Wrote this up for someone, and figured I might as well post it here: Some explanations, flow and tips for chargen.
In Shadowrun, there’s a bunch of basic archetypes, picking one can help you steer how to build. There’s sample Archetypes, which can be used for inspiration. You can be a Face, someone primarily aimed at social skills. A Street Sam, who is an augmented character (with implants) to buff their combat potential. A Physical Adept who buffs their own abilities with Adept Powers. A Full or Aspected Magician who slings spells or buffs people, summons spirits or uses alchemical preparations. Mystic Adepts that combine Adept Powers and other magic powers. You also have Deckers and Technomancers, who are hackers. And Riggers, who use and possess Drones to fight.
Let’s start with what not to bother with as newbies: Riggers, due to having to keep track of too many things. Technomancers, due to being an extra-complicated version of Deckers. Mystic Adepts, due to their Jack-of-all-trades style making them hard to play. Alchemists, due to requiring a lot of experience to use right. (And more magic gear that hasn’t made it to SR6 yet.) And forget Rituals: They take a lot of skill to be useful. Best to focus on Spells and/or Spirits.
A character basically exists out of 5 things: Their attributes, their skills, their qualities, their magical talents (if any), and their gear (both implants inside their body and whatever else). That’s what we’re going to use priorities and extra Karma for.
Aight. So. Priority. 5 categories, 5 levels. You assign an A, a B, a C, a D, an E. This gives you points, cash and stats. After spending those, you have Karma you can use to raise more stuff, or buy more toys. Augmented characters tend to want decent-to-high resources, so they can get decent gear. Same for Deckers. Magical characters need limited cash. So that might give you some indication what priorities you want to focus on.
Your first character choice should be to pick a Metatype. This determines the maximum value for your attributes, and some free racial qualities. Except Humans, who are bland. But hey, they’re the majority and least likely to stand out and face racism.
The fourth category, Magic, is where you start picking your priorities usually. If you don’t want magic/resonance abilities, put your E here and become a Mundane. Anything else, you’re either Magical or a Technomancer. You can take Full Magician, Aspected Magician, Adept, Mystic Adept, Technomancer. If you pick Adept, take Magic D. I’ll explain why later. Full Magicians vs Aspected Magicians are basically ‘I can do all kinds of magic’ vs ‘I can only do 1 type’.
What do you get out of your Magic priority? It gives you your Initial Magic Attribute rank. For Full/Aspected/Mystic, your Initial Magic rank comes with freebies. Ignoring Mystics, you get 2x your Magic in Free ‘Spells’. You can use said Free Spells for learning a combination of 3 things: Actual Spells, Rituals, and Alchemical Preparation. These are the ONLY ones you get in chargen, you’re not allowed to learn more until after play has already started. Thus, what spells you want to start play with, you have to pick a high enough Magic Priority to be able to get them.
So, let’s now look at the second category, Attributes. These are Attribute Points. You have 8 normal Attributes that start at 1 each: 4 Physical, 4 Mental. Attribute Points can be used to raise your attributes from 1 to whatever. You want 4 Body? 4-1 = 3 points. 5 Reaction and 5 Agility? That’s 8 more points. You’re an Elf and you want to use Attribute Points to max your Charisma at 8? 7 points. NOTE: In Chargen, you can only have 1 of your 8 Physical+Mental Attributes at Maximum, no matter what you use to raise them.
Now, the first category is Metatype (Adjustment Points). Ignore the Metatype part, because all Metatypes are identical point-wise. This really is about the Adjustment Points. Adjustment Points are basically special Attribute Points. You can spend those on 2 things. First of all, the Special Attributes: Edge/Magic/Resonance. Edge starts at 1, Magic/Resonance at whatever value you got from your Magic Priority. Magic/Resonance cap at 6 (and ignore the 1-at-max limit for Attributes). Edge 6 except for with Humans.
Second: Remember how your Metatype decides what attributes are allowed to have what maximum value? So, the Adjustment Points can also be used to raise your Racial Attributes. Racial Attributes are any Attributes your Metatype says can be above 6 for you. An Elf can have 7 Agility and 8 Charisma max, so they can use Adjustment Points there. Etc, etc. You don’t have to use these for getting above 6, though.
