The Let's Play Archive

Shadowrun Returns

by Kanfy

Part 2: Create-a-Criminal

Part 02 - Create-a-Criminal

Now before we go any further, there's a couple of things to take care of. I didn't want to scare anyone away by opening with this as there is going to be a bunch of about game mechanics here and not everyone cares about this stuff or they might already know all about it. That said, if you're not familiar with Shadowrun at all, it won't do any harm to be aware of the basics as these same rules govern all the characters we'll meet. Almost.

First off is the difficulty setting. We'll playing on Very Hard because I'm just that badass the game doesn't put up much of a fight at all on Normal and by all accounts Very Hard simply means you're on an even playfield with the AI instead of getting invisible advantages. Plus the ability to save manually was patched in with Dragonfall, so nowadays I don't need to restart the whole mission if things go south. E: It later turned out that both Hard and Very Hard have a major bug associated with them, so most of the LP will be on Normal after all.

After this comes the character creation. First is a choice between male or female, but this has no gameplay impact. Next up are the races:

If you've played any classic fantasy game, there are no real surprises here. Humans are probably the "best" choice as they get the most stat ups outside of trolls and going past 9 in a stat is both expensive and pretty unnecessary, but it's a very minor advantage.

For the same reason trolls are the most limited in their usefulness despite their absurd physical caps - Having 17 points in Body, which primarily governs your hit points, would require investing roughly 75% of all Karma points (used for both stats and skills) earned throughout the entire game on that stat alone. Sure, you could probably disarm a nuclear bomb with your face and survive, but old age would be a bigger threat than you in combat.

After that we have the "classes", although in practice they only serve as preset skill builds for those who don't want to deal with building a character from scratch. In other words, choosing one will simply allocate most of your Karma for you (poorly), so not picking one is the smartest choice if you know your way around. Still, nearly all characters will fall under one or two of these archetypes so it's good to know what they're about.

One catch here is that your loadout in the game's first battle is decided entirely by your class choice, for example a Mage will have a few spells. All custom characters get the same one consisting of a couple of firearms however, meaning a custom spellcaster will be practically useless in the fight due to not having a single spell.

They couldn't quite figure out how to pluralize "shaman". Or how to spell "raccoon".

I'm just going to cut to the chase here, we'll be playing a Decker in order to get the most out of the game. Only the main character can attempt the various Decking skill checks you'll come across in the game, even if one of your party members is a Decker. Yeah, it's dumb, and also fixed in the later installments which usually allow you to ask your crew member to do the hacking for you. Accessing the Matrix, the main job of the class, can be done by any Decker even here so it's still not the end of the world even if you don't play one.

The upside here is the fact that the Decker is the most important party member, something that remains true in all three games. Very nearly every mission from here to Hong Kong has something only a Decker can accomplish, so if you're not one yourself then you're going to have to bring one with you or accept that you'll miss out on things. This way we can pick whoever we feel like and still do nearly everything possible.

Whether you picked one of the above or not, next up will be the Karma allocation screen. This isn't a guide so I'm not going to go through every single stat and skill, but I'll quickly cover the basics. There are 6 different stats (Body, Quickness, Strength, Intelligence, Willpower and Charisma) and all skills are divided under them. You can't increase a skill past its governing stat, meaning you can't increase your Dodge to 4 unless you increase your Quickness to 4 first.

Here are the skills we're looking at, most of them are pretty self-explanatory:

Some skills also govern other skills, for example you can't increase your Melee Weapons to 4 unless you first increase your Close Combat to 4 which in turn first requires increasing your Strength to 4. Like so:

As you can perhaps tell, skills also come with special abilities or beneficial passives every now and then. 8 points in Melee Weapons allows you to disarm enemies, 3 points in Rifles allows you to shoot an inaccurate but powerful burst in full auto, 2 points in Biotech allows you to see enemy HP and so on.

Also, increasing a stat or a skill requires Karma equivalent to the level you're increasing the stat or skill to. Meaning, increasing your Strength from 2 to 3 costs 3 Karma, whereas going from 7 to 8 costs 8 Karma. You start with 34, or 37 as a human. This is why going past 9 or so in a stat (or especially a skill as it'd require increasing the stat to the equivalent level first) is unlikely unless you're specializing to an extreme degree, and why the troll Strength/Body stat caps are largely irrelevant whereas their low Intelligence/Charisma caps are quite limiting.

And then finally, the most important part - Our incredibly cool/lame streetname.

End of character mechanics

Now, I already made the call that we were going to be a Decker, and I'm going to add a couple more limitations to that: We won't make spellcasting our primary fighting style as it conflicts with cyberware which Deckers come with by default, and we won't be a melee character because the thin stat spread means we'll be real weak in combat for quite a while. Plus plain melee and nothing else is a bit boring anyway.

Beyond that I'm not super picky. Trolls are a terrible choice for a Decker, their Strength bonus is wasted and their Intelligence cap is so low that they literally can't equip the top-tier deck (which is what governs a Decker's power in the Matrix), but I also can't claim the game's unbeatable with a troll Decker or anything.

So I'll leave the rest up to you, thread. What shape will our hero take? Pick one for each category!

1. Our sex: Male or Female
2. Our race: Human, Elf, Dwarf, Ork or Troll
3. Our primary murdering method: Pistols, Submachine Guns, Shotguns, Rifles or the ever-trendy Drones. Some of these are better than others, but they'll all do the job so just pick whatever seems coolest.
4. Our streetname: 2-12 characters. If you're like me and coming up with names is the single hardest part in an RPG, you can just skip this one if you want.

We'll pick the most popular choice in each category and from them, we'll mold some unholy Frankenstein's cybermonster. Flip a coin in case of ties. If only one guy shows up to vote then they wield all the power, hail democracy. If nobody at all shows up then this whole thing'll look real pathetic so please participate out of pity if nothing else.

And if you don't care, at least quote someone else's answer and go "Yeah I'm fine with this" instead of not posting at all. Yeah, I know your type, you lazy bum.

Barring any unexpected events we'll give it some 20 hours, give or take a few. Voting is done.