then use Sum to Ten to build.

IMO, normal Priority results in too many metas amongst mundanes, the BP system is a bit too harsh on magic uses (especially aspected), and I disagree with several of the arbitrary values in BeCKS, so my happy medium is the Sum to Ten.

I usually go with Human enless the concept demands otherwise, and it's usually a mage of some sort because most of the people I game with want to play Sammies of some type and we need the support.

Most characters are specialized, one way or another, but knowledge skills are almost all "useless" and are mostly rp hooks for me (cept the Magic Background skill for mages or if I make a decker... damn did Matrix go overboard on the number of knowledge skills required to make a "good" decker).

As far as home lives, yes and no... I do tend to try and get a good idea of it but it doesn't come up too often in game (mostly downtime rping is spent at bars or other dives). Well, until the dos gets blown to smithereenies.

We seem to run across an inordinate amount of people that like to play with explosives, no matter who's running the game that night.
Like Lord Ver'an I'm the only person I know with an interest in SR so it's pretty irrelevant, but...

I pick a general concept and one-liner background ("former anti-terrorism agent", "hermetic") and then quickly answer the "why is he/she running?" question.

I then start putting stuff into my self-designed excel sheet (using build points) (which I keep meaning to post to get someone else to check it), which allows changes to be made easily... until I get something like what I'm after.

I'll then go back and fill in a few more gaps in the history and see if it makes sense. Then I'll change some of the stats until it does make sense. Rinse and repeat.

I find the iterative process the best way rather than starting with pure numbers or a well written background.
I come up with a single sentence or basic concept for the character, like "Elf speed assassin" or "Human detective with no magic or cyber". Then I take the BP for the race/magic needed and subtract that. Then I figure out how much money I'll need and set that aside. Then I assign attributes and skills, fiddling with them until I get them just where I want them within 2 BP (3 if I really need that extra poitn). Then I do edges and flaws as I start coming up with a fleshed-out background explaining the skills, attributes, edges, and flaws to make sure the points are balanced out where I need them to be (getting that extra 2 BP I need or whatever). Then I go on a shopping spree, buting weapons first, then cyber/bio, then other equipment, and finally fake IDs, contacts, and lifestyles. Finally, I try to figure out how to divide the 48 I have left by 10 to get my nuyen I start with, and start writing the fleshed-out backgroun (usually between 1-3 pages).

The Abstruse One
I'll generally start with a one or two line concept: "Street Sam that was ex-merc and ex-military" for instance. Then I'll go looking for similar characters in canon sources and modules to have an idea of what a character of that type should have for their given background (ie, an ex-soldier would probably have leadership/military, etc.).

Then I start assigning priorities with the big descisions (magic is usually obvious, and resources can be easily narrowed to one or two spots, etc.) Then I'll outline the character's stats, skills, cyber, and/or magic and big gear items. Then it's time to really settle on a race and write a background.

Take said character, write a good long background for him (5k-10k words) and then come back and flesh out the rest of the statistics.

It's worked so far wink.gif
I start with a vague concept of what I want the character to be, it can be as simple as a single spell or a weapon. Then I try to put numbers to fit that concept, usually I do not need all 123 BPs to fulfill the concept. Then I think of a background, a basic background. Then I assign numbers to fit the background, if I run out of BPs, I go back and tweak that character background. Basically, I start with a skeleton concept then flesh it out, like Xirces says, iteratively.
Moonstone Spider
I usually have a vauge notion of what I want, normally some bizarre theme like "Magical Girl." Other times I'll start with wanting to fill any holes in another team.

From there I'll use whatever system is called for, most often than not that's points. I prefer to play humans but when we're playing priority it's hard to resist going Dwarf or Ork for free when you're not magical.

I do search for applicable complimentary skills when making my characters and rarely have less than 2 for some skill. I also usually go with some B/R skill so my character can do something with the downtime.

For the Mac users here, there is a way to change the new OSX calculator into a full-featured scientific calculator similar to the older style MacOS calculator.

No, I don't know how to do it. I avoid math like d20. However, it should be find-able via the internerd, cause obviously I stumbled across it once.

Go to, hit Get Info, and go to Plugins in the info window. Click Add, then navigate in the Open dialogue into to Contents to Resources and look for Graphing-2D.calcview, ExpressionSheet.calcview, and Hexadecimal.calcview (IIRC). Select them and hit Choose, then make sure they're checked in the Plugins pane. Then restart and check your View menu for the new modes.

