We will be using the Shadowrun 4th Edition rules, specifically the 20th Anniversary Edition (errata to older versions of SR4 are available at http://shadowrun4.com/resources/sr4a/sr4a_changes.pdf) and all the various supplements (Arsenal, Augmentation, Street Magic, Runner’s Companion, Unwired). Each player should answer the 20 Questions for their character, and will receive 5 Karma for thoughtful and complete answers. In particular, I’m keen that characters have the various “hooks” provided by a social life – friends, family, confidantes, cellmates, romantic relationships, old school friends, that sort of thing. They do represent vulnerabilities and extra factors to consider and juggle, but they’re also where a lot of potential story and challenge could come from. Do you keep your job a secret from them, or do they think you’re in sales and travel a lot for work? Or are they the street gang you used to run with? Each character will have had to pass a strict background check before Aegis Cognito employed them, so please consider that when planning who to play.
Characters should be created using 1,060 Karma using the Karma-gen rules from the Runner’s Companion. However, each character starts with the following skills at rating 2 for free:
• Data Search
• One of Blades, Clubs, Pistols, Thrown Weapons, and Unarmed Combat
If you want to take a skill group containing one or more of the skills above, then you can “trade in” the free skills for Karma to spend on the relevant skill group. Naturally, such skill groups must be at least level 2 and can be no higher than level 4, per the normal rules.
Note that you will generally be provided with gear and clean IDs for each new job, based on your requisitions and so you needn’t worry about basic things unless you especially want to – perhaps as part of an IC back-up plan! You can buy gear up to Availability 20 (30 with Restricted Gear). Likewise, Aegis Cognito will provide a High Lifestyle in any one city where they have an office for each character. You don’t all have to live in the same city!
Everyone starts with the 5-point version of the SINner Negative Quality, a 15-point Day Job Negative Quality, and the Records On File Negative Quality. This does not count against the maximum of number of Negative Qualities you can take. You may not choose the SINner flaw again.
Although they shouldn’t be seen as a strait-jacket, I would draw your attention to the eight team roles from Runner’s Companion and suggest that you design your character to fill no more than two of them. We will talk in more detail about this when we do character generation, but the idea is for people not to step on one another’s toes so that everyone gets the chance to shine. The roles are:
• Close Quarters Combat: physical engagement with the enemy
• Fire Support: taking down enemies at range and suppressing opposition
• Infiltration: entering areas physically without raising suspicion
• Investigation: gathering relevant information pertinent to the job in hand
• Magical Support: keeping the team safe from magical threats, and gathering astral intelligence
• Matrix Support: primary defence against online threats, plus hacking and Matrix-based intelligence gathering
• Negotiation: handling most contact with people outside the team
• Transportation: planning, co-ordinating and enabling movement from point-to-point for the entire team
There are basically three approaches that can be taken to each of these team roles – the physical, the magical, and the technological. For example, a physical approach to Fire Support might be a sniper on a rooftop or a troll with a machine gun. The magical approach might make liberal use of combat spells and spirit powers. The technological approach might be to set up sentry guns and use drone and vehicle weapons to get total coverage. While certain roles lend themselves more obviously to one approach or another, there is no reason why any role couldn’t be done by taking any approach (or mix of approaches). Note that you don’t need to cover all eight if you don’t want to. As long as both people involved are OK with it, doubling up on a particular role would be fine, although it would bring with it some difficulties. Likewise, if someone wants to only cover one area as a specialist, that’s grand.
There are also some secondary roles that can be taken on in addition to those above:
• Demolitions – blowing shit up
• Leader or Tactical Co-ordinator – command & control in the field
• Logistics – keep everyone stocked up on the latest gear and consumables
• Medic – keep the team healthy and alive
It might be worth each of you considering taking on one of these too.
My initial feeling is that the team needs to be able to cover the physical world, the astral plane and the Matrix. However, it’s often not very much fun to be the person who stays in the van while the others go off and do things, so it would be best if everyone was at least a little combat-capable with at least two Initiative Passes in a combat situation.
I’m perfectly happy for you to ignore the Investigation, Transport and Logistics roles if you like, as your handler can deal with all those things if needed. Likewise, Matrix Support would be the easiest thing for you to ditch after that.