Author Topic: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.  (Read 319 times)

Tassyr

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So I'm the 'old hand' in a group of rookies. Which in itself should tell you how bad things are, as I've not run since 2013. They're regularly asking me for help with chars, but here's the problem; I almost exclusively play sammies. Maybe one adept with a lot of help from a friend, and a single rigger a long time ago.

I am so freaking out of my depth that it's not funny when it comes to helping these guys. Is there a guide somewhere to all this, aside from the 'archetypes' in the book? Because I'm trying to help these guys through magic and such, and I am -so- freaking lost. I have no idea what good stats look like for a mage, or for a decker, for example- and I remember being told last time I made a char that the archetypes in the book were a bad guide.

And sorry if this is in the wrong place but I feel like it doesn't REALLY belong in character critique as... it's general help questions, not a specific char. But sorry if it should've been there.
"There's a reason Johnsons are named what they are. They'll try and fuck you at some point, no doubt about it." -Camulus

Jack_Spade

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #1 on: (04:36:41/09-05-17) »
Well, asking questions is the first step to solving the problem, so well done.  ;)
The archetypes are many things, but certainly not a good base to model your own characters.

If you have the time, you could try and get into a play by post game. It's amazing how much you can learn from them when you have the time to look up rules during play.

But some basics for char building:
Good stats are dicepools over 12, the higher the better. For secondary skills you can get away with a dp of 9 as long as they aren't opposed skills or have to content with high thresholds. In general it's better to spend your skill and attribute points during chargen focused: Low level stats can be bought up cheaper during the game than trying to increase a mid to high stat.
Attributes are king: It takes a lot of finesse and knowledge to make a character with low attribute priorities work. It's almost always better to have them at A or B priority.

Mages and magic types not only need a high dp for their casting/summoning but also a high pool to resist drain
Mag 6 Skill 6 + spec + mentor spirit bonus should be the norm for magic types.
WIL5 + their main Drain Stat (CHA, INT, LOG) should be at 6 or higher (that's why elves make such good shamans)

Deckers likewise need three Attributes: INT, LOG, WIL as those are used in all hacking skill tests. Boosting them through cyberware is a good idea
Hacking is probably the most important skill, closely followed by Computer. With those two skills a Decker can achieve most actions that a typical run entails. A close second is Electronic Warfare and Cybercombat. After that comes Hardware and last and least Software.

Riggers need REA, LOG, INT and WIL if they plan to pilot things remotely. If they are content to manage a fleet of drones they don't necessarily need REA as much. Skillwise they need piloting for their chosen vehicles, Electronic Warfare and Gunnery. If they want to jump in they need a Rigger Control cyberware. To manage fleets they need a Rigger Command Console (RCC) and drones/a car, of course.

Some basics that are always true:
Get high initiative: Acting first in the deadly SR system is essential to survival. Getting more actions than the opposition is an added bonus. Riggers and Deckers can go Hotsim for an easy 4d6 ini dp.
Mages can use Increase Reflexes, Adepts Improved Reflexes. Those are some of the most essential buffs.
Getting the Heal spell likewise never hurts (*badum-tish*)

More about this later.
talk think matrix

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Revenant Kynos Isaint Rex

ShadowcatX

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #2 on: (06:59:07/09-05-17) »
There are plenty of ways to build a mage, what are they wanting out of their mage? Do they have racial preferences? We could help with character building if you want. (Or read through the character forum and find premade ones you like.)

Beta

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #3 on: (09:29:32/09-05-17) »
Are you the GM, or is someone else?

Have you discussed at all what sort of campaign and/or group you'd like?  I mean, I can say that some stealth is important for everyone, but if you are playing a group of Knigh-Errant (Private Police) officers trying to take down a crooked superior then if may latter less than if your big thing is going to be sneaking into facilities.

The game is pretty adaptable to how you want to play, so as long as the GM is somewhat flexible I wouldn't worry too much about doing it wrong -- but maybe have a plan that after two sessions you allow everyone to do some tweaks.

Of note is a line I saw in someone's signature on one of the SR boards a while back "The more you understand magic, the more powerful it is.  The more you understand the matrix, the less powerful it is."  Which isn't to say that the matrix isn't important --it can be vital -- but the rules make a lot of hacking pretty hard, so deckers (and even more so technomancers) are not the gods of the matrix that the fiction can make them out to be.  They are much more mice, desperately trying not to draw the attention of the cats, and to do anything against moderately high levels of security they need every edge they can get.

