Sample Characters #2

Last week I mentioned how Life Modules helps give depth to the characters, but at the same time it’s hard to prevent too much overlap. This is especially hard when dealing with specialized characters such as Faces and Mages. Afte all, there’s only so many modules that give magical skills.

Here’s the two mages, one Combat and one more support, Overwatch so to speak. I had a tough time tweaking those, and ended up switching the Overwatcher’s tradition to the Combat Mage because it fit far better.


Let’s start with the Combat Mage, Carl: Carl is a human who was born in the Siouan part of Denver. His parents were soldiers, which impacted his behaviour and gave him quite a lack of manners. Rather than teaching him one of the many Siouan dialects, his parents were pragmatic and taught him ka-re-tsv, the lingua franca of the Sioux Nation.

Carl got sent to Military School, which instilled a moral code into him that still influences his actions to his day. While in Military School, he awoke as a magician from the Siouan tradition. Now he wanted some magical training, but without selling his soul to the Megacorps. So he went to Community College, Majoring in the Magic program. Now Sioux still knows the draft, because they’re paranoid about the UCAS. So after college Carl was drafted into the Siouan army, sticking around for a full five-year tour as Wildcat.

Now Carl only saw action against the occasional smuggler and such during his tour, and he felt the need for more. So he decided to find a battlefield where his talents were actually useful. Rather than going for anglo territory, he decided to go to Africa where he served as mercenary in several Congo armies and picked up some French.

After he got tired of Mercing about, Carl decided to check out the neighbouring country of Kenya. A man of his magical talents was well sought-after and so he spent several years as a Street Mage in the Shadows of Nairobi. It was then that he drew the attention of Wild Life Incorporated, who decided they could use someone with magical talent and experiences all over the globe.

Carl’s military training shows in his heavy knowledge of Small Unit Tactics, while his spell reservoir is all combat spells and self-buffs. While he’s not as skilled as he’d prefer in magic, he compensates with extra training in combat spells and a spell focus that makes him really pack a punch. His mental focus on combat even causes his direct spells to be more painful yet also more taxing.

Next is Mr. Overwatch, and no you don’t need to know his name. He was born in Seattle as the child of two proud Dwarves. Unfortunately, during his youth his parents ended up accused of being Blood Mages and had to go on the lam. This caused the child to grow rather untrusting of others, and to this day many suspect he is the same as his parents are said to be, a Blood Mage.

As for his folks, one day they didn’t run far enough and Renraku caught up with them. During this stressful situation Overwatch awoke and Renraku decided they cared less about the parents and more about the boy. So they made a deal with him: Sell his soul to the Corp and they’d take care of his folks. Betraying them would mean abandoning his family…

Overwatch received magical education in preparation for the Corp, then went through a bit of community college to further increase his knowledge of magic. After that he spent a while working directly for Renraku as Wage Mage. But Renraku decided they didn’t want a man of his talents inside the company. Instead they wanted him as playable tool outside. Specifically they wanted him to find more people they could use like him.

Thanks to his Renraku SIN overriding his Criminal SIN, scoring a job in Law Enforcement was rather easy for Overwatch. So he served as Mage support, but his paranoid attitude didn’t help making him likeable with his colleagues. So Renraku decided to change the plan. With Africa being an awakened continent, there was bound to be something useful for them there. So Overwatch resigned and went to Johannesburg, where he spent several years as Occult Investigator. It paid the bills, and the occasional report home helped keep Renraku satisfied.

One day Wild Life Incorporated approached Overwatch, impressed by his magical talents. Personally he suspects they know about his Renraku-ties, and doesn’t know why they don’t care about him briefing things on to his corporate masters. He might just be paranoid, or they might not care if it means borrowing a useful tool.

Overwatch is better at spellcasting than Carl, but a bit weaker magically. He wields a Power Focus so that all his magical mojo gets a boost, rather than one small part of it. He owns some neat clothes with modifications against tasers and toxins, only has the one Talismonger contact and his spells are primarily focused on control as well. Detection and illusion spells help him stay safe, combat can be done if really necessary, and his Wuxing tradition is a perfect match for his controlled style of living.

Life Modules: Characters with a story

For Wild Things, we use Life Modules for character creation. This is a special chargen method that the Fifth Edition introduced.

Normal character creation, both Priority and Build Points, can be roughly summarized as ‘here are a bunch of points, go use them any way you want’. With Priority you get different amounts of freebie points for different categories and a few ‘build points’ (karma) to round them off. Build Points is simply a load of karma without subdivision into categories.

Life Modules is Build Points with a twist: You start by buying several life modules, each with their own karma costs. Nationality, Formative Years, Teen Years, possible Further Education, then 1+ Real Life Modules. These Modules give you attribute bonuses, skills, knowledges and languages, and even positive and negative qualities. You add up their bonuses into the big picture, then you have as much karma as you didn’t yet spend to round things off.

