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Shadowrun 101: Part 2 – Karma Points

Class is in! John Hutton walks us through the various “class” types of Shadowrun…Riggers, Street Samurai, Technomancers…it’s all here!



In the first part we discussed different metatypes.  Now that there’s a good idea what character you want to play, now it’s time to explore the different archetypes.  Archetypes are the various roles the runners take on.  In Shadowrun, there aren’t classes like in Dungeons and Dragons.  In D&D, you choose your class and you get powers and abilities as you level up.  In shadowrun, you get karma points and then customize your character however you want.  Archetypes in the player’s handbook really help bring some of the choices into focus.

Adept Archetypes

The adept archetype can be best summed up as Jet Li in Bulletproof Monk.  They have limited magical abilities but instead of getting spells, they instead use adept powers to run faster, hit harder, and jump higher.  Because adepts are magic users, cyberware is flat out.  Adept powers require power points.  Power points are determined by the character’s magic rating.  So a rating of 4 in magic equals 4 power points.  Choose your adept powers carefully because you won’t be able to have them all.  Another helpful piece of equipment would be qi foci.  It’s a way to acquire more adept powers without increasing your magic rating.  The drawback is qi foci require time, karma, and nuyen.  But it is a lot cheaper than trying to use karma to raise the magic rating.


When we think ‘mage,’ the combat mage is the first thing we think about.  And there are a lot of different spells available so creating a mage requires some thought.  Obviously, the most important rating will be magic.  This is how you get your starting spells and it’s how effective those spells will be.  Another important skill rating will be willpower for when it’s time to resist the drain from the spells.  Magic and cyberware don’t mix.  Cyberware subtracts from the character’s essence and essence also plays into the effectiveness of spells.  One of the really great things about mages is their ability to not only raise their own stats, but for that of the party.  Be sure to look into those spells to really be a team player.

The Face

The Face is the smooth talking, wheeling and dealing son of a gun.  Their best weapon is their silver tongue.  They are the ones to get you a better payout on runs.  They are also who you want talking to people on the ground to get more information.  As we all know, information is power.  If you want to have the best chance to get through a run alive, intelligence gathering is absolutely key.  And there’s nobody better to get that information than the guy who can sell ketchup popsicles to someone wearing white gloves.  So boost up that charisma and specialize in social skills and your team will love you.

Covert-Ops Specialist

The covert-ops specialist is James Bond.  Stealth and espionage is the name of the game.  Get in, get out, get paid.  Much like the face, charisma is very important because a covert-ops specialist doesn’t necessarily want to kill everything in sight.  Sometimes a job takes finesse and that’s where they come in.  They might not be experts at technology like a decker, but they know how to hack a computer.  They might not be a crack shot with a pistol, but they shoot straight when cornered.  They will need a lot of skills and still be able to bluff their way through any situation.  And know how to fight when the drek hits the fan.


Deckers are fairly self-explanatory.  If you ever saw a cyberpunk movie from the 80s, you know what a decker does.  Movies like Scanners should give you a clue.  Deckers are computer experts.  There’s no system they can’t crack.  Secrets might feel safe behind that firewall, but for a good decker, it might as well be in plain sight.  Deckers are not fighters.  They aren’t samurai.  They are ninjas.  Their work is in the shadows.  Many times they do their best work without being in the room.  They use logic and intuition to get past the toughest security on the Matrix.  Decking can be dangerous work.  Dumpshock is a real threat and they have to stay one step ahead of the Grid Overwatch Division (GOD).  


The Rigger is similar to the decker but they take their connection to technology one step further.  They literally jump their consciousness into the machines.  What is it that makes riggers so terrifying?  Two words: drone army.  The rigger is the one who will take control of helicopter drones, rc cars, and even the getaway cars and soup them up with the best artillery they can find.  Riggers need a lot of money to grow and maintain that drone army but it will be well worth it.

Street Samurai

The street samurai is your front-line fighter.  They love a good scrap and are not going to back down from a good duel.  Street samurai are also the ones most likely to be built like a tank.  I mean literally built like a tank.  Cyberware is the best way to turn a guy with a sword into a terrifying weapon of mass destruction.  When things go bad, you’ll wish everyone was a street samurai.

Street Shaman

The street shaman is similar to the mage.  While a mage is more focused on casting spells, a street shaman is more interested in summoning spirits to do some of the heavy lifting.  After all, what is better than one person casting spells?  Two people casting spells.  


Technomancer is the street shaman of the Matrix.  A decker might be a wiz with technology, but they can’t hope to summon sprites and do the work in a fraction of the time.  Technomancers don’t need all the technology a decker does but they need a strong connection to the resonance.  Resonance is similar to magic but is completely different.  A mage or a shaman can’t do what a technomancer can.  Nobody can.  

Weapons Specialist

And finally, we have the weapons specialist.  The name says it all.  They haven’t found a weapon they didn’t love.  They are experts in all things that go boom.  Do you need a sniper or an infantry soldier for a heavy job?  You’re going to want someone who sleeps with a sidearm or two.  

Ok well that just about wraps up this session which is meant to be a general overview of the different archetypes in Shadowrun.  In part 3, we will talk about the priority and metatype tables to finally start getting your characters running.

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