Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Fleshing Out a Character Background
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun
Ok, i have the basics of what I want for a character background in mind, but haven't really been able to weave them into an acceptable story as of yet. So I'll give you guys the basics, and I'd like some input for how to weave my basics into an incredible backstory.

The Basics:

Archtype: Security/Combat Mage
Race: African Human

Basically what I have so far is the idea that this character formerly worked for a Japanacorp. I have been toying with the idea that he originally signed on with Fuchi pre-corp war and ended up in the faction that went to Renraku despite being a Villiers Loyalist. That's not terribly important though, and in fact it could be any mega-corp (AAA or AA) that he's likely to experience racism in. Basically, he became disillusioned with his job and instead of being a happy well paid corp wage slave he became a dissident and rabblerouser. Now, I'm going with the idea of once you start working for a company most people become sort of property to that company. At least for so long as they are under contract. I make this assumption based on the fact there are extractions.

Due to the racism he felt he was being held back on promotions and benefits (financial and initiatory) due to being an African American in a corporation that valued Asiantic employee's (French Canadian in the case of CATCo) over those of other racial backgrounds. He felt this was reaching beyond just his professional career within the corp, but that someone higher in the foodchain was actively trying to make his life a living nightmare for him not being a "good boy."

At some point he encounters his wife (Japanese or French Canadian depending on the corp) in bed with another man. This leads to a divorce, and of course his wife gains custody rights to their only child, a daughter he loves more then anything else. Later on he learns through one of his few very good friends within the corp that this was possibly set up by the corp itself. Somehow (wether by magic or chemical alterants his wife was more or less duped into bed by a corporate stooge.) By now his marriage is ruined, and his ex-wife is in love with someone else and doesn't want to speak to him what-so-ever. Her lover could even be the corporate stooge that was picked to get her into bed.

Of course this leads to anger, and animosity towards his parent corp, and when he raises a drek-storm about it, the higher-up that arranged everything in the first place arranges to have his Child-Custody rights taken from him completely. Driven to a point of near madness out of desperation for his situation, he arranges for vacation leave with is savings, only to leave behind his former existance.


That's the basics of the outline.

My intial idea was to have the character higher out of university (Hermetic Full Mage) by Fuchi, and signed into an extensive contract with them. Basically he was hired originally by the Villiers Faction and life was good. He thought he was set for life, and things only got better when he met the woman of his dreams and got married. Thereafter he was transfered somewhere that was controlled by one of the Japanese factions - most likely including a movie to somewhere in Eastern Asian as well. I'm thinking South Korea perhaps.

Once there, he encountered various levels on insidious forms of Racism. Nothing overt, no name calling or directed racism. Rather being passed over for promotions in the security forces even though he was qualified and had a good service record. Being left out of officer level functions (He along with anyone else who wasn't asian). His daughter encountering racism in the schools. Not being allowed to join the initiatory group. (Exclusive Membership: Asian, that sorta thing).

These things lead to dissatisfactory working ethics. Arguements with superiors, slack work ethics, etc etc. Through his dissatisfaction he gained the animosity of someone superior and fairly well connected. Specially when he attempted to go over this persons head to register complaints about his working condition and unfair treatment. Revenge was plotted, and due to the undercurrent of asian racism towards others his family was targetted for being a mixed family. God knows how his wife was set up, but somehow she was seduced. Perhaps due to his depression about his work situation she became unhappy with their marriage.

Anyways, that's the basics of what I'm looking at for a history. I'd just like any illogical things to be pointed out. Details to be added, and no, I'm not sure what I'm looking for yet. I'm just fishing here.

I think I've got a good handle on what I'm looking for.

I'm also looking around age 30ish I think. I imagine he was granted early entrance into a magical program and thus started university at 16. Most likely his education was sponsored by whatever corp (Fuchi most likely at this point) and graduated at around 23. Started work in early 2057 and if it's no 2063 he'd be 29ish. I'm thinking either married in University (perhaps while he was working on his masters?) or very shortly thereafter. I'm thinking of perhaps accelerating his education a bit or just limiting him to a bachleor's degree. Just to keep his age down a bit.

Question: Do you think Bachleor, Masters or THD is more likely for a corporate mage? I'm thinking Masters personally, except for magical researchers and thaumatoligician's who'd get a Thaumatury Doctorate.

