Author Topic: [SR5] Priority Generation: Math You Really Ought to Know  (Read 4649 times)

Overbyte

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I'm with Hobbes and Tecumseh.
Although I'm a math guy and like what you've tried to do here and agree with some of your main points (particularly about tall stacks), there are a number of important issues not quantified.
As others have pointed out, Skills have a certain "diminishing returns" unless you are trying to make a character that is good at everything, and if you are, stats go further boosting all skills in a category. Often later in character development the math is simple as to whether to raise a bunch of skills or just raise one stat. Limits are another place, I just made a new char that was a Mystic Adept Face Infiltrator and when I got done with everything I realized my Limits were terrible (5 social and 3 physical) and had to rearrange my stats so i could actually be good at Social and Physical tasks that I had plenty of skill points in (Sneaking for example).

You mention "optimal skill allocation" what is that?

Also, some of the math I don't understand, like how do you come by the various numbers you have for Attr E-->D? If one were to build a character with Attr E "optimally" you'd have tall stack in a couple of stats and the rest 1's, so when you increase to Attr D you'd be increasing 2 stats from 1 to 2 which would be only 20 points each (10 each), or one stat from 1 to 3 which would be 25 points. So the most you would lose going from D to E would be 25 yet the chart has all sorts of numbers in it? I must have missed something. Also, If you think about going from Human E to Human D how to you get the value for that? Consider that those Special Attr points could (and often are) used to raise Magic. So you might be moving you Magic from 4 to 6. That's 55 Karma cost. Whereas going from Edge 2 to 4 is 35. You have 45 listed. Did you average these values? Again you say "if allocated optimally" but don't define what that is.

Long winded thing about your Ork Sam here.. maybe too much ...
[spoiler]And the big problem is.. not to cast too much shade, but the idea that you "save 73 karma" by building your street sam with Attr D and Skills B completely throws out the window important considerations such as the fact that you can't raise any stats by more than 4 (with cyberware), and with 14 points in Attr you are going to be bad at absolutely everything outside of combat skills. Essentially your Ork (if built what I think you are calling optimally) will have 1 in everything except Bod, Str, and AGI. Whereas if you have Stats B you are going to be good at everything you need to be, perhaps really good AND be decent in the other skills. Because as people have pointed out, unless you are playing a solo game you need to be more a specialist than a JoAT. How are you going to build this Sam? You would probably put your 5 group in Unarmed or Firearms and use the other points for the other skills and then blow off everything else since you have no stats.
Having said that, most of my characters are made to be more versatile, but I still favor stats over skills every time, because stats are more costly to raise than skills and contribute to a wide range of skills all at once. Consider how far 1 AGI point goes for a Sam char. And even with a JoAT char as people point out in that other thread, good stats and 1 point of skill is much better (cost effective) than bad stats and a bunch of skills
[/spoiler]

I understand it's pretty much impossible to take all these things into account, but I guess I'm wondering how you came to these numbers in many cases. Perhaps much of that was explained in the original SR4 post?


Beta

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I don't think that the OP ever advocated building a character totally according to those numbers -- and I think the subject line captures it nicely with "The Math You Really Ought to Know".  I'd say that understanding this stuff is useful when generating a character, but by no means sufficient.  It is a bit like understanding compound interest when taking out a loan, you really should understand that and what those numbers mean for you, but that isn't enough information to tell you if a particular loan is a good idea or not.

Dwagonzhan

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You mention "optimal skill allocation" what is that?

Skill Points under Priority accumulate in value the deeper into a skill you invest.
That's because the Karma cost equivalent per skill rank (post chargen or in Karma Build) increases with each rank. While the cost to YOU in chargen is 1:1.

I'll demonstrate this in practice via two hypothetical cases.

SCENARIO: We have 12 skill points (granted via priority system) to spend.

-Case I
I pick two skills to specialize in. Sinking 4 points into one, 6 into another, and using 1 point apiece to buy a Specialization.
(this is a very common spread on my characters in practice; used for Perception 4 [Visual] + Combat Skill 6 [Specialization])

Breaking it down into Karma equivalent.
Skill A: 6 , Skill B: 6 = ((1+2+3+4+5+6)*2)*2
Result: 42 + 42 = 84 Karma

VS

-Case II
Buying 3 ranks in four different skills, with no specializations.
Skill A,B,C, & D all @ Rating 3 = [(1+2+3)*2)] * 4
Result: 12 karma x 4 Skills = 48 Karma

By spending those 12 points "deeper" in Case I vs "Wider" in Case 2, I greatly improve my raw Karma equivalent gains.
That is NUMERICALLY optimal. Not necessarily optimal for any given situation in play. In this way, specialization or "deep" builds force you to pay in opportunity costs elsewhere (in theory).

