Sep 19, 2021

News

Stay Safe

About Us

Search

Shadowbrats

[Honest, my teen kids came up with the starting concept...and it amused me. I take credit for the ideas for BP builds & Lessons.- Ed.]

Coming soon: Archetypes.

So your Shadowrunning team thought they could get away with taking Dependents as a negative quality? The GM has been slacking off on making these kids act out? Leaving your husband at home to take care of the children, so they never really bother you? Think again....

All those dependent kids are getting themselves in trouble. All the time. Right under your nose. And you've been too busy to notice.

There are many ways that Shadowbrats come into game play. Whether it's the squirt who is your dependent, the back-alley orphan street-level contact, the crying child decoy with the cranial bomb, your sidekick on adventures, or if your GM decides to go whole-hog Hogwarts universe, there are plenty of opportunities for children to be characters, companions, dependents, targets, opponents, and more.

Because of their innate ability to be cute and apparently innocent, children can be used and abused by nefarious forces. (c.f. great example of a network of kids as couriers & underground workers in movie The Man from Nowhere)

Shadowbrats can be trained (with adult skills) or untrained (with immature versions of skills). They can be jacked, wired, cast spells, etc. If they have the capacity.

Whether you're incorporating children into a regular campaign, or you're kicking back on a Saturday night and want a side-splitting humorous campaign, here's the basic building blocks for your Shadowbrat, and some ideas for Shadowbrat campaigns.

Child Character Build Points

Starting runner-class child characters get a BP pool based on their current age, determined after a metatype is selected (see Child Metatype Table). Determine each full year of life, plus points for every 3 months (quarter of a year). A child gets a +1 BP bonus added to their BP pool on each birthday (why do you think birthdays are such a big deal to children?). Thus an 8yr+2mo old human gets a 168 BP pool to build their character.

At each milestone (every three months or every year), add the appropriate number of BP to the child character's BP pool per the time elapsed (i.e. award their "per year" for a year passed including birthday, and add "per quarter" for each 3 months elapsed).

A starting child character may spend their entire BP pool on character creation. After creation, children must earn Lessons to spend their BP pool.

Child Metatype Table

Just putting some numbers out there.

RaceRace BP CostBP per year/quarterPubertyPhysical AdultMental Adult
Humans021/5131819
Orc2025/691416
Dwarf2517/4152024
Elf3017/4162224
Troll4029/771214

Metatype Stages

Shadowbrat stages, and their max BP by the end of that stage.

RaceHumanOrcDwarfElfTroll
Infant0-1 / 41BP0-1.5 / 39BP0-2 / 50BP0-2 / 50BP0-1.25 / 36BP
Toddler2-3 / 83BP2 / 74BP3-4 / 84BP3-5 / 101BP2 / 86BP
Preschooler4-5 / 125BP3-4 / 124BP5-7 / 135BP6-8 / 152BP3 / 115BP
Elementary6-9 / 209BP5-6 / 174BP8-11 / 203BP9-12 / 220BP4-5 / 173BP
Pre-Teens10-12 / 272BP7-8 / 224BP12-14 / 237BP13-15 / 271BP6 / 202BP
Puberty13 / 293BP9 / 249BP15 / 271BP16 / 287BP7 / 231BP
Teens14-17 / 377BP10-13 / 349BP16-19 / 339BP17-21 / 373BP8-11 / 347BP
Phys. Maturity18 / 398BP14-15 / 271BP20-23 / 390BP22-23 / 390BP12-13.5 / 391BP
Men. Maturity19+ / 400BP16+ / 400BP24+ / 400BP24+ / 400BP14+ / 400BP

Step 1: Choose Metatype

Metatypes and BP Savings vs. Debt

Although it took a while to figure it out, metahuman children become the same metavariant as one or the other parent the vast majority of the time. Thus by 2070 an orc child will have at least one orc parent, for example. However, this does not always mean the child is "born that way."

Metatypes can be selected at birth and incur either a BP debt or require a BP savings. This can lead to delayed development for a while for some babies and younger children. All BP/Karma gains are reduced by 1/2 and the other half of the points assigned to the BP debt or savings incurred by selecting a metavariant for the child. Elves and dwarves are "born that way" and incur a BP debt. [While by 2070, most Trolls and orcs are "born that way" if you're adapting to an earlier campaign date, you may "gobilinize" at a later time, thus require a BP savings towards the point of goblinization. Literally overnight, at the point the troll or orc meets the BP requirement for their metatype, they goblinize and gain their metatype traits.]

