Shadowrun

Shadowrun Play => Character creation and critique => Topic started by: emsquared on (19:54:22/03-06-13)

Title: [SR4a] BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (19:54:22/03-06-13)
So, here in the Character Critique forum, if you hang out or browse around for any amount of time, you will see some of the same advice over and over and over again - at least from the set of people who find the mathematics of BP-Chargen (Build Point-based Character Generation) important or interesting or just a down-right unfortunate annoyance. Some people say this (the math) shouldn't be important, I agree, it shouldn't be but - once you start looking at what can be lost/gained – well, if you're interested in getting the most efficient ability (i.e. dice-pools, i.e. NUMBARZZ!!), and yes therefore diversity down the road, out of your time playing a character, it simply is important. To do so you don’t have to compromise your story or your RP, you just have to be aware of and willing to play the game the devs created with this process.

Of course, the GM should scale the campaign to the players, of course you need to have a coherent if not meaningful story for your PC, but let’s face it, having a Chargen process that is disconnected from the advancement process is just silly, either that or it is purposefully geared towards players having certain types of builds (i.e. optimal builds, “all-in” specialists, min-maxing, whatever you want to call it), and begs for this sort of expose’. This thread is meant to inform, not debate (unless it's math that is being debated) accordingly...

A few notes:

1.) This thread is NOT to be used to debate opinions on how a character should be created (story first, then build; build first, then story; etc. etc.) or the merits of either methodology.
2.) This thread is NOT to be used to debate definitions or merits of terms such as power-gaming, optimizing, min-maxing, etc. etc.
3.) This thread is NOT to be used to debate the importance of the size of dice-pools, in relation to matching a concept, or any other subjective subject.
4.) This thread is NOT to be used for ANYTHING OTHER THAN exploring how the mathematics of Build Point Chargen relates to Post-Chargen progression.
5.) This guide assumes (as is widely accepted) that 1 BP = 2 Karma in the Character Generation process as well as post-Chargen, it also assumes that the most important reckoning is post-Chargen Karma efficiency; in other words the goal of this guide is to show you how to spend the least BP now to get the most post-Chargen Karma value.

Thank you.

P.S. I will not be touching Meta-Variants (nor their Qualities, sorry), HMHVV, Drakes, A.I.s or any of the other wacky options here.

Part 1: Attributes
So, no matter the step, increasing an attribute costs 10 BP. According to the standard conversion that's 20 Karma.

Attribute Rating:
2 = 20 Karma = -10 Post-Chargen Karma, as that could have been bought, Post-Chargen for 10 Karma.
3 = 20 Karma = -5 Karma
4 = 20 Karma = 0 Karma
5 = 20 Karma = +5 Karma
6 = 20 Karma = +10 Karma
7 = 20 Karma = +15 Karma
and so on...

Erego, you buy a rank of 2 in an attribute, you're spending 20 Karma for 10 Karma "worth of attribute" post-Chargen. Buy a rank 3, 20 : 15 Karma. Only at 4 are you actually breaking even, 20 : 20, but really you're still 15 Karma "in the hole" from the first two steps, so if you buy a 4 in a stat, if it can be managed you really should buy a 5 to at least gain ground on that Karma debt. And if you're a non-human metatype (or possess the Exceptional Attribute Quality), you should do whatever you can to buy up those higher steps of your naturally high attributes so you can fully break-even or even be gaining “free” post-Chargen Karma on that Attribute.

Let's break it down, Metatype by Metatype.

Human, costs no Karma, but you get 1 free EDG. It's essentially a natural +10 Karma Metatype as that’s all rank 2 EDG is worth post-Chargen Karma, but it can potentially be a +20 Karma Metatype, because spending that BP/Karma wisely during Chargen (on an elevated stat or Skill Group or Y) you can take advantage of that additional +10 Karma the BP is worth.

Dwarf, costs 50 Karma, you get Thermo vision, +1 BOD / WIL, and +2 STR, but -1 REA,  so it is a natural +10 Karma Metatype ( -50 +20 +20 +40 -20 = +10) as Thermo vision can cost as little as a small fraction of a Karma/BP in Gear (visual enhancements), I do not consider it a significant Karma boon. You can increase the benefit of the Dwarf Metatype by building a character that focuses on those three naturally high stats. For instance, a 5 BOD, 5 WIL and 5 STR dwarf is actually netting +5 "free" Karma on top of the base balance, even higher levels of one or all all of those stats net more free Karma, for instance a 5 BOD, 5 WIL, 7 STR dwarf is totaling +40 Post-Chargen Karma.

Elf, costs 60 Karma, you get Low-Light, +1 AGI, +2 CHA, again as Low-Light is also attainable for a fraction of a Karma/BP, I consider this a Net Zero Metatype (-60 +20 +40=0). But if you are building a character that is going to soft-max (or nearly so) AGI and CHA both at Chargen, you can net as much as +45 Karma.

Ork, costs 40 Karma, you get Thermo (null), +3 BOD(!), +2STR, -1 CHA, -1 LOG, for a natural +20 Karma Metatype (=-40 +60 +40 -20 -20). A 5 BOD, 5 STR Ork is already netting an additional 10 Karma, push that to a 7 BOD 7 STR and you're at +80(!) total.

Troll, costs 80(!) Karma, you get +4 BOD / STR, -1 to AGI / INT / LOG, -2 CHA, for an effective natural -10 Karma (by virtue of their BOD/STR min being both +5 Karma) Metatype. "Well, that's not fair, none of the others are negative!" you say. But once you realize that with a simple bump of 2 to BOD and STR, to put them both at 7, and you're at +60 Karma, then soft-maxing those two stats both a 9 put's you at +150(!!!) – that initial Negative Karma worth may not be such a big deal.

Hard-Capping
First so that we’re all on the same page, hard-capping means raising an Attribute to it’s unaugmented natural maximum via BP. To hard-cap an Attribute, you pay the normal 10BP/20 Karma, plus an additional 15 BP/30 Karma.

Second, let me say this is a very subjective element to Karma efficiency (and really this goes for the Karma Efficiency strategy in general). If you are playing in a campaign that you have reason to believe is going to be short-lived, then Hard-capping (and building around Karma efficiency) is completely different because you may want to achieve some character goals quicker than may be practical when following Karma efficient rules.

That said, right off the bat, we see the Karma efficiency isn’t there until you’re hitting a 10 with an Attribute, which isn’t ‘normally’ possible for any Metatype but Troll. And only an Orc could hit it with his BOD and the Exceptional Attribute Quality (of course then there’s the Karma spent on the Quality, but we’ll get into that - Qualities - a little later).

So:
Hard-cap at 6 = 50 Karma, for 30 Karma worth of Attribute, -20 Karma balance.
Hard-cap at 7 = 50 Karma, 35 Karma worth of Attribute, -15 Karma balance.
Hard-cap at 8 = 50 Karma, 40 Karma worth, -10 balance.
And so on, as you can see, hard-capping is usually the worst deal in Attributes.

Sometimes it is okay to hard-cap though, for instance a Troll isn’t going to lose (or, please note, gain – he’s just breaking even) anything from hard-capping his STR or BOD. Your occasional, bizzarro SURGE/Metagentic Improvement and/or Exceptional Attribute and/or Genetic Optimization characters may be able to “benefit” (which I put in quotes due to the Karma investment for those separate elements) from hard-capping their bizzarro Attribute. But in general, Technomancers are just about the only ‘legitimate’ build that needs a hard-cap, and it's for their RES, and thereby their Complex Forms. The reasons for which are as Umaro has kindly laid out as follows:

Complex Forms cost 1 Karma per point of new rating Post-Chargen, or 1 BP per rating (2 karma) at Chargen.

This is (a) why you always take CFs at max and (b) why you should hard-cap Resonance as a Technomancer and weigh carefully taking 'ware as a Technomancer.

1 = 2 karma = -1 post-chargen karma
2 = 2 karma = 0 post-chargen karma
3 = 2 karma = 1 post-chargen karma
4 = 2 karma = 2 post-chargen karma
5 = 2 karma = 3 post-chargen karma
6 = 2 karma = 4 post-chargen karma

Cumulatively, a Rating 6 CF is worth 9 post-chargen karma saved.

As you can see, the Karma savings scale very fast and you therefore really want all your CFs at 6.

It's also worth noting how this interacts with hard-capping Resonance.

Going from 5 to 6 resonance is 25 bp or 30 karma, so -20 post-chargen karma. However, each CF going from 5 to 6 is 4 post-chargen karma saved, so at 5 you break even and at 6 you come out ahead. Very few technomancers will want less than 5 CFs.

The main exception is technomancers who plan to exclusively focus on sprites, and Logic-stream technomancers for whom the 'ware investment is worth the cost.

The biggie (people seem to hard-cap it reflexively) is MAG. Why not hard-cap MAG? Karma loss is not just a loss, it’s a failure to do something else with it (and I'll tell you what to do with it a little later, hint: Foci). Since MAG is always hard-capped at 6, we’re always looking at a -20 balance. Post-gen that’s 4 spells, 10 specializations (i.e. 20 dice!), the raising of a rank 1 Skill straight to a 4 plus a specialization, or raising a 3 Attribute to 4, and so on. IMO, it’s never worth it to hard-cap MAG – not even for a Mystic Adept as you’ve already made the choice to lag in one aspect of your MAG or another, losing 20 Karma and what you could have bought with it doesn’t really gain any ground in that 1 extra die/PP.

Again, ultimately the choice to invest in hard-capping MAG is a choice that should be made on the level of RP choices, if it’s part of your story to be ready to Initiate right out of the gate, or if you know it’s only going to be an abbreviated campaign and you just want to get to Metamagic, then sure, hard-cap MAG – but it is not, by a Karma-based definition, ever “worth” it.

So, all that being said, you can see there is some Karma to be lost/gained in how you pick your stats. Think about how long it takes you to earn 150 Karma, or even 40, once you start Running? Personally, I think I've only had 1 or 2 characters that have lasted beyond 150 Karma. Unfortunately the math can be quite the matter.

When stats become "worth" the low level (2, 3, 4) investment is when you have ranks in many Skills (more than 2, ideally more than 3) linked to them, because at that point, you're buying multiple dice-pools with less Karma than investing in the Skills individually (for the record, skills are a horrible BP investment, in general - but we'll get to that - right now!).

Part 2: Skills
Oh, the ugly world of skills and BP Chargen. Steps of 4 BP, 8 Karma, across the board. Without the minutia, of Metatypes, skills are a lot more cut and dried as far as mathematical choices. Why do we often tell you to split your skills between rank 1s and rank 4s, in addition to the 1 rank 6?Let me tell you:

Buying rank 1 in a skill costs 8 Karma under BP-gen, it costs 4 Karma post chargen. Either way you're essentially adding 2 to your dice-pool - as you're no longer defaulting (ignoring un-defaultable skills). So really, buying 1 rank in a Skill is a great deal post-Chargen, but still a bad deal during Chargen. Why bad? Beacause it's still a higher Karma:Dice ratio than buying your 3rd rank post-chargen. This is why we may tell you to only take a 1 in a Skill if you really want/need to be able to do it right out of the gate. Let's look at the math:

The important thing to note here is comparing the BP-Chargen/Karma-to-dice Ratio to Post-Chargen/Karma-to-dice Ratio. The closer together the two ratios are, the better the deal for you.

At 1 ranks, you've spent 8 BP Karma, for 4 Post-Chargen Karma in 2 dice (-4 Karma). 4:1 vs 2:1
At 2 ranks, you've spent 16 BP Karma, for 8 Post-Chargen Karma in 3 dice (-8 Karma). 5.333:1 vs. 2.666:1
At 3 ranks, you've spent 24 BP Karma, for 14 Post-Chargen Karma in 4 dice (-10 Karma!). 6: 1 vs. 3.5:1
At 4 ranks, you've spent 32 BP Karma, for 24 Post-Chargen Karma in 5 dice (-8 Karma). 6.4:1 vs. 4.8:1
At 5 ranks, you've spent 40 BP Karma, for 34 Post-Chargen Karma in 6 dice (-6 Karma). 6.666:1 vs. 5.666:1
At 6 ranks, you've spent 48 BP Karma, for 46 Post-Chargen Karma in 7 dice (still -2 Karma!). 6.9:1 vs. 6.6:1

So, buying a skill up to 6, you are 38 Karma in the hole coming up that ladder, compared to if you had just bought the skill up to 6 after Chargen. The long and short of it is that skills are a bad deal at chargen, 2 and 3 ranks, especially so, but the trick is finding the best, bad deal (which is 6, but you can only have 1 of those, so it's 4) – and that’s what the difference between the two Karma-to-Dice ratios tell us. ;P

Why do we always tell you to max 1 skill at 6, and not 2 at 5?
Raising 2 rank 5 skills to 6 costs 24 Karma.
Raising 1 rank 4 skill to 6 costs 22 Karma - you net 2 Karma.

Why do we always tell you to not take Specializations at Chargen?
Specializations cost 4 Karma at Chargen, post Chargen a specialization costs 2 Karma. Simple as that, you "lose" 2 Karma every specialization you take at Chargen.

What about Skill Groups?!
We love those! However, not all Skill Groups are created equal – some have 3 constituents, some have 4 – some offer a lot of functional diversity within them, most don’t. Skill Groups are just about as nasty as single Skills in that you're never in the black with them, however if you will use each of the consituents in a Group, they are a (way) better deal than buying the Skills singularly.

Depending on the Group, if you’re taking a sum of 8 ranks or more in two or three of the constituents of a Group, you really should start looking at whether taking the Group is a good mechanics choice.

Let’s look at the Skill Groups. We’ll judge them on the basis on whether they have 3 or 4 constituent Skills.

