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Talia Invierno
On these boards, new characters are frequently born, which can be anything under the sun (or from an increasingly wide range of metaplanes).

In creating a new group or joining an existing group, new characters are also born ... but since in practice playing Shadowrun is a group activity, it's always possible that the dream PC you tweaked to utter perfection on Dumpshock just doesn't fit the existing style or needs of the group, or maybe that the group just doesn't want yet another [fill in the blank] at this time. At the other extreme, some groups bringing in new players standardly tell them the Shadowrun equivalent of "We need a cleric, so you're playing one".

Of course, both of these scenarios are extremes: but the fact remains that the group may have needs or wants different from what the individual player visualises, whether in skills, or equipment, or even just that the group desperately needs someone with serious computer skills: "Could you possibly play a decker?"

Some may find that the priority placed upon stats and budget pales against the importance of having a backstory compatible with the others in the group. Others are perfectly fine with having come together for the first time while meeting the Johnson, keeping their backgrounds separate and even secret. Still others gloat over the possibility of clashing backgrounds, even to the point of character fatality caused by other PCs.

So where lies the point of compromise? Where to balance the wishes of the player against the wishes/needs of the group? What can be done to make the difficult choices a bit easier?

It's been a long time since I've thrown up one of these smile.gif
Dawnshadow
A blend.

The PC envisioned is near the top of the list -- but that typically also coincides with the group doesn't have anything to fill that category. If I had to guess, it's a chicken vs egg situation. I honestly don't know if we envision the PC first and realize it satisfies a need of the party, or decide we need to satisfy the need first, and envision a PC based on that.

I know at the current point we're creating new characters for some stuff, and we've discovered that we're meshing the PCs really well. They have complementary talents right at the start. Of course, when you're a group of 2 players, it's really easy to get that, but no matter what, you'll be lacking something.

That being said, we don't usually make any effort to get a compatable backstory going. We tend to interact and sort out details like how to not kill each other in-game, rather than backstory. Doesn't always (erm.. or usually..) succeed with new players, but the established pair of us are fairly good at it wink.gif

We have never bought gear because the group didn't have it-- it's always been gear we wanted.
hyzmarca
Back story compatibility is important to a point. There has to be a good reason for the character to be running with the group. For a new group there has to be good reason for the group to be together.

This doesn't have to play a big role in the Character's backstory. Roland is a Byzantine Catholic Priest turned vigalente exorcist. His hunts and destroys rouge spirits. That is all he does.

Team A is breaking a guy out of Chinese prision. Roland's player has just joined Team A's players' group. Why the heck is a devout Catholic exorcist running with a bunch of criminals in China?

Of course, there are many way it can be handled. Extraction target is an old friend of Roland's. Roland or one of his close contacts is the Johnson for the run. He comes along out of obligation to his friend and to make sure the job is done right. Things spiral into a direstion that permently links him to Team A after that.

Mutual enemy is also a possibility. Team A angered the wrong Free Spirit or Toxic Shaman. Roland shows up to off the baddie.

Coincidence is also possible. One too many tortured souls languish in the prision's walls. Rolan is there to exorcise the beings but the Chinese government isn't exactly cooperative. He helps Team A get in and they do their work while he does his.

After the first meating it is possible to contrive circumstances that would lead them to stay together. The first meating has to make sense, however.


A good way to start a new team is to make it an organization rather than a collection of freelancers. If the team has a life of its own it is easier to explain why it exists and it is easier to add on new characters.
ElFenrir
I also believe in a blend. What the player wants to play should come first: a person should be allowed to build what's in their mind...i've had to live thru the equivalent of 'you have to be the cleric/thief/mage/insert something here' before, and it kind of sucks.


However, i think people should work somewhat together to build something that can gel. If no one in the party has ANY negotation skill, it wouldn't hurt one person to work the negotation skill into their character. Of course, any changes that would drastically change the character should be overlooked, to me the character comes first(if it's known the campaign is gonna get a little hairy at one point, requiring some heavy firepower, it makes more sense for the samurai to take a heavy weapons skill rather than the Oak shaman, for example).

