Saints in the Shadows
When creating a character, we recommend you ask yourself the following twenty questions to flesh out the details. We have assumed that certain basic considerations – sex race, psionic ability and so forth – have already been decided. Such character elements are necessary to the creation process, and should have already been decided while creating your character. The questions below appear in no particular order, so feel free to begin with any question that triggers an immediate response and work through the rest at your leisure.
- Where is your character from?
This question gives you an instant background for your character. It also sets up a framework by which many other questions may be answered. Be specific. Don’t just give a city or country, give an exact location. For instance, characters growing up in Chicago could easily be from completely different areas; you may be from the hard-boiled Gary Hells or the claustrophobic Coffin City or from the comforts of the Chimera Arcology in West Chi-town. Use the World sections and other available source material to help narrow down specific neighborhoods and locales.
- Does your character have a family?
This is an important question that almost always get left out of game play. A family can be very important in defining a character. Does your family make demands on you or your time? Do you freelance in secret so that they do not know, or are you estranged from them to the point that you never talk? Were you raised to believe one thing but now have rebelled against that code? Are any of your relatives working in alignment or opposition to you, or does your lifestyle put them in danger?
Another consideration is the question of whether your character has ever been married and/or has children? Is your character currently seeing someone? Several someones? Is he or she a freelance as well? How does your career impact your relationship with others?
- Does your character have an ethnic background?
The answer to this question often goes hand-in-hand with the questions above. Your character’s ethnicity should have a large impact on cultural upbringing. Were you raised in a foreign country, or were your parent immigrants? Were you raised in a culturally-rich environment, or was your lifestyle largely assimilated? Chicago has been a melting pot, and your ethnicity likely impacts your personal history and outlook, as well as how others perceive you. Despite the varied levels of acceptance towards hybrids, simulacra, cyborgs, androids and bioroids simple ethnic racism and prejudice still exist in areas, although it may take a backseat to views towards others.
- What does your character look like?
Create a quick description of your character’s physical appearance, including height, weight, color of skin, eyes, hair and build. Are you a taller-than-average person or so short your look like an midget? Are your athletic and in shape, or are your underweight and wiry? Your physical description includes both your character’s natural appearance and any modifications such as cyberware, tattoos, piercings, injuries and so on. What about that green mohawk… or those trademark cyber eyes? Are any of these characteristics disguising? Do you resemble a famous sim star, or scare people with your cold steely gaze?
- What does your character dress like?
Now that you have described your physical body, it is time to dress it. What is your character’s style? Does he have one? Are you at the height of fashion or are synth-cotton sweats and a black “Skuzzy and Gonzos” T-shirt the only things your are ever seen worn? Do you “dress down” for street work, or “snazz up” for social engagements? Your character’s Resources and Lifestyle may certainly affect these options. A person from a pampered high-class location will dress much differently than kid grown up in the streets.
- Does your character have any physical quirks?
There are a number of habits or physical disguising features to chose from. His your character known for twirling their hair, or biting their nails when concentrating? Was your nose once broken and never set correctly? Where did you get all those scars? There are any number of physical idiosyncrasies or handicaps that have no direct affect on game applications, such as limps, twitches, stuttering or even missing fingers.
SKILLS, ATTRIBUTES & RESOURCES
- Where did your character learn their Active Skills?
Since these are the skills that a freelancer uses the most, it should be determined how your character learned to deck, wire explosives, shoot, tweek, and so on. When was your character trained? By whom, and under what circumstances? Is the character still tied to these names and places in any way?
- Where did your character learn their Knowledge and language skills?
These skills give depth and history to your character, so its important to ask why your character has such a fine understanding of Chinese culture, or how they learned psychology. Each skill carries a story on how the character was exposed to such information. Descriptions of when and were you learned such things, as well as the teachers and circumstances could spawn stories and insights to your character.
- Where did your character get his goodies?
Your character begins the game with a set amount of resources. How these resources became available to your character is part of your history, from each piece of cyberware to every bullet. How did your character earned he credits to get that augmentation? Did someone owe the character a favor or did someone else pay for it? Maybe the character has an extensive background in the military or security services and is now getting into the shadows. Each piece of gear can have a story liked to it. Perhaps that Black Knight sidearm you carry is the one your father, the mob boss, gave you, or the armored jacket the one your older brother did not wear on the night you helped him sneak out and never saw again.
- Where does your character live?