3 Constituent Skill Groups:
1 ranks = 20 Karma, = 24 Chargen Karma if the Skills were taken individually, but only = 12 Karma worth of post-chargen Skills Individually.
2 ranks = 40 Karma, = 48 Chargen Karma, but = 24 Karma worth of post-chargen Skills.
3 ranks = 60 Karma, = 72 Chargen Karma, but = 42 Karma worth of post-chargen Skills.
4 ranks = 80 Karma, = 96 Chargen Karma, but = 66 Karma worth of post-chargen Skills.

What do we glean from this? The 3 Constituent Skill Groups are worth it within the scope of Chargen, but not (by a long shot) when compared to buying that same Group post-chargen. The lesson being don’t ever take more than 1 rank in a 3 Constituent Skill Group at Chargen, OR if you have to, take it at rank 4 to minimize your Karma-to-dice losses...

4 Constituent Skill Groups:
1 ranks = 20 Karma, = 32 Chargen Karma, but = 16 Karma worth of individual post-chargen Skills.
2 ranks = 40 Karma, = 64 Chargen Karma, but = 32 Karma post-chargen.
3 ranks = 60 Karma, = 96 Chargen Karma, but = 56 Karma post-chargen.
4 ranks = 80 Karma, = 128 Chargen Karma, but = 88 Karma post-chargen.

You can see here, that within Chargen, any 4 Constituent Skill Group is a steal, but post-chargen, you still don’t actually gain Karma from it until you take 4 ranks, at which point you’re still actually negative on the whole Skill Group progression, but still bar-none, this is the best deal in BP-Chargen Skill purchases.

What is the overall lesson with Skills? You should take as few Skill points at Chargen as is possible, because with the BP-Chargen system, they are always going to cost you more than they would down the road. i.e. always maximize your stats around minimal skills (skills are cheap post-chargen, stats can be expensive), also always get the maximum amount of Y that you can use to build on stats with, because buying Skills with BP-Chargen is a bad, no, horrible deal.

Parts 3, 4 and 5 Continued Below - starting at Reply #11
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: UmaroVI on (20:05:03/03-06-13)
I'm too short on time to follow up that magnum opus, but let me add a few points briefly:

1. Be careful about that point 5; you do not always want to focus on maximizing your post-chargen karma efficiency per se, because some things can only be bought with post-chargen karma: namely Magic/Resonance over 6 and Initiation/Submersion. Some characters may want to focus on having all their "must-haves" in place, karma efficient or not, so they can cut straight to the metamagic.

2. When to hardcap stats.

3. Complex Forms  and why you always get them at 6 at chargen.

4. Spells are pretty karma efficient at chargen.

5. Bonding foci at chargen.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Reiper on (20:06:18/03-06-13)
Thanks, I actually could have used this on my first chars.

Would love to see this stickied
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: I_V_Saur on (22:07:37/03-06-13)
Haven't found that one optional rule for Karma to Nuyen. Would be worth considering that as a base for post-gen advancement in terms of gear - when to go for broke and buy that damn Foci, when to mod out your Drone, and just how BP-effective is it to grab that quality so you can use higher availability gear.

Great stuff. Definitely bookmarking this, it'll come in handy. Thank you, sir.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Padawan on (22:12:04/03-06-13)
This is an awesome thread, thank you Emsquared! Definitely a bookmark worthy post (and I don't bookmark often), but would love to see it stickied for even easier access!
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Glyph on (22:23:19/03-06-13)
Metatype math needs to be looked at in light of the particular build you are doing, because lower Attribute maximums might not matter if you are keeping them as dump stats, low-light vision might not matter if you are getting cybereyes, and the potential Karma savings of starting out with a super-high Body and Strength for a troll might not matter if you are playing something like the street shaman archetype.

Other than that, you have the gist of their capabilities right.  Dwarves are a slight bit ahead, orks come out ahead even if you don't raise their boosted Attributes, and elves and trolls typically are only good if you take advantage of their boosted Attributes.  One thing to remember about humans is that they don't get any bonuses.  So they have less that they can put into Attributes.

One thing to add to the mix is augmentations, which can raise skills and Attributes.  Like build points, they give flat increases.  Generally, the higher the base Attribute or skill before modification, the more the modification is worth.  Muscle replacement (or augmentation/toner), cerebral boosters, most initiative enhancers (which raise Reaction), and reflex recorders are all best if you are boosting a soft-maxed stat into its augmented range.  On the other hand, a lot of other augmentations add dice pool bonuses, making them equally useful whether you have a high or a low skill or Attribute.  This makes them a better choice if the area in question is low.  In other words - if you have gymnastics of 6, you might want to get a reflex recorder for it.  If you have the athletics skill group at 1, you might want to get synthcardium (which gives a dice pool bonus) instead.

Adepts are trickier.  You have to balance the benefit you get, with what that point of Magic cost you.  Improved ability is useful, especially for non-combat skills, but initiative and Attribute increasing powers are more expensive, so they need more scrutiny.  From a pure mathematical standpoint, using bioware for those two functions is almost always better, even when you factor in the Magic loss.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Prodigy on (00:37:37/03-07-13)
Greatest thread yet. Continue the additions. Not a min-maxer, but this is an optimization Mecca. Nothing you have said makes this negative. Continue this to add optimization on character development (per class) or make it a new thread and you strike gold here.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (10:32:16/03-07-13)
I'm too short on time to follow up that magnum opus, but let me add a few points briefly:
Heh, I won't lie, I've been working on this in my spare time for a week or so.
1. Be careful about that point 5; you do not always want to focus on maximizing your post-chargen karma efficiency per se, because some things can only be bought with post-chargen karma: namely Magic/Resonance over 6 and Initiation/Submersion. Some characters may want to focus on having all their "must-haves" in place, karma efficient or not, so they can cut straight to the metamagic.
It's true, but had to posit that as the basic premise, because it really is.
2. When to hardcap stats.

3. Complex Forms  and why you always get them at 6 at chargen.

4. Spells are pretty karma efficient at chargen.

5. Bonding foci at chargen.
Honestly, I wish you and I could somehow co-author this thread Umaro. While you may not have taught me everything I've put up here, you did teach me MOST of it, and turned me on to the whole scam in general. Really, I just was going for the basics at first, I will add a "Special Exceptions" section or something, and sections for more specific concerns like hard-maxing. Someone else will have to author the Complex Forms bit - I've never even looked at a Technomancer. Good bits to add in though all around!
Metatype math needs to be looked at in light of the particular build you are doing, because lower Attribute maximums might not matter if you are keeping them as dump stats, low-light vision might not matter if you are getting cybereyes, and the potential Karma savings of starting out with a super-high Body and Strength for a troll might not matter if you are playing something like the street shaman archetype.
I've tried to address this with the "Natural" Karma balance of the Metatype. If you don't think this is an accurate representation, I'd be interested in your input on how to better do so.
One thing to add to the mix is augmentations, which can raise skills and Attributes.  Like build points, they give flat increases.  Generally, the higher the base Attribute or skill before modification, the more the modification is worth.  Muscle replacement (or augmentation/toner), cerebral boosters, most initiative enhancers (which raise Reaction), and reflex recorders are all best if you are boosting a soft-maxed stat into its augmented range.  On the other hand, a lot of other augmentations add dice pool bonuses, making them equally useful whether you have a high or a low skill or Attribute.  This makes them a better choice if the area in question is low.  In other words - if you have gymnastics of 6, you might want to get a reflex recorder for it.  If you have the athletics skill group at 1, you might want to get synthcardium (which gives a dice pool bonus) instead.
Yeah, I intended to go into this in the future, but tried to address it in my closing paragraph about minimizing skill purchases, maximizing pool increases through everything else (Attributes, Gear/'Ware, this would also include Spells). Will definitely address this, and some 'ware specifically in the future.
Adepts are trickier.  You have to balance the benefit you get, with what that point of Magic cost you.  Improved ability is useful, especially for non-combat skills, but initiative and Attribute increasing powers are more expensive, so they need more scrutiny.  From a pure mathematical standpoint, using bioware for those two functions is almost always better, even when you factor in the Magic loss.
Adepts could just about be their own thread, but yeah, since there's been such a positive response, I'll work on expanding the scope.

Thanks everyone for the positive input! More to come.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Bewilderbeast on (10:58:10/03-07-13)
Just want to echo every one else and say that this is a great thread. I love the complexity of Shadowrun's character creation, but there's also quite the tyranny of choices. Having some basic optimization advice is very helpful to a noob like me (and others as well, I'm sure). I hope you can continue with this, because what you have so far is excellent.

One thing I would love to see is some outlines on BP or chargen efficient gear and 'ware (with perhaps some rulebook page citations). With somebody like me who is still learning the core rules and mechanics, it's not feasible for me to leaf through Arsenal, War!, Gun Heaven, the core book, and Augmentation to find the optimal choice, so I often just grab some stuff out of the core book out of sheer laziness.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: UmaroVI on (11:36:09/03-07-13)
Let me give the quick rundown on complex forms.

CFs cost 1 karma per point of new rating, or 1 bp per rating (2 karma) at chargen.

This is (a) why you always take CFs at max and (b) why you should think long and hard about not hardcapping Resonance as a technomancer or taking 'ware as a technomancer.

1 = 2 karma = -1 post-chargen karma
2 = 2 karma = 0 post-chargen karma
3 = 2 karma = 1 post-chargen karma
4 = 2 karma = 2 post-chargen karma
5 = 2 karma = 3 post-chargen karma
6 = 2 karma = 4 post-chargen karma

Cumulatively, 6 is worth 9 post-chargen karma saved.

As you can see, the karma savings scale very fast and so you really want CFs at 6.

It's also worth noting how this interacts with hardcapping Resonance.

Going from 5 to 6 resonance is 25 bp or 30 karma, so -20 post-chargen karma. However, each CF going from 5 to 6 is 4 post-chargen karma saved, so at 5 you break even and at 6 you come out ahead. Very few technomancers will want less than 5 CFs.

The main exception is technomancers who plan to exclusively focus on sprites, and Logic-stream technomancers for whom the 'ware investment is worth the cost.

Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Downtime on (16:12:27/03-08-13)
I think an interesting extension of this concept would be to evaluate chargen choices in terms of desired game capabilities and minimizing the number of runs required to achieve them.

To achieve some consistency, I'd recommend looking at capabilities within the context of missions. Some example 'capabilities' could be:

Missions typical payout seems to be around 6 karma and 11000 ny (with extremely high variation in fenced loot).  Players in a long term game might want to prioritize differently (much higher goals in a longer timeline) than players who only expect to play 10 or so missions with a character.

Well, I'm going to start going over missions and looking at the different mechanical goals that are set and how easy or hard it is for characters to stomp all over them. If anything else this may be useful for GMs wanting to adjust difficulty.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (11:47:57/03-11-13)
Hit the character limit with Edits to the First Post, had to continue it here:

Part 3: Nuyen and You, OR; Cash as Karma
So, you’re potentially making Karma with your Attribute selection, losing it with your skill selection, what else is a Runner to do?

Answer: Buy fun things! How do we get our Karma-best out of our Y?

Gear: At least initially, I will be focusing on common gear that largely augments or replaces certain Skills as these can (and should) directly affect your use of Karma.

Knowsofts/Linguasofts require, at a minimum, a Sim Module which is 100Y. The Knowsoftware itself is 2 – 10K. This means, for a cheap addition to your Commlink (negligible Karma cost), you can add a Rank 5 Knowledge to your repertoire for 4 Karma. Linguasoftware is even cheaper. Given that Knowledge or Language skills at rank 5 have cost you 16 Karma (you save 12 Karma by rank 5), there’s very little reason to ever invest Karma in Knowledge/Language Skills ever again after Chargen and it’s free Knowledge Skill purchases. During Chargen, if you can’t fit all of your Languages/Knowledges within your free points, it is an even better deal to just go with the Datasofts, saving you 16 Karma.

Visual Enhancers (Contacts, Goggles, Glasses, etc.) are the reason the various Metatype Visions aren’t considered significant Karma boons, above. For a few hundred Y and no ESS, a PC can have both of those vision-types in addition to a +3 to their Visual Perception pool (in addition to other utilities). Perhaps the most common Perception check (which is a very common check in itself), +3 visual perception dice-pools can easily be attained for as little as 325Y.

Audio Enhancers are the exact same. You can get a +3 to Audible Perception checks for as little as 310Y. Combine these with Visual Enhancers and you have a very very good argument, from a Karma perspective, for the "average PC" (one who doesn't particularly need an astronomical Perception Skill) to never take more than 1 rank in Perception at Chargen. Skills are simply too expensive under BP. An average INT PC, with 1 Perception rank could start with a 7 Perception pool for literally just a little more than 1/4th of a Karma point, whereas getting that same pool, without visual/audio enhancers would be a -26 Karma loss at Chargen.

The Autopicker is a handy little device that, for 1,200Y (i.e. half a Karma), can make you as good as the best unassisted locksmith in the world. Never ever ever take the Locksmith Skill at Chargen, just don’t do it, it would cost you a -36 Karma balance to be as good as this simple machine. I’d also say, you probably shouldn’t ever take it after Chargen, but this isn’t mandatory as it will stack with your Skill.

Maglock Passkeys can be attained at Chargen at a maximum of rating 4, for 8,000Y, roughly 3.3 Karma. This is equivalent to an average LOG PC with 1 rank in Hardware (a combined loss of 19 Karma, from Attribute and Skill…). Is it, then, a worthy replacement of the Skill at Chargen? No, it is not. I dare say it’s barely a worthy Chargen purchase at all - consider waiting until after, so you can get a Rating 6. You only get 1 shot with it (so you cannot depend on it for your success), best case scenario it simply doesn’t open the lock, worst case scenario it sets off some kind of notice or alarm – which facing even an average Maglock, a Rating 4 only has a 33% chance of besting.

