Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Gorgon Archer - Shadowrun 5th Edition - Character Advancement


Character advancement in Shadowrun is based mostly on the acquisition of experience which is named Karma. However, with cyberware, the acquisition of money can lead to improvements to your base character as well. Karma is rewarded at the end of a run. This means that a run that lasts multiple sessions might only last through two or more sessions, though that should be the exception. There should also be a distinction between a run and a job. A single large job might be broken down into several component runs, for example.


The Karma awards are fairly simple.
  • Character survived the run. 2 Karma
  • All objectives completed. 2 Karma
  • Some objectives completed. 1 Karma
  • Overall Challenge. (Highest Opposing Die Pool / 6, round down) Karma
  • Standard Run +0 Karma
  • Cold-Hearted Bastard Run -2 Karma
  • Good Feelings Run +2 Karma
As such, if you go through a run in a manner that shows some empathy and consideration for innocents and the like, you end up getting more karma than normal.

Karma is spent to increase abilities. Every successive level of an Attribute or Skill costs progressively more points to rise them. Some skills come in groups of three and if all three members of the skill group are at the same level, then you can increase them together at a rate higher than the cost of one skill but cheaper than the cost of rising them individually. You are also able to buy new Qualities, attune to magical foci (including Qi Tattoos and weapons), and begin Initiation to higher levels of magic. 

It should also be noted that training is not limited just by how much Karma you have as you also need to have enough downtime for the training needed to get to the next level.

For this advancement theoretical, I am going to assume 12 runs and I am using the Random Run Generator in the back of the Shadowrun book.  Rolling 1d12 + 1d8 to determine the Highest Die Pool of the opposition. All objectives/some objectives 1d6 (1 no objectives, 2-4 some, 5-6 all), Standard, good feelings, cold hearted, 2d6 (2-5 Cold Hearted, 6-8 standard, 9-12 Good Feelings), This feels a bit lazier than my other theoreticals, I know, leaving it to chance rather than writing it up, but I think this might better represent the craziness of what happens in Shadowrun.)

Update: I've added a point buy character based on cyberware and started tracking the reward. I am having her spend for 2 months of Low Lifestyle and 1,000 nuyen in resupply each run. That's a total of 5,000 off the run rewards which were calculated based on the random run described and the random results rolled. I considered filling in details on each as I did in other theoreticals, but considering this page is tracking three different characters decided not to.


Advancement 


Run 1 - Meet in a matrix host, hired by a government agency, protection of an object in a rural location, this becomes complicated when the target is being moved. Highest Opposing Pool: 13, All Objectives, Standard Run. Karma 6, Reward: 12,000 nuyen

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (2/16), Initiation (2/13), Buy Off Bad Rep (2/14)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (3/28), Initiation (2/13), Archery 6 (1/12)
Point Buy - Buy Off Bad Rep (3/14), Strength 5 (3/25), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, 7,000 saved

Run 2 - Meet in an underused location, hired by a secret society, a delivery, a magical object, this becomes complicated when the target is not what it appears to be (group was lied to). Highest Opposing Pool: 19, Some Objectives, Good Feelings. Karma 8, Reward: 5,000 nuyen (upfront payment, they did not complete what was exactly desired)

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (3/16), Initiation (4/13), Buy Off Bad Rep (3/14), Qi Focus Force 2 (Killing Hands)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (3/28), Initiation (4/13), Archery 6 (3/12), Qi Focus Force 2 (Killing Hands)
Point Buy - Buy Off Bad Rep (8/14), Strength 5 (6/25), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, 7,000 saved 

Run 3 - Meet in a matrix host, hired by a magical group, a protection for a bio-engineered lifeform, this is complicated when opposition is higher than expected. Highest Opposing Pool: 11, Some objectives, Standard Run. Karma 4, Reward: 9,000 nuyen

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (3/16), Initiation (8/13), Buy Off Bad Rep (3/14), Qi Focus Force 2 (Killing Hands)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (3/28), Initiation (6/13), Archery 6 (5/12), Qi Focus Force 2 (Killing Hands)
Point Buy - Buy Off Bad Rep (8/14), Strength 5 (10/25), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, 11,000 saved 

Run 4 - Meet in astral space, hired by a megacorporation, perform a misdirection regarding cutting edge technology research, this is complicated when the job requires a rare piece of equipment to be moved in. Highest Opposing Pool: 16, All Objectives, Good Feelings. Karma 8, Reward: 12,000 nuyen