Anyways, suggestions and help welcome =)
I generally consider having a degree in something as either a 5-6 (5 is if you have an aptitude or some such advantage), a masters is 6-7 (7 for specialisations), doctorates are for 7s with Aptitude.
I would agree, except that having a knowledge skill (hell, having an ACTIVE skill) at 6 or 7 is no big deal for a shadowrunner. I know it says in the BBB that once you get to that level, you're far beyond mortal men, but it's common enough in the shadows to basically make 5 or 6 the norm for most things (firearms, sorcery, stealth, and other things that matter).
Umm wow, you guys managed to get off topic fast nyahnyah.gif

I'm not at all concerned about skill levels. I've got that part of my character pretty well wrapped up already except minor adjustments I might make to more fit the backstory.

I'm looking for details, idea's and creativity to flesh out my characters background beyond the basic outline I already have.
You know? SAS, SEALs, any of those alphabet soup special ops crew are beyond mortal men, but within their communities they are just normal guys.
I don't know a whole lot about Shadowrun due to lack of ability to get into a game IRL or get a game to last more than a month (here). However I think I can still offer some advice.

You mentioned details to be added. Get specific. Times, dates, places, people, all of this adds flavor and intensity to your writing. As it stands I feel almost nothing for this character.

I suggest you start with his childhood and write a short story about his early life, give us a reason to care about him. That way, when this racism business starts the reader will be all "aww, I feel bad" instead of "yeah, okay, moving along..." which is where I am right now.

This would also allow you to kill his age off a bit by making him exceedingly good at magic. He developed his talent early in life and due to perhaps a magician living in his city/village/etc he was able to comprehend what was going on inside and around him, so he got a lot of practice in.

He'd probably attend a special high school or however it'd work for mages-to-be and then it'd be onto college at an early age, like you said, 16 or so. Give that sort of background and it'd be more acceptable, you'd care more about the character overall, the GM will care, and it sets up just about everything.

You need to flesh out his marriage and his relationship with his daughter. As it stands I don't care at all which isn't good. I need to know WHY it was gold in a pile of charcoal and WHY he loves his daughter so much. What makes him such a caring father? How did this translate to his job?

While the racism is certainly plausible and acceptable, not EVERYONE will be a racist. This would be a great time to make a contact. He's a co-worker who either put his misgivings about AA's aside to be friendly and found out that you're a decent fellow, blah blah blah you invent the rest.

Once again, Times, places, people, events, all of that. Throw in his wedding date. Explain the courtship for half a page or more. Give him some conflicts between his working life and his home life over his daughter, and then when he starts to get REALLY ticked off about his job, it will make the case for "my wife left me and took my kid" entertaining instead of kinda humdrum.

The more support the better is a generally good rule, but don't go to excess. Too much detail and you get lost in translation and it becomes massively boring.

Oh, double space this story if its really long. It makes it easier to read and looks like you put in more effort than you did. biggrin.gif Seriously though, it does make it easier to read and the GM will probably thank you for it.

Break it up a lot too. Use paragraphs and sections. If you're worried about breaking up the flow of things simply leave an asterisk (*) or a superscript letter (if its a word processor) and write at the top before you get into the story * = see below for more details or just write (see bottom/question x for more) after what you want to go into detail about and then continue.

Its a character background sure, but if it reads like an interesting enough piece of literature your GM is more apt to read it and maybe give you bonus karma for being a good dooby and handing in a bang up piece of work.

Don't forget about the SR companions 20 questions or Bull's 50 questions (I think that's it, I've never used it). Just put the question with the response down below. It'll look more like an organized background then.

In any case I think the story has some potential and is on the right track, so I'm sure it'll turn into something pretty cool.

I hope I was of some use. If not just slap me or something. wink.gif
It seems pretty much together already, what more detail do you want?

My only concern is that he's a security mage and you're taling about him having been recruited from university etc. With the rest of the picture make him a magical researcher, that would give more room for him looking at his career not moving, since it gives him more of a career path than being in security, and would make more sense for him to maybe have an MA or PhD.
On the wife affair, have the mastermind send him out of town for some silly reason while she gets seduced.


Have the seducer be a superior and humiliatingly do it right before him. Where he has to choose between his career/safety or his wife/marriage.
How did an African end up in a Japanacorp? Did he go to school in Europe and was recruited out of his class?

Why was the corp so interested in driving the character out? He might be the victim of racism, but magical talent is still hard to come by. Especially a security/combat mage. (Personal enemy - motivation? Racism? Ego? Wanted his wife? Did someone have designs on the child as a magical experiment?)