Medkits are kind of like Autopickers. For 600Y (1/4 Karma) you can be as skilled as the most seasoned Emergency Responder, where normally it would cost you dozens in negative Karma at Chargen. From a Karma efficiency standpoint, I’d recommend the "average PC" never take First Aid out of the gate, or if it's "your thing", take 4 ranks - never just 1, 2 or 3.

Foci: the Magician's Magical… thing. Foci are huge for Magicians. Think of them as ‘ware for your Magical Abilities. At Chargen, you should only really be looking at Power Foci and Sustaining Foci. In fact, when building a Magician PC, you should start first-thing with a Power Focus Rating 4. Whaaaat!? But why? You cry. It’s so expensive! Oh really? For 10 Karma in Restricted Gear and 8 Karma in Binding and 40 Y worth of Karma, you get essentially 80 BP-Karma in your MAG Attribute, much more by post-Chargen reckoning if you’re already soft-capping your MAG. This is a boost (applies to all MAG linked skill checks) that you simply can’t get any other way. Why not wait until after Chargen, avoid Restricted Gear, you ask? Because it has a 20R Availability, sure, but more importantly it costs 24 MORE KARMA TO BIND it after Chargen(!!), so make sure you buy it AND bind it.

Sustaining Foci cost 6 Karma in Binding and 12 Y worth of Karma. What you’re getting is essentially 2 dice back to your pool for not having to sustain whatever it is you’re sustaining. Sustaining Foci cost the same to bind, before or after Chargen, so this isn’t a necessary purchase although you may not have the money for it after-Chargen for awhile.

Cyberware: you know the deal; cheap on Y, expensive on ESS. This is important because for Mundanes, the Y is often the primary concern – and although ESS cannot be bought with Karma, and despite ESS not necessarily being a limiting factor, for comparisons sake (with Bioware and to lay the groundwork for Awakened) we will count the ESS cost of ‘ware at 2 Karma per 0.1 ESS cost (1 ESS/MAG = 10 BP = 20 Karma). Accordingly, a PC has a 120 ESS-Karma budget for all time. Again, I will be focusing on ‘ware that either augments or replaces full Attributes or Skills. Awakened and their interactions with ‘ware will be addressed specifically in another section.

Cyber-eyes and ears: cost minimally 8 Karma in ESS for both. Vision and Audio Enhancements cost minimally 10K - 4 Karma, for up to +3 to both Visual and Audio Perception. Whereas the wearable vision and audio enhancers (contacts, glasses, goggles, earbuds, etc.) were a good deal, the cyberears and eye enhancements are only slightly cheaper than the Chargen skill purchase (more so if you’re not as concerned about ESS), so it is not that great of a deal for the Perception alone. If it’s something you’re gonna do for the other Vision types and other audio/visual Augs, then sure, absolutely slap on the Enhancements too, but don’t bother with these as dedicated Chargen Perception substitutes.
 
Activesofts/Skillwires: Skillwires cost up to 20 Karma in ESS, plus up to 4 karma in Y. Each Activesoft costs up to 40K – 16 Karma. We can see that, at Chargen, Skillwires are an expensive prospect, costing minimally 36 Karma (Rating 4 wires, 1 x Rating 4 Activesoft) for 32 BP-Karma worth of Skill. You have to have at least 1 more Activesoft for the package to be worth it, within Chargen – and 3 Activesofts for it to be worth it in Post-chargen Karma, reckoning – at which point you’ve spent over 33% of your Chargen Cash on gaining minimal (only 4 Karma!) ground Post-Chargen. The lesson here is that you really shouldn’t bother with Skillwires/Activesofts until Post-Chargen – at which point, you can cram 240 Karma worth of (about 50) Skill die into 410,000Y (and 1 ESS) worth of gear. Kind of a rich-man’s luxury. But, if you’ve got the Y and not the Karma, could be a very good deal, when used to supplement your PCs primary skill-set with things they won’t ever have to be experts at.

Muscle Replacement:  For 20 – 80 Karma in ESS (out of your 120 total), and 2 to 8 Karma in Y, you can get 40 – 160 BP-Karma worth of AGI and STR Attribute (more in Post-Chargen Karma depending on your starting Attributes). Sounds like a good deal right – just about 2 for 1? Well, when you consider that it’s 66% of your all-time ESS budget and that, unlike some other ESS-heavy ‘ware (MBW, Cyber-limbs), it doesn’t incorporate other Cyberware pathways/functions into it’s structure, this is really a pretty poor deal. If you’re considering getting Muscle Replacement, look into Cyberlimbs instead – they are far more diverse in functionality and upgradable.

Reaction Enhancers: 6 – 18 Karma in ESS, 4 – 12 Karma in Y. So, maximally 30 Karma for a max of 60 BP-Karma worth of Attribute, which is worth more in Post-Chargen Karma depending on your starting REA. For instance, with a base 5 REA, Rating 3 Reaction Enhancers are worth +105 post-Chargen Karma. This is the kind of ratio we like to see in Cyberware. Reaction Enhancers are a good deal at Chargen or after.

Wired Reflexes: the Street-Sams bread and butter. Cost 40 – 100 ESS-Karma out of your 120 budget, and 4.5 to 40 Karma worth of Y for up to 60 BP-Karma worth of REA and up to +3 Initiative Passes. How do we assign a Karma value to IPs? We really don’t, not in a number sense anyway. Initiative is very important in combat, going first and going often is an extreme advantage given the nature of combat modifiers. The more combat your table sees, the more valuable IPs are as well. Knowing that, an IP’s value is based on the consideration of next step lower in IPs. So, 2 IPs is worth twice as much as 1 IP, 3 IPs is only worth 50% more than 2 IPs, 4 IPs are only worth 33% more than 3 IPs. As you can see, the “value” of more IPs decreases as you go. Considering that the value drops but the cost increases, it is never really worth it to get WR3 at Chargen. Accordingly, WR2 is only really worth it if your main skill-set is combat and the group will be depending on you to stay alive in such a situation. However, just about anyone can benefit significantly from WR1.

Attention Coprocessor: up to 6 ESS-Karma, and a little less than 4 Karma in Y, for up to 20 Post-Chargen Karma in Perception Skill. While it does stack with Vision/Audio Enhancements, unless you're a sniper or otherwise need to have a really good Perception, you probably don't need this 'ware. So is this a legitimate replacement for the skill, and/or vision/audio enhancements? Not over the contacts, glasses and earbuds, no. But with relation to cyberears/eyes, yeah, it really is – if you aren’t inclined to get those cyberears/eyes for the other augs that is.  It’s cheaper Karma and Y-wise, but since you’re probably going to have contacts/glasses/earbuds if you don’t have cyberears/eyes, you’re probably not gonna need this bit of ‘ware either.

Encephalon (R1 and R2): there are only so many ways to Augment your LOG skills and – even if you’re a Hacker, and you’re going to take the Encephalon at R2 – this one is the worst. At 15 ESS-Karma and 12 Karma in Y, for +1 to all LOG, Encephalon is far more expensive than PuSHeD. And at 30 ESS-Karma and 30 Karma in Y, R2 for a +3 in all of your Hacking skills is more expensive than a Rating 1 Nano-hive and the more-diverse +3 Neocorts, once play starts the upkeep cost of the Nanites should be negligible. The drawback being Neocorts and their "focus" stipulation - could be prohibitive for action/AR Hackers.

Orientation System: 4 ESS-Karma, 0.5 Karma in Y, the Orientation System gives you 16(+) BP-Karma in Nav Skill or 8(+) Post-Chargen Karma. This is one of the better deals in Cyberware if it’s something you’ll be inclined to need/use. The + in parenthesis is meant to reflect that the ‘ware description indicates the minimum bonus from this ‘ware is +2. Again, be mindful of modified skill maximums. Don’t purchase more than 1 rank in Navigation at Chargen to maximize the benefit from this.

Move-by-Wire: costs 40 – 100 ESS-Karma, 20 – 70 Karma in Y. Just like WR with the additional IPs, but you also get up to 120 BP-Karma worth of REA and up to 16 BP-Karma in Dodge Skill, as well as Skillwires at level 2, 4 or 5. So basically you’re getting WR, Reaction Enhancers and Skillwires, plus a Dodge bonus. The ESS is certainly a savings over the taking those three pieces of ‘ware separately, but it’s actually more expensive Y-wise, by 16 Karma. What kind of choice does that leave for us? We don’t like Skillwires until Post-chargen because of the expense of Activesofts necessary to recoup the cost, we love REA Enhancers, and WR is good at varying levels for varying character types. Because of the Y and Karma investment, unless you already have plans to incorporate those three bits of ‘ware into your character at Chargen – at least at Rating 2, it’s probably best to save MBW purchases until post-chargen (due to the expense of the Activesofts), as the Y inefficiency means you’re losing out on other opportunities.

Bioware: will cost you an arm and a leg for your arms and your legs, but it’s oh-so-easy on the ESS. The question is, is it easy on the Karma?

Enhanced Articulation: costs 6 ESS-Karma and 12 Karma in Y, for a +1 to 9 skills. Synthcardium is cheaper for the Athletics skills by a long shot, but Enhanced Articulation is one of only 2 ways to Augment your dice pool for Infiltration, Palming and Escape-Artist (the other being Reflex Recorders) – so if you are a specialist Infiltrator, this ‘ware is something you may want to look into.

Muscle Augmentation: each rating  costs 4 ESS-Karma, and roughly 3 Karma in Y, for a minimum of 20 BP-Karma in Attribute (and even 10 post-chargen). We can therefore see immediately that Muscle Augmentation is a good deal at any level (even if your starting STR is low), but it’s a freaking steal when used at higher levels of STR. Even if you’re buying Restricted Gear for 10 Karma (so, add 28 Karma for the total +4 STR), the minimum Karma savings (if your base STR is 1, reckoned post-chargen) is 32(!) Karma and the savings just go up if your STR is higher. So, what we learn from this is that if you have the need for a high STR, the cash and the ESS, you should always incorporate Muscle Augmentation into your build – before even hitting your Natural Max if the ‘ware will get you there alone (i.e. buy Rating 4 when you have 5 STR if 9 is your Aug Max so Human or Elf), Dwarves, Orks and Trolls are another story (see Suprathyroid Gland below)...

Muscle Toner: very similar to Muscle Augmentation, 4 ESS-Karma, and we’ll call it 3 Karma in Y too although it’s a little over that, per level. We come to the same conclusions as Muscle Augmentation. Even if you have to buy Restricted Gear, if you’re trying to hit your Aug Max, buy the Rating 4 Toner to get you there prior to your Natural Max if it works out that way. So, to put it bluntly, if you’re a Human, Dwarf or Ork don’t raise your AGI beyond 5 with Karma, if you’re an Elf don’t raise it beyond 6, then get the Rating 4 Toner to hit your Aug Max at Chargen or after. Any build that needs at least some competency with any method of combat can benefit from Muscle Toner, and any build that is a primary combatant should have Toner, either at Chargen or after.

Suprathyroid Gland: must be purchased with Restricted Gear so we have 10 Karma for the Quality, plus 14 ESS-Karma, plus the 18 Y Karma. You get +1 to the four Physical Attributes, BOD, AGI, REA, STR, which is a minimum of 80 BP-Karma, or 40 Karma post-chargen in the unlikely event that all of you Physical Attributes are at 1. The big deal here is that the ST-Gland is the only way to augment your full BOD attribute. So if you have a character that is going to push their BOD to the max, this is a necessary component of that. Furthermore, if you have a character that needs all of their Phys Attributes to be exceptional, this bit of ‘ware is probably for you. It’s a necessary component for a Troll to Aug Max their STR and can even save Dwarves and Orks some Karma in that department too. However if you have a PC that doesn’t really need that extra STR or BOD boost, there’s more efficient ways to boost AGI and REA alone.

Synthcardium: 2 ESS-Karma, 4 Y Karma per rating level for +1 to the 4 (or 5) Athletics Group Skills. That’s a minimum of 20 BP-Karma, you’re buying. As you can see it’s a good deal any way you cut it.

Tailored Pheromones: 4 ESS-Karma, 6 Y Karma for each step of +1 to your CHA and the 6 Social Skills (!). Tailored Pheromones is up there for the best deal in all of ‘ware. 10 Karma “spent” for a minimum of 68 BP-Karma. Que ridiculo. Even if you don’t have a Face character, it’s hard to argue with this deal. They have no effect on Awakened abilities though, so Shamans ignore them. But any PC who will make good use of the Social Skills, why not?

Cerebral Boosters: cost 4 ESS-Karma and 4 Y Karma per rating for a +1 to LOG Attribute. This is a minimum gain of 12 BP-Karma at Chargen. As the only way to boost the LOG Attribute directly, this is a popular piece of ‘ware. Ideal for everyone from B&E Experts to Hackers to Medics to Hermetic Mages. If you’re not investing in a wide array of LOG linked Skills but need to be good in the ones you do take, Cerebral Boosters are a good investment over, say, raising the Attribute naturally at Chargen.

Reflex Recorders: 2 ESS-Karma plus 4 Y Karma for a +1 to 1 Combat or Physical Skill. As these are the only way to augment a number of skills that have otherwise very few ways to augment, Reflex Recorders should probably be on any character you build. The Karma savings aren’t that great at low levels (even negative post-chargen), but how else are you going to come anywhere near your Augmented Max with your Combat  Skills if you’re Mundane? You’re not, so you’re gonna buy this ‘ware, probably multiple times before it’s all said and done.