[[Let’s do an example: You took Attributes A, Metatype C, Magic E, and decided to play an Elf. This gives you 24 Attribute Points and 9 Adjustment Points. You raise all Attributes from 1 to 4: This is 8×3=24 Attribute Points. You then put 3 of the Adjustment Points into Edge, raising it from 1 to 4. You raise Charisma from 4 to 8 with 4 more Adjustment Points. And the last two points you put into Agility, raising it to 6. This puts Charisma at maximum, all other attributes below maximum, so you’re still valid.]]
[[Second example: Attributes A, Metatype D, Magic E. 4 Adjustment Points. Adjustment Points to raise Edge from 1 to 5. Attribute Points to raise Charisma to 8, Agility to 6, costing 7+5=12 normal points. Remaining 12 Attribute points into raising remaining six attributes from 1 to 3.]]
The third category is Skills: This gives you Skill Points, that you can use to raise skills (all starting at 0), for 1 rank per point. Max rank is 6, no limit to how many you max. Per skill you can also buy a Specialization for 1 point, which gives you 2 extra dice on whatever they apply to. Don’t do that. Use Karma for that instead. Again, explanation later.
Last category is money. You can get some more for karma, but this is your primary income source in chargen. This is what you’re going to spend for your implants, armor, weapons, vehicle, monthly lifestyle (aka your monthly rent and social standards), fake ID and more.
So, one last note: Why Magic D for Adepts? Because Adepts get their Power Points from their ADJUSTED Magic in chargen. You add 3 special points to raise from 1 to 4, then take cyberware and lose 1 Essence, lowering you to 3 Magic? Then you have 3 Power Points. Since each Magic rank only gives 1 point, you’re better off getting Adjustment Points to raise your Magic as Adepts.
Now that you picked your priorities, you start by spending all those points. Then, you pick Positive and Negative Qualities. These give benefits and drawbacks, each accompanied by a karma cost or gain, which adds to / comes out of your initial 50 Customization Karma. There’s 2 rules that apply here. First, you can only take a total of 6 qualities max in chargen. Second, if you take more karma gain than karma cost, you can gain a max of 20 karma. Oh, and technically a third: Don’t be a dick, pick downsides that actually impact your play, don’t go for free points.
[[Example 1: Player spends 24 karma on Positive Qualities, and gains 44 from Negative Qualities. This raises their Customization Karma from 50 to 70.]]
[[Example 2: Player spends 60 karma on Positive Qualities, gains 10 from Negative Qualities. Spends all 50 of their Customization Karma, none left for other things.]]
With Qualities handled, you start spending karma. You can spend up to 10 on extra cash, at a rate of 2k nuyen per point. You can buy/raise skills, buy specializations (1 Specialization per Skill max, they’re 5 karma each, so get them with karma, not with points), raise attributes (useful if you left a 1 and you want to raise it to 2 for 10 karma, for example). NOTHING ELSE. This is a whitelist, can’t do anything other than these with your karma.
Then, you spend cash for gear. Implants reduce your Essence. If you’re Magical, Essence loss also costs you Magic. For Adepts, this also costs them Power Points. And, important: The more Essence you lost, the tougher you are to heal!
You get Charismax6 free Contact Points to buy Contacts with. Contacts have Connection (how much they can get done) and Loyalty (how much they like you), each can max be equal to your Charisma. (p67) Then you get free Language/Knowledge points: You take 1 Native Language, the free points you spend on Knowledge Skills (1 point per Skill) and on Languages (3 levels per language max, each level costs 1 point).
[[Example: Character with 5 Logic takes English as Native Language, has 5 points. Buys 3 Knowledge Skills, and learns Sperethiel at the second rank (Specialist).]]
In the end, you can keep maximum 5k nuyen to enter play with. As for Karma, there’s no rule. -,- Best advise would be to restrict to a maximum of 5 Karma, spend the rest.