Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Shadowrun – 100 Characters Archetypes

Wow…I found some old Shadowrun files I saved back in those first heady days of acquiring the 3rd edition rules, and they included a page simply marked “100.” Wow…I told you I used to go crazy with the character creation system: the 100 file is one hundred different Shadowrun archetypes, all statted up with no place to go (including 25 magical and 75 mundane). I won’t bother posting all the stats, but the list of archetypes might be enough for some people to get ideas for their own SR campaigns.

[the list includes all archetypes from the 3rd edition book as well as some from earlier editions that I adapted to 3rd edition rules]


Dwarf: Arms Dealer, Biker Brawler, Black Ops Borg, Bounty Hunter, Drone Rigger, Ex-Cop, Freelance Snoop, Knife Fighter, Metahuman Activist, Rugged Spelunker, Security Expert, Sharp Shooter, Street Samurai, Tech Wiz, Vehicle Rigger

Elf: Combat Pilot, Covert Ops Specialist, Data Thief, Eco-Terrorist, Ex-Paladin, Face, Fence, Former Courtier, Go-Ganger, Hitman, Medic, Occult Investigator, Street Samurai, Sword Borg, Wealthy Play-Elf

Norm: Corporate Ninja, Cyber-Slinger, Cyber-SWAT Commando, Fixer, Gang Leader, Gumshoe, Media, Negotiator, Newbie Deck-Head, Organic Samurai, Street Samurai, Transporter, Tribal Tracker, Veteran Borg, Weapons Specialist

Orc: Anti-Borg Specialist, Bodyguard, Borg Merc, Combat Decker, Cyber-Troll, Gang Dealer, Investigator, Jack-O-Chips, Man Hunter, Media Tech, Mobile Weapons Operator, Sea Dog Smuggler, Street Samurai, Tribal Warrior, Vigilante

Troll: Celebrity Action Hero, Club Owner, Combat Medic, Cyber-Tank, Expensive Security, Extraction Specialist, Green Activist, Hit-Troll, Mercenary, Sprawl Ganger, Street Samurai, Thug Enforcer, Undercover Narc, Wandering Nomad, Zoology Expert


Dwarf: Geomancer (aspect), Huckster, Sensei (adept), Tribal Shaman, Venerable Sage

Elf: Conjurer-for-Hire (aspect), Gunslinger (adept), Hit Mage, Mage Bodyguard, Street Mage

Norm: Adept (adept), Former Wage-Mage, Mage Detective, Pro Shaman, Street Sorcerer (aspect)

Orc: Gifted Ninja (adept), Hermetic Scholar, Monster Hunter (adept), Street Shaman, Tribal Totemist (aspect)

Troll: Brickhouse (adept), Combat Mage, Mystic Hermit, Sewer Shaman (aspect), Sword Adept (adept)

Personally, I dig on the SR archetypes found throughout the editions…remember how I mentioned my first Shadowrun character was an Elven Decker from the 1st edition? One thing about Shadowrun…it’s complex character creation system can almost be forgiven thanks to its archetype approach to chargen.

Almost be forgiven? What are you talking about JB?” Here’s the thing…if you have a game that includes a heavy dose of “fast and furious combat” than character death is probably going to be part of the package. Well, unless you’ve got a GM who’s into fudging for you and simply providing an imaginary shooting gallery.

An important consideration for any game in which character death is left on the table is the ease and speed with which players can generate replacements…and Shadowrun’s chargen system is notoriously fiddly including not just point distribution but also equipment shopping and resource management (cyberware Essence loss in addition to Nuyen costs) and magic/spell selection. Hoo-boy…can it get fiddly!

However, with archetypes (i.e. pre-made character templates), it’s easy enough to select a new one that fits your favorite concept and “head out on the highway.” At least, it WAS easy enough (the 1st edition templates include pre-selected weapons and gear…3rd edition only shops for your cyber implants). Part of my 100 list was providing enough variety to satisfy many interests…I also provided conversion matrices for characters that want, say, an elvish Arms Dealer or an orcish Corporate Ninja (whatever floats your boat, ya’ know?).

In considering a B/X conversion of Shadowrun (i.e. the cyberpunk equivalent of “the original adult fantasy role-playing game”), the sheer variety of characters makes B/X seem like a not-so-great choice of system. After all, a major component of B/X is its limited “class system” (i.e. the classification of adventurers). SR’s priority system allows for a number of unique character combinations, and is something I’d want to keep intact for any “streamlining effort.”

Of course, I have to get rid of the skills…can’t stand those things.
; )


  1. What's wrong with SR skills? Unless they changed them since 1e, or you hate them on principle...

  2. @ C'nor: Yeah, this is just a long-running gripe I have regarding skill systems in RPGs. I've edited the post to include a pertinent link, though it's a subject I've discussed many times over the last couple years.

  3. Now I never played the first edition, only second and third, but I must say that we never found character generation fiddly. In comparison to Basic D&D, Call of Cthulhu, or Fighting Fantasy, yes, but I'd still take it over D&D4 or Pathfinder.

  4. @ Kelvin:'s not PARTICULARLY fiddly, perhaps (and 3rd edition Shadowrun isn't anymore fiddly than 1st, really), but it can take a bit to create a new character unless you're starting with a base archetype. And that slow speed of charactergen ain't especially good in a game where characters can get waxed with a power bolt or burst of automatic-fire fairly readily. It cuts into the "re-play" time.

  5. Any chance you feel like sharing your Elf Gunslinger adept character sheet?

  6. I am very much interested in these archetypes. Any chance you can take time out of your busy schedule and share them with me? Please and thank you! :)