Synaptic Booster: the Rich Man’s Wired Reflexes. Identical in function, SBs cost 10 ESS-Karma plus 32 Y Karma per level. SBs are cheaper than WR on a Karma basis at Level 1 and 3, but not, interestingly, at SB/WR2. They are of course considerably more expensive on a Y basis at every level. If you’re taking Boosters for your Initiative improvement method, you should probably take it at level 1 and then increase it’s rating later in play (remember the diminishing returns explored in Wired Reflexes?). Otherwise you’re not gonna have any cash left to take advantage of the other great Chargen Karma deals to be found in ‘ware.

Reception Enhancers: I’m not even going to go into these, just forget about them. They’re expensive in every regard, there’s too many other, better ways to augment your Perception Skill. Just forget that Reception Enhancers even exist.

Genetic Optimization: there are exactly 3 ways to boost any given stats maximum rating. Two are Positive Qualities (Exceptional Attribute and Metagenetic Improvement), the other is Genetic Optimization. GO costs 4 ESS-Karma and 18 Y Karma. The 2 Qualities both cost 40 BP-Karma. Metagentic Improvement also boosts that Attributes Minimum – so you “gain” 20 BP-Karma back. Therefore, Genetic Optimization is a better option than Exceptional Attribute but a worse option than Metagenetic Improvement. Metatypes may take GO in Attributes to bridge their gap with other Metatypes, or anyone might take it to push a certain skill-set just that much further. A SURGE II or III Character is capable of utilizing all 3 of these Attribute-Max boosting methods.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (11:49:16/03-11-13)
Bioware Cont'd

Adapsin: 4 ESS-Karma and 12 Karma in Y for a -10% to Cyberware ESS cost. Not available at Chargen, Adapsin, on it's face, should be a reasonable choice for anyone planning on taking more than 2.0 ESS in cyberware in the future, but where Adapsin really shines is for someone who wants to become a cyberlimb monster, the guys that want to go whole-hog and are getting all 4 limbs, torso and skull - normally these cost 6.25 ESS (so, not possible without Alphaware or a Quality), with Adapsin it's 5.625 ESS. Throw in Biocompatability (Cyberware) with this and you've got a full 1 ESS to work around - alpha, beta and deltawares would only make it even better. Isn't cyber-life grand?

Daredrenaline: 2 ESS-Karma and 10 Karma in Y for to +1 WIL tests. This includes Stun Damage and Spell Resistance - as well as all WIL-linked Skill tests. So although you don't get the Stun Box, this is nearly as good as a full point to your WIL attribute. Accordingly, it really doesn't make sense unless you already have a 3 or higher WIL attribute. Then when you take into consideration you essentially acquire a (slightly worse version - threshold 3 - of a) 10 Karma (5 BP) Negative Quality (Poor Self Control - Thrill Seeker) with this genetech, it's benefits become more dubious. If you're an already Augmented Magician, you can get +1 Drain Resistance dice here, and that may be worth it, PCs who already have the Thrill Seeker Neg Quality also have less to lose from this.

Dynomitan: 4 ESS-Karma and 12 Karma in Y for +1 to all INT skill tests. Skills highlighted here would mainly be Perception, Shadowing, Disguise, and Assensing for Awakened PCs (yeah, there are 5 others, but they're pretty niche). Considering that you also pick up what could be a 10 (if not 20) Karma Neg Quality with this Genetech, AND all the other ways to Augment Perception and even all INT Skills, this really isn't a very good piece of 'ware. In fact, you should probably never buy it for any build.

Neo-EPO: 4 ESS-Karma and 12 Karma in Y for +1 to all Athletics and Fatigue tests. It's not much cheaper than Enhanced Articulation (and does less) and is considerably more expensive than Synthcardium (and does less), but it is a dice pool modifier so it will stack - so if Athletics are a big part of your thing, go ahead and pick up Neo-EPO too, just make sure it's the very last Athletics-augmentation you buy.

PuSHeD: 2 ESS-Karma and 6 Karma in Y for +1 to all LOG skill tests(!). Considering LOG has the largest skill-pool beneath it, PuSHeD is a great deal for any LOG-skill-oriented PC, Hacker, Rigger, Medic, etc., preferable to Encephalon by a long shot. There really is nothing bad to say about this bit of Genetech.

Qualia: 8 ESS-Karma and 10 Karma in Y for a +1 to all INT Skill tests. I don't know what they think is so great about INT Skills, not like this helps your intiative, but at least you don't acquire a Negative Quality for it. It is one of two ways to Augment INT skills, and it's the worse of the two. It is a dice-pool modifier though, so if you're trying to squeeze the most out of those INT skills, it's here.

Reakt: 8 ESS-Karma and 12 Karma in Y for a +2 to REA based Defense Tests. So maybe it could be reckoned as like buying 1/3 of 2 points in REA (no skill or initiative benefits)? So, it's worth 8 Karma and up? That's not really accurate though. Passive Dodge is (IMHO) extremely important for Primary Combatants, avoiding damage completely is more efficient than soaking it, in any circumstance - the problem being you're putting an Attribute-Only Pool up against an Attribute+Skill Pool. Still, any Primary Combatant can benefit from this 'ware - though it's especially worth it as a cap-stone for those with an already elevated REA (say, through WR and REA Enhancers).

Synch: 6 ESS-Karma and 12 Karma in Y for +1 to Perception and a very rare +1 to all Combat Skill Tests (including Defense). It's got this quirk where it doesn't kick in until the enemies first attack, so I think this is why it isn't more popular (I know our group went through our first two sessions without our enemies ever firing a shot), but otherwise this is a really good bit of 'ware, recommended for any Primary Combatant.

Limbic Nanoware: Including Nanohive, the Limbic Nans cost a minimum of 15 ESS-Karma and 6 Karma in Y, up to 10 Karma in Y, for +1 - 3 to all INT Skill Tests. If you're augmenting your INT Skills go with this route, and you should go all in with the Rating 3 Limbic Nans - it doesn't cost you anymore ESS than Rating 1, just a few more Y. Really, though, if you're getting Limbics, you're getting a Nanohive so you should at least get a Rating 2 Hive so you can cram some more cheap augs into the ESS-expensive Hive. Like....

Neocortical Nanoware: same deal as the Limbics, costs a minimum of 15 ESS-Karma and 6 Karma in Y, up to 10 Karma in Y, for +1 - 3 to all LOG Skill Tests. If you're a Hacker or otherwise LOG-Skill oriented character, you should seriously consider Neocorts. Better than Encephalon, better than PuSHeD (because you can get up to +3), this is just the way to go to boost your LOG skills you can't do without.

Cyberlimbs: Such a classic trope of cyberpunk, but such oh-so-complex rules! Why!?! What skills can I apply X limb to? What is my situational BOD vs. my overall BOD? Or STR? Or Armor?! Ohhh, the trans-humanity! ... ...

Cyberlimbs are fun, you can do some unique things with them, for that reason (among others...) they're hard to judge the Karma efficiency of. So what we're gonna do instead is look at some comparative purchases. Let's say the scenario is a 5 AGI Human, and compare an Obvious, Custom Full Arm (3 BOD, 3 STR, 9 AGI) to the purchase of Rating 4 Muscle Toner, looking to improve his primary pools (combat and stealth).

The cyberlimb costs 20 ESS-Karma and just short of 9 Karma in Y, the Toner costs 16 ESS-Karma and 22 Karma in Y and Restricted Gear. The 'limb is more expensive in ESS, but considerably less expensive in chargen resources in general. Of course, the limb's AGI only applies to actions taken with that limb only - which pretty much equals single arm attacks (but could also conceivably include Forgery, Locksmith and Palming), and assuming the BOD and STR are equal to the PCs naturals, the rest is a wash (though you do gain +1 Phys Soak Box). So, what we end up with is 1/2 of the functionality (you lose Gymnastics, Infiltration and any two-handed weapon or full-body attack, so Archery, the big Automatics, Longarms, and Unarmed Combat, as well as other Skills) for about 3/4 of the total cost in resources. This would lead us to the reasonable conclusion that such Cyberlimbs are probably not a good deal for Stealthy Primary Combatants - who are generally ESS-intensive, but possibly not a bad option for characters who aren't concerned with stealth and their combat role is only supportive - and plan on using one-handed weapons (Blades, Clubs, Pistols, Sub-MGs, Throwing Weapons), who aren't necessarily otherwise ESS intensive (so maybe a Hacker or Face could have reasonable cause).

A STR cyberlimb would compare similarly, because although the main function of STR for a combatant is increasing melee damage, you would gain almost no benefit to the STR-linked Skills without all 4 limbs - which is very ESS intensive, quite like Muscle Replacement, which is why I recommended that if you are considering Muscle Replacement, just get cyberlimbs instead. You can ultimately get the same benefit for the same massive ESS-cost (albeit more Y) but there's so many additional fun things you can put into cyberlimbs - like Gyromounts, Hidden Slides and Holsters, and Cyberweapons, etc. so how do we weigh those in? Really what the ultimate conclusion is, is that taking a Cyberlimb should largely be made on the level of flavor and RP choices - if it's a cyberpunk trope that you love and wish to honor, you can absolutely make effective use of it, it may not be optimal in all regards or circumstances - but the Rule of Cool ... well, it rules.

Part 4: the Others – Qualities, Spells, Contacts, Martial Arts, etc.

Qualities: First off, you should always take your full -35 BP (70 Karma) in Negative Qualities, not only are these great for crafting your PCs story and flavor, but you can also usually end up with a fairly mechanically innocuous set of Qualities, for a significant gain. With Posi-Qualities you can grab some Skill, Attribute and ability bonuses that are not available anywhere/way else. Where are the good deals and where are the lemons?

+1 or 2 to X-Skill or Test(s): there are lot's of Qualities (Animal Empathy, Codeslinger, Double Jointed, First Impression, Guts, Home Ground, Quick Healer, Analytical Mind, Catlike, Inspired, Linguist, Natural Athlete, Outdoorsman, Perceptive, School of Hard Knocks, Tech School Education, Trustworthy, Water Sprite, and maybe others) that give a bonus of +1 or 2 dice pool or skill modifier to one or more Skills or specific Tests. In general, these are not good investments unless you are trying to be a best of the best specialist in regards to the Skill(s) or Test to which the Quality pertains.

Some stand out (Codeslinger, First Impression, possibly Quick Healer - if you take some 'ware for synergy, and Home Ground for NPCs) as being better deals than the others. Some stand out (Home Ground for PCs, Perceptive and Trustworthy) as options that you should never take. All the rest again should probably only be taken if you're trying to be the best around at that particular thing.

Ambidextrous: don't dual-wield firearms unless you take this, and don't take this unless you're going to dual-wield (i.e. it's a specialist thing).

Aptitude: Spending 20 Karma for the ability to spend 14 Karma to get 1 more dice in any skill is a dubious option, at best. Aptitude is something that should only be taken by a PC who is trying to be the best of the best in X Skill, and even then only if the Skill is not easily Augmented (so Combat Skills are good options - LOG, INT, and Physical/Athletic Skills are bad options). If you're thinking about taking Aptitude, look through the above mentioned "+1 or 2 to X-Skill" Qualities first, as you may be able to get that die, or more die, cheaper.

Exceptional Attribute: 40 Karma to up a Natural Attribute Maximum by 1. There are two other ways to do this, one is a Metagenetic Quality and therefore will not be covered explicitly here and the other is Bioware/Genetech, covered above. Exceptional Attribute is the worst of these options. Exceptional Attribute is only appealing in 2 cases: the first is for a PC who is going "all in" on boosting a single Attribute. So, if you're taking Metagenetic Improvement AND Genetic Optimization both in a single Attribute, it's not a horrible idea to top it off with Exceptional Attribute - especially if it gets you that extra Augmented Maximum die. Also, it's more appealing if you're choosing an Attribute that isn't easily Augmented with 'ware (so AGI, STR, REA and LOG are bad options - that extra 1 die likely just isn't worth the investment). So, All-In Specialists or maybe an already Augmented Magician might benefit from boosting a Drain Attribute would reasonably choose this.

Focused Concentration: it's a tempting Quality, because dealing with Drain is perhaps a Magicians biggest concern so there could always be a compelling argument for this Quality - espcially if you're an Over-caster type. You're probably either dealing with Drain by choosing spells and force carefully or you're just doing everything you can to pump up those Drain Attributes - this Quality is the next best thing.

High Pain Tolerance: Strictly worse than Damage Compensators, each level of HPT costs 10 Karma, where each level of DCs costs 8 Karma (2 of that in ESS-Karma). Though it's not by much, so if you're tight on Y and/or ESS, you could consider this Quality. Note though that you'll never be able to pick up any other forms of damage compensation with the Quality...

Lucky: oh, Lucky Quality - how unlucky is he who chooses you? 40 Karma for the potential of 1 more point in EDG. Even if your GM refreshes EDG every second, this Quality is not worth it. Seriously though, even if you're building a Mr. Lucky Character with an EDG-friendly refresh policy, this Quality (much like Exceptional Attribute) is usually a bum deal. Perhaps this advice is tinted by my own lack-luster experience with EDG, but I generally find it's better to invest your resources in just being consistently good at what you do.

Magic Resistance: I get healed by my own Magician a lot more than I am targeted by the Spell of another Magician. This is not a good Quality.

Murky Link: No. Just no.

Natural Hardening: You can buy a Rating 7(!) Biofeedback Filter for as much as this Quality costs... don't take this Quality.

Natural Immunity: extremely narrow applicability makes this a bad choice for any PC (or NPC) who is not using it to make himself immune to a buffing drug.

Photographic Memory: a fairly intangible yet decidedly niche mechanical benefit... probably not worth the cost, but could be quite useful for the right character and is good flavor. Decision should be made on the level of an RP choice.

Resistance to Pathogens/Toxins: If you're going to take this Quality, take it at the 10 BP level... Neither Pathogens nor Toxins have never been that commonly used against me at the tables I've played at, and Pathogens least, so if you have reason to believe you might use it more than once or twice in your campaign, you could consider taking this.