A Clockwork Lime
Bah. I hate errors that cause you to hit Submit twice...
A Clockwork Lime
QUOTE (hunter5150 @ May 5 2004, 06:53 PM)
I'm curious to see how others develop their chars. Do you begin with the archtype? Begin with background? Well rounded as opposed to specialized chars? Fill some spaces with "useless" knowledge/active skills? Do you like to develop home-lives for chars? Are home-lives ever brought into the game by GM's out there. In general, I want to know how you do that voodoo that you do. Im done now talk amongst yourselves.

I almost always start off with some kind of basic concept and go from there. Here's an example of one of my favorite characters and how I developed him. I started off with the following concept:

Ol' Scratch (Johnny Ray Walker) was born and raised on the streets of the City That Elvis Ruined. A satyr who sold his soul to Satan to learn how to play the guitar, he was an up-and-coming blues singer until the night he was celebrating after getting a multi-disc contract with Cerebus Records; it seemed as if his namesake decided it was time to collect his due. After a night of festivities in New Orleans, both he and his fiancee were attacked by a pack of ghouls. Scratch witnessed the murder of his wife and watched as his own arms were ripped off before his very eyes. If it hadn't had been for a patrolling Knight Errant car driving by just as he passed out from the massive blood loss, he would have been in the dead books himself.

To make a long story short, he woke up in a hospital with a pair of cloned arms though he was soon to learn that he couldn't feel the music anymore when he tried to play the guitar. Cerebus Records sued him for breach of contract, and while he was at rock bottom he ended up robbing a liquor store out of desperation. In jail he met a guy who ended up hooking him up in the shadows, and he's been running them ever since.

It's not that he really cares for life anymore, having lost his future bride, but being a devote Catholic suicide was out of the question -- he'd definitely go to Hell for that. He also has to find a way to win his soul back from the devil before he goes down, so he's not even the suicidal type. He's crafty, tough as nails, and charismatic in that piss-you-off-in-a-heartbeat-if-he-wants-to sorta way.

From there, I then decided what type of character I wanted him to be. While technically a "former rocker," those archetypes are usually pretty lame (at least for building a character off of, not in concept). Instead, I decided that I'd focus on his tough-as-nails aspect and make him either a sammy or an adept. Since he was a magician who lost his "gift," I went with the adept.

Now with a solid concept and an idea of what he could do, I went about deciding what kind of skills he had. Music-related ones were at the top of the list, but so were those relating to the streets, gambling, and fighting. Street etiquette and intimidation were also really up there. I wanted his fighting style to be somewhat unique, so I thought about him a bit. Being a satyr, I thought going with a drunken-style would be pretty cool so I jotted down a note to make sure to limit a few of his combat-oriented adept powers to Condition: Intoxicated or something along those lines. Maybe even try and work with the GM to come up with a new martial arts based on the idea (which we did).

With that etched out in my head, I decided on where he would live (a shitty apartment underneath a Fortune Teller shop in Casino Corner) -- a very important aspect of any character for me -- as well as how he would dress and what kind of gear he would likely carry. It was at that point that I started piecing his actual stats together. I'd also spend a few minutes looking through various personality profiles (Meyers-Briggs, Western Zodiacs, Chinese Zodiacs, Ogham Zodiacs, etc.) to piece together a personality template and settle on his birthdate.

As the stats came together, a lot of changes were inspired and comprimises had to be made. But in the end, I wound up with a character I've had a lot of fun with him ever since. I've made minor changes to the concept each time I've had to redesign him for a new game (including one based on a philosophy that he ended up discovering that he sold his soul a second time, this time to the god of chrome and it was interesting having a character where Kid Stealth Legs weren't a retarded choice), but overall the basic personality of the character has remained in tact.

That's pretty much how the process I go through each time I design a character. Every now and then I take a rules-based concept and build something from there, and they usually turn out pretty cool, too. But for me, it's all about the flavor of the character and then reflecting that flavor in his stats.

EDIT: Oh, and before I start work on a character's stats, I usually try to think up a few songs to listen to that'll help me put me in the mood for the character. I almost always come up with some kind of quote (usually a song lyric; in Scratch's case it was the chorus from Sheep Go To Heaven by Cake) for them, too, just to keep me focused.
QUOTE (Xirces)
I then start putting stuff into my self-designed excel sheet (using build points) (which I keep meaning to post to get someone else to check it), which allows changes to be made easily... until I get something like what I'm after..

Got something similar myself, though mine is set up to require book access...