There’s a decent bit of flexibility in the modules, usually in the knowledges but sometimes even in the active skills. And submodules give more detailed bonuses depending on what kind of person you are. For example College lets you pick a major, whereas a Tour Of Duty could have you in the Rigger Corps, or as Special Forces.

Now with normal chargen methods, you completely pick whatever you want and combine it into a story. With Life Modules, part of the story is already in the modules. The details you still fill in yourself, but the broad lines are already there. This helps give more depth to a character. I personally consider Life Modules perfect for a short campaign, and especially for sample characters. It gives flavour to the characters, so that they’re not just a combat mage, they’re a Siouan combat mage that turned mercenary just to get their thrill.

The biggest challenge was avoiding too much overlap, because when you design characters for a specific kind of campaign, it’s far too easy to end up with very similar characters. Part of what made Smedley hard to make was avoiding overlap with the Face for one of the regular players, who has a custom character.

The first sample character post already showed the history of two in detail, but to put it into quick text, here’s a few sample characters their modules:

Will. I. Am. (Survival Expert): Race: Human. Nationality: Canadian. Formative Years: Isolated Rural Upbringing. Teen Years: Isolated Rural Upbringing. No further education. Real Life Modules: Drifter, Tour Of Duty (UCAS, Special Forces), Tour Of Duty (Mercenary, Special Forces), Covert Ops.

Eiger (Bodyguard): Race: Troll. Nationality: UCAS (Seattle). Formative Years: Military Brat. Teen Years: Military School. No further education. Real Life Modules: Ganger, Bounty Hunter, Shadow Work (Street Samurai), Personal Investigator.

First Wild Things session & Sample Characters #1

First Wild Things game will be tomorrow, on the 5th of may. The scenario played will be Polarbear Poachers, and a second scenario has been prepared named Noisy Nights.

(Yes, the alliteration is intended. 🙂 Of the first four run-titles 3 alliterated, so I adjusted them to all do so.)

Asides from three players with their self-made characters, there’s six sample characters available for people to choose from. They’re a Face (social character), a Bodyguard, a Hunter, a Survivalist Expert and two mages, one Overwatch and one Combat.

Now these have been made with the Life Modules system, which gives more detail to their development history. Rather than just being a set of skills and attributes, your character combines Life Modules and some extra karma expenses into a bigger story.

First of, we got the Face, Smedley: He’s an Ork (the only orc in Shadowrun is the Ork Rights Committee) from Tír Tairngire. Now the Tir, which roughly overlaps with current Oregon, is a mostly-Elf country which has a lot of discrimination going on against non-elves. So an Ork will usually suffer greatly there. Smedley still went to all the decent amounts of education though: He went through white collar education, prep school, state college and obtained a job in Sales.

But due to all the discrimination there was a rub for Smedley, and at age 25 he had enough. The control of English he had picked up over the years he then employed in the shadows, doing the social work for others as Face. He scored some nice big connections then, but he still didn’t feel at home, so he began to drift. His journeys brought him to Africa, where after a while doing work here and there in Cape Town, he moved to Johannesburg and scored a job as cop there.

Now while intimidating people might alleviate boredom for a while, it’s not the greatest of all jobs and Smedley really felt the urge to put his other social skills to work again. One of his big connections then contacted him, suggesting a job that he might very well enjoy: Troubleshooter for Wild Life Incorporated. It’d give him a chance to put his social skills to the test, a challenge he decided to accept.

Statwise Smedley is average physically, except for a really sturdy body. But he’s real smart and charismatic, quite excellent at his social skills, and knows nearly every main language he should know for his job. While he’s not all that good in his physical skills, he compensates with the smooth talk or the threats you’d never expect from a sturdy Ork.

Another character from the Tir is the Elf Hunter Charmante. As an Elf she was treated far better, but she became an orphan as a young kid and ended up spending her teen years on a farm. Due to this she lacked the chance to get a proper education, instead she decided to get tough and mean. At a mere age of seventeen she already hit the shadows as Street Samurai, developing her gun skills and her quick eye.

A few years later Charmante managed to draw the attention of a corporate Johnson from Telestrian Industries. Since she was an elf born and raised in the Tir, getting her a limited Corporate SIN wasn’t that hard to arrange. Charmante got much better at her combat skills there, and used her spare time to learn more about critters & paracritters since Telestrian Industries bred and trained those.

When gender-discrimination got in the way of her position, her boss helped her get a job working for the cops. With her skillset SWAT was glad to have her. Heck, her skills were so good she got to spend part of her weapon training on improving her skill with blades instead.

Charmante got to the point where SWAT just didn’t do it for her anymore and she started missing her life in the shadows, where she was her own boss. She used her skills to become a Bounty Hunter and liked to hunt them in wilder areas. Eventually one of her bounties happened to be on a Wild Life Incorporated safari. She took the guy down without security even noticing and got him out through twenty miles of jungle.

By the time Wild Life Incorporated caught up, she had already cashed in the bounty. She immediately got hired as Troubleshooter, because someone that good at hunting, sneaking about and beating people up was perfect for many a Wild Thing.