In practice, this isn't much of an issue because Shadowrun is a team game.
Everyone on the team is (in theory) a specialist in something. So most characters only really need a handful of core skills at high rank, with a smattering of niche or support skills.
(Mages take this to an extreme, requiring only Spellcasting, Summoning+Binding to be highly useful/powerful)

EDIT: Corrections because I can't math (DURR HURR). But my main point remains.
« Last Edit: (14:34:46/03-03-17) by Dwagonzhan »
"You haven't truly lived until you've had a Cortex bomb!" ~Former GM

Overbyte

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@Dwagonzhan

I understand what you are saying.
But that doesn't explain what "optimal" means in the  general sense.
If I have 20 skill points is "optimal" 3 skills at 5(7) and 1 at 1(3)?

Or.. in other words is "optimal"  = maximum number of skills at 5 with a specialization in each (for 6 points each) and the remaining points in a single skill as high as possible with specialization?

Likewise what is "optimal" stat placement?

Is it = maximum one stat, max - 1 in as many as possible, then everything left over in one stat?
« Last Edit: (20:23:11/03-01-17) by Overbyte »

Pap Renvela

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@Dwagonzhan

I understand what you are saying.
But that doesn't explain what "optimal" means in the  general sense.
If I have 20 skill points is "optimal" 3 skills at 5(7) and 1 at 1(3)?

Or.. in other words is "optimal"  = maximum number of skills at 5 with a specialization in each (for 6 points each) and the remaining points in a single skill as high as possible with specialization?

Likewise what is "optimal" stat placement?

Is it = maximum one stat, max - 1 in as many as possible, then everything left over in one stat?

20 skill points... 6(+2), 6(+2), 6 would yield the most Karma... which is what I believe the OP would call optimal


Dwagonzhan

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20 skill points... 6(+2), 6(+2), 6 would yield the most Karma... which is what I believe the OP would call optimal

^Basically this.
I had a more detailed reply, but it failed to send after 4 attempts. I shutdown for the evening afterward.
"You haven't truly lived until you've had a Cortex bomb!" ~Former GM

Glyph

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Four rating: 3 skills actually cost 48 Karma, not 24 Karma.  But that is still less than 76.  Actually, the most optimal way to spend 12 skill points is to get two rating: 6 skills, worth 84 Karma.

But this thread is not really about optimizing purely by Karma efficiency - it is about being aware of Karma efficiency, so that you can better balance it against other factors.  For example, suppose you have 18 skill points.  Getting three skills of 6 might be most optimal, Karma-wise, but suppose that two of them are your primary skills and the third is a supporting/tertiary skill.  Dropping that third skill down to 4 lets you get specializations for the other two skills.  So you balance that combination being worth 8 less Karma, versus a +2 to two important dice pools.

Pap Renvela

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Four rating: 3 skills actually cost 48 Karma, not 24 Karma.  But that is still less than 76.  Actually, the most optimal way to spend 12 skill points is to get two rating: 6 skills, worth 84 Karma.

But this thread is not really about optimizing purely by Karma efficiency - it is about being aware of Karma efficiency, so that you can better balance it against other factors.  For example, suppose you have 18 skill points.  Getting three skills of 6 might be most optimal, Karma-wise, but suppose that two of them are your primary skills and the third is a supporting/tertiary skill.  Dropping that third skill down to 4 lets you get specializations for the other two skills.  So you balance that combination being worth 8 less Karma, versus a +2 to two important dice pools.

You are right that optimal karma expenditure isn't the end all of chargen.
For example there is also time efficiency.
Buying a specialization in chargen cost no time... after chargen, its one month downtime while you doing nothing else.
Which is why I sometimes go less than optimal in karma expenditure.
Time is money after all.

Hobbes

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You are right that optimal karma expenditure isn't the end all of chargen.
For example there is also time efficiency.
Buying a specialization in chargen cost no time... after chargen, its one month downtime while you doing nothing else.
Which is why I sometimes go less than optimal in karma expenditure.
Time is money after all.