Step 2: Pick Qualities

A child character can only spend up to 20BP on positive qualities. Child qualities can be "bought up" to related adult positive or negative qualities later. Also, many adult qualities are available to children at their full usual BP costs.

If you want your Shadowbrat to have qualities from birth on (for example, blind at birth), then either the character incurs a BP Debt (for positive qualities) or gets additional BP in their Pool (for negative qualities) thus increasing their capacity for development over time (through Lessons, see below).

Below are some example childhood qualities. Please feel free to create more.

Positive Qualities

Avid Reader (2 BP)
Cuteness (1 BP)
This quality confers a +1 to all defaulted social tests and Jr. Influence group skills. Instantly disappears when they hit puberty (probably due to acne...).
Innocent-Face (5 BP)
+2 to all Jr. or +1 to Adult Influence Group skills. You may keep this trait as an adult.
Natural Hiding (2BP)
Child is adept and finding the most unlikely hiding spots and squeezing into them. While not contortion, per se, it really is strange how they can manage to do that.

Negative Qualities

Food Repulsion (+1 BP each)
Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Soy/wheat etc. These aren't really allergies, but the child will swear up and down that eating the food will kill them. Being forced to eat these foods will create convulsions, screaming, yelling, and +1 willpower on intimidation resistance for 2 hours.
Acne (+1 or +5 BP)
Child has excessive acne (or horrifying acne), and gets gets -1 or -3 on charisma tests due to low self-esteem.
Still in Diapers (+3 BP)
+1 notoriety with other children for 6 months after being given a wedgie, in the locker room, or otherwise exposed. Cannot be taken by infants & toddlers. Adults are much less likely to leave the child alone for long, and have less tolerance for mischief. Shorten check-in intervals by one step.
Reckless (+2 BP)
Unable to think before acting. If faced with a suggestion, or a thought, of doing something careless, will do it without thinking twice. This might be seen as a positive quality, but it attracts more adult attention: give adults +2 on their die rolls to perceive mischief when a reckless child is involved.
Freckled (+2 BP)
Childhood distinguishing feature. Child is more likely to be spotted in a crowd of children.
Tattle-Tale (+2 BP)
Child gets +2 on Jr. Influence Group skills with adults, -2 with children.

Step 3: Purchase Attributes

Treat special attributes as per normal system rules, unless otherwise specified.

Minimum/Maximum Attributes & Maturation

Similar to adults, up to 1/2 of a child's available BP can be spent on attributes.

A child's minimum and starting attribute rating is .5, regardless of metavariant. Raising a child's attributes costs 10 BP per .5 of an attribute. See the chart below:

Children's Starting Immature Attributes & Immature Maximums

MetatypeBODAGLREASTRCHRINTLOGWILSpecial from birth
Human.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/2.5+1 Edge
Ork.5/4.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/3.5.5/2.5/2.5.5/2.5/2.5low-light vision
Dwarf.5/3.5/2.5.5/2.5/3.5.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/3thermo vision, +2 resist
Elf.5/2.5.5/3.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/3.5.5/2.5.5/2.5.5/2.5low-light vision
Troll.5/4.5.5/2.5/2.5.5/4.5.5/1.5.5/2.5/2.5/2.5thermo vision, +1 armor

Pre-pubescent attribute maximums are one less than the adult maximum, divided by 2 (i.e. (Adult Max -1) /2), already calculated on the chart.

Immature Bonuses per Age Group

At GM's discretion, metatype ShadowBrat gets a gain during the following growth stages:

RaceOrcDwarfElfTroll*
Infant+.5 Body--+.5 Chr+.5 Bod
Toddler+.5 Str+.5 Str--+.5 Bod & +.5 Str
Preschooler+.5 Body+.5 Bod--+.5 Bod & +.5 Str
Elementary+.5 Str+.5 Wil+.5 Agl+.5 Str
Pre-Teens+.5 Body+.5 Str+.5 Chr+.5 Bod & +.5 Str

* Troll gets +1 reach the year their Body attribute matures.

Once a child reaches the age of puberty (and once per year thereafter), one attribute "matures" practically overnight. This represents rapid growth spurts, and suddenly "getting it" or coming into an understanding of the universe that shifts their paradigm and rearranges their priorities. The child's current attribute doubles when the attribute matures, and their maximum in that attribute raises to their adult racial maximum. This leads to the awkwardness known as adolescence where a child could be built like a linebacker but still be mentally and emotionally immature.

