1) We are shaped by our heritage. Facial features, skin tone, height,
build, metatype, even aptitudes are influenced by the genes
passed from parent to child. Attitude, too, is taught by parents,
informed by their own lives and their cultural heritage. Where
does your character come from, what is her lineage, who were
her parents, and what did she inherit from them?
2) Parents can be proud of their children or regret ever bringing
them into the world. Some are loving, and some are indifferent.
All of them are only metahuman and have their own opinions
of their children. Assuming they could speak, what would each
of your character’s parents say about her?
3) Many people remember certain historical events for the rest of
their lives. For those alive in the first decade of the 21st century,
it could be the assassination of John F. Kennedy, or the
Tiananmen Square protests, or the fall of the Berlin Wall, or
the attacks of 11 September 2001. People remember where they
were, and what they were doing when they first heard of these
events. Shadowrun history has significant events as well, such as
the assassination of President Dunkelzahn, the Crash 2.0, and
the emergence of technomancers and artificial intelligences.
Pick a few events from recent Shadowrun history and ask where
the character was at the time, what does he remember about the
event, and what was he doing at the time?
4) Very few people choose to become shadowrunners. More
likely, they are thrown into the life by a chaotic and uncaring
world. Even if she made a conscious decision to enter the
shadows, her decision is influenced by the world around her.
How did your character get into shadowrunning, and why did
she take that path?
5) People have control over their own living arrangements. From
the child young enough to use crayons and tape all the way up
to the elderly shut-in who plasters her walls with family photos
and cat pictures, everyone makes their living spaces more personally
pleasing. What is your character’s living space like, and
what has he added or changed to make it his own?
6) Everyone has aspects of their personality that grate on someone.
Even the best of friends annoy one another from time to time.
The flaws in a person’s character are as important as the qualities.
What do you dislike most about your character’s personality?
7) The Sixth World is considered by many to be spinning out of
control. If anyone could exert control over it, it would be the
“Big Ten” triple-A megacorps. These transnationals exert a lot of
influence on everyday life in the 2070s. Which of the Big Ten
does your character hold in the highest (or least low) regard,
which does he like the least, and why?
8) People make acquaintances and friends; we’re hardwired for it.
Humans are social animals. This is especially true in the shadows,
where often it is not the power you have, but the power you
can borrow, and not who you, are but who you know. There’s a
story behind each and every one of these relationships. What is
the story with your character and her contacts?
9) It’s Sunday morning, and your character has no commitments
until tomorrow afternoon. What does she do for the day?
10) Your character has a specific skill set, a list of Active and
Knowledge skills that define what she knows and her areas of
expertise. How did she come to learn those skills, and how did
she develop them to those levels?
11) Everyone has their limits. People can be dark, but most people’s
instinct is to draw the line at certain actions and thoughts, and
they keep to their own moral convictions. Is there a moral limit
that your character enforces on the jobs she takes, and in what
shadow work would she refuse to engage?
12) If you have an Awakened or technomancer character, consider
your character’s tradition and streams. Even within the major
established magical traditions and the recently emerged technomantic
streams, there is room for personalization. Ask yourself
what drew her to that particular paradigm, how does it effect
the way she views the world and her magic, how does it translate
into choice of mentor spirit or paragon, and how does it affect
the appearance of the spirits or sprites you conjure or compile?
13) While acceptance and bias vary from place to place, augmentations—
be they bio-, cyber-, gene-, or nanoware—are increasingly
common and available in the Sixth World. However, personal
technological enhancement is rarely cheap, and many implants
that runners possess are restricted. How did your character
come to have the enhancements she has, how were they paid
for, and what motivated the choices she made (if she did make
14) Life as a shadowrunner is by definition outside the bounds of
“normal” life. Shadowrunners do not truly fit into the lives of
ordinary people, whether they live in slums or mansions. What
does your character think of ordinary life, mainstream culture,
and those who abide by it?
15) Everyone has nightmares. Sometimes, we forget the dream
completely on waking. Sometimes, the nightmare haunts us or
even recurs. If your character had a lingering nightmare or a
deep-rooted fear, what would it be, and why does he find it so
16) People tend to attach sentimental value to items in their possession
or people they are close to. They make an effort to
keep these close by and safe. What is your character’s “sacred
object” or “close one,” and how did they come to be so important
17) One of metahumanity’s greatest assets is its ability to look toward
the future and imagine a better life. Even small children
have dreams about what they want to be when they grow up.
What did your character want to become when he was a child,
and what are his goals now?
18 A person’s appearance can say volumes about him. From fashion
sense, to the colors he prefers, to the way he walks and speaks.
Sometimes, his personality determines his appearance, and,
sometimes, the appearance he chooses to present the world effects
his personality. What does your character look like, and
what inspired his choices?
19) Everyone has a name, but a runner’s street name is a representation
of his connection to the shadows. Sometimes runners
choose their own moniker, but more often it is given to them as
a nickname or earned through some (mis)adventure. How did
your character come to be known by his street name?
20) Everyone has beliefs, and many have beliefs strong enough to
be convictions. Some are religious, some are political, some are
social, and some are just about why people are here. What does
your character believe in, what are her convictions (if any), and
why does she hold them?