For Deckers I'll do Software (DataBombs) 1 (3).  For B&E characters Hardware (Alarms) 1 (3); for just about any character Con (Fast talk) 1 (3).  Basically for that exact reason.  Depending on the rest of the build I may put a few karma into raising the base a few more points.  It's not Karma efficient but for low priority skills that really only have one purpose I don't want to sink piles of Karma and time into developing them.

gargaM0NK

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Thanks again for the interest in this topic! Sorry I've been afk - was at GDC for a bit. Thanks Dwagonzhan and Pap Renvela for stepping in with some math while I was out. Let's see if I can clarify a few things.

this thread is not really about optimizing purely by Karma efficiency - it is about being aware of Karma efficiency, so that you can better balance it against other factors.

Well said!

There's a general idea that computers (in this case represented by the spreadsheets I used to derive a lot of this data) are better at performing tasks like computation than people, but worse at performing tasks like making decisions.

What that means here is that I can use the sheet to derive the standard deviation for the weighted binomial distribution of dice pools that hit on a 5 or a 6, but I can't use it to tell you how to build "the perfect decker" because it's not going to know solely from the math stuff like Hobbes's convenient one-point wonders or Glyphs 6+2 / 6+2 / 4 allocation, at least not without the math getting WAY more complicated than a person's experience / instinctive familiarity.

the OP [n]ever advocated building a character totally according to those numbers...understanding this stuff is useful when generating a character, but by no means sufficient.

Correct - the goal here isn't to build the perfect runner, but rather to highlight some of the numbers that go into making good decisions during creation.

With that said, let's address some of your more specific points. 
Limits are another place, I just made a new char that was a Mystic Adept Face Infiltrator and when I got done with everything I realized my Limits were terrible (5 social and 3 physical) and had to rearrange my stats so i could actually be good at Social and Physical tasks that I had plenty of skill points in (Sneaking for example).

I've addressed Limits in their own section, showing which attributes they're derived from, how to boost each one, and what your optimal limit is based on the size of your pool (tldr: generally [dice in pool]/3 + 2).

You mention "optimal skill allocation" what is that?

I break down optimal skill allocation in the Skills section (tldr: Deal with groups first, then individuals, as many as you can at 6, then specializations), but I never show you the math I used to generate the table, so let me break that down here.

Skill groups first, 10 points means 1 at 6 (105 karma) 1 at 4 (50 karma) for 155 karma equivalence in groups.
Then 7 skills at rank 6 (42 each) for 294 karma in skills.
Finally, we have 4 points left over, so 4 specializations (7 karma each) gives us 28 points in specializations.
So 155 (groups) + 294 (skills) + 28 (specializations = 477 karma for optimal allocation. You'll note that this math doesn't take into account the aptitude quality, although the approach I describe is still valid.

I didn't describe that math specifically in the skill section because you can derive it from the advice I gave, but I can include it if people think the clarity outweighs the clutter.

Really, though, there are three strikes against skills prioritization.
  • The skill cap of 12 vs max of 6 at creation means you're it's impossible to really tall-stack skills like you can attributes (at max-1).
  • Attributes have synergy between skills, where most skills are only used for a specific roll.
  • High priorities grant skill groups, which aren't karma efficient. They're 2.5 * the cost of skills, so you need 3 core skills in a group for it to be a discount, and most don't. Not to mention the weird rules about breaking them up and specializing only at the final step.
Since people are still having a hard time pulling that from the skill section I've written, I may need to re-revise.

Also, some of the math I don't understand, like how do you come by the various numbers you have for Attr E-->D? If one were to build a character with Attr E "optimally" you'd have tall stack in a couple of stats and the rest 1's, so when you increase to Attr D you'd be increasing 2 stats from 1 to 2 which would be only 20 points each (10 each), or one stat from 1 to 3 which would be 25 points. So the most you would lose going from D to E would be 25 yet the chart has all sorts of numbers in it? I must have missed something. Also, If you think about going from Human E to Human D how to you get the value for that? Consider that those Special Attr points could (and often are) used to raise Magic. So you might be moving you Magic from 4 to 6. That's 55 Karma cost. Whereas going from Edge 2 to 4 is 35. You have 45 listed. Did you average these values? Again you say "if allocated optimally" but don't define what that is.

