Character Creation

Guide to Character Creation

Watch your back. Shoot straight. Conserve ammo. And never, ever, cut a deal with a Titan.
— Street Proverb
 
Those are the fundamental rules for surviving in the Swan Song world. Beyond that, individuals have their own rules—codes, or lack thereof. There are people who steal from the rich and give to the poor, and people who steal from the rich and laugh at the poor. People who are flamboyant, pulling off capers in grand style, and people who are never seen, not for a second, by those they don’t want to see them.   The point is, there are all types of Crossers out there, and it is time now to create one and take to the streets and wilderness of the new worlds. Take your best shot, fight the odds, hope for the best, and show everyone you have the guts and the skills to do the impossible. You may never be accepted in “civilized” society, but you can take pride in the fact that you’ve earned everything you own—including your freedom.
 

STEP ONE: CHOOSE CONCEPT

Disparate characters band together as Crosser teams; blending their talents, skills, and specialized expertise to complete missions they would not be able to pull off as individuals. Some Crosser teams come together for a specific job, while others stay together throughout their entire careers, becoming as close-knit as family.
 
The sidebar Common Character Concepts gives you a snapshot of the character types you're most likely to find in the shadows.This gallery is just a starting point—there are characters in the shadows that don’t conform to any list. The one you create will be uniquely yours.
 
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You may start with an idea of what sort of character you want to play and some basic background concepts. The character may be an ex-soldier from a planetary government looking to use her combat skills on the streets. Or a former corporate headhunter forced out of the megacorporation by an ambitious rival and now using his negotiating savvy and deal-making skills to survive the shadows.   There are second-generation Crossers, born to the life and learning the skills of the trade from their Sinless parents. It’s not unusual for a bounty hunter who collects pelts of paranormal critters or tracks down fugitives to engage in a little crossruninng to supplement his income. The character may have grown up in a street gang, and he sees cossrunning as a way to get out of the gutter. Or the character may have just gotten out of jail and be eager to see what she can do with the skills she learned and the connections she made on the inside.   You do not need to understand all the nuances of character creation and character statistics to get started. That will come with time.   To start, have a concept in mind and dive in. Your character will quickly become unique—and all yours.
 

Select Archetype

Archetypes.jpg
When you know a concept for your character, you should look at the available Archetypes and select the one that comes the closest to the concept you had in mind.   The Archetype is one of the most important things to a character, it allows for the character to understand who he is as both a person and a mechanically functional character. The Archetype is the heart of the character which the player chooses, it defines who they are, and what they can do best. Keep in mind that an archetype is not a class or profession. A character with the Soldier archetype might or might not have served in the military, but he sure as hell has the skills needed for it. A character chooses an Archetype during Character Creation and keeps it for the rest of the game. A character can only have one Archetype and this choice is permanent. A character's Archetype determines a series of skills Skills the character is naturally adept at. Those are called Archetype Skills. When the character wants to rank up his skills through XP, his Archetype skills cost less XP to gain a new rank in, when compared to non-Archetype skills. A character's Archetype also determines the options available to choose from for his starting Playbook.
 

Select Starting Playbook

A character's Playbook determines their available talents, it determines what they can do and defines their role as a Crosser. Each playbook also grants a few additional Archetype Skills to a character.
 
Note that this is not a necessarily a character's profession, but merely a rough categorization of their particular skillset. A character with the Spy playbook may have never even been near an intelligence agency, a Bodyguard character may have never been paid to work as an actual bodyguard and a character with the Medic playbook might not even be a real doctor. So while it is perfectly possible for your character to come from their respective line of work or backgrounds, this doesn't has to be true.
 
A character can follow a single Playbook for all of his career as a Crosser and truly master the talents within or acquire several Playbooks over time as his skill set grows more and more versatile.   A character begins with one free Playbook from his Archetype Playbooks, which he chooses during character creation. He can later acquire new playbooks from any archetype through XP, but the cost for this increases with each already acquired playbook, as it gets harder and harder to learn an additional set of talents.   When a playbook has a ranked Talent, you can still only get 1 Rank of that Talent per occurance of it in your Playbook. If you want more Ranks in it, you'll have to also get it from other Playbooks. But note that no Ranked Skill can ever go above the maximum Rank of 6.
 