Wanna trade? biggrin.gif
Caine Hazen
I set down my players, pull out the Desert Eagles (airsoft for the table!!) and tell em...NO MORE FREEKS WITH AMNESIA!!! I'M SICK OF IT!!!! biggrin.gif

Oh me....I start with one of my hundreds of characters I keep in my head...weed out the ones I haven't played or made NPCs and then wait for everyone else to finish so I can fill in group holes....saying that now though, I haven't played in 2 years..only run...
Yeah but amnesia is such a fun way to screw with the characters/players. smile.gif
Hida Tsuzua
I start with a very broad concept "magician of <blank> way" or "tough as nails street samurai." From there, I throw in skills and stats that look nice. Then I see how everything works out, get some character ideas "why does he have edged weapons 4?" and continue this process several times until I get a fully fleshed out character and stats that would make him useful.
QUOTE (A Clockwork Lime)
and before I start work on a character's stats, I usually try to think up a few songs
OK, that's a new one on me. I'd never thought to do that. Usually I start by clearing 10 square feet of desk space for my books and downloading the latest NSRCG.
music or any other mood setting devices are definately things I find helpful when working on any aspect of Shadowrun. Be it character creation or working up NPCs, run ideas, locations, etc. Anything to help create the right atmosphere is a good thing.
My method is fairly similar to that of Clockwork Lime, I guess...
I usually start with some kind of idea or theme ("brooding, melancholic hero", "thrill-seeking, bored and spoiled corporate combat-decker") and then ask myself all sorts of questions. The first one would be: How can I apply a twist to this in order to get it away from the stereotype? This usually results in pretty exceptional and most of the time pretty fucked-up personalities, but I like it that way. Not really crazed psychopaths, but still pretty unique and with at least one mental or social quirk (suicidal, misantrophic, asocial, depressed, introverted or even totally cold).
From there on I ask myself all kinds of questions I could think of, starting with very general questions (Why does he run the shadows? Why isn't he in normal job, leading a normal life? Why did he learn to do the things he does? Why is he so fucked up?) and then working down to the specifics (Why was his family killed and by whom? How did he deal with it? What was his relation to his family? Why wasn't he touched by their death? Why was his relation to the family so bad? Why did he experience domestic violence? Was he a victim himself? Why was his dad violent? Why was he alcoholic?). When going through these questions in a brainstorming kind of way I usually gather all kinds of ideas and inspirations.
This process takes from about a day to roughly two weeks and when I'm done with it I usually have a very detailed idea of the character's personality complete with psychological profile and a very detailed background.
From there one I start creating stats and buying equipment, usually using the points system. I go through this process several times, each time refining and fine tuning the stats and equipment in order to find a good comrpomise between playability adherance to the background.

All in all this is a very lengthy process (it takes about to weeks for me to take a character from concept to completion) but it usually results in a character that I really love to play, that I indetify well with and that is generally very interesting, even for other players who watch me play (should I ever have the chance to actually play).

I originally wanted to illustrate this by explaining how I created Ohanzee, whom some of you know, but I found out that it's just too complex to write it down right now. If any one wishes I will post it some time later but only if there is demand for it. Since my mother is a psychotherapist I know a great deal about the inner workings of human souls and this greatly influences my character creation. I always think about what influence the events in a characters life could have on his personality and his way of thinking. Almost any facett of the personality has an origin somewhere in his background story. This is especially true for Ohanzee, who is by far one of my most detailed characters.
The idea just comes into my head. I'm even trying to do an Adept version of Nick Kang from True Crime: Streets of LA.
Much like many others, I start with a basic concept, such as, "A street doc", "A lawyer", "The Street Preacher", "The trid stuntman", "The hermetic rigger" or the like.

I then stop to think: How/why would this person be in the shadows? When did he "go shadow"? How much of the character is shaped by pre-shadows / post-shadows development? Is the character any good at either?

By this time I have a rough mental image of the sort of character I want to play. I then use this to determine all those little decisions you have to make during chargen such as mundane/magic, human/meta, distribution of stats, skills, resources, etc.

I then look back and make sure the character still fits the role I wanted him to play. I'm occasionally prone to the min/max bug, so I want to make sure my character isn't accidentally betraying his theme for the sake of a few bonus dice or target number mods.

("So, why does your street doc have kevlar bone lacing, orthskin, E.Art., and Mem. Enh.?")
("Um, no reason...")
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Dumpshock Forums © 2001-2012