Regarding the math, you actually have several questions packed into that paragraph, so I'm going to break it up a bit.

For prioritizing Attributes E vs D, it depends on the racial maximums for the attributes you're allocating into. If I'm a human at E, I would spend 5 points to raise, for instance Intuition, to 6. Then I could spend 4 to raise, say Reaction, to 5 because I can only cap 1 at creation. Now I have one 6, one 5, and 6 1s, so I'll use my last three points to raise Agility to 4. So if I do D instead, I'd be raising Agility from 4 to 5, and taking 1 elsewhere, not raising Str from 1 to 3. And those numbers change if I'm an elf, where my Cha and Agi caps are higher. That's why I made the table.  Again, the process (but not the math) is described in the attribute section.

In the metatype section, I break down the karma equivalence for the base stat bonuses as (for instance with Dwarves 60+) values greater than or equal to X. That's because if I pump the attributes that exceed human maximums, they're worth more. The same applies for the special attributes in the metatype column - I assume a starting Magic and Edge of 1.  In practice, it's karmically-optimal to apply special attributes to Magic first as you may have greater than 1 base, whereas Edge will start at 1. As with all Attributes, though, tall-stacks are the name of the game, so as long as you max either Magic or Edge then put the remainder in the other, you should be good.

Long winded thing about your Ork Sam here.. maybe too much ...
[spoiler]And the big problem is.. not to cast too much shade, but the idea that you "save 73 karma" by building your street sam with Attr D and Skills B completely throws out the window important considerations such as the fact that you can't raise any stats by more than 4 (with cyberware), and with 14 points in Attr you are going to be bad at absolutely everything outside of combat skills. Essentially your Ork (if built what I think you are calling optimally) will have 1 in everything except Bod, Str, and AGI. Whereas if you have Stats B you are going to be good at everything you need to be, perhaps really good AND be decent in the other skills. Because as people have pointed out, unless you are playing a solo game you need to be more a specialist than a JoAT. How are you going to build this Sam? You would probably put your 5 group in Unarmed or Firearms and use the other points for the other skills and then blow off everything else since you have no stats.
Having said that, most of my characters are made to be more versatile, but I still favor stats over skills every time, because stats are more costly to raise than skills and contribute to a wide range of skills all at once. Consider how far 1 AGI point goes for a Sam char. And even with a JoAT char as people point out in that other thread, good stats and 1 point of skill is much better (cost effective) than bad stats and a bunch of skills
[/spoiler]
With your breakdown of the Sam, I think you're making several assumptions. The purpose of that breakdown was to demonstrate how you combine your own personal knowledge and preferences (Magic, Resources, Metatype) with the math from the table (Skills and Attributes). If you always prioritize Attributes, cool! --Set that priority first. I agree with you about the dangers of over-skilling, and I've tried to outline them both in the skills section and this post. I wouldn't do Close Combat / Firearms for the skill group, though. You don't need three fighting skills at 5, just one at 6.

Just wondering if it would make sense to break the magic column up by type (adept / full-mage or mysad / aspected)... if not, could maybe break that down in the magic section?)
Column space is at a terrible premium there, but I can try to add a breakdown for Aspected and Technomancer karma equivalences in their sections of Magic soon.
« Last Edit: (09:42:34/03-07-17) by gargaM0NK »

Myriad

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I don't have anything to add, except thanks so much for doing all the work on this thread, its quite nice to read.

gargaM0NK

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@Myriad Thanks friend! The thing about info like this is that it takes a lot longer to figure out on your own than it saves once you know it, so I'm happy to share in the hopes that others can benefit from it as well.

@Beta I've rendered the table you asked for, but the process left me unsure as to how to take advantage of it. Let me sleep on it.
MagicMagicianAdeptAspectedTechno
A210 (90)160 (67)
B120 (70)140 (83)145 (105)93 (64)
C 50 57 (47)40 (30) 29
D 10 10
E----

There's not really much point in comparing karma equivalence between archetypes (except maybe to note that Technomancers kinda get boned), as changing magical path has a drastic effect on play-style for what would amount to around 20 post-gen karma.