Alternate Character Creation Rules

Players and the gamemaster should work together to develop a team of characters that are suited to the campaign. The character creation rules as presented in this chapter involve the creation of an experienced Crosser. For rules on the other levels of character creation do the following:  

Street Level

Street-level characters are characters that have not yet had a chance to establish themselves as Crossers and are still in the process of earning their street cred. Obviously, these characters will not have the same gear or resources as the experienced Crosser.   For this level of play reduce both starting Resources and Starting XP from the Priority table by 50%. Additionally, when it comes to gear, Device Ratings must be rated at 4 or less and Maximum Availability is limited to 10 or less.

Prime Crosser Level

The second option is the prime crosser build to create a character who has successfully been working the shadows long enough to have established their reputations as professionals in the eyes of Mr. Johnson. They possess the gear, the connections, and the talent to back up those reputations.   For this level of play increase both starting Resources and Starting XP from the Priority table by 25%. Additionally, when it comes to gear, Device Ratings must be rated at 6 or less and Maximum Availability is limited to 15 or less. The points for contacts are calculated as Charisma x 6.
 

STEP TWO: SELECT PRIORITIES

In Swan Song character generation is based on the Priority System.
 

Priority Table

Priority Species Attributes Biotics or Resonance Skills Resources Starting XP
A 16 12 3/6 Biotics / Resonance
3 Biotic / Matrix Powers
30 250.000 NC 30
B 12 10 2/6 Biotics / Resonance
2 Biotic / Matrix Powers
24 100.000 NC 25
C 10 8 1/6 Biotics / Resonance
1 Biotic / Matrix Powers
18 50.000 NC 20
D 8 6 0/6 Biotics / Resonance
0 Biotic / Matrix Power
12 25.000 NC 15
E 6 4 - 6 10.000 NC 10
F 4 2 - 3 5.000 NC 5
 
The Priority System is a table with the following columns: Species, Attributes, Biotics, Skills, Starting XP, and Resources. The rows are divided into Priority Levels ranging from Priority A to Priority F. Players assign a specific Priority Level for each of the columns to their character depending on their preferences. The values assigned must be different for each column (representing each aspect of the character), and there can be no duplications.The higher the Priority Level (A, B, etc.), the more valuable it is for the character. Characters use XP later on to customize their characters even further.
 

Choose a Species

The player begins the character-creation process by choosing their character’s Species (and Subspecies if available). There are severeal distinct Species within Swan Song like:
 
Korrug cover
 
Each Species receives different racial advantages (and possibly disadvantages). Several Species also receive physical or mental advantages/disadvantages to their attribute ratings (such as higher or lower natural attribute limits).When determining which Species best fits the character concept they wish to play, the player should refer to the Species Attribute Table inside the category and review the specific details for each Species.   Once the player has selected the Species they wish to play, they should review the Species column of the Priority Table to determine which Priority Levels give them the best options for their character based on their preferred Species, the avaialble Species Perks and the Special Attribute Points they need. Each Species costs a minimum value of Species Points from the priority table (see the Species Cost Table, or the relevant Cost entry in the Species Datasheet), which unlocks their base package. This means you get the Species, all its standard Attribute Ranges as well as things like Size, Vision, Languages, and other vital factors like that. In addition to this each Species possesses a number of unique Perks that can only be unlocked by that Species and only during Character Creation. The Perks are listed in their specific Species Datasheet along with their cost to unlock them (usually between 1-3 points per Perk).   The last part to consider are Special Attribute Points. The special attributes are Karma, Biotics, and Resonance; if you want your character to have a high rating in one or more of these areas, make sure you select a row with plenty of Species points. Technomancer characters need to ensure they can have a high Resonance, while Biotic characters will want a high Biotics rating.   Karma starts at the value for each Species listed. Biotics and Resonance start at 0.   Karma, of course, is beneficial to all characters. Special attribute points may be spent entirely on Karma if the player chooses not to play a Biotics user or a Technomancer, or they may split these points as they see fit between their Karma and Biotics or Resonance attribute ratings if the player so chooses. These Special Attribute Points may only be allocated on Special Attributes. They may never be used to raise Mental or Physical attributes.
 