Toughness: 20 Karma for 1 physical soak box or 20 Karma for 1 physical box, damage resistance, more armor, and resistance to poisons and such, etc.? Don't take Toughness.

Will to Live: you know, I actually kind of like this Quality if you're a primary combatant and you pair it with Vasocon (Bioware/Genetech). More importantly though, I like this for a Missions-specific Primary Combatant - or for anyone who wants to hang onto their PC for as long as possible. I tend not to get too attached to my SR characters, but maybe that's because I've never taken this Quality?

Martial Arts: on their face, Martial Arts are essentially 10 Karma Posi Qualities that give you a +1 to a situational dice pool (Advantages). Whether it's to DV or various types of attacks or actions. Which at face value is actually kind of expensive, similar to the "+1 or 2 to X-Skill or Test(s)" Qualities that I generally recommend against. However, when you consider that these bonuses almost always stack and are often unattainable through any other method, Martial Arts clearly become a worthwhile expenditure of resources for a character who has melee fighting as primary aspect of their role. That said, melee combat is usually very situational and unless that's your PCs "thing" (like an Unarmed Adept), I would advise against investing too heavily in Martial Arts at Chargen - because you can pick them up during play, for no loss or gain in Karma over doing it at Chargen.

Furthermore, when we look at Maneuvers, we can compare them to Specializations, at Chargen (4 Karma). Maneuvers are best when used in synergistic organizations (i.e. combined with other Maneuvers, Advantages or Qualities), but can also be good RP elements. Some Maneuvers are better than others. In general, Maneuvers where you have to give up a successful attack  (Clinch, Disorient, Herding, or Set-up) for a later bonus or other effect should be avoided (like the plague). Because of how combat works in Shadowrun, you want to apply that damage as soon as possible, whenever you have the chance - not more later, or for some effect on the following IP. Yes, even combining Set-up with Finishing Move isn't all it's cracked up to be, because if you choose to deal damage from the first attack, instead of Set-up, not only will the defender potentially have the damage modifiers from that, but they'll have -1 dice for already having defended against an attack. The exception being if your opponent is heavily armored and you'd need the extra successes to do anything to them at all, or if it's an RP-choices.

Many more Maneuvers border on RP-choices (Blind Fighting, Break Weapon, Ground Fighting, Sweep), because while their applications can be used effectively, they are such niche situations that the cost may not really make sense, even when considering the "Rule of Cool" that comes with them. And some are just poor choices (Evasion, Focus Will, and Vicious Blow), which no one should probably ever take.

That leaves us the alright ones (Full Offense, Multi-Strike, Off-hand Training) and the good ones (Disarm, Finishing Move, Iajutsu, Riposte, Throw, Two Weapon Style, and Watchful Guard). Many (if not all) of these recommendable Maneuvers are only recommendable when combined with other Maneuvers (or Advantages or Qualities). I'm not going to go into all of the combinations, you should either study them until they are apparent to you, or there are other threads which go into this at length.

Spells: these are, of course, the reason most players decide to make a Magician. Spirits are great (fantastic even), but who doesn't love a good face-melting?  The one Karma-efficiency thing to note for Spells is that they are slightly cheaper after Chargen, than during  (6 Karma vs. 5 Karma) - not really a big deal, but Magicians are always gonna be tight on BP, so you should try to take the minimal number of Spells that will give you the capabilities you want. For instance, taking your full 15 Spells at Chargen when you could do fine with just 10 is a whole post-Chargen Spell-worth of Karma, and that saved 15 BP saved is a good portion of that Force 4 Power Foci which if you buy now, will save you Karma down the road...

As with everything you do in your build, you should look for Synergy too, and Spells are a huge part of that for Magicians. If you are a Shaman, you should be able to easily dabble in Facing, if you're Hermetic you should be able to easily dabble in any of the multitude of LOG skills, especially First Aid and Medicine, but also B&E (Hardware) and sabotage skillsets (Demolitions, Mechanics, etc.). This Synergy should not only come from your Attributes, but also your Spells to buff those Attributes and augment those roles and skillsets.

Contacts: are probably the most under-valued and over-looked portion of Chargen. When BP runs tight, it's Contacts that get the axe. This is a shame, because Contacts should be more than just someone who hooks you up with Johnson, or whom you buy and sell things from and to, or whom you ask about X topic for their expertise. Especially if you're allowed to use Advanced Contact rules, Contacts should be integral parts to your PC who either cover your weaknesses or augment your strengths even further (ideally, both). With Group Contacts for just a few more Karma on top of what you might normally invest in a good Contact, you can have Magical and Matrix knowledge and capabilities just a 'link away.

Taking a Group Contact is a good way to avoid redundant Contacts too, like taking a Fixer and a Johnson, or a Bar Tender and a Blogger, or when you could have just replaced all of them with a well-Connected Hacker Group Contact. Bottom line get the most out of your Contact purchases; avoid Contacts with redundant functions.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (11:49:35/03-11-13)
Part 5: Adepts, OR; Why Does Everybody Hate Me?!

So why do Adepts get an entire Part on their own? What makes them such a special snowflake? Well, not only are Powers a unique method of augmenting your dice-pools, but also nowhere else is the efficiency comparison of certain choices able to be made so directly, due to the literally binary choice of losing ESS (adding 'ware) equals lost MAG (lost Powers).

This Part will address comparisons under core rules mainly, but will contain asides regarding the optional rules of Adept Ways and Adept Geasa.

Attribute Boost: I think sometimes gets a bad rep, and only somewhat deservedly so. Here's the deal; say you have a 5 MAG and level 1 Attribute Boost Power (Cost = 5 ESS-karma), on average that will yield a bonus of 2 to your Physical Attribute of choice (AGI?) for 4 Combat Turns (which adds up to a lot of IPs if you have 2 or 3 per CT), which (if you have a 3 BOD and 3 WIL) yields a very small risk (~6%), on average, of taking Drain. At low ranks, that makes this Power out to be pretty much free Attribute points - at the cost of a Simple Action. The sticking point is, 1.) it takes a simple action - and for it to be any good, it must be your first action - which is a crucial point in combat  (remember you want to do damage as early as possible) and 2.) don't take it a higher than level 1. Why? Because you only generate a 33% greater chance of getting a bonus to your Attribute for a nearly 100% increase in your chances of suffering from Drain (from ~6% to ~%50).

What's our take away lesson(s)? An Un-augmented Firearms Adept should probably consider taking this Power, it's a cheap boost and they'll still have a Simple Action to take a SA shot in the first round. An Augmented Firearms Adept could also consider taking this Power, but may often be "wasting" net hits of this Power, it may not be a bad choice though because it would allow you to limit your augmentations in the stat you choose to use this Power for, thereby freeing up more ESS/MAG for other Augs. A Melee Adept (Augmented or not) probably should not take this Power, because they essentially lose their first IP (no Complex Action), for a +2 to dice pool on the following IP - this is not a good trade (see Martial Arts and general Combat Theory).

Blind Fighting: we'll be comparing the Power to the Martial Arts Maneuver of the same name. This is an interesting comparison, both cost 10 Karma. The Maneuver reduces the penalty to -3, the Power to -4. For the Maneuver the attacker must be within range of your other senses (Hearing being the limiting one), the Power has no such hindrance (you'd get this bonus to someone who is silenced as well as invisible, for example). Combine the better reduction in penalty, and that Power Points are quite precious, and we come to the determination that you should probably not take this Power.

Combat Sense: costs 10 Karma per level, the closest comparable 'ware is Reakt and loosely Reaction Enhancers. Oddly enough, they all come out to 10 Karma per rank, though both sets of 'ware are in fact easier on the ESS/MAG. Is the Chargen choice purely one of flavor then? No. First off, Reaction Enhancers add directly to the REA stat (so Initiative and Skills too), not just Passive Dodge, but Reaction Enhancers and Reakt can also be taken at higher grades of 'ware down the road, meaning even less ESS/MAG cost (i.e. more ESS-room for other 'ware). If you're allowed Ways and/or Geasa, the Chargen choice becomes a wash, if not favoring the Power in the case of being able to use both optional rules. But still, down the road advancement is going to favor the 'ware due to higher-grade 'ware.

Enhanced Perception: 5 ESS-karma for +1 to Perception Tests. Ehh, I could get into the math, but there's no point; just don't take this Power ever. It boosts the most easily boosted Skill in the game, for a higher cost than the easiest way of doing it. Visual and Audio Enhancers will cover 99% of your Perception Tests and cost 10% of the Chargen Karma resources, with none of it coming from your precious Power Point pool. If you simply must have the ultimate Perception Pool as an Un-augmented Adept, use the Improved Ability (Non-combat) Power to do it, because it costs the same and it's limit is 1.5xSkill vs. just INT. If you're an Augmented Adept, I wouldn't recommend using 'ware or this Power to boost your Perception, especially at Chargen, the other options are more valuable, though a high-grade Attention Coprocessor would be the way to do it if you do.

Improved Ability (Combat): is simply the Holy Grail of Adepts. Mechanically/mathematically, it's really what makes an Adept ever worth being an Adept. Without this Power, as far as I know, it is impossible for any PC to reach the 1.5 x Skill Augmented Maximum rating for any Firearm or Melee Combat Skill. If you can use a Way and/or Geasa, doing it here is just icing on the cake. Combine this Power with Weapon Foci and Adepts become truly ultimately terrifying combatants. The short of the long is that it's this Power that makes Adepts (Augmented or not) potentially the best possible at what anybody does in combat.

Improved Ability (Non-combat): is no less great than it's Combat counter-part. Many non-combat Skills can be augmented to their maximum by other means, and many have lots of augmentations that aren't subject to the Skill max, but many cannot (notably most of the Stealth Skills). So if you are an augmented Adept, and will take advantage of both methods of Skill boosting, this Power can propel you to otherwise unattainable levels. Even as an un-augmented Adept, this Power compares favorably to basic Reflex Recorders, it lags behind things like visual/audio enhanced contacts/earbuds, Synthcardium, PuSHeD, and other pool augmenters in raw dice vs. investment, but again this Power is a Skill augmentation, so it stacks with many of those.

Improved Physical Attribute: is where un-augmented Adepts fall apart. 15 Karma for +1 to a Physical Attribute compares poorly even to the basic 'ware Physical Attribute enhancements (Reaction Enhancers, Muscle Augmentation/Toner). The one thing this Power "excels" at (and I use the term very loosely) is BOD, which can only otherwise be augmented by a Suprathyroid Gland, which it still falls short of in it's "per Attribute boost vs investment", but since there is no other way to augment your BOD Attribute, you have to give this Power some respect in that regard. Otherwise, even with the optional rules of Adept Ways and Adept Geasa, this Power only comes on-par with the 'ware. And then when you consider 'ware can be upgraded to consume less ESS, again the 'ware stands head and shoulders above the Power.

Oh wait, I forgot to mention, here's the real kicker; with this Power, to raise an Attribute above it's natural maximum the Power Point cost doubles. So you're looking at 30 Karma for a 7 AGI. All discussion can really end right there - forget about deltaware forget about Ways and Geasa, there's no comparison. We don't even need to mention how even if you buy this Power to augment your 5 natural AGI to 6, you can no longer naturally raise that Attribute (this Power is the only augmentation that takes a "hard" spot in your Attribute. If you buy a 6 you bought 6, it will not stack to a 7 if you wanted to raise your Attribute naturally (how crappy is that?). Do not take this Power unless you're trying to be some ultimate tank, and even then you may just be better off taking Mystic Armor. This Power is why you "should" always be an augmented Adept. You simply can't compete with the Attribute boosting ability of 'ware otherwise. Everything else can be considered roughly a wash with Adepts potential to Initiate, and the optional rules, but not this. Improved Physical Attribute can't get the job done.

Improved Reflexes: costs 30 50 and 80 Karma at it's 3 levels, this compares quite favorably to Wired Reflexes even on just an ESS/MAG basis. And while it compares similarly well to Synaptic Boosters on a total resource investment basis, it cannot match this bit of 'ware on it's pure, low-ESS/MAG investment. If you've already chosen to be an Augmented Adept, especially a heavily augmented one (which I would consider 2 ESS put into 'ware as heavy), you could consider using Synaptic Boosters for your Initiative enhancement, but even then you're looking at a long expensive wait, for the higher-grades so it's probably not advisable. Best case scenario as an Adept, you take this Power and your GM let's you use Ways and Geasa - speaking of which, this Power (along with Improved Ability (Combat), is why you should always follow the Warrior's Way, if you're doing the primary combatant thing as an Adept.

Kinesics: compares exactly to Tailored Pheromones, 10 Karma, for +1 to all Social Tests. Just as Tailored Pheromones is one of the best bits of 'ware in the game, Kinesics is one of the best Powers. On the augmented vs. un-augmented side, you can of course get higher grades of the 'ware, allowing you to cram more 'ware into however much ESS you've chosen to give up, and it's not even all that expensive. Which to me, means you should probably get the 'ware instead, because even if you can use a Way, you don't want to use the Speakers Way due to a dearth of high-cost Powers - you'll have troubles recouping the Karma you spent on the Way in the first place. But also, they stack with each other too, so you can also go that Adept-Pornomancer route and get Pheromones and Kinesics if you want to throw 20+ dice on your Social checks.

Quick Draw: is up for comparison against the Martial Art Maneuver Iaijutsu. The Power costs 10 Karma, the Maneuver costs 14 (though you also get an Advantage with this investment...). The Power has a test threshold of 2, the Maneuver is 3. As you can see, the Power compares well to the Martial Art, you get more from the Martial Art but the threshold is lower for the Power. Long story short, if you're a primary combatant Adept, this Power is a worthy choice - unless you're short on Power Points, in which case, the Martial Arts route isn't that much more costly and you'll also get a +1 DV or something out of it too.