Choosing a lifestyle(s) can also provide background. Are you rich enough to live in the High Lifestyle and yet your still ‘slum’ in Coffin city? Why there? Do you live the Hells, where each day is an adventure unto itself? How do you get there each day? How do you deal with the gangs and urban predators? Are you the only hybrid in an largely human only district? What is your relationship with your neighbors?
- Who are your character’s contacts?
While the gamemaster runs them, you can have a hand in creating them. Each contact you chose should fit into your character’s background. How did you meet? Is the relationship just business, or do you share mutual interests? Do you meet every Friday at the corner pub for drinks? Describe some aspects of their personality as well. Is she a corrupt and ruthless cop who just so, happens to have a crush on you? Or is he an fellow avid Jumpbike fan? Significant contacts especially deserve attention, as they should play a significant role in your character’s life. Why are you buddies? Were you partners, or was she your mentor?
- Who are your character’s enemies?
Using enemies can flesh out reasons why your troubleshoot, how you came up with your gear or any other back story you wish to create. Their personalities should also be detailed in the same manner as contacts. Why do they hate you? Is it personal or just business? Were you on opposite ends of a deal gone bad? Was it intentional or simply a huge misunderstanding?
- How did your character learn his psionic powers?
This is a special question that only a select few need to ask themselves. Since psionics are unique, feared and often hated, it becomes important to define where and how a character learned these abilities, and how they taught to control them.
Even if the character is mundane, your should decide how they feel about zeeks. Do they spook him out? Are you jealous that they can’t cast wicked fireballs yourself? Do you have misconceptions or biases on how psionics works, perhaps even carrying charms and tokens?
- What are your character’s likes and dislikes?
Everyone has likes and dislikes, and nothing makes a better background for roleplaying hook than to establish a few for your character. These can range in intensity from something that is a minor annoyance to something that crushes your character’s heart or drives your character to rants and violent rampages. These can be either serious or funny. Do you hate Wasteland Traders because their weapons were used to kill one close to you? Are you such a die-hard jumpbike fan that you’ll skip out on jobs in order to catch the game?
- What is your character’s moral code?
A moral code in the shadows? Every character should have a point where they draw the line. Theft? Wetwork? Assassinations? Kidnapping? Does your character prefer non-lethal tactics or do they love to whack stooges? Is your character amoral, and how did they get that way? What dehumanized them?
This questions also poses topics of personal morality as well; cyberware, sex, pollution, lying, stealing, drinking and the list goes on. These can run the gamut from questions that arise in the daily life (taxes) to more esoteric subjects that may never arise (organlegging).
- Does your character have goals?
Are you determined to run the shadows until the local mob no longer exists? Or just until you can afford to purchase that island in the Lesser Antilles Possibly all you want is to make sure that your kid sister can afford to go to a good school that will help her control her psionic powers. Goals help define the character’s outlook on life as well as the laying groundwork for future stories. Goals may change for characters, depending on events that occur in the game. Perhaps they are even driven to bitter cynicism or difficult soul-searching as they stray from their original plans.
- What is your character’s personal beliefs?
Are you a radical anarchist? Are you an ultra-conservative who thinks that something needs to be done about the hybrid ‘Problem”? Do you think that the local corporations are better than the foreign corps? Who is your hero? Do you believe that psionics are the work of a sinister being out to control everyone’s mind? What personal beliefs does your character take to heart, and does she affiliate with any religious sects, groups or secret societies because of them?
- Does your character have any personality quirks?
Are you anti-social? Arrogant? Opinionated? Pessimistic? Suave? Superstitions? Laid back? Paranoid? Pick a trait or two and invent a story that explains how you got to be that way.
RUNNING THE SHADOWS
- Why does your character run the shadows?
This can be as simple as basic survival instinct or it can be deeper and much more psychological. The shadows are a prison to some and a land of opportunity for others. Are you out to make a reputation? Are you striking back at the government in the name of the people? Or are you just a sick fragger with a taste for adventure, and maybe a death wish?
- How does your character view their role as a freelancer?
Running the shadows is one thing, liking it may be a completely different thing. Does your character enjoy the thrill of the game or is he always fearful that he will be caught? Are you cocky about your success, or do you just take it all in stride? Maybe your character just thinks that the shadows are a necessity in the flawed society of the modern world. Possibly your character hates the shadows and the people that dwell within it, but is stuck in a no-win situation, forced to do whatever is necessary to survive and get back to where they were… back in the “daylight.”