Any unspent Species points disappear following the character creation process. If the player chooses an option that leaves them with too few special attribute points, don’t worry. Players may elect to spend the XP given to them during the character creation process to raise these special attributes by following the standard Character Progression rules.
 
Note that for most Species, the maximum rating for Biotics, Resonance, and Karma is 6; humans for example have a maximum Karma rating of 7. Certain qualities allow characters to exceed attribute maximums by one, but the player must purchase these qualities with XP. Even if one of these qualities is purchased, the player must still spend the attribute points/XP to raise the attribute to that new limit. With Exceptional Attribute, you can end up with a maximum Biotics or Resonance rating of 7 when starting the game.
 

Raise Attributes

The next step is to raise the character’s attributes. The player chooses a Priority Level from the Attribute column that best suits their vision of the character. The number in this column represents the points a player has available for raising their character’s Mental and Physical attributes. When spending attribute points, refer to the Species Attribute Table. This table shows the starting attribute ratings for each species (the number before the slash) as well as the maximum for each.   Characters begin at their Species’s starting levels at no cost; so Humans begin with a Body rating of 1, Grond have a starting Body rating of 2, and Korrug have an initial rating of 3. Characters then apply their attribute points to these starting values. It takes 1 attribute point to raise an attribute rating by 1 during character creation.   A character must spend all attribute points during character creation. They may not spend attribute points from the Attributes column to raise special attributes or for any other purpose. Characters at character creation may only have 1 Mental or Physical attribute at their natural maximum limit; the special attributes of Biotics, Karma, and Resonance are not included in this limitation.   A player needs to be careful in building their character, as many of the attributes have a natural limit below the default level of 6 to reflect a Species’s inherent disadvantage in that particular attribute.   While the player is raising attributes and deciding on starting levels for her character, she should keep in mind several factors that will be calculated at the end of character creation based upon the character’s attributes, namely Initiative and Inherent Limits.
 

Initiative

Initiative determines the order in which characters, both player characters and non-player characters (NPCs), act in combat (for rules on Initiative, see Combat). The base Initiative rating for a character is Intuition + Reaction.
 

Limits

Inherent limits (see Tests) restrict the number of hits characters can count in certain tests. They are based on attributes, so when choosing attributes, keep these limits in mind. The formulas for inherent limits are:
  • Physical Limit: [(Strength x 2) + Body + Reaction] / 3 (round up)
  • Mental Limit: [(Logic x 2) + Intuition + Willpower] / 3 (round up)
  • Social Limit: [(Charisma x 2) + Willpower + Essence] / 3 (round up)
Technomancers need to remember that their mental attributes will determine attributes for their Living Persona, their representation in the Matrix.
 

Choose Biotics or Resonance

biotics.jpg
The next column of the Priority Table is Biotics or Resonance. This is a column for players who want to be a Biotic or Technomancer. Players who desire none of these character options choose Priority E or F for this column.   Priority Levels A through C in this column specify the character’s starting attribute rating (either Biotics or Resonance) along with a number of powers. These are already paid for and can be added to the character sheet right away; they do not cost any skill points or XP up front, although they can be increased later.   The player should select which biotic powers / skills / Complex Forms they want for their character at this time, but remember, players are not limited to only what they receive in the priority level. Players may spend XP to buy more powers or complex forms toward the end of character creation.
 