As for equipment, that should just be up to the character, that's what we always did.

So yeah, i'm for a blend.
Edward
Two of the above was my vote.

Each player must create a character that can work with the group. Provided it can work with the groupe all other considerations are tertiary and the player can do what thay want.

The lack of an archetype or being overloaded with an archetype dose not invalidate any groupe, it just affects the types of jobs they will be given. Eg a group with no magicals will not be hired to break into the most heavily magically guarded site in Seattle, and a group with no Decker will not be hired to infiltrate a matrix host. This works for both for archetypes, individual skills and equipment, now and in terms of future development. Back story compatibility is only relevant if it would affect the ability to work with the party, EG if one character wanted to have a long history in humanis and alimo 20K and another wanted a history in mothers of metahimans and the orcish sapper league (or whatever is a militant pro metahuman group) then ether could be more friction that desirable. When a new game starts you may ask for common back story as a teem for some amount of time but for new characters a ringer the fixer called in works just at well.

Of cause the back story must be logical for a shadow runner, the only game I would let hyzamrcaís Roland character in is a religious campaign where religious themes would be the focus of the campaign, even if this extraction is Rolandís friend what bout next week when the teem is stealing a proto type from Aries.

Edward
Jrayjoker
My crew tends to choose a character to play, and let the chips fall where they may. It seldom leads to good interaction, but oh well. It is all for fun anyway.
Supercilious
I would rather a player play something they are happy with, and that they really love to play, than something that I made them pick to balance out my group.
Jrayjoker
Yeah, me too. Although my players talk about that stuff too. I just don't force the issue.
Talia Invierno
And yet would a player really be happy playing something that utterly clashes with the existing group in an adverse way?

This topic came to me while I was back-reading yet another thread along the topic of "Help me convince my GM to play this character!" To my eyes, most of the PCs presented for consideration here -- well, they seem to be self-standing. Isolated. No sense of group identity at all ... which I suppose makes sense, considering that they were presented here in isolation from a group. And yet: I don't think I have yet seen a character presented here from the perspective of how that character could fit into a group, what the character could bring to a group. (I mean here beyond simply filling an archetype.) In fact, most often the exact opposite seems to be true: where the character is designed with backstory, skills, edges/flaws, equipment so as to suggest an independent or loner, rejected/drop-out/paranoid/otherwise mentally isolated, a stand-alone character in every sense ... but within a game designed to emphasise teamwork.

Is the blend of individual vision and group compatibility purely the GM's responsibility?
tisoz
If it is a new group, I am going to try my hardest to get my character approved. Hopefully, I have some relevant, needed skills.

If I am creating a character for an ongoing group, I will try fill a need so that I get to play and not just sit there while someone with the same skill, only better than me because they have had an opportunity to improve it, does what my character could do only better.

I have played in games where there was PC conflict, basically killing the new guy for his loot, and I have never ruturned for another game. I've heard it explained as "my PC doesn't know/trust you because they just met." If the player thinks that is ok, I have to wonder what they would do to me, since we just met - maybe through such an impersonal way as a note on a store bulletin board.

I try not to limit the type of character a player wants to make. If the group is all magicians or no magicians does not really matter when I GM. I do try to give them runs that they can accomplish. Why would someone pay a bunch of mundanes to do a job that is going to require magical ability? What I have found irritating, is when the one guy with the needed skill refuses to use it, usually when they need to go solo. I don't get it at all. Are they afraid they are going to screw up? Or lose their character?
tisoz
QUOTE (Talia Invierno)
And yet would a player really be happy playing something that utterly clashes with the existing group in an adverse way?

I was in a group where every character one player made fit this description. And I do not think he ever had a character die, or if he did we resuscitated him and healed him. He evidently got a kick out of playing twits. I don't think he even ever got shot at, unless it was some other PC letting him know if he hid during the entire combat and never lifted a hand that he better not be calling dibs on the loot. I think he usually just got caught in area effect spells centered on others, or took damage through his own silly actions.