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (3/16), Initiation (8/13), Buy Off Bad Rep (3/14), Qi Focus Force 4 (Light Body 4)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (3/28), Initiation (6/13), Archery 6 (5/12), Qi Focus Force 4 (Mystic Armor 2)
Point Buy - Buy Off Bad Rep, Strength 5 (12/25), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, 18,000 saved 

Run 5 - Meet in a bar/club/restaurant, hired by a minor corporation, assassination/demolition of a bioengineered lifeform, this is complicated when security is unexpectedly high. Highest Opposing Pool: 14, Some objectives, Cold-Hearted Bastard. Karma 3, Reward: 17,250 nuyen

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (3/16), Initiation (11/13), Buy Off Bad Rep (3/14)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (3/28), Initiation (9/13), Archery 6 (5/12)
Point Buy - Strength 5 (15/25), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, 29,250 saved 

Run 6 - Meet in a bar/club/restaurant, hired by a minor corporation, protect a key employee, this is complicated when their employer double-crosses them. Highest Opposing Pool: 11, Some objectives, Good Feelings. Karma 6, Reward: 2,000 nuyen (upfront payment only)

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (3/16), Initiation Grade 1, Buy Off Bad Rep (3/14), Qi Focus Force 2 (Combat Sense 1)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (3/28), Initiation Grade 1, Archery 6 (5/12), Qi Focus Force 1 (Light Body 1)
Point Buy - Strength 5 (21/25), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, 26,250 saved 

Run 7 - Meet in an urban hell-hole, hired by a minor corporation, extraction/insertion of a prototype project, this is complicated when a third party (political or activist group) is also interested. Highest Opposing Pool: 8, Some objectives, Cold-Hearted Bastard. Karma 2, Reward: 13,200 nuyen

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (3/16), Buy Off Bad Rep (5/14)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (3/28), Archery 6 (5/12), Magic 7 (2/35)
Point Buy - Strength 5 (23/25), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, 34,450 saved 

Run 8 - Meet in an underused location, hired by an exotic or mysterious being (dragon/free spirit/AI), to protect a magical object, this becomes complicated when the opposition is surprisingly high. Highest Opposing Pool: 16, All Objectives, Good Feelings. Karma 8, Reward: 20,400

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (3/16), Buy Off Bad Rep (5/14), Magic 7 (4/35), Qi Focus Force 2 (Mystic Armor 1)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (3/28), Archery 6 (5/12), Magic 7 (2/35), Qi Focus Force 4 (Improved Reflexes 3)
Point Buy - Strength 5, Archery 8 (6/16), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Rating 9 Bow, 40 Rating-9 Arrows, Supplies, 48,230 saved 

Run 9 - Meet in an underused location, hired by a criminal organization, to extract/insert a magical object, this becomes complicated when security is surprisingly high. Highest Opposing Pool: 8, Some Objectives, Standard Run. Karma 4, Reward: 9,000

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (3/16), Buy Off Bad Rep (9/14), Magic 7 (4/35)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (7/28), Archery 6 (5/12), Magic 7 (2/35)
Point Buy - Archery 8 (10/16), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, 52,230 saved 

Run 10 - Meet in an underused location, hired by a magical group, extraction/insertion of cutting edge research, this becomes complicated when the employer double-crosses them. Highest Opposing Pool: 17, All objectives, standard run. Karma 6, Reward: 18,000 nuyen (because All Objectives was rolled)

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (3/16), Buy Off Bad Rep, Magic 7 (5/35)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (7/28), Archery 6 (11/12), Magic 7 (2/35)
Point Buy - Archery 8, 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, Upgrade to Betaware Wired Reflexes 1, 6,730 saved  

Run 11 - Meet in an underused location, hired by a minor corporation, steal data from a key employee in the company, this becomes complicated when a third party becomes interested. Highest Opposing Pool: 9, All objectives, standard run. Karma 5, Reward: 6,000 nuyen

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (3/16), Magic 7 (5/35), Qi Focus Force 2 (Danger Sense 2)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (11/28), Archery 6, Magic 7 (2/35)
Point Buy - Reaction 5 (5/25), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, 7,730 saved   

Run 12 - Meet in astral space, hired by a minor corporation, deliver a prototype project, this becomes complicated when the handover site has to be moved. Highest Opposing Pool: 10, No objectives, Cold-Hearted Bastard. Karma 1. Reward: 1,000 (upfront only)