Purchase Skills

You now have the basic attributes of your character; the next step is to figure out your skills, the areas where you have particular abilities and gifts. This is covered in the fourth column of the Priority Table. Remember that at this point, players should have only three Priority Levels left that have yet to be assigned, so they should choose one of them for this column.   Skills are broken down into three types: Active, Knowledge, and Language skills.
  • Active skills are what the character can do physically: use firearms, drive a car, tell convincing lies, cast spells, register sprites, etc.
  • Knowledge skills are what the character knows: how to find runner hangouts, the layout of the city, short cuts, the locations of street clinics, how to identify street gangs, etc.
  • Language skills are the languages the character can speak, write, and comprehend.
  • The number in the skills column is the number of skill points a character has to spend on individual skills. These skill points are generally used to purchase Active skills, though they can be used for Knowledge and Language skills too. If you don’t get exactly the skill ratings you want in this step, remember that skills may also be raised with XP at the end of character creation. In this step, it only takes one skill priority point to either acquire a new archetype skill or raise an archetype skill rank by 1. For non-Archetype skills this costs 2 skill priority points.
     
    During this step, the highest characters can raise a skill is 3.   Through the use of XP, the highest rating a skill can hit is 12.
    All skill and skill group points must be spent at the time of character creation. These points cannot be saved or used after the game starts.
     

    Specializations

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    Along with skill ranks, players may also want to use their points to purchase specializations. Specializations are parts of a skill in which a character has invested extra time and effort, so they have become extra skilled. For example, if you have the Blades skill, you may specialize in an sword or survival knife. Having a specialization gives you a +2 dice pool bonus to skill tests involving the area of specialization.   At character creation, a specialization costs 2 skill points for archetype skills and 3 skill points for non-Archetype skills. No individual skill may have more than one specialization. As a character develops, though, they may gain other areas of expertise (for example, you may complement your knife knowledge with sword expertise) and so add more specializations to the same skills.   Along with being purchased in this step, specializations may be purchased using XP at the end of character creation (see Character Progression).   Survival on the streets depends on two things (at least): being really good at what you do, and having some backup skills for when things go to hell. If you’re going to be a shooter, stock up on the appropriate gun skills, but maybe add some Perception so you can see your targets coming, some Sneaking to keep them from seeing you, and some First Aid in case you wind up catching a bullet. If you’re a biotic, you need plenty of Powers, and Counter-Powers, but Acrobatics might be a nice addition to help you avoid incoming attacks, and Palming may be useful for slipping a keycard from a guard while you’re invisible.   And if you’re a face, you need plenty of social skills, but you’ll be asking for trouble if you don’t buy some combat skills to fall back on for those times when words fail you. Whatever your character concept, you should think of your character’s skills as a whole, building some excellent skills while also providing an overall balance to maximize your chances of success. You won’t have all your skills where you want them at first, but that’s why you play the game—as you finish missions and earn more XP, you’ll have the chance to boost both your skills and your attributes.   Full descriptions of skills and their specializations are found in Skills.
     

    Restricted Skills

    There are some skills that cannot be used by all characters. Biotics and Resonance-based skills are restricted to characters who have a Biotics or Resonance attribute rating. Without the appropriate attribute, the character cannot learn or utilize these skills. These restricted skills are listed under the Biotics and Resonance headings in the list of Individual Skills.   Technicians (especially Hackers), even though many of their talents are similar to Technomancers while in the Matrix, cannot use Resonance-based skills (namely Compiling, Decompiling, and Registering). For specifics on skill restrictions and whether a character can take a specific skill, refer to the Skills article.
     

    Knowledge and Language Skills

    Characters receive free Knowledge and Language skills points equal to Intuition rating + Logic rating. These points are spent in the same way as other skill points, meaning that spending 1 point gives 1 rank in a skill. In addition to the free points, your character receives his species languages that he knows as a native languages at no cost. Your native languages have no skill rank, as you never have to roll for them. On your character sheet they are marked with an "N" for native.   Additional Language skills are purchased and have numerical ratings. This rating represents how well the character understands and comprehends that language. As long as the character has at least a rating of 1, the character has a chance to be able to speak and/or write the language and to interpret the gist of what is said or written, even if they don’t catch every nuance. The higher the rating, the more fluent the character is in that language.
     
