As I mentioned in the initial post, chargen rules are going to be different because you are Wildcats. There will not be a cap on the number of skills you can have at chargen. Quite the opposite; see below.
I don't have much time to post now - rednblack, I'll get to your drone questions later - so here are the guidelines I came up with a month ago when this was first under discussion. We'll use these as a starting point and then tweak as the characters roll off the presses. Here are the steps from the book and what you should do for each.
1. Create a Character Theme (Character Name) - You've already started on themes.
2. Choose Game Level - Prime
3. Choose Metatype - Any of the core races
4. Decide if your character is Awakened or Emerged - Any
5. Assign Attribute Points - Any, but be wary of dumpstats
6. Assign Skill Points - Due to your rigorous training, you are understood to have ALL ACTIVE SKILLS at a base rating of 2. Exceptions include the Awakened and Emerged skills. Yes, that's still 20 skills that you know. Of course you may add your 14 skill points to the base rating of 2 as you see fit. Would an actual Wildcat be even more awesome than this? Probably, but we need to leave some room for improvement via karma.
6a. Knowledge Skills - You are understood to know things relevant to military training and tactics, including Plains Indian sign language, so pick something else.
7. Add Shadow Amps - Letís start with the base 14 and see what the characters look like, with the understanding that karma will help develop some of the amps as we play. See below for house rules.
8. Add Qualities - SINner (Sioux Nation) is your default Negative Quality. If you wish to take another negative quality for story/character purposes - one that wouldn't preclude you from service - you may pick a third positive quality too to compensate.
9. Assign Armor - Everyone gets full body armor (12) with Insulation (because it will be winter) without paying a skill point for it. If you want to upgrade the armor (e.g. chameleon coating) you have to shadow amp it.
10. Select Weapons - The base 3 weapons (any), but you must be able to carry them all on your person simultaneously. You will have a chance to change this later as you learn about the op and decide how you want to kit out for it.
11. Select Gear - You are understood to be carrying the basics, like a tactical communication system, glasses or goggles if you don't have cybereyes, multitool, etc. Pick other things.
12. Create Cues - as usual
13. Create Character Background - as usual
14. Final Tweaking - as usual
Other notes: we don't really need a face in the sense of the Negotiation and Con skills. I'm not saying those skills won't get used, but we don't need a character dedicated to them.
Three players is enough, especially with the skill boosts listed above. We can accommodate a fourth if one shows up. I will not be NPCing anyone. If you drop, you die. More on this later.
Knowing the above, you are free to tweak your concepts. A fire support gunbunny, a mysad/medic, and a rigger/decker would cover all bases. That said, the fire support could just as easily be from magic as bullets, which could then free up the medic to be a pure physad if that's what MDMann prefers.
1) Assault Rifles are -2 at Near ranges. This is to provide a use-case for SMGs and machine pistols.
2) An individual piece of bioware and cyberware will never cost more than its base Essence, even if you upgrade it. Cyberarms will never cost more than 1 Essence, for example, no matter what their shadow amp level is. This is to provide mundane characters an equal opportunity to advance as Awakekend characters without being limited by Essence.
3) Others as I think of them, or as the group raises questions.
From a balance perspective, my primary concern is summoning. Per usual, spirits are ungodly powerful. We'll either come to a gentleman's agreement about them or we will figure out some way to implement them where your standard spirit isn't a Prime Runner straight out of the astral. Don't even get me started on Greater Spirits.
There will be semi-regular karma awards that will be meaningful. They will allow you to upgrade your character. The upgrades do not need to make sense in the continuity of the game. Your shadow amps will magically upgrade themselves. This is a pleasant fiction that's more fun than the alternative.
Important note: the target of the Wildcat op is an armed forces base in the UCAS. I'd like to explicitly confirm that everyone is comfortable shooting up fake future soldiers. Jayde, I'm looking at you. Lethality is not required, nor even necessarily desirable. The goal will be to destroy a radar installation. No loss of life is necessary, but sometimes they don't soak as well as you shoot.