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Shadowrun Character Creation, Advancement, and Conversion:
As an alternative to the Priority Table path to character creation I decided to try my hand at using Build Points as previous editions have done. In order to help the character creation process I also made Archetypes which use half the BP’s for a standard character to provide a template and aid for character building. This system is compatible with my Shadowrun Overhaul Rules on Karma and Character Advancement House Rules and the standard ruleset. With this system Magicians, Mystic Adepts, and Technomancers will be weaker, Aspected Magicians will be much stronger, and characters that rely on nuyen will be a little bit better off.
Street: These are the young, the disadvantaged, the has beens, the almost was, and the burnouts.
125 BP +13 Karma
Limit on Resources to 10 BP or 75,000 nuyen. Skill limit at 6 for 1 Skill or Skill Group, 5 for a second Skill or Skill Group and the rest at 4 or less. Knowledges and Languages limit at 6, Attributes have One Terminal Rating and One (Terminal Rating -1) and the rest at +3 added to the minimum Attribute Rating for their metatype or less (Humans for all Attributes except Edge would be at a 4 or less). Availability at 10.
Standard: The young geniuses, the competent professionals, and the cream of the crop amongst the disadvantaged.
150 BP +25 Karma
Limit on Resources to 35 BP or 450,000 nuyen. Skill limit at 8 for 1 Skill or Skill Group, 7 for a second Skill or Skill Group and the rest at 6 or less. Knowledges and Languages limit at 8. Attributes have One Terminal Rating and the rest at +4 added to the minimum Attribute Rating for their metatype or less (Humans for all Attributes except Edge would be at a 5 or less). Availability at 12.
Prime Runner: The experienced geniuses, the exceptional professionals, and the best of the best amongst the disadvantaged.
175 BP +35 Karma
Limit on Resources to 45 BP or 600,000 nuyen. Skill limit at 10 for 1 Skill or Skill Group, 9 for a second Skill or Skill Group and the rest at 8 or less. Knowledges and Languages limit at 10. Attributes have One Terminal Rating and the rest at +4 added to the minimum Attribute Rating for their metatype or less (Humans for all Attributes except Edge would be at a 5 or less). Availability at 14.
High Life: The very best of the best. World class shadowrunners, mercenaries, hackers, and magicians. For those who seek the limelight their names are known to almost all in their fields of expertise.
200 BP +50 Karma
Limit on Resources to 65 BP or 1.1 million nuyen. Attributes have just Metatype limits. Standard Skill, Knowledge, and Language limit at 12. No Availability limit.
Karma Conversion: 1 BP is roughly 5 Karma give or take a few.
Attributes and Special Attributes: 3 BP’s per +1 Rating.
Alternative rule: 6 BP for +1 if it is a terminal rating for the PC’s metatype such as a 6 in Logic for an human. (Don’t forget everyone starts out with their “free” minimum attributes.)
Skills: 1 BP per +1 Rating.
Alternative rule: 2 BP per +1 Rating for terminal rating based on character creation limit of the campaign.
Skill Groups: 2 BP’s per +1 Rating. (I prefer to encourage characters to use Skill Groups by providing a discount but if you don’t agree you can change it to 2.5 BP’s per +1 Rating)
Alternative rule: 4 or 5 BP per +1 Rating for terminal rating based on character creation limit for campaign.
Specializations (and Concentrations for Overhaul rules): 1 BP per new specialization or concentration.
Knowledges: 1 BP per 3 Ratings. 2(Intuition + Logic) for free. (Overhaul rules gives 10 free Knowledge points to be spent only on Interests)
Languages: 1 BP per 5 Ratings. (I like to encourage Language taking at character creation for realistic reasons because it is much harder to learn languages as an adult then it is to learn them as a child. Plus, most games seem to assume someone who knows lots of languages is rare probably because of the bias of americans. It isn’t uncommon in Europe to see well educated people able to minimally comprehend four or five languages and speak well two or three others.)
Spells, Preparations, Rituals, Power Points, and Complex Forms: 1 BP each.
Contacts: 5 Points to spend on Connection and Loyalty per 1 BP.
Registered Sprites/Bound Spirits: 5 Tasks or Service per 1 BP.
Technomancer: 15 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Resonance. (Some GM’s may increase to 20 BP but TM’s have been blunted in many other ways and don’t need to be artificially expensive as they are on the Priority Table.)
Mystic Adept: 20 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic. Mystic Adepts must purchase Power Points to unlock Adept Powers.
Magician: 15 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic.