    At character creation, no character may possess a knowledge or a language skill higher than rating 3.
    Language skills use Intuition as their linked Attribute.   There are four types of Knowledge skills: Academic, Interests, Professional, and Street. Depending on the category, a character rolls either Knowledge skill + Intuition or Knowledge skill + Logic for the appropriate test. These tests indicate what information the character knows on a particular subject, with more net hits indicating that the character is more familiar with and has more knowledge of the subject in question.
  • Academic knowledge is information gained through formal education, whether from a school, tutor, university, or other structured program.
  • Interests include hobbies, experiences, and personal interests of the individual character.
  • Professional knowledge comes from an employer or professional organization.
  • Street knowledge includes everything a Crosser has picked up from life in the shadows, from drug prices to gang politics to who pays the most for stolen goods.
  • Sometimes, Knowledge skills may straddle multiple categories. In these cases, the GM chooses the most appropriate category for the knowledge skill based on the character and how they would use it. For example, a Corporations Knowledge skill could fit in Professional, Academic, or Street categories.
     

    Purchase Qualities

    This next step in the character creation process is finalizing the list of qualities the character will have at the beginning of a Swan Song campaign.   Qualities help round out your character’s personality while also providing a range of benefits or penalties. There are two types of Qualities—Positive Qualities, which provide gameplay bonuses and require an expenditure of XP; and Negative Qualities, which impose gameplay penalties but also give bonus XP the player can spend in other areas.   The player should now choose his column for Starting XP, and some of that can be spent to buy Qualities. Players can spend all of it, some of it, or none of it based on what they want their character to have and how much XP they want to save for later.   For a complete list of available Qualities see Qualities.   Additionally, at creation characters can only possess at most 20 XP worth of Positive Qualities and 20 XP worth of Negative Qualities.   After Character Creation, most Positive Qualities can be purchased during game play through experience points at an increased cost, but only with the Gamemaster's approval, while Negative Qualities may be awarded to the character by the gamemaster based on events that take place in game. Negative Qualities can also be bought off using XP during game play through experience points. Both the purchase of new qualities and the removal of existing negative qualities must be approved by the gamemaster and should ideally be reflected through the story before spending the experience points.
     

    Determine your Resources

    Players should only have one Priority Level left to assign to Resources. This Priority Level determines the amount of money that characters will have to spend on the gear they’ll use to kick some ass, as well as a place to crash when the heat’s off. See Gear for available equipment.
     

    STEP THREE: SPEND YOUR RESOURCES

    Gear Checklist

    What essential gear should a character consider buying? If you're uncertain on what to buy, you can either consult the following tables or choose your gear from the available Equipment Packs.  
    The character needs to spend the vast majority of NuCred they earned from the Priority Table during this step; by the end of it, they may choose to hold onto 5,000 NC or less and add it to their starting NuCred. Any NuCred remaining over 5,000 is lost and cannot be recovered.   If the player finds that he or she has more than the 5,000 NC that can be saved (or even if he or she hasn’t), there are a few essential pieces of gear to consider when building a Crosser. You’ll want a commlink to stay in touch and to keep your gear relatively safe from hackers.   A fake Sin, along with some fake licenses, will help smooth dealing with law enforcement or even simple purchases like buying a bus ticket or covering a bar tab. For more ideas, see the Gear Checklist sidebar.   Keep in mind there are three restrictions when it comes to purchasing gear. First, when purchasing augmentations such as CyberWare or BioWare (Augmentations), each attribute rating (Mental and Physical) can only receive an augmentation bonus of up to +3.   If the attribute being raised has not reached its natural maximum limit, the attribute can be raised naturally with XP; but at no point can augmentations exceed the +3 bonus cap. The second restriction is that at normal character creation, characters are restricted to a maximum Availability rating of 8 and a device rating of 4. After character creation, characters may be able to acquire gear that has a higher Availability and a higher device rating.   Finally, all gear is subject to gamemaster approval, even if the gear falls within these restrictions.
     