Priority Chart -  Archery 8 (0/16), Magic 7 (5/35), Qi Focus Force 2 (Improved Ability Archery 1)
Life Module - Buy Off Uncouth (2/28), Magic 7 (1/35), Qi Focus Force 4 (Improved Ability Archery 2), Qi Focus Force 2 (Combat Sense 1)
Point Buy - Reaction 5 (6/25), 2 Months Low Lifestyle, Supplies, 3,730 saved  

Gorgon Archer - Priority System

Metatype: Human SURGE, Karma: 5 Unspent / 56 Spent / 61 Total
Attributes:
Body: 3 
Agility: 5/6 (Improved Agility)
Reaction: 6/8 (Improved Reflexes)
Strength: 4
Willpower: 4
Logic: 3
Intuition: 5
Charisma:  2
Edge: 4
Magic: 6 
Essence: 6
Initiation Grade: 1
Initiative: 13+3d6 (Improved Reflexes)
Physical Limit: 6/7 (Improved Potential)
Mental Limit: 5
Social Limit: 5

Physical Boxes: 10
Stun Boxes: 10
Magic: Adept
Adept Powers (6 pts): Improved Reflexes 2 (2.5), Enhanced Accuracy: Archery (0.25), Combat Sense 3 (1 + Focus), Improved Potential: Physical (1), Improved Physical Attribute: Agility 1 (1), Danger Sense 3 (0.25 + Focus), Improved Ability: Archery 2 (Mentor Bonus + Focus), Danger Sense 2 (Focus), Killing Hands (Focus), Light Body 4 (Focus), Mystic Armor 1 (Focus)

Initiation Metamagic: Adept Centering

Positive Qualities: SURGE Class III, Mentor Spirit: Wise Warrior, Aptitude: Archery
Negative Qualities: Insomnia (10), Social Stress: Crowds (8)
SURGE Positive Qualities: Fangs (4), Natural Venom: Moderate, Injected (5), Low-Light Vision (4)
SURGE Negative Qualities: Unusual Hair (3), Scales (5), Critter Spook (5)
Qi Focus Tattoos: 6/6 Max, 14/30 Max Force
Force 2: Killing Hands
Force 4: Light Body 4
Force 2: Combat Sense 1
Force 2: Mystic Armor 1
Force 2: Danger Sense 2
Force 2: Improved Ability: Archery 1
Skills:
Arcana 2
Archery: 7/9 (Improved Ability, Aptitude)
Intimidation: 3

Athletics Skill Group
Gymnastics 5
Running 4

Close Combat Skill Group
Unarmed 3

Influence Skill Group
Negotiation 1

Outdoor Skill Group
Navigation 2
Survival 2
Tracking 2

Stealth Skill Group
Palming 2
Sneaking 5

Knowledge Skills:
Magical Theory 3
20th Century Action Movies 2

Languages:
Greek N
English 5
Japanese 4
Dakota 4

Gorgon Archer - Life Modules


Metatype: Human SURGE, Karma: 3 Unspent / 58 Spent / 61 Total

Body: 2
Agility: 6/7 (Improved Attribute)
Reaction: 4/7 (Improved Reflexes)
Strength: 5
Willpower: 3
Logic: 2
Intuition: 4
Charisma: 3
Edge: 2
Magic: 6
Essence: 6
Initiation Grade 1

Initiative: 11+4d6 

Physical Limit: 6/7 (Improved Potential)
Mental Limit: 4
Social Limit: 5
Physical Boxes: 9
Stun Boxes: 10
Magic: Adept
Adept Powers (6 pts): Improved Reflexes 3 (2.5 + Focus), Enhanced Accuracy: Archery (0.25), Combat Sense 3 (1 + Focus), Improved Potential: Physical (1), Improved Physical Attribute: Agility 1 (1), Danger Sense 1 (0.25), Improved Ability: Archery 3 (Mentor Bonus + Focus), Killing Hands (Focus), Light Body 1 (Focus), Mystic Armor 2 (Focus), Astral Perception (Initiation Power Point)

Initiation Metamagic: Power Point (Astral Perception)

Positive Qualities: Military Rank: Lieutenant (20), Mentor Spirit: Wise Warrior (5), SURGE Class III
Negative Qualities: Uncouth (14), Corporate Limited SIN (15)

SURGE Positive Qualities: Fangs (4), Natural Venom: Moderate, Injected (5), Low-Light Vision (4)
SURGE Negative Qualities: Unusual Hair (3), Scales (5), Critter Spook (5)
Qi Focus Tattoos: 6/6 Max, 15/30 Max Force
Force 2: Killing Hands
Force 2: Mystic Armor 2
Force 1: Light Body 1
Force 4: Improved Reflexes 1
Force 4: Improved Ability: Archery 2
Force 2: Combat Sense 1

