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Yeah. I've never really actually fully made a character. I've played a few piles of numbers in what amounted to a local pickup game, but actually developing things that make sense is turning out to be harder than I thought. More than once, I've caught myself wondering whether I'm doing things because I like how the character's story works or justifying numbers by tweaking the story (not that a certain amount of that isn't necessary, but...)

Anyway, this is what I have so far, and on a 125 point budget.

The character, who, due to lack of name, will be called "Bob" from here on out, essentially spent his late teens/early 20's as a street performer. While he was good enough to make a living, his main source of income has always been gambling. Preferring less-than-legal for-cash card games, Bob played anything available; while he could usually get a pretty good grasp on the games themselves, his photographic memory and uncanny knack for reading people were his real strengths.

One night, Bob wins a big pot. A very, very big pot. Some people aren't so happy about it. Bob makes off with the money and decides that since there's nowhere lower for him to go, he's going to lay high for a while; he skips town, picks up some cyber, and begins a career as a shadowrunner.

New Character
Edges/Flaws: Photographic Memory, Perceptive, Double Jointed, Friendly Face, Extra Enemy, Mild/Uncommon Allergy (gold). (5 points total)

Attributes: Bod 3, Qck 6, Str 3, Chr 6, Int 6, Wil 6. (60 points total) --bleh. doesn't every face/covert character have these exact stats?

Active skills: Pistols 6, Stealth 6, Athletics 5, Etiquette 6, Negotiation 6, Electronics 4, Electronics B/R 5. (40 points total)

Other skills: English 4, Russian 4, German 2, Gambling Card Games 6, Conspiracy Theories 2, Psychology 6, Performance 6, Mathematics (Probability) 2(4), Gang Turf 3, Safehouse Locations 3.

Old Character
Edges/Flaws: Photographic Memory, Bonus Attribute Point (INT), Double Jointed, Friendly Face, Bad Karma, Hunted Lv. 1. (0 points total)

Attributes: Bod 5, Qck 6, Str 4, Chr 6, Int 7, Wil 5. (64 points total)

Active Skills: Athletics (Running): 4(6), Etiquette (Street): 5(7), Performance (Acting): 5(7), Negotiation (Fast talk): 5(7), Disguise (Theatrical): 2(4), Electronics: 4, Electronics B/R (Security Systems) 4(6), Pistols: 4, Stealth (Hiding) 1(3). (41 points total)

Knowledge/Language Skills: English: 4, Russian: 4, German: 2, Gambling Card Games: 6, Conspiracy Theories: 2, Mathematics (Probability): 2(4), Psychology: 6, Music: 2, Criminal Organizations: 3, Fences: 2, Gang Turf: 3, Lone Star Tactics: 4, Safehouse Locations: 4.

That leaves me with the 400k starting funds for the last 20 points. I'm not quite sure what to do with them, as I've never tried to build a real stealthy kind of character before. (Have I mentioned that he's going to prefer infiltration given his knack for judging people?) I'd like to give him an encephalon, as I think he'd just have a blast with that, and probably enhanced articulation and synthacardium, as they're pretty obvious choices, but beyond that, I'm a little clueless.

More importantly, since I'm dreadfully unfamiliar with the setting, is the story (or what there is of it) reasonable enough? Can you suggest some reading (aside from the bits and pieces in the main rulebook) that might help me out?

Sorry for rambling. I'm done now.
That seems like an aweful lot of specializations, but, your choice.

Don't forget the basics!

It seems to me your guy would want a few good level 2 contacts, 10k a piece. I'd pick up a boatload for that kind of character.
Also I'd definately purchase 3 or 4 or 5 lifestyles to use as safehouses and the such.
Along with those: It's nice to get to your safehouse and find a new car waiting for you that hasn't been seen at the scene of a crime. In fact, you'll need a cheap car, a nice car, and a fast car I would think. (i'd try for 1 at each safehouse) Oh yeah, and a car skill to go with them so you don't have t take a cab to all your infiltration runs.
Ol' Scratch
Quick Note: Performance isn't an Active Skill in 3rd Edition (I don't care what NSRCG insists on saying), but you're free to use it as one instead of a Knowledge Skill. Of course you can pretty much do that with any skill, even Language Skills, if you really want to (since it just reflects spending Skill Points on them instead of the free points your Intelligence provides).
also attributes have a max cap of 60 points and you have 64.
Nice job on your first character, Tomorrow.