    Augmentations

    The most common augmentations players take to enhance their characters’ attributes are CyberWare or BioWare (Augmentations).   CyberWare is technology implanted into a humanoid body, either to enhance the performance of existing organs, muscles, and systems, or to replace a part of the body completely with an artificial form that exceeds normal human limitations. BioWare, by contrast, is living technology; cells grown in laboratories and designed to work within a humanoid's body to improve on its natural design, and to add options nature never intended. CyberWare generally consumes more of a character’s Essence than BioWare. The drawback for BioWare is its greater expense.   Note that if a character takes CyberWare or BioWare, it may remove a particular species bonus. For example, if a character, who has a species with low-light vision, buys cybereyes, their natural low-light vision is removed and replaced with the cybereyes and whatever attributes it possesses. If the player still wants low-light vision, she’ll have to select the low-light modification for the cybereyes. Similarly, orthoskin replaces the natural dermal deposits of a Korrug so he would no longer receive the +1 dermal armor from his natural skin hardness.  
    Bodymods.JPG.jpg
    There are five grades of available Augmentations:
    • Standard
    • Alphaware
    • Betaware
    • Deltaware
    • Used
     
    Only Standard, Alphaware and Used are available at character creation.   Attributes boosted by CyberWare or BioWare do not affect the calculation for things such as points for Knowledge skills or Contacts. However, other in-game mechanics such as Initiative and Inherent Limits are modified by these augmentations, which means these bonuses need to be factored in during Step Six: Final Numbers.   Augmentations need to be noted on the character sheet. The rating should be added to the natural attribute rating and the total written in parentheses next to the natural attribute rating to indicate the permanent augmented rating. For example, a character with a natural Strength rating of 4 and muscle augmentation 2 BioWare should record their attribute as follows: Strength 4 (6).
     

    Lifestyle

    Lifestyle determines how the character lives and their monthly expenses so that they can survive. Is the character a squatter in an abandoned building? Does he survive by dumpster diving? Does the character live in a rundown apartment? Or has the character found a way to own her own home? Depending on the answers to these questions, the character may have a Street, Squatter, Low, Middle, High, or Luxury lifestyle.   Obviously, a character has to pay the cost of their life-style(s) each month. Prepayments can be made for any number of months, but landlords are highly unlikely to refund the money later.   More information on lifestyles can be found under Lifestyles.
     

    Starting NuCred

    No more than 5,000 NuCred (or less) of any unspent money from the funds available for character creation carries over to game play. The rest of the character’s starting nuyen is determined by the lifestyle the player has purchased for his character and the formula for that lifestyle specified by the Starting NuCred Column. The player rolls the designated number of dice, then applies the modifier appropriate to their character’s Lifestyle. The result is added to any funds the player has left over after buying gear.
    Lifestyle Cost Starting NuCred
    Street Free 1d6 x 20 NC
    Squatter 500 NC 2d6 x 40 NC
    Low 2.000 NC 3d6 x 60 NC
    Middle 5.000 NC 4d6 x 100 NC
    High 10.000 NC 5d6 x 500 NC
    Luxury 100.000 NC 6d6 x 1.000 NC
     
    Note that the monthly Lifestyle cost of a character can be modified by his Species.
     

    STEP FOUR: GET CONTACTS AND OBLIGATIONS

    During his life as a Crosser your character has come across many other individuals and also will continue to do so going forward. These relationships to outside persons and groups are represented by Contacts and Obligations.
     

