[SR5] Trying to Build a Mage

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« on: <02-17-17/1638:11> »
I'm new to Shadowrun and while I normally just read through the system and build a character without directly asking for help, I've already lost my first character (pistol adept) in our 3rd combat and I'd rather not repeat the mistakes I made. Any input really would be appreciated.

My new character is a full magician to try and complement the existing party a bit better while still trying to 'tank' like the adept did... although preferably not dying this time.

The other runners are: Combat/spy rigger and our driver, CyberFace elf (has the best firepower in the group too) and a combat decker.

We have no gunbunny street sam but I'm hoping overcasting with LOS(A) can make up for that when it's needed along with just decent attack dice across the party and still keep an eye on the astral.

My biggest concern is my pretty weak 7 dicepool on the shotgun. I know how bad combat spells are; ball lightning is more of a disable for the -5 initiative than it is a damage spell going into Force 12, especially when magic is just too dangerous if I don't have the time to remove my signatures. Or if people want to shoot me. Shotguns stack defence penalties nicely though with flechette rounds which is why I'm not using automatics. Shotguns look cooler too.

The other concern is just how many spells I need to sustain: Increase Reflexes will usually be on both me and the combat face and I'm going to need the REA spell too. 150 reagents might not be enough to abuse the F1 foci; I'm making space for a F4 power focus without going into addiction.

Side note: I'll be exiting chargen with another 19 karma and 23k nuyen to spend too after that. Should I initiate or grab specialisations first? Or even 1-3 Counterspelling?


A - Magic (Magician)
B - Attributes
C - Metatype (Human 5)
D - Resources
E - Skills

BOD - 5
AGI - 3
REA - 2
STR - 2
CHA - 1
INT - 4
LOG - 6
WIL - 5

MAG - 7
EDG - 7

3/3 Fixer
1/2 Talismonger

--Positive Qualities--
Focused Concentration (4)
Mentor Spirit (Bear)

--Negative Qualities--
**Undetermined; based on RP but at least +15 karma**

6 - Assensing, Perception, Spellcasting, Summoning
4 - Longarms
1 (Karma buy) - First Aid, Sneaking

--Spells-- (1 extra for 5 karma)
Ball Lightning, Manabolt, Stunball, Analyze Device, Heal, Increase REA, Increase Reflexes, Improved Invisibility, Silence, Levitate, Physical Barrier

Armor jacket + helmet
Enfield AS-7 - Shockpad, periscope (optical), Gas Vent 3
80x flechette ammo (shotgun) & 3 spare clips
3 smoke grenades
2 thermal smoke grenades
2 commercial explosives (& two detonator caps)

Force 1 Sustaining Focus (Health)
Force 1 Sustaining Focus (Manipulation)
150 reagents

Earbuds (R3) - Audio R2, Sound Select R1
Monocle (R2) - Thermographic, Image Link
AR Gloves
Renraku Sensei
1x Meta Link

Medkit R3
4x R6 Stim Patch
1x Trauma Patch
1x Psyche
1x Long Haul

Fake SIN (R4) - Licences (R4): Mage, Medical, Firearm, Drivers
Fake SIN (R1) - Licences (R1): Mage, Medical, Firearm, Drivers
Restraints, 10 plastic & 1 metal
10 datachip, 10 standard tags, 10 stealth tags

Dodge Scoot
« Last Edit: <02-17-17/1646:30> by Pexpy »


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« Reply #1 on: <02-17-17/1659:52> »
You're trying to cover too many bases at once; for one, a "tank" is really only possible for a cybered character who can stack armor and use a Pain Editor.

Combat spells aren't bad at all...  And there's ways to easily make them very powerful.  Get a fetish (Street Grimoire, page 212) for 2,000 nuyen and with it learn Clout as a Limited Spell.  Now you can use the fetish to cast Clout at F9 for 4 Drain.  The massive AP on that will ensure enemies have almost no dice to resist it, and it deals Stun, which is better than Physical in 99% of situations.

You shouldn't be required to sustain a buff spell on the Combat Face; if they're "combat" at all, they should be able to handle themselves...  Tell them to try Cram or Jazz if they're suffering for Initiative.  But if you have the Karma to Initiate, Quickening will solve every problem with sustained spells at a puny cost.  Just try not to piss off your GM by making yourself or others too powerful with it.

Stunball isn't a useful spell.  If you need to knock out a large group of people, use Blast.  If you need to hurt one target who's obscenely armored (and Clout's massive AP is somehow not enough, but you're not able to run away), use Stunbolt instead.  Similarly, Manabolt isn't as useful either.  There's very few situations where it'd be more useful than Stunbolt or Clout.  Basically, only if you were going up against a magician with 30+ armor, a Pain Editor, and 6 more points of WIL than they have of BOD.