As for his relative degree in magical education, a combat/sec mage could do quite well with a Bachelor's and proceed from there. Unlike IT geeks, not everyone can learn to be a mage - and it seems unlikely a corp would require a non-research magic asset to be a thoroughly educated in theories and practice as their more research-inclined bretheren.

What's he doing in the shadows? Did he kidnap his child and now needs to make a living while under threat of arrest? Did he get fired and he is trying to kidnap his child? It seems unlikely that given his attachment to the child that the character would simply wander off into the shadows, giving up all possible access to afore-mentioned brat.

@ Cursed Soul

Umm, thanks I think.

I'm not really sure if you were trying to help me there, or just ripping me for not having a detailed background in what I specifically said was just an outline or guideline to what I wanted to use for a characters background.


I say Security/Combat Mage because most companies Militaries are considered Security Forces. Basically what that translates to in my mind is a Paramilitary Force most likely structured like a current day Military with enlisted and officer ranks.

Anyways, on the Para-Military Line of a Corporate Security force, I'd imagine that Hermetic Mages being people (in a corporate enviroment) that all have some form of Post-Secondary education it's quite likely they'd most likely be Officers. Just because a mage (much like a Doctor) is a Officer in a (Para) Military force does not exclude the possibility of doing research. I don't think it's out of line to consider a Security Forces mage having a Masters Degree or higher, anymore then it't out of line to think a Doctor in the Army would have his MD.

Certainly though, it's possible that the higher the degree the more Research directed ones efforts will be. However, as a Doctor still treats patients, so should a Security Force Mage expect to do combat duty.

Also, I think I mentioned that he was recruited pre-university, gaining sporsorship and scholarships through his sponsor-corp.

I meant African American, but didn't think to make the American distinction. Not necassarily that the corp want'd to drive him out, but due to his race, they were unwilling to give him advancements he deserved and would have gotten had his race been asian. Like I said, it wouldn't be overt racism either. Nothing like name calling, or directly letting him know being Non-Asian was holding his career back.

As for the driving him out of the corporation. I'm basing the background on the idea of the Corporate invasion of freedom that seems to be part of the corporate universe. He can't be driven out. The Corporation *Owned* him for the duration of his contract. He couldn't resign and wouldn't be able to personally void his contract. The corp could make his life as miserable as they wanted and he had no way out. He and his wife divorced, he lost any custody rights to his child, and say his wife wouldn't even allow him to speak to his beloved daughter on the phone. No contact, nothing. The only option was either to get extracted to another corporation (Although it's quite possible at this point that he have a hatred for the corporate world. This corporation, his supposed family and home had done so much to make his life miserable) and suicide wasn't an option. The only thing left was to simply dissapear and create a new life. Only without a SIN and unwilling to work for a corporation what was left but a life of crime.

As far as an enemy, it's quite simply a matter or racism as far as I see it. Some Asian superior decided that he certainly didn't like this African American Monkey, and it was an affront to the greatness of the Asian race for him to be married to an Asian woman. To further it along, The corp he felt was treating him poorly, so he in turn started to act poorly in the corps eyes, which resulted in even deeper poor treatment , and continued to escalate.
My only observation becomes - that level of antagonism requires personal interest, not blanket corporate policy.

And he's a mage - non-Asian prejudice aside, that's a pretty rare talent and not one likely to be discarded lightly.

I thought I'd pointed out that it wasn't blanket corporate policy that brought the higher levels of antagonism, but rather a personal hatred of a superior.

Consider it the equivalent to a fairly white company these days being forced to hire a African American due to minority laws, and then that African American's superior being a member of a white supremist group or a sympathizer with one if not a carded member. The company as a whole isn't going to be as inclined to promote him, or offer him a Golf Club membership, and sure as heck the supervisor is going to resent him and make his life less then perfect in whatever way he can get away with. However he can't openly say the "N" word cause that would bring a law-suit on the company. He can however make it clear that the guy is on the outside by alternately taking out everyone else for a lunch on him, or inviting them over for a pool party on sunday, while leaving the African American out.

