Into the Shadowrun Rabbit Hole: Character Creation

After an excellent trilogy-plus of video games, several solo rounds of the entertaining Encounters boardgame, half of a trilogy of fun novels, and 50+ (and counting) podcast episodes of deep lore, I finally decided to take a swing at creating my own Shadowrun character from scratch using Sixth World (aka 6th edition) rules. I was fully prepared for a complicated system full of crunchy details, but it was even more complex than I expected!

I haven’t created a TTRPG character since my D&D 3.5 days nearly twenty years ago, and I assumed the Shadowrun video games’ moderately complicated system would give me a good foundation, but a lot apparently changed between whatever older edition they were based and the current edition. I also focused on Combat Deckers in those games, only dabbling in magic via my pre-rolled teammates, but decided I wanted to create a street shaman this time. (Gobbet FTW!)

Shadowrun character sheet with handwritten notes.

It took two-plus hours to get to step four of the six-step process — a LOT of paging back and forth in the rulebook, with occasional glances at the Sixth World Companion, Reddit threads, and YouTube for additional nuance — but I was extremely confused about how magic worked. I ended up downloading GENESIS to check my math and help finish creating my character, only to realize I’d also completely misunderstood how Karma is used, seriously inflating my core attributes.

Several tweaks and a few more hours later, I had a mostly completed (?) Dwarven Street Shaman whose character sheet was TWELVE PAGES LONG?!?!

Shadowrun Character Sheet

I’m still confused about how magic works in Shadowrun and not 100% confident I created my first character correctly — I even watched a couple of YouTube videos specifically about character creation and am still not sure — but I’m happy with it as an outline and can imagine telling some fun stories with him, which is ultimately the point of TTRPGs. Of course, I’ll probably never actually play Shadowrun for real, but that never stopped me from creating multiple characters and backstories during my D&D days, either! In my various years “playing” TTRPGs, I always spent way more time reading about and researching the setting (especially Forgotten Realms), creating characters and campaign ideas, and occasionally even writing [unfinished] short stories about them.

I’ve had an itch to write something in this ridiculous and ridiculously cool world since I finished Shadowrun Returns a couple of months ago, like I used to for D&D, and started sketching out this character’s backstory.


Mateo “Gimnasio” Gonzalez was born in Miami in 2055 to human parents. His being a Dwarf wasn’t immediately obvious because of human-looking features, and as an adult he easily passes for a confident, bald-headed, clean-shaven Short King. He’s a soft-spoken firearms expert with an affinity for air spirits and a disdain for all corporations, but he draws a hard line at wetwork.

Mateo’s parents relocated to Miami from Borinken in 2052, both working for the Gunderson Corporation. They opportunistically became independent gunrunners after Gunderson collapsed in 2061, which set him on a path for life in the shadows as he learned the trade as their de facto apprentice. When he Awakened at 15, he’d assense prospective customers, occasionally avoiding problematic encounters, particularly with out-of-town runners who didn’t understand the nuances of the shadows in the Caribbean League. This increased his chances of survival in the shadows, but it also made him a person of interest to a number of local pirate factions — none of whom had his or his family’s best interests in mind.

In 2073, they fled Miami for the Everglades to get Mateo off the grid while searching for a mentor to teach him how to harness his nascent powers. After three years of training, he chose (or was chosen by?) the Owl, inspired by his mother’s childhood love for, and many tattoos of, Puerto Rican owls (aka, Gymnasio nudipes). In 2077, his parents burned his SIN and he headed west as Gimnasio, intent on building a life for himself in the shadows on his own terms…

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