If you rely primarily on combat spells, Analyze Device isn't as useful either.  It's already a bit of a trap spell--  It gives a dice pool bonus, but sustaining it gives -2.  Unless you have a focus for it, or roll VERY well, it's usually only a minor benefit at best.

Lower your BOD to 3, increase your REA by 2, then pick up the spell Deflection from Street Grimoire.  It adds the hits to your defense tests against ranged weapons.  It doesn't work against melee, but melee is very rare and can be avoided.

I'm not sure how you have 7 MAG. You don't have Exceptional Attribute (MAG), and you haven't initiated yet...  Your cap is your Essence (6).  If you have leftover SAP from being C Metatype, they go to waste.  Such high Metatype priority is a bit excessive, but if you're really afraid of constantly getting killed, that's one way to ensure you're okay...

Your STR should be 1 and your CHA should be higher; Charisma determines how many bound spirits you can have at once, though...  You don't have any Binding skill.  Assuming this isn't made for a one-off game, you'll want Binding in the future.

Oh, and if you do want a spell to improve both your defense and initiative at once, go for Increase INT instead of Increase REA.  INT is harder to get a bonus to normally and does everything REA does besides give a bonus to Pilot tests, while also improving your Perception and Assensing.

...Those are all the things I can think of off the top of my head.
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« Reply #2 on: <02-17-17/1924:28> »
firebug already said what I was going to say about Increase Intuition instead of Increase Reaction. I would also lower Body, but I'd put a point into Intuition instead and the other into Reaction. (Alternatively, leave Intuition at 4 in case you want to cast Increase Intuition @ F4 and sustain it with Focused Concentration. The Force needs to equal the attribute being increased, so if Intuition is 5 you can't have an F4 spell improving it.)

I also agree that the Face needs to be responsible for his/her own initiative. Buy them some Jazz to get them hooked. They should already have a novacoke habit, or if they don't then they will soon.

Skills E is worth 18 skill points. I count 28 for this build, which is somewhat more than 18. On that note, you have a lot of Logic but no Logic skills. Your mentor spirit will be sorely disappointed that you don't even have First Aid. Alternatively, pick an Intuition tradition and put your Logic points into other attributes.

I grant that shotguns are cool, but consider a machine pistol or SMG loaded with flechette ammunition. Flechette suppressive fire is largely unavoidable and is great for magicians with low dice pools for shooting. See p.120 Run & Gun.


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« Reply #3 on: <02-17-17/2143:28> »
Skills E is worth 18 skill points. I count 28 for this build, which is somewhat more than 18.

He also gets 10 points (2 rating: 5 magical skills) from Magic: A.

I agree that he either needs to get first aid, or ditch having a Logic tradition in favor of an Intuition tradition.


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« Reply #4 on: <02-18-17/0737:29> »
Hey guys, thanks for the input.

I noticed I was spreading myself too thin, but we have a lot of ground to cover with just the 4 of us. Is not having an actual tank/street sam a problem if they're the only ones that can build a viable tank? I thought my adept could do it with 22 defence dice until he just kept getting hit all the time.

I've made the spell changes and got a fetish to use with Clout and taken out Analyze Device. I've switched to Increase INT too; Deflection hasn't got a cap especially if I'm using Edge, but attributes do a lot more besides. Funilly enough though, melee was what killed my adept.

I've been tempted by the Intuition traditions, but none of them seem to fit the corp mage concept I've got - corp mages seem out of place when they're not manufactured in a sense; where you have rigid training programs and measurable results rather than feeling magic individually or building a spiritual connection.

Skills: I'm guessing by First Aid you mean Medicine. Or that FA 1 is basically nothing. Or both. It's tricky without splitting the R6 stacks or dropping Longarms to 1 and getting First Aid 4 instead. I've added 1 to Medicine in any case. I've just realised I didn't get Demolitions 1 too.

I like the idea of Flechette Supression, although it'd be nice to know what the 'Defense Adjustment' means for choke settings; I couldn't find any discussion on it. The Mossberg AM-CMDT might be a better gun anyway. Ammo cap reduces supression cone to 5m but I can bring it back with choke and I still keep my slightly better regular attacks compared to automatics.


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« Reply #5 on: <02-18-17/1456:04> »
Chaos magic might fit for an ex-corp mage.  While corporations might not like its lack of rigid academic discipline, they would probably appreciate its pragmatic, "whatever works" approach to magic - especially for combat mage career tracks, where practical application is given more importance than underlying theories.


