Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Shadowrun 5th Edition Character Creation Rules Summary

Confused about other rules? Check out my other notes (Rigging, Matrix, Technomancers). If you are looking for advancement costs when you have already started play, see here.

Every character (excluding Street-Level and Prime Runner games) starts with 25 Karma.

Recommended order to creating your character (p. 65):

  1. Select "Magic or Resonance" Priority
    1. Record your new Magic or Resonance starting value, if any
  2. Select Positive and Negative Qualities
    1. These may change your maximum Attribute and Skill levels
  3. Select Metatype Priority
    1. Spend Special Attribute Points
  4. Select Attributes Priority
    1. Spend Attribute Points
  5. Select Skill Priority
    1. Spend free Knowledge and Language skill points (based on Intuition + Logic)
    2. Spend "skill group points"
    3. Spend "skill points"
  6. Select Resources Priority
    1. Spend Nuyen
    2. Select Lifestyle
  7. Spend Leftover Karma
    1. Spend Free "Contacts Karma" (based on Charisma)
    2. Improve skills, attributes, etc.
    3. Make sure you have <=7 Karma when you're done

Metatype (and Special Attribute) Priority

  • The number in parentheses of your metatype is the number of Special Attribute Points you receive.
    • Special Attributes are Edge, Magic and Resonance.
    • Special Attribute Points can be used to increase Special Attributes at a one-for-one ratio.
    • Magic and Resonance start at 0 by default.
      • Selecting a Magic or Resonance Priority besides "E" will change your starting Magic or Resonance value.
    • Edge starts at 1 (2 if you're human) by default.
    • Special Attributes are generally capped to 6 for all metatypes at start of play.
      • Humans can have an Edge of 7
      • Certain qualities can bring you further (Lucky, Exceptional Attribute) which require GM approval.
    • Note that since you cannot be both a Technomancer and a Magician, there is no reason to ever have a positive number for both Magic and Resonance.

Purchasing Qualities

  • Qualities must be purchased with Karma (you start with 25 as mentioned in the beginning).
  • Negative Qualities give you karma.
  • You are capped to at most 25 karma worth of Positive Qualities and 25 karma worth of Negative Qualities.

Attributes Priority

  • You are given between 12 and 24 "attribute points" (not to be confused with karma) depending on priority level.
  • Each attribute point raises a Physical or Mental attribute by one point.
    • Eligible attributes are
      • [Physical] Body, Agility, Reaction, Strength
      • [Mental] Willpower, Logic, Intuition and Charisma
    • Note that special attributes (Edge, Magic, Resonance) CANNOT be raised with attribute points (they require "special attribute points" that are granted in the Metatype Priority step).
    • Initiative can never be directly raised (it is a derived attribute).  Your Initiative is Intuition + Reaction + 1d6.
      • Astral Initiative is (Intuition * 2) + 2D6
      • Matrix Initiative (Cold Sim) is (Data Processing + Intuition) + 3d6
      • Matrix Initiative (Hot Sim) is (Data Processing + Intuition) + 4d6
  • All attribute points must be spent in character creation.
  • Only one Mental or Physical attribute can be at the racial maximum.
    • This limitation does not apply to Edge, Magic or Resonance (special attributes).

Magic or Resonance Priority

  • The priority table (p. 65) shows you what your starting Resonance or Magic special attribute level is. Your Special Attribute score should be immediately changed to reflect this, and this should be done before adding Special Attribute Points (see Metatype Priority).
  • Aspected Magicians can never change back to regular Magicians.
  • You may also get Magicial Skills if you select priority "A" or "B".
    • Magical Skills are listed on page 90.
      • Alchemy, Artificing, Banishing, Binding, Counterspelling, Disenchanting, Ritual Spellcasting, Spellcasting, Summoning

Skill Priority/Purchasing Skills

  • Skills are classified as either Active, Knowledge or Language.
  • Your Skill Priority Level gives you a certain number of points (ranges from 18 to 46 "skill points", 0 to 10 "skill group points").
  • You are given free "Knowledge and Language" skill points equal to (Intuition + Logic) * 2
    • They can only be used for Language and Knowledge skills.
    • Language Skills are tested with (Language Skill) + (Intuition)
      • In character generation, the language skill level cannot exceed 6
    • You start with one native language as well (indicated by a "N" on the character sheet).
    • Knowledge Skills when first selected must be either Academic, Interests, Professional or Street depending on how your character learned it.
      • Academic and Professional skills are tested with (Knowledge skill) + (Logic)
      • Interests and Street Knowledge skills are tested with (Knowledge skill) + (Intuition)
  • All Skills start at 0.
  • Increasing a Skill costs 1 "skill point" per level.
  • Increasing a Skill Group costs 1 "skill group point".
    • A skill group increases all skills in the group by 1 level.
      • Skill groups are listed on page 90 (e.g. Athletics, Electronics, Sorcery).
    • In this step you cannot separate skill levels from the skill group level (if any). That must be done in the "Spending Leftover Karma" step.
  • You may also purchase Specializations with your "skill points".
    • Specializations cost 1 "skill point".
    • Specializations give you +2 dice pool when applicable.
    • Specializations can never apply to a skill group, and once purchased they "break up" the skill group preventing them from ever being raised together as a skill group again.
    • In this step you cannot specialize a Skill Group, as it would break it up.  that must be done in the "Spending Leftover Karma" step.
  • In character generation, skills are capped to level 6 (7 with the Aptitude quality).
    • Once play begins, skills are capped to level 12 (13 with Aptitude).
  • Magic and Resonance skills cannot be purchased unless you have the associated Special Attribute.
  • Aspected Magicians can only use one category of Magic Skills (Sorcery, Conjuring or Enchanting).