He's also not just a mage, I'm thinking about it as he's a piece of corporate property. I think of this as why there are extractions. He, like most wage slaves, is locked into a long term contract. Possibly one that lasts for 20 years or more, with only special escape clauses (such as attaining a certain rank, such as a Star rank, or maybe even his colonel's eagles - which would require the company to renogiate a new contract for him). I think this would apply to most every worker, and only those with truly special and super-unique skill sets would be able to settle into shorter term contracts. There's definitely no Union's to fight for Joe the Mage in 2060. The corp owns you for as long as you're locked into your contract. I'm trying to apply the more distopian, gritty corp's rule concept to this character backstory. Sure he's valuable. So are some breeds of dogs. That doesn't stop people from mistreating them though.
I think everyone would accept the racism easier (in the SR setting) if he was metahuman.
As I believe the SSG mentions, the 'old' ethnic tensions of the 20th and early 21st centuries disappeared, replaced by the 'new' metahuman prejudices.

This is perhaps a bit extreme and hard to swallow, but if you look at it in more believable terms, consider it allegorical to the old tension between, say, Irish and Italian immigrants. There are still ethnic issues between the two groups, yes, but in comparison to the riots in New York in the mid 1800s, it's pretty much nonexistent.
QUOTE (Nephyte)
@ Cursed Soul

Umm, thanks I think.

I'm not really sure if you were trying to help me there, or just ripping me for not having a detailed background in what I specifically said was just an outline or guideline to what I wanted to use for a characters background.

I wasn't ripping at all. Sorry it if seems like that. What I did was take that as a story and critique it. I know its just the outline, but I figured it best if I just went with it as the background itself that was I could get into the mindset far easier.

As I also said I don't know much about SR atm so the only advice I could offer was generic stuff. I'd be more interested in the character himself over who the character worked for and whatnot so personal details interest me more than impersonal ones.

Sorry. I'm going to shut up and let the people who know what they're doing talk. I'll be over in the corner committing suicide if you need me. frown.gif frown.gif frown.gif
Young Freud
I think it would be better if your character's superior railroaded him for personal reasons (including personal racism) or was jealous of his wife and not some overall institutionalized racism within the company. You have to remember that,

1) many Japanese corporations nowadays for the most part don't have Japanese people running the American branches, mostly because the market is foreign to them, unless they spent an exorbitant amount of time living in North America or where raised in both Japanese and American cultures. I can name three Japanese company branches in North American that have American CEOs, CFOs, VPs and other execs (ex. Nintendo of America: Howard Lincoln (who retired in 2000, after 30 years in the company); Mitsubishi Motors North America: Pierre Gagnon (whose Franco-Ontarian); Sony Corp of America: Howard Stringer). The others have Japanese presidents and CEOs, but the other high executive ranks are filled with locals, especially sales, marketing and legal departments (remember, it takes at least 7 years to become a lawyer here, and there's always new laws popping up).

The same goes for any American company doing business overseas, or any company doing international business.

This might change a bit in 206x, as you have the CFS (which I wouldn't consider as a part of North America, but a Japanese occupied state and can push laws similar to the homeland), but for Japancorps in UCAS, the NAN, and the CAS, I'd suspect they'd operate in a similar fashion today.

2) the Japanese are more respective of African Americans than most Americans think. I recall reading somewhere that, on a list of acceptable marriage prospects of what Japanese fathers consider for their daughters, an African American is second (or perhaps third, after blonde-hair, blue-eye Europeans) to Japanese, with Anglo-American and Koreans after them (surprising, the least acceptable of marriage prospects are Japanese: the burakumin, the outcasts of Japanese society).

Also, the Japanese even have their own version of the wannabe, called the ganguro (there's a male equivalent, but I forget the name), which came around during the '90s with the importation of rap and afro-caribbean music to Japan. Remember, in 206x, these girls will be running the show.

I think that tisoz is right, the racism angle would probably be more believable if he was also a metahuman. It's definitely been stating in many of the books that the JIS and the Japanacorps (especially those in CFS) is very metahuman-unfriendly.
Crimsondude 2.0
QUOTE (Arethusa)
As I believe the SSG mentions, the 'old' ethnic tensions of the 20th and early 21st centuries disappeared, replaced by the 'new' metahuman prejudices.

This is perhaps a bit extreme and hard to swallow, but if you look at it in more believable terms, consider it allegorical to the old tension between, say, Irish and Italian immigrants. There are still ethnic issues between the two groups, yes, but in comparison to the riots in New York in the mid 1800s, it's pretty much nonexistent.

Wow. It actually says that? How utterly naive and simplistic and illogical. Maybe in happy-fun-land, sure... But the American experience translted to Seattle doesn't mean squat as far as the rest of the world is concerned--especially the UCAS, which SoNA has painted to be an ohso-lovely land of tolerance to all races and magically active folk.



Whoever wrote that should be ashamed.
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