Skills
Arcana 2
Archery 6/9 (Improved Ability)
Armorer 1
Computer 2
Demolitions 1
Free-Fall 1

Perception 2
Pilot Watercraft 1
Pilot Ground-Craft 1

Athletics Skill Group
Swimming 1

Biotech Skill Group
Cybertechnology 4
First Aid 6
Medicine 4

Close Combat Skill Group
Blades 3
Clubs 2
Unarmed Combat 5

Firearms Skill Group
Automatics 3
Longarms 3
Pistols 3

Influence Skill Group
Etiquette 1
Leadership 1
Negotiation 1

Outdoor Skill Group
Navigation 2
Survival 1

Stealth Skill Group
Disguise 1
Palming 1
Sneaking 2

Knowledge Skills
Academic Knowledge: Foci Construction 4
Academic Knowledge: History 1
Academic Knowledge: Magical History 4
Academic Knowledge: Magical Theory 5
Academic Knowledge: Medicine 6
Academic/Interest Knowledge: Military History 4
Academic Knowledge: Parazoology 4
Professional Knowledge: Peacekeepers 8
Professional Knowledge: Military 6
Street Knowledge: Tir Tairngire 1

Languages
Sperethiel (N)
English 4

Gorgon Archer - Point-Buy Street-Samurai Version


Metatype: Human SURGE, Karma 5 Unspent / 56 Spent / 61 Total
Body 3/7
Agility 6/10
Reaction 4/5
Strength 5/9
Willpower 3
Logic 2
Intuition 5
Charisma 2
Edge: 4
Essence: 0.3 (+0.6 Tolerance for augmentation due to cyberware upgrade)
Initiative: 10 + 2d6
Physical Limit: 10
Mental Limit: 4
Social Limit: 3
Physical Boxes: 12
Stun Boxes: 10
Positive Qualities: Aptitude (14), Toughness (9 ), Military Rank: Corporal (20)
Negative Qualities: Insomnia (10), Social Stress: Crowds (8) 
 
SURGE Positive Qualities: Fangs (4), Natural Venom: Moderate, Injected (5), Basic Camouflage (4)
SURGE Negative Qualities: Unusual Hair (3), Scales (5), Critter Spook (5)
Skills: 
Archery 8
Athletics Skill Group 4 
Gymnastics - 4
Running - 4
Swimming - 4
Close Combat Skill Group 3
Blades - 3
Clubs - 3
Unarmed - 3
Influence Skill Group 2
Etiquette - 2
Leadership - 2
Negotiation - 2
Stealth Skill Group 4
Disguise - 4
Palming - 4
Sneaking - 4
Knowledge Skill
Street Knowledge: Seattle 4
Professional Knowledge: Military 4
Professional Knowledge: Shadowrunner 2
Interest Knowledge: Competitive Archery 3
Academic Knowledge: Cyberware 1
Academic Knowledge: Law 1
Languages
Greek (N)
English 4
Japanese 4
Russian 5 
 
Contact: Fixer - Loyalty 3, Connection 3

Cyberware/Bioware
Muscle Augmentation Rating 4 - Strength +4 - Essence 0.8
Bone Density Augmentation Rating 4 - Body +4, Unarmed 12P - Essence 1.2
Wired Reflexes 1 - Reaction +1, Initiative +2d6 - Essence 1.4
Muscle Toner 4 - Agility +4 - Essence 0.8
Orthoskin 2 - Armor Rating +2 - Essence 0.5
Cybereyes Rating 3 - Capacity 8/12, Essence 0.4
Vision Magnification  - Capacity 2
Vision Enhancement: 3 - Capacity 3
Flare Compensation - Capacity 1
Low Light Vision - Capacity 2
Gear
Bow Rating 9 - Accuracy 6, Damage 11P, AP -2
40 Rating 9 Arrows
Armor Jacket - Armor Rating 12 
Gold DocWagon Contract - 1 Year (25,000)
Assorted Gear (15,000) 
Lifestyle - Low - 14 Months
 Nuyen - 4,350

Further Notes 


I could have advanced both of these characters a lot further, but decided to have both characters invest heavily in magical tattoos. They are both sitting at their maximum number of tattoos right now and close to half their maximum force. This is a rather quick and easy route to enhanced ability for adepts and sort of works like being the magical equivalent to cyberware. Now that they are at their maximum in terms of abilities, the only way they could improve on that is if they first improve Magic to 7, which is possible since they have Initiative Grade 1 or to work at removing and replacing one of their weaker tattoos.