 Spending your Nuyen (p. 94)

  • Your Resources Priority level will give you between 6,000 and 450,000 starting nuyen.
  • You cannot end character generation with more than 5,000 nuyen.
  • Karma can be converted to nuyen at 1 karma point = 2,000 nuyen
    • This is capped to 20,000 extra nuyen
  • Nuyen cannot be converted to karma.
  • Note that some metatypes have cost modifiers.
    • Trolls have a 10% Lifestyle cost increase
    • Dwarves have a 20% Lifestyle cost increase
    •  (note that the Errata removed the extra cost for gear and increased the Lifestyle costs)
  • For character generation, there are some limitations on gear:
    • Each attribute (Mental and Physical) cannot have an augmentation bonus of greater than +4 (from cyberware and bioware)
    • Availability <= 12 (note that this ignores Restricted/Forbidden, Gamemasters may choose to disallow Forbidden at character creation)
    • Device Rating <= 6
  • Essence is lost whenever installing cyberware and bioware.
    • Essence starts at 6.0
    • Whenever Essence is lost, it reduces Magic and Resonance.
      • Losing .01 - 1.0 Essence reduces Magic and Resonance by 1.
      • Losing 1.01 - 2.0 Essence reduces Magic and Resonance by 2
      • etc.
    • If your Magic and Resonance reaches 0, you can become permanently burned out.

Spending Leftover Karma (p.98)

  • Your leftover Karma amount is 25 - (Positive Quality cost) + (Negative Quality value)
  • All limits from the above steps are still in force (e.g. only one Physical or Mental attribute at maximum, skill levels cannot exceed 6)
  • Note that in this stage you are now allowed to break up Skill Groups by improving individual skills in that group with Karma, or purchasing Specializations.
  • Conversions (all conversion done at standard Character Advancement Rates p. 103)
    • Physical and Mental Attribute levels increase at (new level * 5) Karma.  Going from 5 to 6 Strength would cost 30 Karma.
      • Note that you cannot have more than 1 Mental or Physical Attribute at the maximum during character generation.
    • All Special Attributes can also be raised with Karma at the same cost as Physical and Mental attributes.
      • You may have all your Special Attributes maxed out if you wish.
    • Active skill levels increase at (new level * 2) Karma.
      • Note that Active skills cannot exceed 6 in character creation (excluding Aptitude)
    • Knowledge and Language skill levels increase at (new level *1) Karma.
      • Note that Knowledge skills cannot exceed 6 in character creation (excluding Aptitude)
      • Note that Language skills cannot ever exceed 6.
      • Note that skills cannot exceed 6 in character creation (excluding Aptitude)
    • Skill Groups can be increased at (new level * 5) Karma.
    • Complex Forms cost 4 Karma each.
    • New spells cost 5 Karma each.
    • 1 Karma per Bound Spirit service (Force = charater's Magic level)
    • 1 Karma per Registered Spirit task
    • Bond Foci: see page 318
  • Contacts
    • You receive free "Contacts Karma" equal to Charisma * 3
      • This can only be used to acquire or improve Contacts.
    • Increasing Loyalty or Connections levels requires 1 Karma point each
    • All Contacts must have at least 1 Connections and 1 Loyalty level, which means the minimum Karma cost for a Contact is 2.
    • A single Contact cannot have more than 7 Karma (including "Contact Karma") spent on them.
      • This means you are capped to 1/6, 6/1, 4/3, etc.
  • You cannot start the game with more than 7 Karma.

Inherent Limits

  • Mental Limit is [(Logic * 2) + Intuition + Willpower] / 3 (round up)
  • Physical Limit is [(Strength * 2) + Body + Reaction] / 3 (round up)
  • Social [(Charisma * 2) + Willpower + Essence] / 3 (round up)


  1. This is super helpful. Thank you very much!

  2. Thank you for this. Exactly what I needed to try and understand this game. :)

    1. No problem, I'm glad this was helpful! Feel free to ask if you can think of anything else you would find helpful.

  3. this was very helpful. Correct me if I am wrong but the way I read it was that all characters start with 1 edge accept humans who start with 2 and trolls life still cost is +100%

    1. The comment on edge is correct. Check the attributes table to see that. (Different anonymous person)

    2. This is correct, starting edge is 2 for humans and 1 for everyone else. I misread the rules originally, and have since updated. Thanks for pointing it out! :-)


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