Player Briefing

Character Creation


To create a character, ideally you need to be next to a copy of the SR5 rulebook, however this isn't completely necessary as what you really need is to be using an app: Chummer5a.

To get the app, go to Chummer 5a's latest release (

Scroll down to the Downloads and get the release zip.

This has everything you need to create a new SR5 character (use the priority method), including cyberware, equipment, etc. So although, technically, you don't need the rulebook to create a character, it works a lot better :)

Good Advice

This pdf so you want to be a shadowrunner has some good advice (general and min/max) about creating a new SR5 character. Might not be a bad idea to read it. I wish I could remember where I downloaded it from!


One of the most overlooked features of character generation is moula. Several roles will need Resources in priorities A or B. These are:

  • Street Samurai: A or B ideally. Mainly for cyberware.

  • Decker: A or B ideally. For your deck (p. 439, SR5)

  • Rigger: A (B at a push). This is the most expensive role to be. They have to pay for a Control Rig, an RCC (a rigger 'deck'), and vehicles, drones and weaponry.

Essential Gear

You will all need:

  • Weapons

  • Ammo

  • Armor

  • Commlink

  • Fake SINs and licences

  • Lifestyle

You may also benefit from:

  • Credsticks (anonymous cash)

  • DocWagon contract

  • Surveillance or B&E equipment

The Setting

Runners and the Law

This is a general briefing about how to walk around in the sixth world without attracting attention.

Firstly, you need a SIN. These come from rating 1 to 6, with 6 being the best. This is your fake ID. Ideally, you need one for legit and one for running. You might use a legit SIN to open a bank account, rent an apartment, or buy a burger. Your running SIN is for when you're trying to drive past a security checkpoint, or meeting Mr Johnson. You might use this for fake licences for your running items, eg. A car or a gun.

SINs are broadcast from your commlink. It is illegal to not be broadcasting a SIN! Every time you walk down the street, security or the police will be checking your SIN. Even a rating 1 SIN is fine, provided you don't want to do anything too secure.

Rating 6 SINs use your actual DNA! These are not ideal for running, as the police have access the to Global SIN Registry (GSINR), so if you leave your blood across a wall, and you have a rating 6 SIN, which you also used to rent your apartment – you are going to be in all kinds of trouble. A rating 6 is for when you retire, or need to get past a very thorough check. Typically use rating 1-5. If you have already bought a 6 without realizing this, then feel free to downgrade it to a 5, and refund yourself the difference.

This is why the SINner background is so bad – your DNA and other biometrics are on file, and you are known.

Attached to your SIN, you have licences. These are essential for vehicles, guns, security armor, or anything else you want to use in full view of the authorities. There are two availability ratings: Restricted and Forbidden. All restricted items require a licence (only if they are seen by the authorities of course...). Forbidden items are completely illegal, and will automatically lead to jail time if caught in possession.

SINs will typically have the citizenship of the country you are in (eg. In Seattle, this will be UCAS citizenship). However, at higher ratings of SIN (4+), you may get one with corporate citizenship, or even dual citizenship.

Also, remember that magic use requires a licence – with an additional licence per spell! If you cast magic in public, you can rest assured that it will be noticed and that the authorities will be on their way real soon to check your licences.

So at all times, know what items you are carrying, and which SIN you are broadcastiing. It might just keep you out of prison. If nothing is noted, the GM will assume you are broadcasting your highest available SIN and carrying all equipment, illegal or otherwise.

Buying Gear

While we're on the subject of equipment – note that you can buy most things at character creation, availability 12/ rating 6 or less including R/F (p. 94, SR5).

However, once play begins, the following restrictions apply (p. 418, SR5):

  • If you buy an item legally, the purchase will be recorded against the SIN that made the purchase (which may also need a bank account)

  • To buy it on the black market, roll your Negotiation + Charisma [Social] vs the item's Availability (and talk to the GM).

  • Alternatively you can buy it through a contact (talk to the GM).

  • Cyberware and Bioware surgery inflicts Essence x3 boxes of stun and physical damage (p. 451, SR5).

The Matrix

Everyone needs to read this, not just deckers. You are all in the matrix, you just don't realize it.

Matrix Modes

There are 3 main ways to interact with the matrix:

Cold: Use your commlink.

Augmented Reality – commlink, AR glasses. With a sim module, get “super AR mode” (p. 222, SR5)

Virtual Reality – DNI (via Trodes/ Datajack/ Implanted comm/ Implanted deck), PLUS a comms device (eg. Deck). p. 222, SR5. Choose cold sim or hot sim (hot means you can feel the VR, and get +2 DP to all matrix actions).

Augmented reality bears some discussion. Sixth world society assumes you have AR. Adverts will be as virtual objects called AROs. So will warnings that you are about to step on a minefield. You can create private or shared AROs for your runner group, eg. To let them know that you have knocked out a particular camera, or to leave a message. These are as permanent as you like.

Matrix Actions

The sorts of matrix actions that everyone is going to want to do are:

Matrix Perception: (Computer + Intuition [Data Processing]) Looking for icons nearby (typically within 100m), especially those that are running silently. You can also examine icons to see its type, what marks it has on it, etc.

You can actually use this to scan an area, and "see" any wireless devices that are transmitting. (Which can also be used against you...)

Matrix Search: (Computer + Intuition [Data Processing]) Essentially a search engine search! Takes more successes and more time to find items which are more obscure. The information must be public to find it in the first place. If not, then you need your decker...

Full Matrix Defense: If someone's attacking your device, you may want to do this. An interrupt action, it costs 10 initiative, but adds your Willpower to all matrix defense tests for the rest of the combat turn.


Which brings us onto the final part of this discussion: Your PAN – Personal Area Network. Almost every item you are carrying, even your armor, is wireless. Most gear gets a "wireless bonus", because of this. So using Matrix Perception, folks can see everything you're carrying. And a good decker can hack it, turn it off, or destroy it.

To defend against this, you can either turn wireless off on some of your devices (but you lose the wireless bonus), and/ or slave them to a comms device, eg. A commlink or a deck. This then gives the device the defense bonuses of the master device. High end commlinks are actually better than most decks!

Others can still "see" slaved items, but have a harder time affecting them.

Don't neglect this! Unless specified, the GM will assume items are wireless on and unslaved. Unprotected items like your gun, your commlink and your cyberware can all be hacked.

Matrix Owner

Every wireless item has a matrix owner. This is not linked to your SIN. For example, a policeman's gun will be owned by the Police Department, not the cop himself. Like wireless devices in the 20th Century, such as cellphones, this can make stealing things problematic. Being the owner is a fact recorded on a central database.

Certain matrix actions on an item are only available to the owner, although deckers can get “marks” (Matrix Authentication Recognition Keys) on an icon, which can be pretty close.

However if you steal something, and don't change ownership, then the item can be traced in the matrix, so you'll need to either switch off wireless for the item (permanently), or get a hacker to illegally change ownership, which is a fairly time-consuming hardware task (p. 237, SR5).

The Shadowrun Wiki

This vital resource should be the Alexandrian library of the Shadowrun world, but is unfortunately neglected. So, the next time you're looking for a snippet of information, look here first. And if you don't find it here - add it in, once you have found it

The Shadowrun Wiki