Character Creation and Play Guidelines

Some general notes on the campaign....

The general tone I'm hoping to set for the campaign is fairly serious, something along the lines of a good action/suspense movie -- think of Ronin, Aliens, or Bound. That isn't to say there's no levity, but the characters are in a fairly serious situation and the in-character action should reflect that.

I'd like this to be much more of a collaborative storytelling exercise than something confrontational -- I'm going to try very hard to stick to the "Yes, but..." school and away from "No." So, if you want your character to try something that you don't think might succeed, feel free to bring it up and I'll try to give you a shot -- style counts (and doing stylish stuff that's in-genre is how you get Genre Points, after all).

Feedback is obviously always welcome -- send it along to me via email.

Character Generation by the Numbers

Character creation will use the rules given in my Shadowrun/SilCORE Character Creation pages, with 30 CP and 50 SP. Because of the situation the characters are in at the beginning of the game, there are some alterations to the process, mostly with regard to gear.

Obviously, with the characters in prison, they are unlikely to have access to most normal possessions. However, if characters buy a fake identity, they can buy months of Lifestyles in advance and assume that their residence and anything in it will be safe as long as the Lifestyle is paid for (do not buy less than 3 months of a Lifestyle if you do buy one; your characters will likely be in prison at least that long). Likewise, money left over after purchasing gear can be assumed to reside in an account tied to that fake identity.

If the character does not have a fake identity, his options are a bit more limited. Lifestyles cannot be bought, as they would have been confiscated by the police. However, characters can purchase vehicles, weapons, and other equipment and leave them in the care of one of his contacts (however, I'd suggest not leaving it in the care of any 1 or 2 point contacts, as they might "get lost" or at least get a few extra miles on them). If they get out of prison, they can then collect them from their contact (although they may have to make some sort of deal to do so -- you will be able to get it back without too much trouble, though).

Most cyberware will be disabled before the characters are placed in prison. Datajacks and chipjacks will be disabled with a jackstopper, but this is relatively easy to fix with the right solvent, something every good street doc should have. Most other headware will not be tampered with, although any headware memory will be completely wiped; headware comm gear, however, will be disabled. Bone lacing cannot be easily removed or disabled, so it will survive intact.

All other cyberware will be disabled by removing control modules or cutting linkages, making it useless to the character. However, players may buy their characters any cyberware which would be disabled for 50% of the normal cost. If they escape from prison, they can have their cyberware repaired (generally a much easier operation than having the cyberware implanted from the start), which may be costly, but should not be too difficult.

Because of the way bioware integrates itself with the human body, often supplanting the original organs and tissues, and the fact that it is very hard to detect, bioware cannot be easily disabled. As a result, characters with bioware retain its full use.

All characters which the authorities believe to be a significant threat (including all orks and trolls and any character with magical ability, plus others at the GM's discretion) receive a piece of cyberware known as a "harness" for free (0 PSY cost). This cyberware is a small module implanted between the shoulders which generates a massive wave of pain if it receives a signal from a device carried by all prison guards.

Character Creation -- Group Dynamics and Backgrounds

First and foremost, all the characters for the campaign need to be compatible personality wise; no card-carrying Humanis characters if there's metahumans in the group and no sociopathic loners, please. Your character might not have worked with all the others for very long, but he or she should at least have come to mostly trust and count on the other characters, since all of them will be depending on each other to get out of the jam they are in.

I'd like it if your character had a significant relationship with at least one, and hopefully two of the other characters in the game. For example, maybe your character served in the army with another character, or the two of you were in the same gang when you were kids, or maybe you both have a mutual friend that put you in touch with each other. Work it out with the other players -- it's up to you to come up with something. If you have questions about the setting that I can help answer, just ask. I'll be happy to help.