At the time, no one appreciated the dead weight, and we were asking why a fixer would hire him. Now, years later, when we reminisc about old games, we are usually laughing about the stupid ways he would take damage. Kind of like a road runner cartoon...
toturi
My table top group create their PCs together (which often simply means they just swap char sheets, there are only so many min-maxed char groups that fit so tightly together).

But if the player wants to create a PC as he sees fit, then he ought to be willing to shape the PC in-game to fit the needs of the group (providing his PC is the best person to fill in that niche).
Glyph
I also vote for a blend. I don't favor pidgeonholing players into certain roles or niches, but when they create a character, they should remember that it is being made for a game played by a group of people.

The character should have not only a plausible reason to be a shadowrunner, but a plausible reason to want to be a part of that particular team. The other players shouldn't have to metagame to accomodate your "roleplaying". And you shouldn't have to tailor a new PC to have the exact missing skills that the group needs - play the type of character you enjoy playing - but your character should still be able to offer some kind of useful skill or skills to the group.

Finally, I find it lame when people make backstabbing, hide-behind-the party, frag other party member types, then whine "I'm just roleplaying my character!" Disruptive characters have no place in the game (unless it is a backstabbing type of campaign to begin with). Some consideration should be given to comparative power levels and the style of the game, too. A million dollar sammie is a standard fixture in many "normal" campaigns, but might be overpowering if you try to run him in a gritty, low-level game where everyone else is playing street punks. The point of the game is for everyone to have fun.
Capt. Dave
My players generally create characters that fit with the others. (Except for the damn ghoul...) As a rule, I let players play any character they want. I am a pretty lenient GM on all fronts. I allow any race, any archetype, etc. My priority is the player, let him/her play what he wants to play. Of course, I have a really awesome group, so it's never a problem.
Eyeless Blond
QUOTE (Talia Invierno)
In fact, most often the exact opposite seems to be true: where the character is designed with backstory, skills, edges/flaws, equipment so as to suggest an independent or loner, rejected/drop-out/paranoid/otherwise mentally isolated, a stand-alone character in every sense ... but within a game designed to emphasise teamwork.

Well one aspect of this is that, except for people with high Resources, you are almost forced to play isolationist characters. Many of the characters on this board were started with either low Resources, with Resources tied up in other things, or with a set amount of contacts that they don't bother detailing. Contacts are so expensive at chargen that at the low end of resources three L1 contacts (15,000 Y) costs 5 build points; how is that in any way balanced? Only at the higher levels of resources to extra contacts even start to become worthwhile in terms of build point value.

Honestly I've never understood why L1 contacts even cost money. They're basically supposed to be people who have your name on their rolodex; they may have a basic idea of who you are (or, more likely, the facade you've presented to them), but they feel no special obligation to you at all, at least according to the rules. Indeed, having L1 contacts is a trade-off in the same sense that starting the game with a SIN is a trad-off, and IMO both should be "free" at chargen. Anyway I'm straying far from the point of the thread; I just wanted to mention the irony of SR being a teamwork-oriented game, considering the large cost of playing a social character.

As to the topic itself I perfer designing a character to fit the slot a team needs, but never perfectly. IMO there should always be some overlap in team skills, as well as some skills that a team is comparatively weak at, both deliberately constructed in order to make the team less than perfect. Perfection--or at least attempts at perfection--in a group irks me just as much as a bunch of loners sniping at each other constantly; one reason I hate the Tirs and the IEs and all that rot. nyahnyah.gif
Qillin
i think the pc should make what he wants or likes to play and make a back story to fit what ever he is thinking about at that time. I think the compatibility part mostly lands on the gm. after saying that if the gm doesn't see a way how to fit a troll that hates all dwarves and another character has a dwarf in, it's up to the gm to suggest maybe changing something to character before hand when he looks over the character sheet and bio or just maybe kill off the character during the run so he has to make another one next run. this works on table top games with a group of people the gm knows . for online games there are always a lot more characters trying to get in a game then a gm will let in and it's up to the gm to pick characters to fit his champaign and to fit as a group better then letting a dwarf and a dwarf hating troll in and such.