That said, while Qi Tattoos allow adepts to match up with street samurai, it does so at a cost of karma and also removes one of the primary advantages adepts have over samurai, namely that it makes them just as obvious as a street samurai. That said, both variations of this same character are already weird on sight, since gorgons are likely very rare. As such she likely already didn't get much benefit from subtlety.

I ended up buying off the Bad Rep quality from the Priority Chart version and was very sorely tempted to do that for Uncouth as well. Uncouth is a horrible quality to have. It forces you to make tests when other people wouldn't have to, has you make tests to resist acting rudely at a negative, doubles the cost of improving social skills, and a few other horrible things. That would have been the single largest purchase of the Life Module character. Being bad at social graces can very quickly get you very dead in Shadowrun, so I may very well have ended up getting rid of that before anything else depending on how well I could stay out of the party Face's way. The above advancement assumes that I could stay well out of the room during negotiations.

The Life Modules character creation provides a broader capability and makes it harder to specialize, but it seems to result in overall more effective characters. Barring the Uncouth Negative Quality, the Life Modules character is much more capable of social interaction than the other. For that matter, the Life Modules character is also a credible medic, which was not something I initially thought about when designing the character. I do wish there were more modules for places around the world, when I created my oni shintoist for a game a while back I had craft a Japan nationality with my GM, for example.

One curious thing is that the game rewards you for doing things that make you feel good and uplifted and taking on missions that seem righteous while punishing you for acting like a cold-hearted mercenary. This in some ways is why I think the various editions eventually drifted away from punk and into noir because the adventures and stories would have been written to take advantage of or represent that facet of the mechanics. As such, doing "the right thing" despite grimy surroundings would have become more and more the standard mode, thus leading into noir.

That said, if your good feelings result in the mission failing or being only partially successful then you do get a reduced Karma reward for that run. This will usually be a smaller loss than you would get from the Cold-Hearted Bastard penalty and it is failing to earn a bonus rather than suffering a penalty, which does make a definite psychological difference.

The lethality of the game encourages you to prioritize improving yourself quickly and as much as possibe. Since cyberware or bioware are counterproductive for an adept, I went for the Qi Foci. It makes me think I should have done one of these as a street-samurai instead of an adept. Though that would mean tracking monetary rewards as well as karma. A street-samurai of either the bio-ware or cyberware variety would be improving their body via their money and using karma to improving other things while the adept has to spend karma on their gear.

Another thing to note is that Contacts can be bought with Karma but the GM might also just reward them to a player, so either of these characters might have some by now even though I didn't focus on that. I might also have spent Karma on Contacts when I meet an NPC I particularly like in a campaign. Also, while non-magical Gear is not the most important thing for an Adept, it is likely that she would have improved her gear by the 12th run. It's unlikely that she got a much better bow unless there are other archery options in other books, but she might have gotten a suit of armor with increased options.

Update: Having updated and looking into tracking the monetary rewards as well, I have discovered that the game's reward mechanic is such that you will get higher monetary reward from the missions that are more morally questionable, the Cold-Hearted Bastard missions, and reduced monetary reward from the missions that are more likely of the "Do the right thing" variety, the Good Feelings missions. This alters my earlier thoughts substantially as maintaining equipment, gear, and lifestyle is a substantial concern in Shadowrun and thus making the need to take high reward potentially bloody missions all that much more important. This system would quite definitely be able to handle constant struggle of doing the right thing versus fulfilling the demands of survival.

That said, I ended up only improving three things on the samurai version. She bought off Bad-Rep and she improved both her Archery and her Strength. Improving the Strength let her upgrade to a higher rated bow with better damage. Upgrading the Wired Reflexes didn't directly improve her capabilities but did open up capability to add more cyberware later. Note that She didn't actually recover Essence when the Wired Reflexes were upgraded. For most situations she still counts as 0.3 Essence, but for the purpose of accepting more cyberware or bioware, she is considered to have 0.9 Essence. This isn't much space and there isn't much room for replacement because most of her augmentations are bioware and are already rather low on essence cost. She went mostly for genetic mods and biological splices rather than cyberware. However, if she gets enough money she might be able to get a Deltaware Wired Reflexes 2 which would be a cost of 1.5 essence, bringing her down to 0.2 but give her another 1d6 and another +1 Reaction.

Character Creation and the Gorgon Archer

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