You've made a number of choices that benefit the character when he starts, but cost him in the long run. If you're just going to play him a few times, that's reasonable. However, if you're going to use him in a campaign, you may want to make some choices that benefit him by the time he's earned 40 or 80 Karma.

Lets say you eventually want to get to Stealth (Hiding) 3(6). You'll save Karma in the long run if you start with Stealth 2 now instead of specializing.
I have to echo what OurTeam said: very nice first character.

But most of the meat of what I would suggest depends largely upon which role and what sort of style your going for with this character.

Infiltration can take many different means... how do you envision your character? What does he do on a run?

What I'm getting is a sort of quasi face sprinkled lightly with some b&e for flavoring... but the whole judging people threw me for a loop. Could you go into that a bit more?

Also, do you have any idea what the rest of your group's aiming for? If six people are all wanting to be the guy that picks the locks... the group needs to hash it out before play starts. Everyone needs their own time to shine.

On to other suggestions, and touching upon what has been brought up before.

On specializations, I think you've gone a tad overboard. Personally I've never really liked how SR does it's specializations; it's too punishing IMO if you ever want to raise the base skill at a later date.

There are four things I look for when choosing whether or not to specialize:
  • Are they outside the character's primary role? Primary roles deal with a multitude of different situations that may come up under the character's purview. Being able to remain adaptable is of utmost importance IMO.
  • Is it a skill that is unlikely to have karma spent on it in the foreseeable future? Raising specializations is a bum deal, it's best if the specialization works fine without extra karmic attention.
  • How often does the character interact with the specialization? An ex-mob torpedo who still has a lot of ties to the family and interacts with them on a daily basis gets much more mileage out of his Etiquette/Mafia specialization then he would going with generalized Etiquette for the rest of the world.
  • Can this specialization either create or emphasize a roleplaying hook? If a character is known for jetting around on his tricked out Suzuki Aurora or is constantly trying to get his '49 Ford Americar to give him "just one more mile," it adds to the flavor to have specializations in said vehicles.

Pretty much for me it comes down to two instances of viable specializations: vehicle skills for non-riggers and/or social skills for non-faces. There's a few other situations it might come up (First Aid for the Sammie), but they're rare for me.

As for skill choice, I agree with Doc on Performance, and as an infiltrator and b&e kinda guy, I'd expect a higher stealth, but that's just IMO.

I'm also going to say improve pistols to 6, especially if there's anyone in your group that loves combat. While combat may not be the character's primary role, it gets mighty dull when the team's sammies decide to go teach the Sec Forces a thing or two while you're twiddling your thumbs waiting to get on with it. That is unless they're willing to sit through you fully rping the legwork, which is unusual.

As an aside, I find those that most strenuously object to devoting time to specialists like deckers (which admittedly is a good chunk), are the ones that most gleefully jump into combat (which so happens to be their specialty).

As Bit pointed out, there is the recommendation of a max of 60 BP on attributes. If there wasn't that limit, a lot of characters would spend the full 72 BP on them nyahnyah.gif. Also on the note of attributes, and as a purely mechanical suggestion, a willpower of 6 is twice as hard to effect with magic as a willpower of 5. While 5's are okay, 6 makes it fairly sure to resist most spells that come at you.

On Lifestyles, you only really ever need three. One for when your not running, one for when you are, and one for when the drek hits the rotating oscillator. If they find one dos, they will find the others. Rather, a contact who can set you up with a safehouse until the heat dies down is better.

Vehicles are nice. But they're a fragging expensive scene mover, especially if you fork over for more then one. Initially go for something inexpensive that can get you from A to B, and then steal the rest. Go shopping for that Saab Dynamit you always wanted with your new best friend: the team's rigger.

Also, NEVER use your own vehicle on a run (exception: riggers). Use something you can trash and loose in a heartbeat.

Contacts: A level two contact is a friend, a level one contact is an associate. Know the difference.

