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If we run those characters through published book runs(SRMs included) and give out karma and cash by the book, we should have a pretty good picture.

Not really. Even official runs can be interpreted very different (especially the more open-ended runs like Survival of the fittest or the adventure ideas from MJLBB).

I would prefer the general description solution.

Only if you choose to interprete them differently.
i voted for the gutting.
first of all, i like gutting mages as a rule cool.gif
second, although i don't think they're unbalanced, i do think they're overpowered.
they have tremendous advantages over mundanes right from the start (can i hear "astral"?), and so the characters must pay a huge price for being one.
although it does stop some of them, i noticed many of you, from both sides of the line, described various ways to restrict mages. part of it, because there should be only few wizards out there, part of it because they tend to require lots of specialist weapons to fight them.
so why do i care? they're paying their price, right?
i do care, because i think that if anything costs that much initially, it isn't good. paying high price for it means there's no in-between.
this means we actually do have classes in SR. mage, decker, rigger, cyberdude.
each of them has his own unique possibilities, each controls his own part of the game while others watch. each pays huge price for making it possible (either atrributes, money or essence, or a combination of all).

i do think that specialization should give significant advantages over non-specialists, but i don't think it should be a specialist-unskilled dichotomy.
after all, one of SR's main attractions is the openness of character development.

p.s. money is also a little weird when it comes to those specialists, because they need a lot of it to do their stuff, but also can actually profit incredibly well from sitting at home working for their living wink.gif
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