Tassyr

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #4 on: (09:49:27/09-05-17) »
Are you the GM, or is someone else?

God no, I hate being the GM. I'm just the 'old hand' who fell into this and is trying to play party/gm advisor without giving them horribly inaccurate advice. xD

The archetypes are many things, but certainly not a good base to model your own characters.

But some basics for char building:
Good stats are dicepools over 12, the higher the better. For secondary skills you can get away with a dp of 9 as long as they aren't opposed skills or have to content with high thresholds. In general it's better to spend your skill and attribute points during chargen focused: Low level stats can be bought up cheaper during the game than trying to increase a mid to high stat.
Attributes are king: It takes a lot of finesse and knowledge to make a character with low attribute priorities work. It's almost always better to have them at A or B priority.

Mages and magic types not only need a high dp for their casting/summoning but also a high pool to resist drain
Mag 6 Skill 6 + spec + mentor spirit bonus should be the norm for magic types.
WIL5 + their main Drain Stat (CHA, INT, LOG) should be at 6 or higher (that's why elves make such good shamans)

Deckers likewise need three Attributes: INT, LOG, WIL as those are used in all hacking skill tests. Boosting them through cyberware is a good idea
Hacking is probably the most important skill, closely followed by Computer. With those two skills a Decker can achieve most actions that a typical run entails. A close second is Electronic Warfare and Cybercombat. After that comes Hardware and last and least Software.

Riggers need REA, LOG, INT and WIL if they plan to pilot things remotely. If they are content to manage a fleet of drones they don't necessarily need REA as much. Skillwise they need piloting for their chosen vehicles, Electronic Warfare and Gunnery. If they want to jump in they need a Rigger Control cyberware. To manage fleets they need a Rigger Command Console (RCC) and drones/a car, of course.

Some basics that are always true:
Get high initiative: Acting first in the deadly SR system is essential to survival. Getting more actions than the opposition is an added bonus. Riggers and Deckers can go Hotsim for an easy 4d6 ini dp.
Mages can use Increase Reflexes, Adepts Improved Reflexes. Those are some of the most essential buffs.
Getting the Heal spell likewise never hurts (*badum-tish*)


Awesome. This'll be a good starting point to help shift this game into shape. I await whatever other advice you can throw my way eagerly. :D
"There's a reason Johnsons are named what they are. They'll try and fuck you at some point, no doubt about it." -Camulus

ShadowcatX

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #5 on: (12:00:27/09-05-17) »
Of note is a line I saw in someone's signature on one of the SR boards a while back "The more you understand magic, the more powerful it is.  The more you understand the matrix, the less powerful it is."  Which isn't to say that the matrix isn't important --it can be vital -- but the rules make a lot of hacking pretty hard, so deckers (and even more so technomancers) are not the gods of the matrix that the fiction can make them out to be.  They are much more mice, desperately trying not to draw the attention of the cats, and to do anything against moderately high levels of security they need every edge they can get.

Funny I have seen the exact opposite quote. The more you know about Magic, the less powerful it is. The more you know about decking, the more powerful it is.

Mages have to contend with background counts, wards, and all manner of issues that aren't readily apparent until you learn more of the world. Deckers, while not flashy at first glance may be the most important archtype to have on a team.

Shinobi Killfist

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #6 on: (12:31:35/09-05-17) »
For mages I'd say 12 dice is generally fine. Specialization and mentor spirits yes add dice but are also very character defining. Hermetics for example can have a mentor but thematically it's not as intuitive. Now while magic is always good so it's a small difference but logic traditions are the worst mechanically. The designers must dislike them. Whether it's astral combat, binding spirits or secondary skills charisma is just a better tradition. Logic literally gets nothing outside reagent  gathering for magic, though it does get medicine skills. Intuition gets assensing and it's a combat stat. Charisma #of bound spirits astral combat damage and social skills and at least in our games social skills are probably the most important skills in the game to have as a secondary skill set.

The main thing for mages is they have 15 skills does the player want to focus or not. I kind of dig a generalist but even priority A skills it's hard to pull off. Lots of times it's about picking what you are okay not being good at. Each skill group has 1 primary. Spell casting, summoning, alchemy. The math of alchemy is pretty bad I still like it thematically and for some spells it's kind of cool. If I were to ditch one of them it would be alchemy. But both summoning and spell casting are amazing.