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« Reply #6 on: <02-18-17/2208:12> »
Remember that fixers don't set up teams with jobs they are not likely to succeed at. It's not good business You don't need to have a group that covers all of the potentialities in shadowrun. If you don't have a magician, you shouldn't be taking jobs that require magical expertise. If you don't have a decker, you shouldn't be offered jobs that require a datasteal from a high level host. If your team doesn't have a lot of muscle, they are not going to be offered jobs to rough folks up, Etc. 

Tanks aren't really a "role" that needs coverage, even if you were trying to cover all of your bases. As firebug said, unless you are going to get a ton of armor and a Pain Editor, the mechanics of it doesn't really work well in shadowrun combat. 
1. Shadowrunners should not enter into combat lightly. It's dangerous and it's easy to die (as you've seen).  It's a rare a job requires you have to pull weapons to achieve your directive (there are other ways to drop people if the job does require it). Tank is a sub-sub-role of a combat focused character. A combat-y character may not get a lot of action to begin with, let alone a tank get their chance to show off their tank-ness.
2. If you do get in combat, you want to feel confident you are going to win/survive. Basically, combat is a good option if you are going to be better at combat than who you are choosing to fight. 
3. Especially if you are fighting goons, you don't have to take down everyone. Security guards, gangers, even cops, etc. are going to start running when just a fraction of their number is down. However, this also means they will probably call for backup/help if you made a big enough scene.
4. When met with a fight that you are not overwhelmingly confident you are going to win, getting out of it is usually more prudent than sticking through and having tank draw hits. Especially when High Threat Response teams and other overwhelming force are called in, no matter how tanky you are, you are going to get killed if you stick around. This is when that big AOE spell is useful. Buy yourself a combat turn or two and and scadaddle!   

You can be a combat-focused magician, but I wouldn't worry about needing to tank. Also, if you are going low skills, I wouldn't even worry about being good at a weapon skill. There is more to do in combat that shoot guns and sling combat spells. Magicians can call spirits, mess with environment (visibility, distractions, etc.), do things to buy time for an escape, etc. 

« Last Edit: <02-18-17/2312:17> by FST_Gemstar »


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« Reply #7 on: <02-19-17/1410:32> »
Are your whole group new to Shadowrun? It's a relevant question because there's a big difference between SR and D&D. D&D has combat as it main focus and all roles has their "position" in a fight. In SR, fighting is a last resort. It's very deadly and should usually only be done in ambush fashion or when otherwise unavoidable.

This can be an unfamiliar situation if both GM and players are new to SR. Remember, an ordinary runner, even with 40 missions behind him/her still only has 10 to 11 physical "hit points". Not even a cybered up troll is going to tank a sniper rifle very well.

That said, the indirect combat spells are much better than the direct ones. (If you meet the 22 dodge dice adept, that's what edge is for.) To raise your chance to hit, get a specialization in combat spells. Specializations are great. Also, binding is a very powerful skill.

My mage (also 7 edge) usually summons a F6 Air Spirit with Elemental Attack (Electricity) for fighting. She also has Clout with a fetish. (A spirit of Man can cast a combat spell if you gave it that power.)

On a different note, your character would not be legal at my table. 1 Charisma (no default) and no social skills means he can't lie even if he wanted to. No etiquette means he's making social gaffes all the time and is very bad mannered (even unintentionally). Not a good quality in a shadowrunner who want to have a low profile.
« Last Edit: <02-19-17/1420:05> by drakir »


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« Reply #8 on: <02-20-17/1055:28> »
Human Mage, try Magic A, Attributes B, Skills C, Metatype D,Resources E.  Spend 10 Karma on Nuyen and get Fake SIN, Armored Jacket, Lifestyle, call it a day.  Qualities Mentor Spirit (whatever amuses you) and Focused Concentration 4.  Pick up Heal, Increased Reflexes, Levitate, Improved Invisibility, Foreboding, Petrify, and whatever else you may want.  Skills to max Spellcasting, Summoning, Counterspelling, skills to get at least some Assessing, Sneaking.  Skills to consider Binding, Perception, anything tied to your Drain stat. 

I'm guessing you're simply grabbing "Hermetic" because "Wizard"?  (your actual RP choices were pretty vague)  Consider either Shaman (Charisma for drain) or one of the Intuition based traditions from Street Grimoire.  Charisma and Intuition are more useful to max than Logic in most cases. 

First thing you do every day is call a Force 4 Spirit of Man (or Air).  Next thing you do is cast Increase Reflexes at force 4 and let the Focused Concentration take care of it for you.

Use Improved Invisibility and Levitate and your Spirit buddy to avoid fights.  Turn the whole team into Invisible, flying ninjas. 

