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Dashing Through the Shadows

This guide assumes some knowledge of the game (and includes spoilers!) so may not be suitable for newbies. A couple of the ideas mentioned below are the opposite of what is normally advised.

Based on Dash's hardcore career, this guide produces a sniper/polearm street samurai that can progress through the game, including completing the most difficult autoruns at the moment they become available, without many moving parts (the basics: weapons, combat pool, military helmet as needed, scanning, tactical movement… plus biotech treat and drugs), without the assistance of other player characters (even fixers), and without having to farm mobs/paydata or spend time on crafting. This character is end-game capable after earning only 1.2m nuyen and 450 karma.

Character Generation


A. resources (1m nuyen)
B. skills (40)
C. attributes (24)
D. metatype (Ork)
E. magic (Mundane)


Bod 9               --> 9(14)
Qui 3               --> 6(11)
Str 8               --> 8(13)
Cha 1               --> 1
Int 5               --> 5(4)
Wil 1               --> 6(7)

Maximizing the attributes with the highest racial maximums will minimize our post-chargen training costs. The next priority is intelligence, since it is used in negotiation tests and thus speeds up our nuyen acquisition. Final attributes shown above include an activated pain editor, but not the adrenal pump or drugs.


Athletics 4
Biotech 6           --> 12
Pole Arms 6         --> 12
Rifles 6            --> 12
Negotiation 6
Corp Etiquette 6
Street Etiquette 6
(Electronics 0)     --> 3+
(Driving Trucks 0)  --> 1+

Athletics 4 is plenty for the entirety of the game (gear can be picked up to help with bad weather conditions), and maximizing our social skills in chargen lets us ignore our charisma. No points are spent on electronics because we only need to pick up a few points (which we can do post-chargen) for bypassing doors (though more can be useful to make bypassing doors faster and for cracking credsticks).



an armored pair of obvious mk. II cyberarms -alpha  1.6E  375k
an armored pair of Kid Stealth mk. II cyberlegs     2.0E  262.5k
a lightly armored obvious cybertorso -alpha         1.2E  193k
an armored obvious cyberskull -alpha                0.6E  (~90k post-chargen)
a smartlink-2 system - alpha                        0.4E  7k
an electronic magnification III                     0.1E  11k


a pain editor - cultured                            0.6I  60k
a suprathyroid                                      1.4I  50k
enhanced articulation                               0.6I  40k
an adrenal gland II                                 2.5I  (~110k post-chargen)

Total costs for this setup are 5.90E, 5.10I, and 998.5k nuyen in chargen, plus ~200k nuyen during gameplay. Our E+I costs put us exactly two points over the excessive 'ware threshold, so we still only have a single die penalty to drug tests. The remaining 1.5k nuyen should be spent on kits and accessories; better weapons and armor can be quickly obtained once we're in the game.



  1. Pick up a polearm. Pretty much anything will work, but we'll want the one that does (str+4)M before we hit a certain run offered at 400 rep.
  2. Collect armor while also upgrading quickness to avoid bulk penalties. We'll be able to reach total ratings of 17b/18i.
  3. Buy a sniper rifle and accessorize with a bayonet, silencer, and smartlink-2. The 14D sniper is excellent, though we'll want a 15S before we hit a certain run offered at 1k rep (we can actually do this with melee instead, but the 15S sniper makes it much easier).
  4. Max out our willpower to improve resistance to manabolt/stunbolt/confusion and for more combat pool dice.
  5. Train skills:
    1. something like 3 electronics is enough for opening bypassable autorun doors
    2. 8 rifles is needed to begin the process to unlock the master firearms instructor (and then max it out after the unlock)
    3. polearms as needed to keep up with enemies
    4. biotech as funds/karma permit for faster damage recovery
    5. a point of truck driving skill (or more if you intend to do some ramming)
  6. In addition to the (str+4)M polearm, we'll also want the adrenal gland, acth, kamikaze, and nitro before that certain autorun offered at 400 rep.
  7. Buy a vehicle with base armor 5-6 and upgrade its armor to at least 8 (also upgrade handling if you expect to do some ramming) before getting too deep into the Grenada runs. While not necessary until then, it's worth buying the vehicle sooner (and stick a medical workshop in the back) for the sake of convenience.

NOTE: Raising negotiation is not a priority. Let's assume that Johnsons and shopkeepers average 5 intelligence. Increasing negotiation from 6 to 12 means adding 2 successes on average against TN 5. Each success is worth 5 - 6.6% of the nuyen, depending on who has more successes. Negotiation does not apply to the cost of skill training, which is by far our greatest expense. The cost of raising negotiation from 6 to 12 is 255k nuyen (or more, if we also train up charisma to reduce skill karma costs). If between earning and spending we gain a total of +15% with negotiation 12 compared to leaving negotiation at 6, then we don't break even until we've earned/spent what would have been 1.7m nuyen. This build needs no more than 1.2m nuyen in total (covering attributes and skills training, cyberskull and adrenal pump, weapons, armor, vehicle, visas, etc).

NOTE: The truck build/repair skill is not necessary since defaulting to intelligence is sufficient for the upgrades we care about, and for the rare scratch that we may pick up on a bad roll.


Because we don't need any more than 450 karma, feel free to trade in karma for nuyen.

Biotech treat lets us patch up physical damage and an activated pain editor lets us ignore stun damage (until they start overflowing into physical). Thus, we won't need to spend much time waiting on health recovery. While a pain editor is active, our prompt will show 10P/10M regardless of our actual condition; pay attention to hit messages and TN penalties increasing for a sense of whether and how much physical damage we've taken.