Counterspell and assessing are two other skills nice to take at high levels.

I like to take the rest of the skills at low levels to round out the character. Arcana is essential to take at some level for character growth.

The hard part for mages like deckers is stats. If you take let's say 6 charisma and 4 willpower it really cuts into your intuition/reaction/body budget for general surviving combat stats. I try to get intuition and reaction to hit 8 dice and body 3. Agility I try to get to 3 just for movement.

I try to make broad characters as it feels more like a person to me. When I get home I'll try to post some example characters. 

But a lot of this depends on your campaign and how much you want/need to min max. On a min/max level a few skills at 6 a couple low skills, specialization, mentor and cash for a spell casting focus. . High magic, high edge. Decent stats a decent set of spells and you are good to go.

Shinobi Killfist

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #7 on: (12:39:44/09-05-17) »
Of note is a line I saw in someone's signature on one of the SR boards a while back "The more you understand magic, the more powerful it is.  The more you understand the matrix, the less powerful it is."  Which isn't to say that the matrix isn't important --it can be vital -- but the rules make a lot of hacking pretty hard, so deckers (and even more so technomancers) are not the gods of the matrix that the fiction can make them out to be.  They are much more mice, desperately trying not to draw the attention of the cats, and to do anything against moderately high levels of security they need every edge they can get.

Funny I have seen the exact opposite quote. The more you know about Magic, the less powerful it is. The more you know about decking, the more powerful it is.

Mages have to contend with background counts, wards, and all manner of issues that aren't readily apparent until you learn more of the world. Deckers, while not flashy at first glance may be the most important archtype to have on a team.

I generally agree, but a lot of this is dependent on how the GM plays it for both archetypes. The rule examples of background count are on insane, always have been. The in play examples in adventures and settings are usually much more reasonable. Deckers many of the basic example systems are insane to take on unless you are way deep in the game karma wise. Otoh the adventure based systems are totally hackable. And usually there are solutions to these issues as you advance.

Jack_Spade

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #8 on: (13:44:27/09-05-17) »
Onward...

Beginner mage players shouldn't worry too much about all the skills available. Alchemy is fiddly and needs quite a bit of rule knowledge to get going (as well as three supplement books), so it's best to ignore that branch at the start.

A competent mage works best with two skills: Spell Casting and Summoning.
These two can actually take care of all the other skills:
Counter spelling: The Manabarrier spell is a very reliable way to block or weaken enemy spells, also Guardian and Plant spirits do have an ability akin to counter spelling
Assensing: Good to have a few points in later, but as a starting player you can get away with asking a spirit to do the assensing for you
Binding: Powerful but time consuming and has - in the hand of the inexperienced - a tendency to be game breaking
Banishing: Don't bother. Just call up a more powerful spirit and tell it to knock out the offending spirit
Ritual Spell Casting: Time consuming and best done with a group of other mages. Has some neat tricks, but requires preparation that a beginner run won't readily offer
Astral Combat: Get a spirit to do it for you or use a mana combat spell

Sustaining Spells:
Spells with duration S impose a penalty on your character while you keep them up. That can build up fast and make it impossible for the mage to do anything.
There are two ways to deal with this: Use such spells to buff your sammie and gain browny points while your mage sits in the car or you find ways to remove the penalty. Sustaining foci are therefore highly recommended to get. F3 is usually a good compromise on price and usability. You can use reagents to increase the spells limit, so they are more effective. Focused Concentration is also a good quality to get for a mage - it's like an in-build focus that you can use for every kind of spell. An advanced trick is to call up a strong Spirit of Men and have it use its own spell casting ability on you and therefore suffer the sustain penalty.
The quickening meta magic is also very useful for this, but can be game breaking if it isn't kept in check.

Later on all mages want to get a Power Focus at as high a force as possible. Essentially it's like having an augmentation to your magic attribute.


talk think matrix

To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield
Revenant Kynos Isaint Rex

Beta

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #9 on: (15:02:34/09-05-17) »
One thing that tripped me up early on with the SR5 rules was getting confused on what gave bonuses to a limit vs what gave bonuses to your dice pool -- especially with hacking. 

When you look at those really expensive decks, a big part of what you are getting from them is a high limit on your skills (although potentially also good defenses should you end up in matrix combat, and a bit of initiative).  Deckers need to balance their investment between things that give them more dice (mostly this means the bioware that adds to their logic stat), and things that add to their limits (their deck.). 

