House Rules and advice on Tags, Dispositions, and Cues for Shadowrun: Anarchy characters.
This introduction might have been the part where I try to convince you that the role-playing bits of a Shadowrun: Anarchy character sheet are the most important aspects of your character. But you either already think that or you think that is silly. Either way, putting some structure behind the role-playing elements of a game can get players to consider them more thoughtfully. So let's get into the help and the house rules:
Tags are very short descriptors that define what your character is.
A character starts with five Tags. The first Tag is generally the character’s metatype (human, elf, dwarf, ork, troll, etc.). The second Tag is generally the character’s archetype (combat mage, street samurai, decker, face, etc.). The rest of the Tags can include any other defining characteristic such as specialties, traditions, occupations, affiliations, or lifestyles.
Lifestyle Tags describe your living conditions and societal circles. Lifestyles are divided into three broad categories: Squatter/Street, Low/Medium, and High/Luxury. Characters have one Lifestyle (which may act as a Tag) that affects their starting Skills and Gear:
Squatter/Street +1 Skill, -2 Gear
Low/Medium No modifiers
High/Luxury -1 Skill, +2 Gear or Contact
If you are using Street Cred House Rules, the GM may implement a Lifestyle cost of 1, 2, or 3 Street Cred every month. This pays for your basic living expenses and your doss. Think of it as Squatter/Street (1), Low/Middle (2), or High/Luxury (3) Lifestyles.
After character creation, Lifestyle Tag effects are purely narrative.
Because Tags define what your character is, and your character knows all about being themselves, Tags act as additional Knowledge Skills in most cases.
For example, if a character is tagged Ork, they know about ork subculture and how society treats orks. If they are tagged Drone Rigger, they know about drones (and the rigging thereof). If they are tagged Islamic Resistance Movement, they know about the tenants and workings of the organization.
When choosing a Knowledge Skill, players should consider Knowledge Skills that are not duplicated by Tag Knowledge.
Dispositions are short sentences that describe what your character thinks and how they act.
A character starts with four Dispositions. Dispositions are your personality traits, instincts, philosophies, and flaws. These are your soy-meat and soy-tatoes™ of role-playing your character. A good set of Dispositions can be used to direct your actions and your conversations but can also be used by the GM to hook your character into the story, cause interesting moral dilemmas, or deepen relationships to the setting or to another character.
Dispositions should be general enough that they can apply in a various scenarios, specific enough that they are actionable, and complex enough that they will have an impact on the story. Having at least one negative Disposition rounds out your character nicely. That should give enough for you and your GM to work with.
If you are having a hard time thinking of Dispositions, take a look at your Tags, your Positive and Negative Qualities, your highest or lowest Attributes, or your highest Skill. How does your character feel about that? How do they work that into their lives and into their 'runner careers?
Shadowrun is "where Man meets Magic and Machine." So how does your character feel about the Man (or the Corps or the Street)? How do they feel about Magic (or Traditions or Mentors)? How do they feel about Machine (or the Matrix or Augmentation)?
How do they feel about the Shadows?
Cues are short phrases that demonstrate what your character says.
A character starts with about eight Cues. Cues are metaphorical cue cards for your character. If you are having a difficult time deciding how to shape your next Narration or what to say in Talk Time, look to your Cues. A Cue could simply be a catch phrase, but the best Cues are those that help demonstrate a Disposition, a Positive or Negative Quality, or even a Tag.
Even the most banal of Cues can (and should) reveal a little about your character. Thunder (pg. 125) has a Cue that simply reads, “Very not bad!” Perhaps it means she has a hard time giving out sincere compliments. Perhaps it’s because she is arrogant and can’t let people know that she is impressed. Or perhaps she has a hard time making emotional attachments to people (after all, she has a Disposition that says, “There is nothing more important than family,” but her parents died in the Crash 2.0). Then again, perhaps it is just a catch phrase of her favorite trid star… up to you to decide.
If you are having a hard time thinking of Cues, take a look at your Dispositions. How does your character exemplify or manifest those Dispositions? You can probably create two Cues for every Disposition: a positive and a negative manifestation of that personality trait, instinct, philosophy, or flaw,
Some players may want Cues and Dispositions to have a more mechanical effect to them. Some GMs may want to incentivize deeper role-playing. It is up to your table to decide how you want to use the role-playing bits of the game.
Consider one or more of the following:
The GM may award a Plot Point for demonstrating a Disposition in a meaningful way during a Narration.
The GM may award extra Karma for demonstrating at least two/three/four Dispositions in a meaningful way during the session/Contract Brief.
The GM may award/restore a point of Edge for demonstrating a Disposition in a meaningful way during a Narration.
The GM may award a Plot Point for demonstrating a Cue for the first time during a session.
The GM may award a +1 modifier on a Skill Test when demonstrating a Cue for the first time during a session.
Cues should probably have a lesser reward than Dispositions because they are more plentiful and easier to just tack onto a Narration as an afterthought. Personally, I recommend #1 and #5. I don't like awarding Karma unevenly to players because it can create imbalance and inter-player conflict. Also consider that lower Edge characters gain extra utility from refreshing Edge more often.