We could look at the loss between ranks for each path, which is useful, but the conclusion is somewhat intuitive - high ranks in Magic and Skills / Groups make priorities A (for Magician, Mystic Adept, and Technomancer) and B (for Adept and Aspected) the sharpest drops.

We can observe that at first glance Aspected Magicians look pretty efficient at Priority B, but when you take Banishing or Ritual Sorcery out of the equation, they drop to a more reasonable 130 karma.

It's a good question, though, as the exercise was productive - I found that my karma sum for Magic (B) was incorrect (and fixed it) and added a new note about the karma synergy between Magic priority and special attributes from Metatype.
« Last Edit: (01:57:35/03-08-17) by gargaM0NK »

Pap Renvela

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There's a big difference between a one-off or a short series of runs vs building for a full campaign.

My GM literally limits the party to 2 awakened (out of a party of 5) because we would all never take magic/resonance E otherwise.
The amount of flexibility you gain by being awakened is worth way more than whatever you lose by taking it.
The only time it isn't worth it in the long run is when there isn't really a long run.

Valyn81

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Trolls only get lifestyle cost doubled, check the Errata.

Was your book one of the first releases? My book made it clear in the Size costs section of the Core book:

Trolls have incredibly large bodies and hands, while dwarfs have rather small bodies and hands—consequently, both have trouble using gear built for human dimensions. Corporate initiatives like Evo’s MetaErgonomics division have helped a lot; most products are available in dwarf- and troll-friendly sizes. This is reflected in the Lifestyle costs for dwarfs and trolls. Dwarfs have to pay twenty percent more on Lifestyle to make sure they are getting things that fit them, while trolls need to pay the troll tax—their Lifestyle costs are doubled.

Granted it does have the section in 'Spending your resources' the made it a little conflicting if you read that part; But i just looked at the fact they broke each thing (Gear and Lifestyle in to costing half each and the total reflected the same 20% and 100% increase listed on the Char Gen section)
When a character factors in racial modifiers for gear costs (trolls have a 50 percent gear and Lifestyle cost increase, dwarfs have a 10 percent increase in gear costs), the player may choose to increase the cost for each item picked up at that time to help them track how much they’ve spent and how much nuyen they have left. Alternately, they may choose to purchase all the gear at the base cost, arrive at a subtotal, and then add in the appropriate cost modifier (10 or 50 percent) to get the final total.

=========================
The errata said almost the same thing:

TROLL LIFESTYLE COSTS (P. 65, METATYPE & SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES)
The second sentence of this section needs to be clarified. Change: “Trolls receive Thermographic Vision, +1 Reach, and Dermal Armor, but they also receive the disadvantage of having to pay an additional fifty percent for gear because everything—including cyberware and bioware—must be specially modified to meet their massive physical requirements.” To “Trolls receive Thermographic Vision, +1 Reach, and Dermal Armor, but they also have the disadvantage of having their Lifestyle costs doubled to reflect the costs of adapting everything they use—especially their gear, including cyberware or bioware—to meet their massive physical requirements.”

TROLL AND DWARF GEAR COSTS (P. 94, SPEND YOUR RESOURCES, PARAGRAPH 3)
The paragraph that begins “When a character factors in racial modifiers” has information about gear costs for dwarves and trolls that does not apply in SR5. That paragraph should be removed and replaced with the following: “If the player finds that he or she has more than the 5,000 nuyen that can be saved (or even if he or she hasn’t), there are a few essential pieces of gear to consider when building a shadowrunner. You’ll want a commlink (p. 438) to stay in touch and to keep your gear relatively safe from hackers. A fake SIN (p. 442), along with some fake licenses, will help smooth dealing with law enforcement or even simple purchases like buying a bus ticket or covering
=========================================================

I almost forgot to say: THANK YOU, gargaM0NK! For breaking down the Karma/Char Gen so much. It has helped me with things in the campaign that my GM wants to start.... Unfortunately our campaign is more complicated than this will ever be covered it this topic
« Last Edit: (16:48:41/03-08-17) by Valyn81 »

gargaM0NK

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Added notes on Positive Qualities, Martial Arts, Mentor Spirits, and Adept Ways.

I almost forgot to say: THANK YOU, gargaM0NK! For breaking down the Karma/Char Gen so much. It has helped me with things in the campaign that my GM wants to start.

Glad to hear it!
« Last Edit: (20:38:15/03-09-17) by gargaM0NK »