With a relatively limited combat pool (not least of which is because we're not planning to grind out the cost of a rating 4 tactical computer), it is important to adjust our cpool allocations between soak and offense to fit the situation. Where we want to prioritize survival, we may not have enough dice to max out offense, so we'll want to pay close attention to our TN penalties (i.e., vision and wounds). Dodge will not be useful to us given our high armor and body ratings.

Opposing highly skilled snipers are our most dangerous adversaries because (1) our total soak dice (body + cpool allocation) may not significantly exceed their attack dice, (2) while we may be rolling soak against TN 2, they may similarly be rolling their attack against TN 2, and (3) they can attack from range with very little warning.

Against spellcasters, it's easy to shoot them down from outside of their room. If our shots fail to penetrate, it's not a bad idea to step away and check our cpool allocations and TN penalties. Against the most heavily armored opponents, we can repeat the process of shooting + stepping away multiple times until a roll goes our way. Keep in mind that actions are queued, and while in combat, each move attempt may be delayed by up to 3 seconds (i.e., spamming moves will prevent us from reacting to something like a door closing in our face until after we've tried to move through it however many times we've spammed).

We only really need to use drugs when we need to hit a certain strength threshold or if we're letting opposing spellcasters have the chance to cast spells at us. Nitro has a difficult addiction test and so we don't want to use it unless absolutely necessary (adrenal/acth + kami + pain editor already puts our willpower at a very respectable 10). In cases where we do need nitro (e.g., to hit 25 melee attack power), use nitro first and treat the damage before entering combat.

Regarding addiction, once we become addicted to a substance, we should stop using that substance so as to keep withdrawal TNs down until we've completed withdrawal. Guided withdrawal gives us lower TN penalties to combat and so lets us continue playing without too much difficulty, whereas forced withdrawal is pretty much free (just the cost of drug doses if we fail the test) and can be significantly faster (if we don't fail the test) but give us a higher TN penalty.


We depend on drugs (kamikaze, nitro) for certain difficult fights, which means we'll eventually have to deal with addiction (depending on how often we do those runs). Since we don't have a burst/full-auto firearm, we don't inflict penalties to opponent dodge rolls. We're also lacking in initiative, though this is less of an issue given sniper range and cyborg tankiness.

This build's augmentation plan doesn't allow room for any other 'ware, not even a datajack, without having to first upgrade or remove existing 'ware. Speaking of datajacks, this build is also not well suited for picking up decking to explore Matrix content.

Build Notes and Alternatives

Since we don't want to spend significant time farming mobs or conducting build/repair tasks, we're much better off as a mundane depending mostly on chargen 'ware, thus priority A resources. Skills are priority B because once we're in game, they cost significantly more to train than attributes.

Assault rifles shooting FA 6 are technically stronger in terms of killing ability than sniper rifles, providing a 14D damage code and forcing opponents to dodge against TN 6 or higher. But a sniper rifle's range bonus favors shooting from a different room (thus better overall survivability), has the attachment slot to spare for a bayonet (thus better reach in melee defense), and having a 15+ base power option at range makes one particular fight significantly easier.

To clear all combat content, a mundane needs to be able to reach at least 25 power. We can only do this with melee, though there are many ways we can to do this within that restriction. If we're focusing on getting as much as we can from chargen and we're also aiming for 17 ballistic armor to trivialize FA 9 HMGs, both dwarf and ork are good choices (base 8 str) with chargen rating 2 cyberarms (+2) and cyberlegs (+2) and a chargen suprathyroid (+1). Post-chargen, we then add a rating 2 adrenal pump (+4), kamikaze (+2), nitro (+2), and a (str+4)M polearm.

Troll is technically stronger, literally so in that they require 2 less strength from augments/drugs, as well as being able to hit the same armor ratings while picking up better body and reach. However, the lower intelligence is a significant penalty to negotiation tests and so delays how long it takes to become end-game capable. If we could fit in a cerebral booster II using chargen resources and without going into the next point of excessive 'ware penalties, troll would clearly be the best choice.

Playing a human or elf instead will require two of either rating 3 arms, legs, and/or phenotypic strength in order to make up for their lower base strength, none of which are available in chargen, making it more difficult for the character to reach the 25 power mark at 400 rep without spending time grinding mobs. Paired cyber implant weapons are also an option, but the lack of reach advantage can cause some fights to be much more risky and/or lengthy.

While there are ways to reach 25 power with less reliance on drugs, all the willpower from the full stack of rating 2 adrenal gland, kamikaze, and nitro (along with our already high body and armor) makes face-tanking opposing spellcasters essentially trivial. The only remaining risk is if the spellcaster is also a particularly high strength/reach/skill melee combatant and they hit us with TN penalties from acid.

While dwarves are a bit better in terms of general bonuses for priority D, ork turns out to be the more efficient choice for reaching our build goals. First, the ork has two more body, which helps offset our limited cpool for soak. Second, the ork doesn't have a movement penalty and so has an easier time moving away from spellcasting opponents, which is important in the case of a bad spell resist roll, and also synergizes well with shooting a sniper rifle at range. Third, speaking of sniper rifles, an ork can obtain a 15S sniper rifle on their own well before 1k rep, whereas a dwarf would be stuck waiting for a 1.5k rep autorun reward unless they get very lucky at a pawn shop. Fourth, with two artificial light sources, full dark and minimal light rooms can be brought up to partial light conditions, where natural low-light vision is 1 TN better than natural thermographic vision. The ork's 5 int does slow down nuyen acquisition a bit, but if we have a series of autoruns that we know well enough to do reasonably quickly, we can use psyche (+1 int, no crash, easy addiction tests, and at 9 natural body, each dose lasts one IRL hour) to bring our int to 6.

shadowdashing.txt · Last modified: 2023/12/04 11:26 by khai