Aspected Magician: 10 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic, an Active Skill Group equal to their final Magic Rating, and as many Spells, Preparations, Rituals, or Bound Spirits (each with 5 services; # of spirits is limited by Charisma) equal to their final Magic Rating. (In my opinion the Priority Table as setup in 5e really discourages anyone from picking Aspected Magician as a trait and I think having the extras added on makes it a viable choice. Also, by leaving Magician without any extras it allows for a full magician character who is as new or untrained in magic as a minor talent but has greater potential which can be a lot of fun depending on the style of the campaign.)
Adept: 10 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic with an Active Skill equal to her final Magic Rating, and automatic gaining of Power Points equal to Magic at character creation and whenever their Magic Rating increases.
Minor Talent: 5 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic. At character creation the PC can only have 1 Magical Skill and 1 Spell, Preparation, Ritual, Bound Spirit or Power Point. After character creation the minor talent can learn new abilities by purchasing Power Points if an Adept up to their Magic Rating and once that is done they are a full Adept and automatically gain Power Points when they increase their Magic Rating. If a potential Aspected Magician then they can learn other Skills in their Skill Group and new Spells, Preparations, or Rituals by spending Karma as normal. This is a good special trait to have in a Street level campaign and it can be quite fun to watch the nascent Awakened grow into their full power. (An example of a common Minor Talent would be someone who can Astrally Perceive. Buy 1 Power Point for the Astral Perception Adept Power and buy a Rating in Assensing and voila!)
Nuyen: (A PC who wanted 80,000 nuyen would pay 11 BP’s) an alternative system is to simply have 1 BP = 10,000 nuyen.
1 BP = +5,000 nuyen
5 BP = +30,000 nuyen
10 BP = +75,000 nuyen
15 BP = +140,000 nuyen
25 BP = +275,000 nuyen
35 BP = +450,000 nuyen
45 BP = +600,000 nuyen
55 BP = + 800,000 nuyen
65 BP = +1,100,000 nuyen
Each Archetype includes an example of a standard character brought to step 5 and thus still have Karma to spend.
Standard PC: 150 BP
(35 BP) +450,000 nuyen in gear and cyberware
(69 BP) B: 8 A: 6 R: 5 S: 6 W: 4 L: 2 I: 3 C: 2 E: 1
(32 BP) Close Combat Group 6, Firearms Group 6, Pilot (Ground) 1, Sneaking 2, Perception 2, Intimidation 2, and First Aid 1.
(1 BP) Knowledges (10): Law Enforcement 3, Safehouses 2, Small Unit Tactics 3, Triads 1, Yakuza 3, and Seattle Gangs 1.
Interests (10 free): Great Restaurants 4, Poetry 2, Matrix Fantasy MMO’s 2, and Akira Kurosawa movies 2.
(2 BP) Languages: English N, Or’zet 5, Japanese 4, Aztlaner Spanish 1
Standard PC: 150 BP
(15 BP) 140,000 nuyen in gear.
(7 BP) Elf
(10 BP) Adept
( 75 BP) B: 3 A: 4 R: 3 S: 3 W: 4 L: 3 I: 3 C: 7 E: 1 M:5
( 39 BP) Acting skill group 3, Influence Skill Group 6 (Negotiation 8*), Close Combat Skill Group 4, Stealth Skill Group 2, Pistols 5, First Aid 1, Perception 5, and Pilot (Ground) 1.
(0 BP) Knowledges(12): Business 4, Neuro-Linguistic Programming 2, Psychology 2, Bartering 1, and Nonviolent Communication 3.
(4 BP) English N, Cantonese 5, Mandarin 5, Japanese 4, Sperethiel 4, Aztlaner Spanish 2.
(0 BP) Interests(10 free): Designer Clothes 4, Elven Wine 3, and SF trids 3.
(0 BP) Voice Control 4 levels (2), Kinesics 2 (.5), Improved Reflexes 1 (1.5), Improved Negotiation* 2 (1).
Standard PC: 150 BP
(10 BP) 75,000 nuyen in gear.
(16 BP) Troll
(10) Aspected Magician: Sorceror (includes a 1 Rating in Magic, an Active Skill equal to their final Magic Rating, and 6 spells or rituals.)
( 75 BP) B: 6 A: 4 R: 4 S: 6 W: 4 L:5 I:3 C:2 E: 2 M:6
( 27 BP) Sorcery Skill Group 6* (free), Close Combat Skill Group 4, Perception 4, Assensing 4, Arcana 4, Sneaking 3, Pilot (Ground) 1, and First Aid 3.