Some of the other nifty sounding gear and cyber or bio ware has more impact on limits than on dice.  Sometimes that is what you need, sometimes it isn't.  So read carefully!

Marcus

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #10 on: (16:22:36/09-05-17) »
I'd start with question "How to ____?" and answer it strictly from the Core.
Get each player to understand how actions specifically work in the system with what they want to be best at.
There are variety of guides both in this thread and in the forum at large, but the key is understanding character creation and guides in general is understanding the actions the characters needs to be good at.
If they understand how to, then the rest can begin to make more sense. Keep it simple: How to cast a spell? How to Counterspell? How to summon a spirit?
How to shoot a gun? How to avoid getting shot? How to not take damage if you get shot? How to Dataspike? How to hack on the fly? How to brute force? How to Google Something?

« Last Edit: (16:26:19/09-05-17) by Marcus »

Shinobi Killfist

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #11 on: (01:35:35/09-06-17) »
I like marcus's advice there. Get the basic how tos out of the way, it helps with char gen.  One other thing is I'd go over with the GM some campaign guidelines, any spells he hates, any way he has security react when targeted by magic or certain spells, how many decking opportunities will there be.  Personally I still use the 20 questions from SR1 and SR2 as that helps me decide where i put things on the priority system, but I;m old.

2 Quick examples showing the opposite ends of generalist mage vs specialist.  Neither are min maxed, the negative qualities were picked somewhat randomly. I always take simsense vertigo on magically active types as it fits my view of the setting, another old SR 1-2 holdover where magically active types had a +2Target number penalty in the matrix. But as they are character defining, its sort of player dependent. 

Example 1 has a wider set of skills in magic and makes a solid healer for the group, I'd drop a bit more money for a real first aid kit but to make it easy i grabbed a basic runner kit.  On both examples I tried to stay away from problem spells as they irritate GMs IME. I like alchemical preparations for some sustained spells, pop a command trigger as the fight starts as a simple action and it last minutes which not only handles that fight but might be enough to get out of the compound or whatever.  Mechanically without multiple qualities and initiations they aren't fantastic, but I find them interesting and somewhat useful. Adds some depth to the character I think.

Example 2 is basically just spellcasting/summoning in magic and has solid face skills.  He has a bunch of spells, but spells are fairly personal so the player should really think through the character concept before picking them.  He also comes with a bunch of contacts due to the high charisma.  I was tempted to take astral combat as he hits really damn hard in astral combat, so that would be a solid place to swap in skill points.

The point of showing these two isn't for the characters themselves anyone can throw 2 characters together. The point is to illustrate how different builds can be and still be viable. example 1 had A in skills and c in magic, example 2 had A in magic and i think D in skills. Be decent at a couple core skills for the character and everything else is pretty adaptable.   Now if your campaigns are exceptionally brutal and require a level of min/maxing it does narrow the field of builds quite a bit.

Example 1
METATYPE: HUMAN
B 3, A 3, R 3, S 2, W 4, L 6, I 5, C 2, ESS 6, EDG 2, M 6
Condition Monitor (P/S): 10 / 10
Armor: 9
Limits: Physical 4, Mental 7, Social 5
Physical Initiative: 8+1D6
Astral Initiative: 10+3D6
Active Skills: Alchemy (Command +2) 6, Artificing 2, Assensing 6, Banishing 3, Binding 6, Con 1, Disenchanting 3, First Aid 6, Influence Group 2, Perception 4, Pistols 2, Sorcery Group 6, Stealth Group 2, Summoning 6
Knowledge Skills: Alchemy 5, Bars 3, Campaign City 3, Combat Sports 3, Telsma 4
Languages: English N, Japanese 4
Qualities: Allergy, Uncommon (Mild): XX, Code of Honor: The Hermetic Code (6dicepool vs. 4), Focused Concentration (6), Hermetic Magician, Simsense Vertigo
Spells: Alter Memory, Detect Enemies, Extended, Fireball, Heal, Levitate, Physical Mask, Stabilize
Alchemical Preparations: Increase Reaction, Increase Reflexes
Gear:
   Armor Vest
   Backpack
   Certified Credstick, Silver
   Ear buds (1)
   Flashlight
   Glasses (1) w/ Image Link
   Identity: Specify Name w/ Fake SIN (3)
   Identity: Specify Name w/ (1 month) Low Lifestyle
   Medkit (1)
   Metal Restraints
   Micro-Tranceiver
   Plastic Restraints x10
   Renraku Sensei w/ Mapsoft: Campaign City
   Respirator (1)
   Survival Kit
Weapons:
   Knife [Blade, Acc 5, DV 3P, AP -1]
Contacts:
Cleaner (Connection 2, Loyalty 2)
Fixer (Connection 2, Loyalty 2)
Starting : 25 + (3D6 60)