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« Reply #9 on: <02-25-17/2211:23> »
A defense DP of 22 is above average- not the maximum possible out of chargen, but still above average.
Most builds I see hover around 14-16.
If you're getting hit all the time, I have to assume the GM isn't throwing balanced challenges at your party.
Just saying.
Not that this is in topic, BTW.

Automatics are by far the weapon of choice for mages with mediocre DPs.
A)suppressive fire.
B)if you can compensate for most/all the recoil, 6 round burst gives the target a -5DP to defense.
So even with a DP of 9, you have a shot at hitting the regular goons.

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« Reply #10 on: <02-26-17/2158:14> »
Your proposed build is very similar to the character I am playing right now.  I've had to hold back to keep from overshadowing the rest of the party (ShotgunAdeptNinja BioFace SuperDecker rigger). 

My assensing is lousy and I would have put it higher (in retrospect) - so good call on your part.  Keep that at 6.
Agree with the others that binding is a must (so you will want to put your charisma up).  Keep a few on standby - different types.  Expensive to bind by great in a pinch.
I maxed first aid and took gun as a specialization...and got a rating 6 medkit.  That plus increased logic gave me a massive dicepool that was much appreciated by my team. 
Your weapons dicepool is so low, you might as well drop it entirely.
I would put the perception into binding. 

You have the sustain focus for +Reflexes (reagents to set limit)
Upgrade your Focused concentration to 5 and keep +WPR in there.  Then when you go full defense you add 9 dice!  Also, your drain resist pool goes to 15. 

If you are taking sustain penalties because you are buffing other party members then they need to expect less out of you.  I summoned a spirit and buffed the face's initiative - then that was about it.  Between the spirit with 2-3 attacks and an extra pass for the face I'm averaging 3.5 IP's per combat turn before taking into account my actions.  I was often down 1 from Full defensive but the rest of them took care of business pretty quickly. 

The biggest thing you can do for yourself is get binding 6 and increase your charisma. 


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« Reply #11 on: <02-26-17/2320:28> »
Side note: I'll be exiting chargen with another 19 karma and 23k nuyen to spend too after that. Should I initiate or grab specialisations first?
You can't have more than 7 Karma left over at Chargen.

I would swap Skills & Metatype,  you don't need 7 edge but your going to need more skills to be a decent mage IMHO.

A - Magic-6 (Magician-Sioux Tradition)
B - Attributes-20
C - Skills  28/2
D - Resources
E - Metatype (Human 1)

B3, A3, R5, S1, W5, L3, I6, C2 + M6, Eg3

6/1 Fixer   (Spend 1 Karma)

--Positive Qualities--  (24)
Focused Concentration (4)
Spirit Whisperer

--Negative Qualities-- (25)
Code of Honor

--Skills--  38/2G
6 Each w/ 2 Specializations  (Options = Combat or Manipulation Spells,  Shotguns, Specific Spirit)
Assensing, Counterspelling, Longarms, Perception, Spellcasting, & Summoning
Group-2 = Stealth OR Influence

--Spells-- (10)
Blast, Lightning Bolt, Stunbolt
Heal, Increased Reflexes
Improved Invisibility
Fashion, Levitate, Petrify

Cash - 50K + 26K  (Convert 13 Karma)

Force 2 Power Focus   (Bond for 12 Karma)
Fake SIN (R4) - Licences (R4): Magic, Firearms
Honda Spirit

Now you've got the ability to support the team, sling spells, summon, counterspell, go astral, have minimal social or stealth skills to function.

You also have a small car that you can lay down in if you need to do astral recon which is important IMHO.
Finally the bonded power focus allows you to do most your magic-ing w/ bonus dice & when stacked w/ your spirit quality will make having a Force-7 buddy along for the ride a doable deal that will make up for the lack of Samurai in the group.

The reasoning behind the spell selection......

Blast - AE damage w/o trashing the building or killing innocents caught in the radius, but still overcastable at F12 to level a swat team in 1 round.
Lightning Bolt - Single target damage w/ lower drain than the AE so you can pump force more easily to do damage to big targets
Stunbolt - Useful against bouncy adepts, samurai, spirits, or when doing astral projection.
Mindprobe - Rip their secrets from their brains, VERY useful in moving the SR along by finding out everything your enemy knows
Heal & Reflexes - Obvious here
Invisibility & Levitate & Fashion - Support the group during infiltration.
Petrify - A way to stop a bouncy target in their tracks with a single cast.  Then shatter their foot/leg to ensure they are not so bouncy when you drop the spell.  And decent drain too.
« Last Edit: <02-26-17/2331:55> by Tarislar »


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« Reply #12 on: <02-27-17/0958:42> »
An additional spell to consider is False Impression/Manascape.  Spirit patrols and watchers are pretty common sentries you need to overcome and astral camouflage is hard to come by.
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