So, what is the moral of the story in all this? Augmented Adept or Un-augmented Adept? The choice really is easy, if you haven't chosen to be an un-augmented Adept for RP reasons, you should always take at least 1 point in ESS worth of 'ware (for Muscle Toner, plus extra). You can cram a lot into that, and you can keep cramming as you upgrade the 'ware. Especially if your GM allows the optional rules of Ways and Geasa, 1 point is probably all you really NEED to take, though 2 ESS is reasonable for a melee-focused Adept, as you're probably augmenting more Attributes. Or, talk to your GM about house-ruling Improved Ability to not be a complete waste of PP.  Point him/her to this thread ;)

Regarding Mystic Adepts, you should just take advantage of the best parts of each aspect. For the caster part of you, that means getting a Rating 4 Power Foci and a Sustaining Foci, for the Adept part of you, that means Improved Ability (Combat) and Weapon Foci. Use the Spell and Sustaining Foci for your Initiative enhancement. It's a super-duper-resource-intensive build, and you're going to lack in some regard or another at the start, but you can reasonably have 10-12 Spellcasting dice, while still having 15+ dice in your primary combat pool, or Face pools, or whatever you want to do with your Adept-hood.

That's about all I got.

If there are things you think I've missed that could reasonably be addressed, in this section or others, let me know and I'll see what I can do. Otherwise, take the information in this thread and use it to make yourself a character that is crunchy and interesting. Enjoy!

Character Study:

HERE (http://forums.shadowrun4.com/index.php?topic=10206.msg206629#msg206629) is a link to a "before and after" study of the Weapon Specialist Archetype that tries to bring all of these principles together. It is a post from page 5 of this thread.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Downtime on (18:22:30/03-11-13)
I extended your analysis of attributes purchased with BP vs. karma and considered total costs when including a range of racial modifiers (From a pixie's -3 to a troll's +4)

The table below compares the total karma cost vs. the BP (x2) cost of purchasing 1-6 attribute points given various racial modifiers. A positive value indicates it is more efficient to purchase that attribute level with BP versus post-generation karma points.

This table supports the common wisdom not to hard-cap an attribute (with an optional exception for troll body/strength) and to increase important attributes by 4, unimportant attributes by 0.  The BP value of racial modifiers can be evaluated considering the importance of a particular attribute and the total karma savings the modifier 'unlocks':
Unimportant: 0 pts
Important - 2 : -5*
Important -1 : -5
Important: +1 : 20 karma pts (difference of cumulative savings between 5 (+0) and 5 (+1)
Important: +2 : 40
Important +3 : 60
Important +4 : 80

* This only indicates that soft-capping at -2 is only slightly less efficient than soft-capping at +0, not that -2 dice in an important attribute won't hurt

My interpretation:
Human : +20 karma for edge max characters, otherwise 0
Elf : -10 karma if only 'CHA' is important stat, +10 karma if 'CHA' and 'AGI' are important
Ork : +20 karma min (assuming everyone loves 'BOD'), +60 if 'STR' is valued too
Dwarf : -10 karma if only 'WIL' and 'BOD' important, +30 if 'STR' valued too; possible additional -10 due to reaction
Troll : 0 if 'BOD' important, +80 if 'BOD' and 'STR' important, possible additional -10 due to reaction

*Edit to note that this is essentially the same breakdown as your metatype analysis.

When I get the chance I will look at the values of Metagenetic Improvement, Genetic Optimization, and Exceptional Attribute.

Incremental point savings
Code: [Select]
   Racial Modifier
Att -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4
1 0 0 0 0
2 -10 -10 -10 -10 0
3 -35 -5 -5 -5 -5 0
4 -30 0 0 0 0 0
5 -25 5 5 5 5 0
6 -20 10 10 10 10
7 -15 15 15 15
8 -10 20 20
9 -5 25
10 0

Cumulative point savings
Code: [Select]
      Racial Modifier
Att -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4
1 0 0 0 0
2 -10 -10 -10 -10 0
3 -45 -15 -15 -15 -5 0
4 -45 -15 -15 -5 0 0
5 -40 -10 0 5 5 0
6 -30 10 15 15 10
7 -5 30 30 25
8 20 50 45
9 45 70
10 70
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (12:45:57/03-12-13)
Gear and Cyberware (minus Cyberlimbs, because I've never used them and have barely ever looked at them) are up.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: nmap on (15:18:43/03-12-13)
Thank you for this thread. I might not be much opitmizing person, but this thread is both very educational and very useful.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (17:34:11/03-19-13)
Foci and Bioware (minus Genetech and Nanoware) are up in Part 3!

Anything you guys feel that is missing in either the already posted sections or from the Future Plans?
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: UmaroVI on (18:17:01/03-19-13)
I think you're mixing up how augmented skill maxima work. Those are only for things that modify your skill rating, like Reflex Recorders and Improved Ability, not for things that give you a bonus to skill checks, like Tailored Pheremones or Synthacardium. Compare carefully what Synthacardium's entry says with what Reflex Recorder's entry says.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: JUNK de LUXE on (16:56:33/04-02-13)
looking forward for the next installment of this "Article" :P
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (14:59:31/04-03-13)
Yeah, sorry, I've been occupied by some happy IRL goings-on, as well as our GM (who's never played SR4 as a player before) wants to be a player and I'm contemplating taking up the GMing scepter (and therefore kind of working on a campaign and run ideas).

But anyway, the next installment is up - covering Genetech, Cyberlimbs, and Qualities from the SR4A Core.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Bewilderbeast on (20:41:48/04-03-13)
Glad to see you're continuing work on this. You should probably mention that Adapsin is not available at character creation, though, which sort of greatly limits its use (in my opinion). Augmentation is pretty clear that it's not intended for character creation.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (11:35:36/04-04-13)
You should probably mention that Adapsin is not available at character creation, though, which sort of greatly limits its use (in my opinion). Augmentation is pretty clear that it's not intended for character creation.
Interesting, I didn't catch that. I'm largely working from a spreadsheet that I created summarizing each bit of 'ware, and that was something I didn't put in my comments (which is also why I miss some things like what is a dice pool modifier and what is a skill rating modifier). Good catch, Bewilderbeast, thanks!
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Fedifensor on (23:59:36/04-09-13)
The thread has some great material.  However, I think there is a bit too much emphasis on Nuyen-purchased options over Positive Qualities.  An example is Exceptional Attribute.  Sure, you could get Genetic Optimization instead...but that's 40,000 less you have to spend on Cyberware during character generation.  If the cash flow is low in the game, where you're barely making enough to afford your lifestyle, then Exceptional Attribute becomes a much better deal.  Availability also becomes a factor...unless you've spent sufficient points on Contacts (which is a Build Point cost not factored into the calculations).

Likewise, if post-chargen Nuyen gains are a factor, you should take a look at Trust Fund.  Sure, it requires a SIN and 10/20 BP, but that's 5000 per month you're not spending on Lifestyle.  The downsides can be partially negated by Erased, and the upside is an extra 66k/132k a year (assuming you would have bought Medium/High lifestyle). for implants and other gear.

The one other comment I would make is regarding High Pain Threshold.  Damage Compensator may seem like a better option...but it doesn't work with a Trauma Damper, while High Pain Threshold does.  High Pain Threshold + Trauma Damper + Platelet Factories can keep a character at fighting effectiveness despite grievous wounds.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (09:47:11/04-10-13)
I think there is a bit too much emphasis on Nuyen-purchased options over Positive Qualities.
...
 If the cash flow is low in the game, where you're barely making enough to afford your lifestyle, then Exceptional Attribute becomes a much better deal.  Availability also becomes a factor...unless you've spent sufficient points on Contacts (which is a Build Point cost not factored into the calculations).
...
Likewise, if post-chargen Nuyen gains are a factor, you should take a look at Trust Fund.
As the initial post states, the purpose of this guide is to show how to optimize post-chargen Karma efficiency.

There are some assumptions that go with that, that may not always be true, but they are necessary for continuity of the post. In my experience, Karma is the limiting factor for advancement of my PCs - money comes easy, Karma slow. This isn't always the case for all tables or all builds, but that is the premise that this guide operates under and will approach all issues, period. If you have different priorities it is your responsibility to be aware of how they interact with BP chargen. It will not be addressed here.
Damage Compensator may seem like a better option...but it doesn't work with a Trauma Damper, while High Pain Threshold does.  High Pain Threshold + Trauma Damper + Platelet Factories can keep a character at fighting effectiveness despite grievous wounds.
Sure. But this guide is not addressing single combinations of 'ware, much less every possible combination of multiple pieces of 'ware. Not only that, but it is limited to 'ware that emulates (or at least nearly so) direct BP/Karma translatable purchases, due to the base premise (see above). Trauma Damper and Platelet Factories are outside of that realm, and are also therefore not addressed. Dermal plating and Bone Density Augs are not addressed as you don't purchase armor with Karma. Can't and not going to try to cover everything in relation to everything.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Thrass on (08:02:47/05-10-13)
a level 3 skillwire (availability 12) costs 6k Nuyen which is 1.2 BP and 0.6 Essence
that gives you access to 6 slots of skillsoft, filling a slot is 2BP

You can thus get  6 rating 1 skills for 13.2BP at chargen
as opposed to  6*4 = 24BP
24/13.2 is  a ratio of 1.8

not taking 6 skills at rating 1? yeah sure it scales down gracefully
you need 2 skills at rating 1 at chargen because... you just need to?

2k nuyen (0.4bp)
plus 4bp for 2 skillsofts means 4.4bp for 2 rating 1 skillsofts instead of 2*4=8BP
puts us at 8/4.4 which is the exactly same 1.8 ratio

for those rating 1 skills it is always an 1.8 ratio if you are buying them in an even amount

lets factor in ess-karma and everything...

you are paying 11.000Nuyen per rating 1 skill (upt o 6) which is 2.2 BP 2  0.5BP for essence per skill this means you actually pay 2.7BP / 5.4 karma per skill at rating 1
it is still strictly worse then buying with karma later, but way better then buying them with BP

I think you should factor this into your guide

also maybe factor in personalized skillsoft, which basically means:
a level 3 skillwire (availability 12) costs 6k Nuyen which is 2.4 karma and 0.6 Essence which is 12 karma
plus 62.000 nuyen for 2 activesofts  rating 3(4) which is 24.8 karma which brings us to 39.2 karma for 2 rating 4 skills as opposed to: 48 post chargen karma

oh? all of a sudden skillwires net karma?
guess what... we can push that further...
for 2k nuyen we can add pluscode to all the programs...
that means for little extra cost we can put 6 skills in there !

a level 3 skillwire (availability 12) costs 6k Nuyen which is 2.4 karma and 0.6 Essence which is 12 karma
plus 33.000 nuyen per activesofts rating 3(4)  with pluscode 2 which is 13.2 karma
for 6 skills that means 79.2 karma for software and 2.4 karma for the ware and 12 karma for the essence this sums up to
93.6 karma for 6 rating 4 skills opposed to 144 karma
we save over 50 karma.... /25BP

a mage with magic 5 would be better of getting this and hardcapping his magic

although, you are kinda maxing out on money expenses ;)

Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: UmaroVI on (10:10:05/05-10-13)
Yeah, that's the main issue with skillsofts at chargen - you need the money for other stuff that saves you even more karma.

The best way to use skillsofts IMO is Move By Wire. MBW 2 is good even without the skillsofts.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Thrass on (15:51:52/05-10-13)
Yeah but ruling skill wires out is just not gonna make it in a karma efficiency thread it is a useful option if only for a limited set of builds and characters that aren't capped at bp to nuyen
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Glyph on (22:05:41/05-10-13)
Exceptional Attribute is one of the least effective ways to improve the maximum of an Attribute.

SURGE II with metagenetic improvement: Attribute costs half as much, at the expense of 10 points of negative metagenetic qualities (which can be purely cosmetic unless you are purposely gimping yourself), and it doesn't merely raise the Attribute maximum, but gives you an actual Attribute point as well.

Buying genetic optimization: Attribute costs 11 BP less (1 BP less than SURGE II), and a small amount of Essense.  It cuts into your starting resources, but not the 35 point limit on positive qualities, so it is a matter of which is more of an opportunity cost to you.

You also have the option of getting it with the genetic heritage quality, which costs 1 BP more, but shifts the opportunity cost from starting resources to positive qualities.  It also has the potential to save you more in resources if you get other genetic enhancements (which get a 20% discount).
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (22:36:22/05-10-13)
Yeah but ruling skill wires out is just not gonna make it in a karma efficiency thread it is a useful option if only for a limited set of builds and characters that aren't capped at bp to nuyen
No one is ruling Skillwires out but me, it's simply a recommendation. They are cost prohibitive, this is a fact. It's my personal opinion that they're "really" not worth investing in at Char-gen, because in general it's more efficient to invest in your attributes that your Skill are grouped around at Chargen. But ultimately this whole thread is just my opinion, with some math thrown in. You take exception with some of it, that's fine. Your contribution is most definitely appreciated and it will be here for all to read, but I'm not gonna change my recommendation in the body.
Exceptional Attribute is one of the least effective ways to improve the maximum of an Attribute.

SURGE II with metagenetic improvement: Attribute costs half as much, at the expense of 10 points of negative metagenetic qualities (which can be purely cosmetic unless you are purposely gimping yourself), and it doesn't merely raise the Attribute maximum, but gives you an actual Attribute point as well.

Buying genetic optimization: Attribute costs 11 BP less (1 BP less than SURGE II), and a small amount of Essense.  It cuts into your starting resources, but not the 35 point limit on positive qualities, so it is a matter of which is more of an opportunity cost to you.