So for example, the player decides that their age-13 character's Strength is the attribute that "matures" that year. If they have a 1.5 in Strength, overnight that becomes a 3 and the maximum unaugmented Strength goes from 3 to 6. Happy Birthday! Nearly overnight (over a minimum period of 1-3 months) the character starts bulking up, eating their parents out of house and home, etc

Step 4: Acquire Skills/Spells/Powers

Skills

Encourage your players to take immature versions of adult skills/spells or adept powers at a discount. Later they can "buy up" these items to their full adult ability. Immature Skill Group: 5BP per level. Immature Skill: 2BP per level. Immature Specialization: 1BP for a +1.

Languages & Knowledge Skills

Children learn their native language(s) the fastest, acquiring .5 skill in infancy, 1 as a toddler, 2 as a preschooler, etc. to 'N' by the time they're adults. They cannot learn any other languages to a level higher than their native language at any given time. If a child is raised bilingual from birth but one language is not spoken at home after a certain stage of development, that "native language" is frozen at that stage unless the child has further reinforcement.

Have to think about Knowledge skills.

Spells

Immature versions of Spells cost 1 or 2 BP at the GM's discretion, and are weakened versions of Adult spells, often with gaping holes in how they work, or with the inability to work them consistently.

Powers

Adept children can acquire adept powers as immature powers. More on this sooner or later...

Step 5: Assign Resources

While they could have normal gear, but much of the normal gear would be useless to a pint-sized Shadowbrat.

Here's some ideas:

Note on Cyberware

Cyberware is usually NOT installed in children. Imagine growing overnight and your cyberware NOT growing with you. Ugly. So the vast majority of cyberware will not be used on children in a legal or legit setting. That doesn't stop illegal/black-market child cybering -- generally for nefarious purposes (indentured, expendibles, etc.). Children who have cyberware installed will need frequent upgrades, or rehabilitation therapy, should they escape and live past their expected date of expiration.

However, bioware, genetech, nanites, etc. are child-compatible technologies. What the effects of these will be on the young immune system and development is up to the GM...

Also, there should be a whole class of augmentation for kids that are non-invasive! i.e. today's back braces. Like a child-sized cocoon, or smaller enhancements, some of which can be modified to extend/grow with the child, hooked in to a neural net. Prosthetic enhancements rather than built-in cyber. Savvy kids (or adults) could modify these for increased speed/strength, etc. over their medical uses.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

New Contacts

  • Baby sitter
  • Ice Cream Man
  • Substitute Teacher
  • Teacher
  • Candy Store Owner
  • Toy Store Owner
  • Little Old Lady
  • Martial Arts Teacher
  • Gym Teacher
  • Hobo
  • Creepy Playground Guy
  • BFF
  • Playground Bully
  • Candy Pusher
  • Tutor
  • Dance Instructor
  • Mall Santa

Mentor Spirits

  • Clown
  • Santa Claus
  • Fairy Godmother
  • Easter Bunny

Campaign Ideas:

Toddler (1-3 human years)

  • Bean the Babies (sandbox duel)
  • Baby Bootie (mission: stealing from another baby)
  • I am the 1% - (1% of the babies get 99% of the candy in the world....)
  • Rosemary's Baby (there's something very wrong about the baby in the other stroller...)
  • For very young children/babies, any number of scenarios from Muppet Babies episodes.

Preschooler (4-5 human years)

  • Stealing Candy from a Baby (also involves a baby)
  • Playground Wars
  • Pit Stop (Find the bathroom game)

Intermediate (6-9 human years)

  • Battle of the Sexes (BvG playground fight)
  • Capture the Flag
  • Catch the Ice Cream Truck
  • Cooties
  • How to get the substitute to quit
  • It doesn't pay to be a bully
  • Tease (hired to make someone cry for something they've done)
  • The Cheese Touch
  • Torture the Baby Sitter
  • Tracking Santa

Pre-Teens (10-12 human years)

  • Astral-ology (an assensing game - an astral treasure-hunt)
  • Diaper Run
  • Haunting (conjuring spirits or rigging a place to seem haunted)
  • Kick the Can (or Bucket?)
  • Magic Class
  • Red Light, Green Light (hacking into street traffic controlling equipment... it gets messy from there)
  • Shoplifting Spree
  • Stalk Parents
  • Toy Shop Racket
  • Trick or Treat (Mage kids...)
  • Seance (Spirit Summoning for the magically impaired...)