As far as 'ware, I'd suggest Boosted 1 for the reaction mod. Cheap essence, cheap price, and compatible with Synaptic Accelerators down the line when/if the team hits it big.

It's true that the encephalon offers a fairly unique (and useful) bonus, but the essence hit just makes me want to crawl into a ball and cry. Outside of dedicated deckers, techs, or medics, I have a really hard time persudading myself to take it anymore. I'd suggest you take a hard look at whether that .75 essence per die could be better spent elsewhere.

Also, it's fairly expensive nuyen-wise in comparison to other items. Weighing in at 115k for the level two at standard grade, you're chucking over 1/4th yer resources on that one piece of gear. And heaven forbid you try to save some essence with alpha; that's over half of your available resources in a single piece of gear.

Also, as a human, he'd have no natural vision, so no reason not to go for the cybereye. I prefer Low Light + Light Systems, YMMV. Also since he deals with electronics, Microscopic vision is handy.

Smartlink. No mundane runner should be without this.

Datajack, too useful not to have.

I like cyberears, specifically Sound Filter + Spatial Recognizer + Amplifer + Dampener. It's kinda expensive, but nothing quite like listening in on a whispered conversation across a packed resturant without attracting notice.

On bioware, check with your gm on how he rules enhanced articulation. Even if toned down a touch, it's still a useful piece of 'ware. Other then that I'd save the bioindex. Synthacardium is nice, as is Muscle Toner and Platlet Factories... but other then those (which don't seem to fit a face style IMO), the real goodies are in cultured bioware.

Also an obvious cyberhand or cyberforearm can be well utilized by a face, just stay away from the full replacement arm enless yer GM's overhauled their rules. Plus an obvious cyberhand is stylish. cyber.gif
Most of this has been noted, but Ill add my thoughts as well.
Base Atts are way too high, great for a long running game where you dont expect to need to ever raise them, but unreasonable for a normal game.
Dump Bad Karma. As a human the big karma pool is your only advantage. Plus having an extra few dice to throw at a problem is really nice.
Bit too much concentration in your skills, seems almost like you specilized just to get that extra point higher.
If you want a real card shark, look at a Math SPU, count cards. Combined with a good negotation skill (using Con, or Bluff or something) its a card sharks dream.
QUOTE (BitBasher)
also attributes have a max cap of 60 points and you have 64.

This is a recommendation, not a canon rule.

However, much like the edge/flaw caps, many GMs follow it.

Aaaah, I always considered it a rule, since I'm the GM. details, details. biggrin.gif

Like the others I think the specializations are bad unless it's a very short term game.

I think Bad Karma should be avoided like the plague, as Karma Pool is Life.

Hunted is also a real death sentence depending on your GM because of the fact that in the description of the flaw it says it can never go down on value or be eliminated but circumstances may cause you to become more hunted. IMHO it's not a flaw to be taken lightly.

I do like the character though.
Thanks for the advice, everyone. I guess I'll try to answer a few of the questions/points that were brought up before crawling off to make some changes.

In retrospect, I did go a bit overboard on the specializations. I guess I did it somewhat blindly with the intent of adding more "flavor" to the character, while mostly forgetting that such spice can be achieved just as easily through roleplaying. Oops.

@BitBasher: I gave him Hunted because it seemed somewhat obvious with the background, and Bad Karma because of his penchant for gambling. I suppose the problem here becomes finding flaws that work with the character but don't ultimately cripple him.

@Lindt: I was going to give him a Math SPU, actually, but I figured that most high-stakes cash games would check for any sort of "cheating" cyber at the door, and that something like an SPU would be, well, frowned upon or worse. That's the only real reason Photographic Memory got the nod there.

@tjn: He wasn't good at cards because he knew the games better than everyone else; he was good at cards because he could read his opponents. That's mostly what psychology, photographic memory to some extent, and perception which isn't there but probably should be are doing there. I suppose he's more meant to fit into the face archetype with a bit of B&E splashed in to give him something to do when he actually gets where he's trying to go. I plan to have him use his feel for people and his acting skills (street performer) to get places he shouldn't be without looking like he shouldn't be there.