You also have the option of getting it with the genetic heritage quality, which costs 1 BP more, but shifts the opportunity cost from starting resources to positive qualities.  It also has the potential to save you more in resources if you get other genetic enhancements (which get a 20% discount).
Dunno if you've bothered to read the thread, Glyph, but I've already covered all of this (minus the Genetic Heritage bit because it is not within the scope of my topic).
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: DamienHollow on (01:49:12/05-11-13)
Okay, am I the only one here who flinches at they way he mentions karma like we net it by the dozens? I usually net 2-4 per run. Thanks for the math though ;D
can i see the numbers on gearhead (5BP) Born Rich and the two trust funds?
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: StarManta on (15:28:08/05-11-13)
Okay, am I the only one here who flinches at they way he mentions karma like we net it by the dozens? I usually net 2-4 per run. Thanks for the math though ;D
can i see the numbers on gearhead (5BP) Born Rich and the two trust funds?

This is exactly the problem I'm having with his analysis. The takeaway lessons appears to be, "softcap a few attributes and max out your gear, but buy most/all your skills with Karma". First, taking this advice to the extreme, the obvious problem would be that you would be doing several runs with no skills at all.

More fundamentally, I think he is drastically understimating the value of Karma in general. He is assuming that 1 BP = 2 Karma, which I suspect comes from the only direct BP-to-Karma conversion provided, which is in buying off negative Qualities. However, I believe that premise to be fundamentally flawed. Qualities are supposed to be more "baked in" to your character than other stats, and thus, will naturally be harder to buy off after chargen.

The highest Karma level I have played with has been ~150, and the highest I've even seen has been 300. This suggests a point of Karma is more valuable than BP, not less.

It's good to know the relative amounts that BP is worth compared to Karma, but there is no direct point value exchange rate between the two. It's worth it to say "Maxing an attribute with BP has a better BP-to-Karma value than buying skills"; it does not, however, follow that it's not worth it to buy skills with BP, which he seems to imply.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: DamienHollow on (15:47:51/05-11-13)
He does have one thing right though. Karma punishes you for specializing.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: RHat on (17:35:13/05-11-13)
StarManta: The 1:2 ratio isn't just for qualities - karmagen makes use of the same ratio when it needs such a conversion.  Mathematically, 1BP = 2 Karma.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: JoeNapalm on (18:53:09/05-11-13)
In defense of M2, he has a disclaimer in the OP.

He never has made any claims of this being the best approach, simply the most mathematically efficient in terms of Karma.

I know this will horrify many, but an extremist approach to CharGen is usually not going to generate the best character - it simply generates the best character for that single criteria.

That doesn't make this thread useless. It's very useful for making educated decisions, but isn't the only metric to consider, which is clearly addressed on the first post.


-Jn-
Ifriti Sophist
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: mtfeeney = Baron on (07:05:59/05-12-13)
Holy crap, I never noticed that metagenetic improvement raised the minimum stat, too...  Thanks for pointing that out.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Thrass on (13:36:19/05-12-13)
metagenetic improvement ist strictly better then anything else, you get 1point of stat +1 maximum point for 10bp and 5b negative qualities
you can use it to push bp from your positive qualities pool into your attribute pool and it stacks with everything else
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (18:56:13/05-12-13)
Okay, am I the only one here who flinches at they way he mentions karma like we net it by the dozens? I usually net 2-4 per run. Thanks for the math though ;D
can i see the numbers on gearhead (5BP) Born Rich and the two trust funds?
Ummm, 2nd to last paragraph of the Attributes section, in reference to how much post-chargen karma you can gain by spending BP wisely: "Think about how long it takes you to earn 150 Karma, or even 40, once you start Running? Personally, I think I've only had 1 or 2 characters that have lasted beyond 150 Karma." Where do I talk about it like it comes in the dozens? The whole point of this thread is that post-Chargen karma is very valuable. All of the hours I've spent writing this stuff out is because I recognize how hard it is to come by "enough" karma in play. How can you take it any other way?

Regarding Gearhead, it's one of those weird Qualities with some tenuous benefits and wording (such as, it starts as 5 & 10 BP purchase levels at first then changes to 5 and 15 at the bottom), like it says you get the benefits for 1 scene but it doesn't say if that should be per session, per run, per campaign, etc., so I won't be covering it in the main entry. Generally though you could lump it in there with the very first entry of Part 4, Qualities "+1 or 2 to X-Skill or Test(s)" (i.e. only advisable to take if you want to be the best of the best of the best at something), but it's benefits go a little beyond that so I wouldn't. My personal opinion of it; if you know your GM likes to do a lot of chase scenes (with you as the pursuer or escapee) or otherwise vehicle related elements, could be a decent purchase (it's not that expensive if you have a "signature" ride you're planning on using) if you're the dedicated Wheelman, but in my experience I've never done much with vehicle scenes and don't hear much about people doing much with vehicle scenes, so I wouldn't be very inclined to purchase it. Then again, I'm a big fan of solid consistency, and this is a very niche thing.

I'm not going to include Born Rich or the Trust Funds in the main entry either, but I'll give you an ad hoc break down here:

Born Rich, essentially costs 20 BP/ 40 karma for 50K Y. 10 BP for the "privilege" of spending 10 more BP on cred. First, you should only take this if 1.) you've already spent all your possible cred and 2.) if you're going to spend this extra cred on something that is either hard to get post-Chargen, or on something that will net you post-Chargen karma (like Attribute-boosting 'ware). Second, it's exchange rate is not necessarily favorable. It's strictly worse than "In Debt" (though they fill slightly different Chargen needs), because even though you get less cred total and less cred per BP, you're also getting that BP which you can spend on cred (obviously this doesn't given you the nuyen-roof busting ability of Born Rich - only 10K vs 50K), so it's a good Neg Quality for PCs who are low on BP (due to Attributes, Skills and Posi-Qualities, etc.), but need more Y for gear. Even if you have to pay In Debt Quality off in Karma (as well as Y), you're still potentially getting 60K Y for 20 Karma (plus interest). If you don't have to pay it off in Karma (be sure to ask your GM first), you should absolutely take the 30 BP version of this Quality, every time. 3K interest can be hard to make at first, but if you can get some help from your friends, you're pretty much getting money - and more importantly 30 BP - for nothing.

Trust Fund is different and kind of subjective. You're paying either 10 BP or 20 BP for the equivalent of 5.5K or 10.1K cash infusions per month, right? That sounds freaking fantastic, no? But is the value really there? What do you do with that Middle or High Lifestyle? Do you need that high of a lifestyle? What mechanical game benefits do you really get from it? The answer is not necessarily a whole lot. If your GM will let you build a Custom Lifestyle with those budgets it's a little better of a Quality. But ultimately, you're making a significant mechanical sacrifice (10-20 BP) for a largely intangible to non-existent mechanical benefit in-game. This one is really a choice that should be made on the level of other RP choices. You don't take this Quality because it saves you a bunch of karma down the road, you do it because your PC has daddy pay for all his crap.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (19:11:44/05-12-13)
The takeaway lessons appears to be, "softcap a few attributes and max out your gear, but buy most/all your skills with Karma".
That is just about exactly the takeaway lesson: Put as much BP as you can into your Attributes and Gear (especially those that are central to your core skill-set), and spend as little as you can on Skills while still having a functional character (I generally try to stay below 100 BP spent on Skills, around 60 is fantastic, but not very realistic for anything but Magicians or combat specialists - Hackers and/or Generalists {like a Bounty Hunter} usually end up in the 120 range - and I usually aim for pools ranging from around 9 in things I need to be able to do but not excel at, to 15 in the things I need to excel at).
First, taking this advice to the extreme, the obvious problem would be that you would be doing several runs with no skills at all.
Yes, and your doctor tells you to drink more water, but how many people go home and chug a gallon of it and die? The answer is; only those Evolution wants out of the mix.
More fundamentally, I think he is drastically understimating the value of Karma in general. He is assuming that 1 BP = 2 Karma, which I suspect comes from the only direct BP-to-Karma conversion provided, which is in buying off negative Qualities. However, I believe that premise to be fundamentally flawed.
This is explicitly stated as the basic assumption of the thread. It is a math thread and it is based on a mathematical assumption. If you don't agree with it on some level, then don't follow any of the advice - simple as that. I don't care what you do with this information, I don't care if you agree with it or not. It's widely applicable and accepted as true - doesn't make it the overriding driver of choices in all cases. I agree. I also don't have a dog in your race. You're free to enjoy spending your time playing, compensating for a Chargen system disconnected from the PC advancement system.
The highest Karma level I have played with has been ~150, and the highest I've even seen has been 300. This suggests a point of Karma is more valuable than BP, not less.
Yes, and one would think that one might realize the fact that I've spent hours and hours to show others how to turn BP into karma would assert and reinforce this view. Do you understand what is going on here? (Hint: I'm trying to show people how to have the PC and RP they want, with out getting bent over by BP-Chargen. Okay, SPOILER: that wasn't a hint, that was actually just a statement of my personal goal.)
It's good to know the relative amounts that BP is worth compared to Karma, but there is no direct point value exchange rate between the two. It's worth it to say "Maxing an attribute with BP has a better BP-to-Karma value than buying skills"; it does not, however, follow that it's not worth it to buy skills with BP, which he seems to imply.
I never said, "don't buy any Skills", I simply encourage Skill purchases at certain levels (1, 4 and 6) and the purchase of (certain) Skill Groups, where do you get this stuff you're writing?
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: DamienHollow on (03:01:29/05-13-13)
Will you be touching any on the metavarients or Shapeshifters? I just did some looking and found some interesting numbers in terms of attributes (50BP fox shifter gets about 40BP worth of attributes (including magic) and a few vision enhancements while the 75BP lion/tiger gets 110BP, + 1 reach, and the same vision enhancements.)
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Dragonslayer on (03:26:40/05-13-13)
I'm wondering how the two Drake qualities stack up personally.  70 points of Attributes plus reach and a breath weapon that does jack without a high Magic and skill investment.

And it's situational, since it only counts while shifted.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: I_V_Saur on (11:01:34/05-13-13)
You're probably swimming with things to do, Emsquared, but it occurs to me that there's a couple notable qualities worth looking at.

Latent Awakening/Dracomorphisis. In the case of being a Latent Adept or Technomancer, you don't actually pay anything later, and don't get your abilities early on, which pretty much ruins the whole point of being one, but as a Magician, Mystic Adept, or Drake, you get to pay later, can focus your BP on other things early, and you get a power boost. (Technically at GM's discretion, but these are most commonly triggered around artifacts and high Background Counts, so there's some measure of control over it.) I'd like to know, number-wise, how smart it would be, from a number standpoint. I always liked the Latent qualities, but I'm not sure if I'm helping, or crippling, my character in the long run.

The Carrier Quality doesn't buffyou, it buffs an ally who you end up infecting. If the party coordinates, or you just feel generous, you're giving quite an Attribute bonus, and some powers. (The negatives are RP-related, not covered by pure numbers, even though they are pretty rough negatives.)

Spirit Pacts...Dream Pact means you can do jobs while asleep, and gain extra cash. Not karma, but cash. That means you can afford extra Ware and such, get closer to bigger jobs, and generally advance yourself towards more Karma awards than other characters.
Formula Pact means you have a Spirit of steadily advancing power backing you, because so long as you live, it's safe from enslavement. It also means you live forever, and can gain even more Karma.
Magic Pact can give you a serious power boost once daily, in exchange for a bit of Edge, which few people rely on anyways.
Power Pact? You can do some seriously broken things with it, or so I've heard.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (11:26:04/05-13-13)
Will you be touching any on the metavarients or Shapeshifters? I just did some looking and found some interesting numbers in terms of attributes (50BP fox shifter gets about 40BP worth of attributes (including magic) and a few vision enhancements while the 75BP lion/tiger gets 110BP, + 1 reach, and the same vision enhancements.)
I'm wondering how the two Drake qualities stack up personally.  70 points of Attributes plus reach and a breath weapon that does jack without a high Magic and skill investment.

And it's situational, since it only counts while shifted.
You're probably swimming with things to do, Emsquared, but it occurs to me that there's a couple notable qualities worth looking at.

Latent Awakening/Dracomorphisis. In the case of being a Latent Adept or Technomancer, you don't actually pay anything later, and don't get your abilities early on, which pretty much ruins the whole point of being one, but as a Magician, Mystic Adept, or Drake, you get to pay later, can focus your BP on other things early, and you get a power boost. (Technically at GM's discretion, but these are most commonly triggered around artifacts and high Background Counts, so there's some measure of control over it.) I'd like to know, number-wise, how smart it would be, from a number standpoint. I always liked the Latent qualities, but I'm not sure if I'm helping, or crippling, my character in the long run.

The Carrier Quality doesn't buffyou, it buffs an ally who you end up infecting. If the party coordinates, or you just feel generous, you're giving quite an Attribute bonus, and some powers. (The negatives are RP-related, not covered by pure numbers, even though they are pretty rough negatives.)

Spirit Pacts...Dream Pact means you can do jobs while asleep, and gain extra cash. Not karma, but cash. That means you can afford extra Ware and such, get closer to bigger jobs, and generally advance yourself towards more Karma awards than other characters.
Formula Pact means you have a Spirit of steadily advancing power backing you, because so long as you live, it's safe from enslavement. It also means you live forever, and can gain even more Karma.
Magic Pact can give you a serious power boost once daily, in exchange for a bit of Edge, which few people rely on anyways.
Power Pact? You can do some seriously broken things with it, or so I've heard.
Sorry guys, as my initial post states, I have no intentions of getting into Metavariants, SURGE, HMVV, Drakes, Free Spirits, AIs or any of those things. Part of that is because I personally don't really like them yet (I only came to 4E mid-2012 after not having played SR since 2nd), so I'm not bored with the "normal" options and these detract too much from the cyberpunk-ness of the setting for my tastes - taking it to full on fantasy with a technology element, and therefore I don't use them and so I don't know how the numbers play out and I therefore don't feel qualified to do any sort of analysis, but mostly I don't intend to because it just introduces too many options and combinations - I haven't even gotten to Spells and Martial Arts and *shudder* my analysis of Adepts yet, which I really still want to do. Unfortunately, taking over as GM for my group has indeed distracted me from all of this.