    Contacts

    Contacts are a vital part of a Crosser's life. Contacts sell illegal or hard-to-obtain items, alert crossers to potential employment, know someone who knows someone who knows something the Crosser wants to know, or are knowledgeable about the layout of a heavily guarded corporate compound.   Some contacts can supply substances Crossers are addicted to, fence stolen goods, and maybe, if they’re loyal enough, bail the Crosser out of the police holding cell. Having a wide variety of Contacts can be a valuable investment.   Every character receives free Points to spend on their initial contacts. This point amound is equal to a Character’s Charisma rating x 3.   Each Contact has a Connection and a Loyalty rating. Any Contacts a player buys must have a minimum rating of 1 in Connection and a minimum rating of 1 in Loyalty.   Connection represents how much reach and influence a Contact has, both within the shadows and in the world at large, to get things done or to make things happen.   Loyalty reflects how loyal the contact is to the runner and how much they’ll endure without shattering whatever bond the two have. At Loyalty 1 or 2, the Contact has only a business relationship with the character. Any qualms they have about turning the Crosser in are tied to profits they may lose if the Crosser isn’t around, not so much because of any close personal feelings. With a higher Loyalty rating, the Contact has a stronger and more personal relationship (i.e., friendship) with the character, and is more likely to take some risk or go out of his way to help the character.   For specific rules on the use of Contacts, see Contacts).
     

    Reputation cover
    Buying Contacts

    Contacts can usually only be bought during character creation. Any further development of contacts during play come through the story and roleplaying.   Buying a contacts costs 1 point for each point of Connections Rating, and 1 point for each Loyalty Rating (minimum point requirement = 2).   A single contact may not have more than 7 points spent on them at character creation. There are no limits on how many contacts the character may purchase apart from his amount of available points.
     
    Players creating contacts at character creation must assign Connection, Loyalty, an Archetype (if applicable and desired), and a backstory. The backstory should be sufficiently detailed to give the gamemaster clear guidance on what kind of things a contact can and can't do. Think about what kind of things your contact has access to, what people he might know and what he how he can help you. Players should avoid overly broad contact backstories that grant an excessive amount of power. The gamemaster has final authority when evaluating the validity of contacts. These contacts should not have listed skills or attributes, as these will be determined during games by GMs based on the contact's archetype, backstory and the nature of the request being made.
     

    Obligations

    One of the elements that makes characters in Swan Song unique is the concept of Obligations. During character creation, players not only customize their characters by selecting skills and talents, but by choosing what sort of Obligation the character has. A group may share the same Obligation, or each PC may have his own. Narratively, Obligation can come in many forms. An Obligation may represent a large debt or the character being blackmailed. A character may owe a crime boss a "favor" or have a bounty on his head. Obligation helps tell the character's story and reinforces the gritty experiences of Swan Song.
     

    Starting Obligation

    Each character begins play with a moderate Obligation of some sort. The nature of this Obligation is determined by the player, either by rolling randomly or by selecting based on his backstory. The size of each player's Obligation is based on the starting number of players, as determined by the Starting Obligations table.
     
    Starting with the same Obligation
    Olbligation can prove to be a great way to tie characters together. If two or more characters start with the same Obligation, either because they roll it randomly or because they chose it. their players may decide that the characters don't just have the same type of Obligation, they all share the same Obligation.   Perhaps they all roll Debt, and owe the same crime lord for giving them a ship. Or perhaps they all decide to select Oath, and the players decide their characters have all sworn the same oath to accomplish a greater goal.
     
    In addition, players may choose to increase the size of their characters' starting Obligations when they generate their Obligation, in order to gain additional starting experience, or additional NuCred to purchase starting gear. However, doing so puts both the individual character and the group at greater peril when the GM makes an Obligation Check at the start of a session (see Obligations).
     
    Starting Obligations
    # of Players Starting Obligation per Player
    2 20
    3 15
    4 10
    5 10
    6+ 5
    Additional Obligations
    Additional Bonus Obligation Cost
    +5 XP +5
    +10 XP +10
    +5.000 NC +5
    +10.000 NC +10
     
    Starting Obligation Values
    The different starting amounts in are designed to have starting parties begin with a total group Obligation between 40 and 60 points after taking on additional Obligation. Players who too readily dip into extra Obligation to gain more experience points or extra credits during character creation may find their group with a much higher starting value, while more cautious groups may begin with less. Each Player Character has the option to gain additional starting Obligation in exchange for additional mechanical benefits, as laid out the Additional Obligation table.   There are two limitations to this: Each player can only choose each option once, and Player Characters cannot gain more additional Obligation than their original starting value. Obligation values can fluctuate over the course of a game, as players have the chance to buy down their existing Obligations, or take on new Obligations.
     