Yeah, looks like I need to break out my books, since NSRCG seems to be a big fat liarface sometimes. I guess the one big question I have at this point would be regarding flaws: are there any flaws that are particularly less crippling? I'd like to keep the four edges already listed and probably add Perceptive as well, which means I'd need at least 3 points of flaw.
I'd personally take extra enemy instead of hunted.
Ol' Scratch
Bad Karma isn't that bad for a Human character. It turns you into a metahuman Karma-wise in exchange for five extra build points which, if used wisely, will keep you from having to rely on your Karma Pool as often as you would without it.

Hunted is pretty lame because it's one of those flaws that'll only come up if the GM wants to make use of it, especially since it'll effect the entire group. Extra enemy is a little better, but not much. I'd look towards another flaw that reflects reprecussions of said enemy; Hung Out to Dry (not a good idea for a Face type), Borrowed Time (reflecting that he's going to get you at some point, you just don't know when and won't be able to stop it when it does; maybe he's already poisoned you with a slow-acting poison or infected you with some strange disease) and Bad Reputation (spreading rumors about you on the streets, also not a good idea for a Face) are all decent options to consider.
Just one suggestion. The stealth skill covers both sleight of hand and disguise, so the performance/acting and disguise/theatrical are not really necessary to reflect his background as a former street performer/card shark.

You could drop both of those skills and raise stealth to 6 (for this one skill at least, I would resist the urge to specialize. Stealth is one of the most useful general skills in the game, and all of its potential specializations can come into play often), and still have 5 points to spend. I would probably raise pistols to 6, and, unless your GM makes you balance the points on Edges and Flaws, I would add the Perceptive Edge - a -1 TN to perception tests is huge, and the Edge completely fits your character concept of someone who is good at reading people and noticing things.
Just another side note, perceptive is a good one to take, but also bravery, -1 to resist fear/intimidation (if your guy played high stakes cards then he knows how high rollers may try to intimidate the small fish)
Eyeless Blond
QUOTE (Tomorrow)
@BitBasher: I gave him Hunted because it seemed somewhat obvious with the background, and Bad Karma because of his penchant for gambling. I suppose the problem here becomes finding flaws that work with the character but don't ultimately cripple him.
How about an actual gambling habit? I'd say this makes a good Compulsion flaw, especially if you spend a significant amount of time and money on gambling. Of course, if you're really good it might be more of a Day Job. biggrin.gif

@Lindt: I was going to give him a Math SPU, actually, but I figured that most high-stakes cash games would check for any sort of "cheating" cyber at the door, and that something like an SPU would be, well, frowned upon or worse. That's the only real reason Photographic Memory got the nod there.

Well keep in mind that the Math SPU doesn't actually help count cards (that is, it doesn't help you remember any of them); it only really helps for those blackjack techniques where you can calculate the probability of an ace or 10-value card coming up next. That said it's not really useful for a face or a b&e specialist; I'd rather spend the money on a set of lockpicks and other goodies in a cyberforearm/cyberhand or another L2 contact instead.
I was actually trying to stay away from a gambling compulsion, as I'd be afraid of a GM making my character do risky things during runs that would really draw the ire of the rest of the team.

As a Day Job, however... that could be really, really entertaining. The problem is, there really aren't any set hours for someone that makes a living that way. Maybe combining the Day Job with Compulsive, however... hmm.

I'm actually halfway tempted to give him Sensitive Neural Structure and Gremlins Lv. 2 to explain why he doesn't do any decking. Well, aside from a lack of knowledge and monetary resources, of course. nyahnyah.gif

Heck, a police record could make sense, but something tells me that would be a bad, bad, very bad idea.
Also, I threw up another draft of the character, because hey, if you're going to help me through the process, the least I can do is to progress through it a bit.
I would pick up some cyber that makes sense for the character. Mainly headware memory and cyber eyes with a display link and thermorgraphics. This makes counting cards and reading peoples body languages even easier. A datajack is a must, as is a smartlink 2.

Now for the stuff that any character who might see combat needs. Boosted Reflexes 2 is relatively cheap, and gives you thte added initiative you're going to want. It is also compatible with synaptic accelerators, which is really nice too.