Again, sorry, I really would like to help you out.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Carz on (15:44:24/05-13-13)
Spirit Pacts...
Magic Pact can give you a serious power boost once daily, in exchange for a bit of Edge, which few people rely on anyways.

I've never understood why people felt that Edge is not 'useful' or 'used very often'. Maybe its me, but I run a human caster with maxed edge of 7 and end up using it all before it refreshes.

Buy I look at it a certain way, and its a way that it at least tangentially related to this thread: I look at edge as a 2nd stream/method of putting points into your primary character focus/abilities.

For example, once you buy the 6 rating skill, and you have a 6+ stat, and maybe cyber or magic buffing it, how do you make yourself better at it? I do so via buying/using more edge.

I do agree that, being a limited quantity its only as useful as the refresh rate allows it to be, so talk to your GM about how often you get it back. But even then, using it as a shot of Nitro to your primary abilities might allow you to end a fight or chase scene a round or two early, lowering damage taken by your group, putting you in a better position to complete you mission.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (16:48:00/05-13-13)
I've never understood why people felt that Edge is not 'useful' or 'used very often'. Maybe its me, but I run a human caster with maxed edge of 7 and end up using it all before it refreshes.
I don't think people ever say EDG is "not useful", it's just a matter of which is a better approach for a given PC or player; investing your resources on being consistently good at what you do, or investing your resources on EDG where you're perhaps more adaptable and possibly able to make the clutch move when it's really needed. And while it's not a fully binary path, doing anything meaningful with your EDG at chargen requires a significant investment (40 BP) - that's 10% of your PC, and fully 20% post-Attributes.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Dinendae on (04:45:09/05-18-13)
I would like to request a sticky for this tread, please!  ;D
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: UmaroVI on (11:09:07/05-18-13)
What it really comes down to is how often Edge refreshes and that depends on your GM.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Dinendae on (01:13:34/05-19-13)
What it really comes down to is how often Edge refreshes and that depends on your GM.

From the looks of things in 5th edition, the GM will have some helpful guidelines in that regard. I can't remember off of the top of my head, but does SR4A have such guidelines, or is it strictly up to the GM?


*Edit:* PS: A big thank you to whoever stickied this! I've been referencing it a lot lately.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (10:01:35/05-22-13)
Thanks to the community for the support! I'm stoked that this has been stickied.

I've been really busy IRL, but I'll try to get to the final parts of this soon.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Dinendae on (08:31:13/05-24-13)
Thanks to the community for the support! I'm stoked that this has been stickied.

I've been really busy IRL, but I'll try to get to the final parts of this soon.

Thank you for posting it the first place! I've never really been good a number crunching, and this thread has shown me a ton of mistakes that I was making.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (14:46:24/05-24-13)
Martial Arts, Spells and Contacts are up. As always, feedback welcome on the judgements made. As always, it may or may not be heeded ;)
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Dinendae on (06:55:40/05-25-13)
Martial Arts, Spells and Contacts are up. As always, feedback welcome on the judgements made. As always, it may or may not be heeded ;)

Nice! Will the adept section also cover Mystic Adepts?
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: I_V_Saur on (06:40:07/05-26-13)
Probably with one sentence.

'Horrible idea, don't ever do it, better to sodomize yourself with a couch.'
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Thrass on (09:54:41/05-26-13)
There are quite reasonable mystic adept builds.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (22:23:43/05-27-13)
Nice! Will the adept section also cover Mystic Adepts?
Wasn't planning on it, but I could give them a sentence or small paragraph, it would effectively some up to, "Take the best parts of each aspect, Magician and Adept: buy a Power Foci to be an effective caster, put most of your MAG towards Powers" :)
'Horrible idea, don't ever do it, better to sodomize yourself with a couch.'
Heh, they are tough builds, but lots of potential if you're into that (back-end power) strategy.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: All4BigGuns on (22:25:22/05-27-13)
Good sentence to add on Mystic Adepts:

"Ask your GM if they're using the rules or the FAQ, and if they're using the FAQ, don't play one."
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (22:29:29/05-27-13)
Good sentence to add on Mystic Adepts:

"Ask your GM if they're using the rules or the FAQ, and if they're using the FAQ, don't play one."
Is that in regards to the full MAG Attribute for casting effects?
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: All4BigGuns on (22:34:27/05-27-13)
Good sentence to add on Mystic Adepts:

"Ask your GM if they're using the rules or the FAQ, and if they're using the FAQ, don't play one."
Is that in regards to the full MAG Attribute for casting effects?

Quite.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (22:50:29/05-27-13)
A Magician has to give up MAG if they want 'ware (an analogous source of power), it's no less balanced that a Myst-Ad has to give up MAG to Powers (unless Powers aren't as good?). A potential 10 - 12 Spellcasting/Summoning dice are absolutely nothing to sneeze at besides.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: RHat on (00:10:22/05-28-13)
The contention isn't the pool, but rather the Force.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: All4BigGuns on (00:12:52/05-28-13)
The contention isn't the pool, but rather the Force.

Exactly. The rules say that the dice pool uses the lower value, but where it says all other purposes includes the Force in the same manner as it applies to Adept powers (which the FAQ attempts to contradict there as well).
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Michael Chandra on (02:41:01/05-28-13)
Basically the FAQ adjusted a bad wording and some people don't like it, so they use it as argument that the FAQ sucks balls rather than as argument that RAW was written poorly there and needs a RAI errata to keep Mystic Adepts painfully nerfed/balanced.

Note, though, that the FAQ DOES contradict RAW on one big thing: Determining the maximum level of adept powers. RAW says the full Magic value applies, the FAQ errata'd that to the Adept Magic value. You could probably consider that an errata on FanPro that they forgot to fix in the SR4a printing. If SR4a had had proper errata (including the stealth-errata on bows) that likely would have been in there.

Now the FAQ says that the Force of sorcery/conjuring is part of the magical skill, same goes for the Magic used when using Attribute Boosts and such. The full Magic applies to Initiation limit, pressing through astral barriers, Masking, being assessed, etc. Basically anything using Magic that isn't a magical skill or adept power.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: RHat on (03:34:27/05-28-13)
Er, no.  The FAQ involved one guy who takes the "Adeptrun" point of view trying to force it upon everyone as rules without the normal editing process.  It neither "clarifies" nor "adjusts" the wording, it CONTRADICTS the wording.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Michael Chandra on (03:44:25/05-28-13)
It neither "clarifies" nor "adjusts" the wording, it CONTRADICTS the wording.
Note, though, that the FAQ DOES contradict RAW on ...
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: RHat on (04:04:11/05-28-13)
Part of the contradiction is casting Force.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Michael Chandra on (04:16:54/05-28-13)
That's your view on it. I consider it a clarification of what "to use with Magic-based skills" exactly means. So no, I do not consider that part a contradiction. Yes, it contradicts your interpretation, it contradicts what likely many use as RAI. It doesn't contradict RAW because RAW isn't clear enough on the matter. Which is what FAQs are for.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: RHat on (04:22:20/05-28-13)
Except that your skill has nothing to do with your casting/summoning force - that's purely determined by the attribute.  That's assigning a new significance that otherwise exists nowhere in the rules; hence a contradiction.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Michael Chandra on (04:38:36/05-28-13)
If you want to argue semantics, I can bring up half a dozen counter-arguments on that but honestly, I don't feel like turning this in a heated rule-lawyer/munchkin debate. You don't trust the FAQ. That's fine. You consider it a contradiction. That's fine. I consider it a mere clarification. That's fine. It's still your RAI vs my RAI vs official RAI.

The FAQ explains that the magic "to use with Magic-based skills" is for all aspects of using those skills. That, according to the FAQ, includes the maximum allowed Spell Force and overcasting. When you spellcast, you check your magic to see what Force you can cast as and when you're overcasting. According to the FAQ, only the points that you can use with Magic-based skills apply in this Step 2 of Spellcasting.

If you disagree with that, fine by me. Want to consider it a contradiction rather than a clarification, fine by me. But the FAQ is the closest to RAW we can get without an errata, so it will be what many GMs will follow. And it IS part of the rules, so it's not a matter of the rules or the FAQ, it's a matter of the FAQ's RAI or the GM's own RAI.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: RHat on (04:59:42/05-28-13)
The FAQ cannot create rules text - but this isn't the place for discussing it.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Michael Chandra on (05:02:09/05-28-13)
And as I already explained, I don't see it as creation but as clarification.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: UmaroVI on (09:53:53/05-28-13)
You can still make Mystic Adepts that aren't sad about their life choices if the FAQ rule is in place, but the good or really good version of Heightened Concentration is allowed.

Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (12:05:29/06-03-13)
The most recent and final planned addition, Part 5: Adepts, OR; Why Does Everybody Hate Me?! is up. Enjoy, everyone!
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Dinendae on (08:21:25/06-05-13)
The most recent and final planned addition, Part 5: Adepts, OR; Why Does Everybody Hate Me?! is up. Enjoy, everyone!

Thanks! It pretty much confirms what I already knew; I'll be waiting until 5th Ed launches before trying out a mystic adept.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (10:42:24/06-06-13)
So, I decided to engage in a little experiment to see if there is actually anything to all this BP Math business. I’d never really done the math of a before and after situation, so that’s what I decided to do here. And since the goal is ostensibly to use this information to come out with the same PC that might otherwise be inefficient I applied some rules:

What I’ve done is taken the Weapon Specialist template from the SR4A core book and calculated her net post-chargen Karma efficiency, then applied the karma-efficiency "rules" and did the calculations again. For consistency/comparison sake, I had the goal of keeping every Skill the template had (though adding more is fine) and maintaining the flavor of the character through Qualities (though they may be changed if it still maintains the flavor). Everything else was up for change.

Weapon Specialist Before
Karma Efficiency -243 = Elf, 0 + Attributes, -135 + Skills, -88 + Qualities, -20 (more PQ BP spent than NQ BP gained)
Skill Pools:
Archery                             5
Armorer                            8
Close Combat Group   6
Demolitions                    6
Dodge                              5
Firearms Group             7
Heavy Weapons            5
Negotiation                     6
Throwing Weapons      5

Really it’s hard to believe that was a 400 BP character.

Weapon Specialist After
Karma Efficiency -90 = Elf, 0 + Attributes, -50 + Skills, -60 + Qualities, +20
Skill Pools:
Archery                             11
Armorer                           10
Close Combat Group   11
Demolitions                    8
Dodge                              10
Firearms Group             14
Heavy Weapons             11
Negotiation                      7
Perception                        6
Throwing Weapons        11

What did I do to the build? See the attached file for details. But in short, I took more Neg Qualities, "better" and fewer Posi Qs, devoted more points to and re-arranged the Attribute point distribution to align with the Skill-set, re-arranged Skill point distribution (and added a Perception Skill), devoted more BP to cred and used that cred to buy 'ware to bolster de-emphasized Attributes, and re-arranged Contact point distribution (eliminating a redundant Contact).

To sum it up though, not only did this PC “gain” roughly 150 Karma that the player would have had to gain through play otherwise if she had started in her karma-inefficient state, but also added 46 dice in her main Skill pools, which was almost double what she had to begin with. That 150 Karma is probably longer than most campaigns last, on average, no? Or, what, 6 mos. or more of weekly play, at least a year of monthly?

Anyway, maybe it's hard to see here because of the stark difference in mechanics, but the point is not to reach a net-positive Karma start, not only is that nearly impossible, but if you did it, it would be a really wonky looking PC with some massive weaknesses. The point is that you can build the PC you want - RP and story wise, but still get the most out of their mechanics.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: I_V_Saur on (18:25:03/06-06-13)
Should have a reference on page one, to that post, for ease of access.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: emsquared on (11:27:13/06-07-13)
Provided a link at the end of Part 5 to the above "Character Study" in Karma Efficiency.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Parsnips on (18:23:25/07-07-13)
Toughness: 20 Karma for 1 physical soak box or 20 Karma for 1 physical box, damage resistance, more armor, and resistance to poisons and such, etc.? Don't take Toughness.
Actually, toughness gives you an extra die on soak rolls, not an actual wound box. The quality that gives you wound boxes is Tough as Nails (10BP/level) from Runner's Companion. It's surprising how often those two get confused. I'm not sure how good it is, but it seems to give you actual wound boxes instead of extra "bleed-out" boxes like most other things do.

Also, you may want to add Analytical Mind to the list of notable "+1/2 to X" qualities as, it gives you +2 to Data Search and Software for 10 karma which is pretty amazing for any hacker.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Hersir on (13:21:01/03-12-15)
This is for SR4 and no longer valid for SR5 I assume?

Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: 8-bit on (13:28:09/03-12-15)
This is for SR4 and no longer valid for SR5 I assume?

Yes. It's still valid for SR4 games, but is not applicable to SR5.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Hersir on (13:51:11/03-12-15)
Is there something similar for SR5 out there? That would be great! it's quite interesting and an awesome collection of information but I can't really use it for my game experience in 5.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: 8-bit on (16:11:15/03-12-15)
Not at the moment.

I've considered doing something similar, but I just don't really have the time.
Title: Re: BP Character Generation: the Math You Really Should Know
Post by: Hersir on (16:03:17/03-13-15)
that sounds promising. I love the numbers! Although I'm fairly new to the whole shadowrun thing I could try to help with certain things if that would help.

so long...