    STEP FIVE: SPEND YOUR LEFTOVER XP

    This step is the player’s last opportunity to polish her character before making the final calculations. By this time the player should have a pretty good idea of her character’s backstory and what she wants her character to look like. Any remaining XP can now be invested in smoothing out any rough edges, picking up or improving skills, buying additional powers, purchasing contacts, etc.   This step generally follows the rules for Character Progression, with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are as follows:
    • You can buy additional contact points to get more contacts or improve your existing contacts. The rate for this is: 2 XP per Contact Point.
    • No skill rank can be raised above 6.
    • No skill can have more than one specialty.
    • Only one attribute can be at the natural attribute limit.
    • You can only exchange XP for NuCred up to a maximum of 10 XP.
      All XP you don't spend in this step carry over to your character in play.  

    STEP SIX: FINAL CALCULATIONS

    At this point, characters are basically done, though there are several derived mechanics that must be calculated before they are ready to be played. Since many of these are adjusted by augmentations, it is best to wait until all decisions have been made on skills and attributes before making these calculations.
     

    Initiative

    As explained previously, Initiative determines the order that characters act in combat situations. Initiative is also rolled to determine whether a character is surprised in a combat situation. This pool is determined by adding Intuition + Reaction. Both non-augmented and augmented attributes should be added together and listed the same as attributes, with the non-augmented number first followed by the augmented number in parentheses.   Also be sure to note the number of Initiative Dice the character gets; all characters start with 1 (noted as 1D6) and can receive additional dice from augmentations. These should be listed after the Initiative Rating so the listing looks like this: 9 (11) + 2D6.   There is also Matrix Initiative for those that are in the Matrix. Matrix Initiative is determined by whether a character is in cold-sim or hot-sim. For details see Matrix.

    Limits

    Inherent limits are limits imposed on a character by their physiological or psychological makeup; all characters have them. See Tests for more information. The formulas for these inherent limits are given in the Final Calculations table. When calculating all Inherent limits, round the result up to the nearest whole number. For Social limits, round up Essence to the nearest whole number prior to calculating the cost.
     

    Health Pools

    Every character has a number of Health Pools that tells the player how much Physical and Strain damage they can take before falling unconscious. The formulae for these are found in the Final Calculations table.
     

    Living Persona

    Technomancers possess what is called a Living Persona in the Matrix. This Living Persona has specific attributes that are used instead of their normal physical or mental attributes. Information on the Living Persona can be found under Technomancer.
     

    Final Calculations Table

    Attribute Formula
    Health Pools
    Health (Flesh) Body + 8
    Strain Treshold Willpower + 10
    Limits
    Physical Limit [(Strength x 2) + Body + Reaction] / 3 (round up)
    Mental Limit [(Logic x 2) + Intuition + Willpower] / 3 (round up)
    Social Limit [(Charisma x 2) + Willpower + Essence] / 3 (round up)
    Scores
    Walk-Rate Agility x 2
    Carry Capacity (Str + Bod) x Size Modifier + 5
     

    STEP SEVEN: FINAL TOUCHES

    Even though the stats are done and the character sheet is filled out, you’re not quite finished. In the final stage you should flesh out the backstory for the character. Qualities, attribute ratings, and contacts provide a blueprint of who these characters are now. But what are their stories? Why are they Crossers?   What aliases are they known by? How did they earn their street names? Their scars? What are their real names? Who are their friends? Their enemies? How old are they? If a character possesses a piece of gear that they cannot use right now, what is the story behind that? If they have cyberlimbs, was that by choice or out of necessity?   The more interesting the background, the more possibilities for interesting role-playing scenarios that can add flavor and diversity to a game.


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