As for archetypes you'll probably want for the game, there's no real absolute requirements. However, I would suggest that there be at least one character who can see in the astral at the very least, and one spellcaster might not hurt either (though these can be the same person). One techie, with decent Electronics and Computer skills, would be a good idea; I haven't worked out decking, but it will probably just work out to Computer skill rolls (and I'll leave out cybercombat for now). A rigger is more optional, but remember that many places (including the prison itself, probably) use closed-circuit simsense systems, so a rigger might come in handy to subvert them.

Other than that, things are pretty flexible. Work it out amongst yourselves; it isn't a bad idea to have at least one other person who can back up your character's specialty.

When you do make your character, I'd like a brief (one or two paragraph) summary of the character's background -- you can make up more as play goes on (and, if you have the Genre Points, add to it on the spur of the moment when you have to -- "I think I might know somebody who can help...."), but I'd like a base that at least explains a little about your character and about his or her connections to the others and any contacts.

On the subject of contacts, any Allies I'll expect to be pinned down pretty concretely from the start. However, with lower-cost contacts, just give me some idea of their general type ("gun dealer," "talismonger," "deckmeister," "beat cop") and you can pop them into the game when it becomes convenient (for instance, you have a contact who is just down as "corporate secretary" and you've got a run coming up -- if you want, it just so happens she works for the corporation you're doing the run against); from that point on, they are set though, so be sure you're ready to use the contact.

One last thing -- players should come up with a "street name" for your character. This is the handle your character will usually use while working, or when meeting with Mr. Johnson; these are the handles that you see people using on the Shadowland BBS in Shadowrun sourcebooks. You can make it as boring or as flamboyant as you like, in keeping with how you see your character.

IRC Play -- Hints and Tips

I've never run a game over IRC before, so I'm not sure how well this is going to work. However, like I said above, I want this to be more of a collaborative storytelling exercise -- so don't feel constrained by the rules (however, do be constrained by the Shadowrun setting and what would be in-character, please). Try to keep anything that isn't in character off the main channel (and make sure to denote it as OOC if you do).

I'm going to try to avoid dice rolling as much as possible. If your character has a reasonable skill at something and attempts a pretty mundane unopposed task (for instance, your Face talks his way into the front of the line at Dante's Inferno or your troll samurai smashes the window of a car), let's just assume he or she can handle that without a roll. Try to be descriptive and make things interesting -- you could just say:

< MsScarlet> I bring my gun up and keep an eye on the street for trouble.

But it would be much cooler to do:

* MsScarlet crouches behind the concrete wall surrounding the roof of the building, bringing her sniper rifle in line with a good arc over the street.
< MsScarlet> Ms. Scarlet to Mr. Green. The eye in the sky is in place.

See? Definitely cooler. And style is worth Genre Points, remember. I won't penalize people if they want to keep it simple, but I will try to reward people who get into it. With regard to combat, after initiative is rolled, I'll poll everyone real quickly and ask for a general plan of action ("I'm running for cover," "I'm switching to full auto and hosing down the alley," "I'm going to try to get the door open with my Electronics skill"). When it gets to your turn, I'll ask what you want to do (since it may have changed after what other people have done). Try to make it snappy -- if you can't come up with anything in a reasonable amount of time (a minute or two), just go with what you said before. A round of combat might look like:

< BlackIsis> Okay, actions for this round?
< MsScarlet> I'll go on overwatch and hit any hostiles I can see in the open with the rifle.
< MrGreen> I'm going to run for cover and try to keep ahold of the attache case.
< MsWhite> I'll cast a Barrier spell between the goons and us.
< BlackIsis> Okay. Unfortunately, since the goons rolled highest, they go first. The big goon brings his machine pistol up at MrGreen and opens fire with a burst that sends bullets flying, while the little guy reaches into his coat and pulls out a big ol' hog, but it gets snagged on his pocket and he can't get a shot off before MrGreen acts. MrGreen, you need to make a Defense check -- no modifiers here, just your AGI.
< BlackIsis> !2d6+1
< DiceBot> 3 4 for a roll of 5
< MrGreen> !2d6+1
< DiceBot> 1 4 for a roll of 5
< BlackIsis> MrGreen gets lucky as the goon's shots go wide, just barely. Unfortunately, they do make some rather nice holes in the attache case and the case is knocked out of his hand, skittering across the ground against the building behind him as he leaps into cover. MsScarlet?
* MsScarlet swings the rifle to target and takes aim at the big goon, her breathing slowing as her finger coils around the trigger. As the red dot on his head from her smartlink comes into focus in the scope, she opens fire.
< BlackIsis> Okay, make a Small Arms check; since you have two actions, I'm assuming you're using one for the aim and the other for the fire? No other modifiers, since the guy is just standing there blazing away. So just one extra die for the aim and the one for your smartlink.
< MsScarlet> Yeah, that was what I was going for.
< MsScarlet> !4d6+2
< DiceBot> 2 5 6 6 for a roll of 9
< BlackIsis> !2d6
< DiceBot> 2 3 for a roll of 3
* MsScarlet gently squeezes the trigger and feels the gun buck in her arms, sending one round cleanly into the big goon's skull and taking most of his brain out with it on the other side. The goon crumples to the ground, his machine pistol spitting a few last bullets in his death spasm.
* MrGreen mutters a muffled "Sweet Jesus!" as he dives for cover behind a nearby dumpster, wincing as the case is ripped from his grip and he hears the loud report of MsScarlet's sniper rifle.
< BlackIsis> Okay, I guess MrGreen is done with his action for this round. MsWhite, you're next.
< MsWhite> Instead of the Barrier, I switch gears -- grabbing my power focus from around my neck I take a deep breath and close my eyes, summoning the energy for a Stunbolt spell, extending my arm towards the remaining guy with the palm out.
< BlackIsis> Okay; roll your Sorcery with WIL, plus whatever Force you're casting it at.
< MsWhite> !2d6+3
< DiceBot> 1 4 for a roll of 7
< BlackIsis> !2d6
< DiceBot> 2 3 for a roll of 3
< BlackIsis> Well, your spell goes off -- there's a shimmer in the air as it sails towards your target, and he gets blown off his feet, tumbling backwards against the wall. It doesn't look like he's down for the count though -- he's still got a hand on his gun and it looks like he's decided to go with old standards and geek the mage first, MsWhite. Roll for your Drain, Threshold is....4.
< MsWhite> !2d6+1
< DiceBot> 1 1 for a roll of 2 *FUMBLE*
< MsWhite> Crap. I stagger back, wincing in pain -- unfortunately I also get my feet caught up in my cape (I just had to wear it for the style!) and fall to the ground, knocking the wind out of me. Ooof.
< BlackIsis> Okay, the guy you just zapped is still a little dazed, so he's not going to be able to get a shot off this round -- unfortunately you hear a car engine really nearby, so it sounds like your little engagement has been noticed. Everybody roll Combat Sense for initiative, remember your wound penalties!

As you can see, everyone works to try and make the combat scene run well and also be interesting for everyone else, but people have slightly different styles and that's okay! As long as you're trying, that's what counts. In really obvious cases (like MsScarlet's headshot), feel free to go ahead describe what happens. If it is more marginal, I'll try to give a quick description -- or, if you want to do it, you can ask me how bad the guy was hurt or how good your success or failure was (do it in a message), and then do it yourself -- up to you. It will probably take a while to get the hang of it, so feel free to do whatever feels comfortable. Let's try to get keep combat moving quickly though -- we don't want to spend all night with combats.

When you're playing, keep in mind what the other characters and NPCs are like when you incorporate them into your actions, and try to set things up for people, don't dictate their actions. For instance, instead of "I send MrGreen down the hall," say "I look over at MrGreen and gesture down the hall while I cover it." The other player (or the GM) can then go with what they want to do in the situation.

As always, if you have suggestions for how to make the game better, or ideas for things you want to have the characters try, let me know! I'll do my best to work them into the game and give everyone a chance to shine.