example 2
METATYPE: ELF
B 3, A 3, R 3, S 2, W 4, L 3, I 5, C 8, ESS 6, EDG 4, M 6
Condition Monitor (P/S): 10 / 10
Armor: 9
Limits: Physical 4, Mental 5, Social 9
Physical Initiative: 8+1D6
Astral Initiative: 10+3D6
Active Skills: Arcana 2, Assensing 3, Con 6, Etiquette 3, Perception 6, Sneaking 3, Spellcasting 6, Summoning 6
Knowledge Skills: Campaign city 3, Hobby 3, Hobby 3, Telesma 3
Languages: English N, Sperethiel 4
Metatype Abilities: Enhanced Senses: Low-Light Vision
Qualities: Asthma, Code of Honor: Avenging Angel, Focused Concentration (5), Gremlins (1), Hermetic Magician, Mentor Spirit: Raven, Simsense Vertigo
Spells: Alter Memory, Combat Sense, Detect Life, Extended, Fireball, Heal, Improved Invisibility, Increase Reflexes, Levitate, Mana Barrier, Net, Stabilize, Stunbolt
Gear:
   Armor Vest
   Backpack
   Certified Credstick, Silver
   Ear buds (1)
   Flashlight
   Glasses (1) w/ Image Link
   Identity: Specify Name w/ Fake SIN (3)
   Identity: Specify Name w/ (1 month) Low Lifestyle
   Medkit (1)
   Metal Restraints
   Micro-Tranceiver
   Plastic Restraints x10
   Renraku Sensei w/ Mapsoft: Campaign City
   Respirator (1)
   Survival Kit
Weapons:
   Knife [Blade, Acc 5, DV 3P, AP -1]
Contacts:
Fixer (Connection 2, Loyalty 2)
Gang Boss (Connection 3, Loyalty 2)
Mr. Johnson (Connection 2, Loyalty 2)
Street Doc (Connection 4, Loyalty 2)
Talismonger (Connection 3, Loyalty 2)
Starting : 25 + (3D6 60)

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Tassyr

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #12 on: (01:54:49/09-06-17) »
I like marcus's advice there. Get the basic how tos out of the way, it helps with char gen.  One other thing is I'd go over with the GM some campaign guidelines, any spells he hates, any way he has security react when targeted by magic or certain spells, how many decking opportunities will there be.  Personally I still use the 20 questions from SR1 and SR2 as that helps me decide where i put things on the priority system, but I;m old.

Got a link to the oldschool one? I admit I only ever ran 4e and 20th anniversary; I only started on 5th ed recently. Is there a way to snag the 20 questions elswhere? I hit up google but it came up with lists that had a bunch of extra junk tossed in. Hell, one went to 100ish questions.
"There's a reason Johnsons are named what they are. They'll try and fuck you at some point, no doubt about it." -Camulus

Shinobi Killfist

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #13 on: (06:07:51/09-06-17) »
I'll try to track one down. I just grab my book. It's setting/character based questions mainly to help you develop your background. For me though that stuff helps me figure out where I'll put my priorities, what skills I'll pick up etc. street kid who picked up decking when boosting cars I'll build differently from the decker who fled a corp job after he tanked his career with a BTL habit.

Speaking of deckers imo they have a narrower range of builds in that given how stupid expensive decks are compared to normal runner payouts you are heavily benefited by a high starting resources. You maybe can swing B resources but you probably will go A. The cheaper decks are good enough on low level runs but when earning 10k a run and good decks costing 450k+, well that's a long long time to save. Especially since you do have other costs. Now if your GM gives large payouts like 50k it becomes less important.

Shinobi Killfist

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Re: Need help getting my group to where they want to be.
« Reply #14 on: (10:56:59/09-06-17) »
20 questions. As stated it's a RP thing but if you answer the various how do I shoot, deck etc questions then answer these I think a player has a good idea of what to build.

https://rpggeek.com/thread/1147531/20-questions-charcter-creation