(2 BP) Knowledges (16 free): Critters 3, Magic Theory 4, Small Unit Tactics 4, Military Procedures 3, Russion Vory 3, Triads 2, Yakuza 1, and Street Gangs 2.
(4 BP) Languages: English N, Aztlaner Spanish 4, Latin 4, Greek 3, Hebrew 3, Sperethiel 2, Or’zet 2, and German 2. (He likes to read Arcane Texts in their original languages)
(0 BP) Interests (10 free): Action Trids 3, Urban Brawl 3, Fantasy Matrix Games 2, Ancient Languages 2.
(6 BP) (6 free) Spells and Rituals: Heal, Stun Bolt, Combat Sense, Ball Lightning, Flamethrower, Increase Reflexes, Armor, Detect Enemies Extended, and Invisibility. Ward, Circle of Healing, and Remote Sensing.
Character Advancement and Karma:
Initial Rating: Learning a new Skill or Knowledge by getting a 1 Rating in it or spending Karma to improve an Attribute at its minimum for that metahuman type. For example an human improving Edge from 2 to 3 would be improving her Initial Rating in that Attribute and if she learned the basics of Sperethiel and gained a 1 in the Language she would be gaining an Initial Rating and paying the higher Karma Cost.
Terminal Rating: Achieving the pinnacle of ability in a Skill or Knowledge or achieving the maximum possible for your metahuman type in an Attribute. For example an human raising their Edge to 7 would be achieving the greatest amount of luck they can achieve without magic or a Quality and if she raised her Blades skill to 12 she would be the finest swordswoman a normal human would be without being born with a special talent or aptitude in which case her Terminal Rating would be 13.
Karma Cost: The first number is the Initial or Terminal Karma Cost for improving or adding a new Rating. The second is for everything in between.
Active Skills: 10/+5
Active Skill Group: 25/+12
Knowledge Skills: 3/+2
Language Skills: 5/+1
New Specializations or Martial Art Style: 7
New Martial Art Maneuvers: 5
New Concentrations: (this is a “new” category) 7
New Positive Quality: 2 x Character Creation Karma Cost
Remove Negative Quality: 2 x Character Creation Bonus Karma
New Complex Form: 4
New Initiate Level: 10 + (Grade +3)
Spells, Preparations, Rituals, and new Power Points up to Magic Rating: 5
Shadowrun 4th edition character conversion to 5th edition:
NPC conversion is based on Professional Rating.
Professional Rating 0: no change in skills or knowledges.
Professional Rating 1: One skill or knowledge raised by 1 pt.
Professional Rating 2: One skill or knowledge raised by 2 pts and one skill or knowledge raised by 1 pts.
Professional rating 3: One skill or knowledge raised by 3, one by 2, and two raised by 1.
Professional rating 4: One skill or knowledge raised by 4, one by 3, two by 2, three by 1.
Professional rating: 5: One skill or knowledge raised by 5, one by 4, two by 3, three by 2, and four by 1.
Professional rating 6: one skill or knowledge raised by 6, one by 5, two by 4, three by 3, four by 2, and five by 1.
A lieutenant could be converted as one Professional rating higher or given an extra quality, item, additional spells or a +1 to a skill.
A superhuman NPC such as an immortal elf could use the official conversion rules or a doubling of bonuses such as two skills raised by six, two by 5 and so on.
Skill groups should be into their component skills to avoid skill group conversion issues.
For PC’s the GM could decide to simply pick one of the professional ratings above for all the PC’s to use or could use a system based on total karma gained since PC creation to place the PC’s into one of the above categories.
Rating 0: no karma gained yet. Might as well just make a new fifth edition PC.
Rating 1: under 50. Again for most PC’s just add the karma to the total in finishing touches and make a new fifth edition PC.
Rating 2: 51-100.
Rating 3: 101-200 .
Rating 4: 201- 300.
Rating 5: .301- 400.
Rating 6 401+.
Knowledges and Skills Overhaul:
I went through and attempted to balance out the skills list in fifth edition Shadowrun which are a mess. At least they took Herding and Lockpicking out as you can see by looking at the Errata for page 90. So, I consolidated a lot of the weak Skills or pushed them into Knowledges were many of them belonged anyway. The other major change is the introduction of Concentrations. Many of the Skills should be grouped together for someone who is really good at one thing is very likely to be good at the other. A master gymnast is likely to be an excellent swimmer if she was properly trained and it wouldn’t take nearly as long for her to be trained as it would someone starting athletics from scratch. This system uses my Character Advancement rules. With the consolidation of so many skills into a single skill there are no longer Skill Groups in this system. There are two additional Knowledge categories: Wilderness and Science & Technology. Wilderness works much like Street but deals with life outside of the urban environment. Science & Technology represents practical, theoretical, and applied knowledge within the sciences and technology fields.