I find that a cyber-arm comes in really handy... get it? It's a pun. Not only does it have plenty of ECU to add gadgets later on (like storage space and guns built into your arm) but it also makes spurs and smartlinks cheaper. Heck, just a hand would add a lot of flair to your character. It's possible his hunters cut off his hand in retribution right after the game, as they accused him of cheating. This puts a spin on the "on the lamb" of your character, he can also look down at his hand longingly and blah blah blah. Like I said, flair.

An eye camera might make sense too. While he may have a photographic memory, others do not, and he probably wants to find ways to cope with this. I know someone in real life with a photographic memory and they find it very frustrating dealing with normal peoples very "impression specific" memories. He carries a little digital camera with him everywhere... your character might consider the same thing.

As for decking... you don't need a dreck hot deck to capable of giving Renraku a run for it's money to be a successful decker. Check out my webpage, I have a section of decks that, for under 100,000 nuyen.gif can turn anyone with a decent Computer skill into an "average" decker.
In terms of good books that have source material I'd look at the old NAGRL if you can get a copy, for street hustling lifestyle sort of stuff.
Also the new SSS is good for much the same reason, and updated to the 2060s. The Underworld sourcebook covers most of the major syndicate operations. And since the syndicates handle most organized gambling in SR it'd probably be good to have some familiarity with them.
Finally you'll probably want to take a peek at SOTA64's culture section. I'd heard that there was something about gambling in that chapter.
Good luck with the character.
Ray Becker
QUOTE (Tomorrow)

Yeah, looks like I need to break out my books, since NSRCG seems to be a big fat liarface sometimes. I guess the one big question I have at this point would be regarding flaws: are there any flaws that are particularly less crippling? I'd like to keep the four edges already listed and probably add Perceptive as well, which means I'd need at least 3 points of flaw.

I personally always take the impulsive flaw great thing to blame your mistakes upon.
Eyeless Blond
QUOTE (Tomorrow @ Aug 10 2004, 05:08 PM)

Yeah, looks like I need to break out my books, since NSRCG seems to be a big fat liarface sometimes. I guess the one big question I have at this point would be regarding flaws: are there any flaws that are particularly less crippling? I'd like to keep the four edges already listed and probably add Perceptive as well, which means I'd need at least 3 points of flaw.

That's an interesting thing to consider, btw. Keep in mind that Flaws are *not* free points in any way; your GM is, by the nature of the mechanics of Edges and Flaws, supposed to persue those Flaws just as aggressively as you persue those Edges. Your only real recourse here is to come up with a really good story and discuss with your GM how your edges and flaws really work. Basically be prepared for every Flaw you pick up to actually *be* a Flaw, and not just free points.

As a side note, I almost always pick Oblivious and Common Sense for my characters. Oblivious because I usually am IRL, and it inevitably translates over to SR, and Common Sense so the GM can save my hoop a few times biggrin.gif
Raife's idea of thermo for help reading people is wonderful, and in that vein there is a fair bit of enhanced sense cyberware that could be useful, for example hearing amplification combined with low frequency enhancement could let you hear people's heart beats, things like that.

Also, I'd try to find the points to push that probabilities skill up to 6. As near as I can tell, reading people is where the real game is, but you need to have all the basic pieces before you can really enter that level of the game in a high-stakes world. You might also consider shifting the card games specifically to poker, as that is really where the ability to read people is critical. Things like blackjack you play the numbers and you can come out ahead pretty much every time, poker is where you have to play both the numbers and the people.

One thought that could lead to some interesting character goals/advancement paths is to have the character have surged during that big game, and come out with the astral sight advantage. Astral perception would give you an amazing edge in reading people, and at the end of the game someone noticed, and accused you of using magic to cheat. The edge gives you a magic rating of 1, which would allow you to initiate at some point and pick up masking as a way to be able to get back into the game. Just a random idea.
Yeah, I see your character as a SPECTACULAR background to a face character. Maybe using that headware memory, a display link and some Cyber-Ears your character could have a voice stress analyzer built right in smile.gif

That would be great for knowing if someone is bluffing.

All this has got me thinking about the crap gambling houses must employee to keep people honest... holy drek!
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