Puberty (13-14 human years)

  • Computer Class
  • Do You Want to Play a Game? (kids hack into the back-door of a gaming company's computer system, and get themselves into a lot of trouble)
  • Take your daughter to work day (the parents are runners)
  • We all got an A+!

Teens (14-17 human years)

  • Arcade Run (teens rig an arcade for some reason...)
  • Baby Sitting (involves Pre-Teens or younger...and all the trouble they can get into...)
  • Stuffer Shack Showdown
  • Tag, You're It (or You're Hit?)
  • Tic-Tac-Toe Hitman (3-in-a-row...)

Lessons

Children do not get karma for "succeeding" at their child-like antics and adventures; children just don't learn or grow that way. They're growing and changing all the time regardless of their antics. However, children do earn Lessons. But not quite the way you'd think.

Lessons are acquired for getting into messes, breaking the rules, defying authority, making trouble, being naughty, and learning things on their own.

Children need to avoid parental punishments, notice and preventive measures in order to earn Lessons. Every time a child is "taught a lesson" by an adult in a punitive manner, it costs the child Lesson points. Lessons must be learned and earned on their own, outside of adult tutoring and supervision.

Every quarter, a child adds to their BP pool. In order to free up these points for improvements, the Shadowbrat must accumulate sufficient Lessons. If children are shut-ins and do not sufficiently rebel, cause trouble, defy their adult caretakers, then they stagnate and never acquire the skills, powers, spells, luck, or qualities sufficient to become shadowrun-caliber characters. Thus the best Shadowrun-caliber characters are the ones who caused the most trouble as children. (Someone who has a goodie-two-shoes past but still becomes a runner could go by normal Karma rules -- see options below.)

While Lessons cannot be earned in the presence of parental-figure supervision, they can be earned with other children, lawbreakers (gang members, shadowrunners and other naughty folk) and in fact they are often gained fastest when children spend time with other children in an unsupervised environment (kid campaigns, kid adventures, etc.).

This accounts for why children are suddenly much more quiet when they are getting themselves into naughty situations. They do not want to be caught in the act, so that they can earn their Lessons.

Award Lessons per the rules below, which are similar to the Karma rules. Then lower the Lessons per the degree of adult attention or retaliation attracted for the adventure. Children may exchange Lessons point-for-point with BP due to them (per their age & time elapsed) after each adventure, or hold on to Lessons to use to refresh their Edge pool (see the "Burning Lessons" option below).

Lesson Awards

SituationLessons
Escaped adult notice1
Per rule broken1
Overall naughtiness level1-4
Particularly stupid or dangerous1 or 2
Good roleplaying1 or 2
Pushed the storyline forward1
Caused adults to punish child-1
Caused adults to clean up mess1
Per adult inconvenienced1
Impressed with humor or drama1 or 2
Per critical glitch1 or 2
Per new skill attempted and failed1

Optional Rules

And Karma, Too...

Kids get karma awards, just like adults do, and spend them to acquire BP from their pool at a rate of 2 karma per BP. Because of the way that BPs work (and because kids are kids), the Shadowbrat will still acquire skills, qualities, attributes, etc. faster than with Karma. This means the GM can easily include teen characters or children in adult campaigns and they'll get karma awards for threat level, survival, objectives, etc. along with the rest of the party: they just spend those points differently. [Karma counts towards Street Cred as usual, Children can gain notoreity too. However, because of the "just a kid" issue, you might give negative modifiers for the effect of Street Cred or Notoreity until the child is near physical maturity...]

Burning Lessons

Children sometimes get out of the most dangerous situations unscathed. Then again, sometimes they could be nominees for a Darwin award. In addition to burning Edge, children burn Lessons. A child can burn 5 lessons to refresh their Edge pool. Hence children might not want to spend all their Lessons on getting access to their BP. A child may only burn 5 Lessons to refresh their Edge pool by 1 point once per day. The standard means of refreshing the Edge pool are not affected.

Metaplanar Vision

All children are potentially dual-natured and can co-exist on Earth and any given Metaplane at random times. Thus children absorb fantasy and science-fiction stories in order to understand what is -- for them -- a part of their reality. This ability fades; instances of dual-natured experiences become less frequent until puberty at which time this ability goes away (and is soon forgotten, or their odd experiences are regarded as fantasies and imaginary friends).

What do you do with .5 dice?

When a child has something like 3.5 dice to roll, roll 3 as usual and then a special "Only on a 6" die. So that die gets half the chance of success. This rule is optional. You can round dice up or down instead, of course, but when a child has only .5 dice, this makes it easy to determine success vs. glitch.