Concentrations: Each Skill has three or more concentrations listed with it. With purchase of the skill comes one Concentration for free and each additional Concentration must be purchased in order to access that part of the skill.
Defaulting: The penalty for defaulting when having the Skill but not the needed Concentration is -5. Without the Skill it defaults to Attribute -3 though certain ubiquitous and simple abilities may get a -1.
Character Creation: Skills Priority Table: A: 40 skill points/ 20 Concentration or Specialization points, B: 30/15, C: 25/10, D: 20/10, E: 15/10. Max Skill or Knowledge Rating during Character Creation: 10.
Knowledges keep the free 2(Int + Log) points as in the base rules but in addition to that everyone gets 10 free points they can spend only on Knowledges in the Interests Category.
Character Skill Group Conversion: Any character with a Skill Group can be converted to a Skill with +2 extra Concentrations. So, an Athletics Skill Group of 4 would become an Athletics of 4 with three Concentrations.
Performance: Singing, Per Instrument, Dancing, Comedy, Dramatic Acting, Official Presentations, and more disciplines that involve captivating an audience by using your body or mind and its actions as the medium while Artisan deals with influencing an audience via a created work of art.
Artisan: Cooking, Sculpting, Drawing, Painting, Calligraphy, Runic Inscriptions, Metalwork, Jewelry, Carpentry, Scrimshaw, Glasswork, Ceramics, Matrix Graphic Design, Fashion Design, and other disciplines involving creating an objet d’art as the medium.
Gunnery: Artillery, Ballistic, Energy, Guided Missile, and Rocket.
Piloting: Deep space, Launch craft, Semi-ballistic, suborbital, Fixed Wing, Lighter than air, Rotary wing, Tiltwing, Vectored thrust, Walker, Exotic Vehicle, Bike, Hovercraft, Tracked, Wheeled, Modern Watercraft, Archaic Watercraft, Submarine, and Remote Operation. *A Rigger would need Remote Operation and Bike Concentrations to rig a bike from a distance.
B/R Hardware: Deep space, Launch craft, Semi-ballistic, suborbital, Fixed Wing, Lighter than air, Rotary wing, Tiltwing, Vectored thrust, Walker, Exotic Vehicle, Bike, Hovercraft, Tracked, Wheeled, Modern Watercraft, Archaic Watercraft, Submarine, Bioware Repair, Vat Repair, Commlinks, Smartguns, Cyberdecks, Matrix Host Servers, Robotics, Hydraulics, Structural Engineering, Electrical Power Systems, Bodyware, Cyberlimbs, Headware, Armor, Artillery, Explosives, Firearms, Melee Weapons, Heavy Weapons, Weapon Accessories, Biodrones, Nanomanufacturing Devices, Genetank Repair, Nanoware, Rigging equipment, Exotic Weapons, and Exotic Hardware.
Programming: Software, Computing, Cybercombat, Complex Forms, Compiling, and Decompiling.
Cracking: Encryption, Electronic Warfare, Registering, and Hacking.
Close Combat: Blades, Clubs, Throwing, Cyber, Exotic Melee Weapon, and Unarmed. “X” Martial Art may be taken as a Specialization.
Ranged Combat: Archery, Cyber, Pistols, Longarms, Automatics, Heavy Weapons, and Exotic Ranged Weapon.
Athletics: Free fall, Diving, Gymnastics, Running, and Swimming.
Grifting: Forgery, Con, Escape Artist, Gambling, and Palming.
Awareness: Assensing, Matrix Perception, Social, Bodyguarding, and Combat.
Infiltration: Impersonation, Locksmith, Disguise, and Sneaking.
Influence: Etiquette, Instruction, Intimidation, and Leadership.
Sorcery: Spellcasting, Ritual Sorcery, and Counterspelling.
Conjuration: Summoning, Binding, and Banishing.
Enchanting: Artificing, Alchemy, and Disenchanting.
Arcana: Astral Combat, Spell/Ritual Design, Spirit Formula Design, and Preparation/Focus Design.
Examples of Knowledges in each Knowledge Category.
Wilderness Knowledge Category: “Area” Survival, “Area” Navigation, Hunting, Gathering, Archaic Farming, Tracking, Trapping, Curing, Butchering, Fishing, Herding, Riding, Camping, Gardening, Outdoors Cooking, Leather working, Animal Handling, “Exotic” Animal Handling, Talislegging, Tribal Culture, and Herbalism.