i'm made characters with the knowledge of what the other players are playing and with out it. they are both fun. it's all about generating repour with you teammate.
Fester
i made a character whose background happened to not fit with any of the other characters - they spent the first third of the game session deciding to kill me - they spent the next third finding the best deal for betraying me and the last third "delivering" me to be killed by the yaks


in my opinion - the most important thing is that the backgrounds mesh
Lazerface
It's funny, in my regular group we go for the group needs. Decker, shaman, rigger, gunman, and ninja. When I GM'd for my sister's group they all wanted to be mages and vampires. Of course, half of them died on the Supernova scenario in First Run when the cyberzombie showed up.
Talia Invierno
I'll venture a guess: that perhaps those within established, long-term groups tend to instinctively pay more attention to how they can work well with the group than the average?

The corollary to that would suggest that those who haven't ever been part of such a group might tend to focus more tightly on their own character, in isolation.
Angelone
In my online group, the group comes first. So compatibility, balance, and skills/abilities, is what we look for. If we need a mage we're not gonna settle for a decker, etc. It's worked out really well so far.

Now on my rl group, which I GM, they go by what they want to play and screw the rest of ya'll. Which is how they end up with 5 gun bunnies, with different views, the same skills, and nonstop inter-party conflict. When I tried to explain what a team needs and maybe they should make their characters together so they can do something besides sling lead, i'm greeted with blank stares and 5 voices saying "Someone else can take care of that." Now I'm not asking these people to play hard stuff like a rigger or a decker, until someone shows an interest and has read and understands the rules. I have npcs that can take care of that. But damn, how hard is it to say "You know we might need a mage, or a face, or someone who can do something else but point a gun and make bullets come out."

So what I'm trying to say is "For the horde!!!"
ElFenrir
I remember the first time we played, we had some INSANE number of people in the party. We just basically pointed at an archetype we wanted to play in the 2e book, and then built the characters ourselves. We worked together on the building aspect...but helvetiin with compatibility, said we.


This is what we turned out with:

Street sam, human, karate and thrown weapons expert. Who knows personality.
Street sam, wired to hell, swords, karate and pistol expert, vigilante(me)
Combat mage/detective, elf, monowhip, was sort of like Humphrey Bogart
Combat mage, a rich Jewish kid(my friend...don't ask)
Merc, sniper, French Canadian, lived in wilderness
Merc, demolitions expert, named the same as all of this players characters, have no clue of personality
Former company man, Spanish guy who loved to shoot things
Former company woman, Native American who liked to shoot things
Combat Mage, guy with a fireball that he liked to cast apparently
Decker, human, whose avatar was an X wing
Former merc, old bum guy, squatter, drank a lot and listened to Nine Inch Nails, had a load of cyber and bio but never used it, was too concerned about his Campbell's Soup(the only interesting person in the party)

Needless to say this campaign lasted about five sessions. We lost about four of the members by session three. This was a mess. But later on, a couple of these guys actually got fleshed out(like my friend's elf detective, whom he later totally remade into non magical and really cool), and became well developed character. But unholy hell this was one mess.

Again, make what you want but at least TRY to have SOME sort of compatibility.

blakkie
So did the Campbell's Soup guy the teams face? rotfl.gif

P.S. Did the 3 combat mages have a single Health spell between them?
ElFenrir
Uhh, I think one guy had treat. rotfl.gif I can't remember what the other two had, cos one only ever cast manabolt, and one only ever cast fireball. Which he managed to fry himself with in the end(read, session 2). Then he was working on a character where all we heard were the words 'ork' and 'assault cannon' rotfl.gif rotfl.gif

And the Campbells Soup Guy might as well been our face, I think he had the highest CHA. I mean I managed to twink my dude's CHA with tailored pheremones grinbig.gif (hey, i was 17 and new), but I think the Soup Guy had me beat. I think the party's combined charisma barely made the double digits.
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