Area: Desert, Forest, Ocean, Jungle, Freshwater, Urban Barrens, Polar, and Plains. “Exotic” could be a difficult to handle and rare non-awakened Beast or a paranormal animal of some sort. Each paranormal animal requires a different Knowledge unless it is very closely related.
Science & Technology: Computers, Software Design, Graphic Design, Host Design, Grid Design, Demolitions, Matrix Design, Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Design, Neuroscience, Physics, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Botany, Bioinformatics, Bioware Design, Cyberware Design, Weapon Design, Medicine, Surgery, Prosthetics, Nanotechnology, First Aid, Robotic Design, “Specific type” Vehicle Design (See Piloting Concentrations), Manufacturing, Engineering Principles, Maglock Design, Spider Security Techniques, Matrix Defenses, Counter-Infiltration Security Technology, Grid Design, Host Design, Cyberdeck Design, Commlink Security, Vat Farming, Rigging Technology, Spider Technology, Remote Operation Technology, Skillwire Design, Hardware cannibalizing, Drone design, Food Science, Nano forge facilities, Genetech, Desktop Nanoforges, Nanofaxes, Nanoneurology, Nanoware Design, Bioware Culturing, and 3D Home Printing.
Academic: Criminology, Literature, Geomasonic Landscaping, History, Corporate Politics, Magic Groups, Magic Theory, Philosophy, Government Politics, Music Theory, Parabotany, Parazoology, Corporate Security, Economics, Black Markets, Gray Markets, Free Markets, Astral Topology, Shadowrunning Theory, “Area/City” Knowledge, Magic Threats, Dragons, Neo-Anarchic Philosophy and Practices, X corporation, and Architecture.
Street: Organized Crime, Magic Groups, Corporate Politics, Gang Identification, Smuggling, Vices, Urban Navigation, Urban Survival, Thrift stores, Fences, Corporate Security, Smugglers, Black Market Pipelines, Urban Critters, Runner Hangouts, Mr. Johnsons, Fixers, Riggers, Counter-Infiltration Security Techniques, Grifting history, Grifting lingo, “Area/City” Knowledge, Dragons, Law Enforcement Tactics, Street Gang Politics, Street Drug Dealers, Street Clinics, BTL dealers, Deckers, Local Technomancers, Neo-Anarchists, Cracked Software Dealers, Small Unit Tactics, Law Enforcement, Safe houses, Infiltration techniques, Building Layouts, Corporate Security Systems, Magical Community (City/Area), Police Procedures, Sprawl Life, Critters, Gang X, Area Squats, Area Black Markets, Gang culture, Local chop shops, Backstreets, Area waterways, Street drugs, and BTL chips.
Professional: Journalist, Professor, Lawyer, Doctor, Security, Military Professional, Mercenary, Business, “Nation/City X” Area Knowledge, “Nation X” Military Regulations, Matrix Security Measures, Spider Security Techniques, Military Strategy, Small Unit Tactics, “Nation X” Best Business Practices, “Nation X” Business Regulations, “Nation X” Laws and Legalities, Bioware Implantation, Cybernetic Implantation, Medical Procedures, Law Enforcement, Corporate Security Systems, Magical Community (City/Area), Magical Forensics, Detective Techniques, Police Procedures, Business, Weapon manufacturers, Cosmetic Surgery, Trauma Surgery, Implant Surgery, Gene Therapy, Border Security and Forensic Accounting.
Interests: Current Simsense Movies, Matrix Surfing, Something Terrible Forums, Victorian clothing, Quilting, Popular Trids, 20th century trivia, Poetry, Great Restaurants, Elven Wine, Troll Grog, Dwarven Mead, Urban Brawl, Microbrewing, Baking, Cooking, Stand up comedians, yoga, taxidermy, Graffiti, Combat Biking, Pop Music, Orxploitation Films, Martial Arts, Martial Art Movies, Extreme Sports, Sprawl dive bars, Floral Arrangements, Parkour, skiing, ice skating, rollerskating, Eating competitions, Opera, Broadway Plays, Horizon’s latest new thing, juggling, drinking competitions, homebrewing, Religion X, Sports, High Fashion, Detective novels, Egyptian Ceramics, SF movies, X Music, AR LARPing, dogs, cats, Matrix Games, Vintage X collecting, Nutrisoy “cooking”, and Jet Black conspiracy theories.
Languages: English, Japanese, German, Sperethiel, Salish, Or’zet, Swahili, Lakota, Mandarin, Russian, French, Italian, Aztlaner Spanish, Traditional Spanish, Dakota, and Dine (Navajo).