Shadowrun Returns Guide

With the newest addition to the Shadowrun universe, Shadowrun Returns allows you to create a character in varying ways that you will use throughout the entire campaign. For your character you have the choice of gender, race, archetype, and finally the attributes and skills that you can upgrade as you earn karma for various deeds. You are given a wide berth of what you can do with your character and by following this guide you can get the exact character that you were hoping to build. This guide will give you the rundown of each section in creating your character and what you should look for in each type of character. You’ll be using your character for a long time, so it’s wise to think about what kind of character you want before jumping right in. So with that said, let’s jump in!

Creating Your Character

The first thing that you’ll want to do when creating your character is to figure out what kind of character you want to use. There are many archetypes to choose from such as having a magic wielding hero or a gun-toting vigilante. If you want go for the more up close and personal type of character that uses more melee attacks overall, then you’ll need to keep that in consideration as well.

Have Some Class

There are several archetypes all ready for use, but if none of them float your boat, you can always create a custom class of your own and create your character from scratch. All archetypes can have multiple purposes and uses, but if you want to use each class for the duty they are most suited for, then here’s the rundown of what you should be going after for each.

Street Samurai

The Street Samurai is an up close and person type that uses swords to do their dirty work as the main attack. They can also be built up with spells and guns, but if you choose this class, you will want to focus your points and gear on Melee and Thrown Weapons with the other form of attack as a secondary option. The best race to choose for the Street Samurai is either the Elf of Human.


Mages are your typical spell casters. They can either be defensive of offensive, or both; but you will want to build up their arsenal of spells and put their karma points into Willpower and Spellcasting. They can be a powerhouse when you have purchased enough spells for them to use in combat from the venders located throughout the game. Any race is good to use for the Mage.


Deckers are characters that can jack into the Matrix and use computers to your advantage to help turn the tide of battles in your favor. Whenever a Decker is needed in the actual game if your character isn’t one, then one will be supplied to you or you will have the option of hiring one for your runners. Choosing to play as one seems a bit pointless, but if it’s what you’re after, be sure to drop your points in Intelligence and Decking. The best races to choose for Deckers are Humans, Elves, and Dwarves.


The Shamans are similar to Mages except that instead of using direct attacks, they use summon spells and call forth creatures to do their dirty work for them. Shamans can be very formidable in the later stages of the game as they can use their own attacks as well as their summons. If using a Shaman, be sure to focus your points on Charisma and Summoning. The best races to choose for the Shamans are Elves, followed by Humans and Dwarves.


Riggers, like Shamans, can be very useful as they not only can fight themselves, but can use drones to do their bidding as well. Riggers can have up to two drones that have varying types of weapons equipped on them and can be powerhouses when used properly. If the Rigger is the class for you, you’ll want to add your karma points into Intelligence and Drone Control. The best races to choose for Riggers are Humans, Elves, and Dwarves.

Physical Adept

The Physical Adepts are comparable to Monks or Martial Arts fighters. They don’t use weapons, but rather use their fists and feet to deliver their damage. To complement their fighting style, you will want to drop karma points into Willpower and Chi Casting, as each level unlocked will reward you with a new talent to use in battle. The best race to choose for the Adept is either the Elf of Human.

Custom Class

Just as the title says, you are able to create your own class here by contributing your karma points to which ever attributes and skills you choose without the automatic pluses given like other classes. When you choose to create a custom class, you will start with 34 karma points instead of the usual 4 or 5 that other classes offer you.

Off to the Races

Before you can choose the Archetype of the character you want to use however, you’ll need to choose the race of the character. While the gender has no effect on your character, the race has a great effect, especially on the levels you can reach for each attribute. The race types are listed after the archetypes here as the race makes a huge difference on which archetype you may want to pick, although in the game, you will have to choose the Race before the archetype. If you decide you want to be a Shaman, then using a troll wouldn’t be the best choice as their maximum level for Charisma and Spirit Summoning is only 6, while their body and strength attributes are the highest of all races.


The Human race is the average of all the races. They are able to perform any of the archetypes, except they are limited to level 9 in many of the attributes and skills. Body, Strength, Quickness, Charisma, Intelligence, and Willpower are all topped out at level 9 and given the class you choose to take for the human, you will hit that limit rather quickly leaving you the option to choose other skills to spend your points on, 3 of which you will begin the game with as extra over the other races.


The Dwarf race, unlike the Human race will top out at different levels for each attribute. The Body attribute will max out at 11, while the Quickness will max at 9. The other attributes; Strength, Charisma, Intelligence, and willpower max out at 12, 9, 9, and 11, respectively. Unlike the Human class where you are given 3 extra karma points to start, the Dwarf is given an extra point to Willpower to start.


The Elf is able to have slightly higher attributes in a couple of the skills than the average human, with the levels that they max out at: Body 9, Quickness 11, Strength 9, Charisma 12, Intelligence 9, and Willpower 9. The Elves have an automatic additional point to Charisma to start which helps with your Etiquettes.


The Orks of this game are big and brutish and have higher attributes for doing physical damage than most of the other races. Their Body attribute caps at 14, and Strength at 12,; higher than most races while the Quickness, Charisma, Intelligence, and Willpower are equal with the humans or just one point below. It’s a fair trade for the numerous additional points that the Body and Strength get.


The Trolls are the toughest of all the races, but definitely not the quickest. With their Body maxed out a level 17 and their Strength at 15, they are the brutes that you want if physical attacks are the route you want to go. Their quickness isn’t especially hot maxing out at level 8, nor is their Charisma and Intelligence maxing out at level 6.

Skills to Pay the Bills

At various times during the campaign and when you complete missions, you will receive karma points which can then be used to upgrade your character. You can place the points in the main Attributes, which are located across the top of the upgrade screen, or in the sub-categories of those attributes, which are the individual skills. Where you place your earned points will determine which type of character you will have and are building towards. Suffice it to say, if you are to use a Mage, adding points to Melee or Decking would be pointless, and those points would be better served in Spellcasting or Willpower itself. Below are the Attributes and the skills that go along with them and which should be chosen for each archetype.

Attribute: Strength

Skills: Close Combat, Melee, Unarmed, Throwing Weapons

If you are a Street Samurai or an Adept, then strength is definitely the first attribute you want to funnel your points into. The Close combat of these characters are served greatly by the Close Combat and Melee skills, also you will get an additional weapon slot at level 3 and Overwatch at level 4; two very useful abilities to have. Keep in mind that level 9 in all of these skills is the max level for Humans and Elves. For Trolls, Dwarves, and Orks, they can level up much higher and are suited better for the close combat and melee skills than other races. If you choose the brutes, you will want to throw a lot of points into these attribute and skills.

Attribute: Quickness

Skills: Ranged Combat, Pistol, SMG, Shotgun, Rifle, and Dodge.

No matter which race you choose, you should always dump a few levels into Quickness as it will make you a little trickier to hit, whether ranged or up close. The Elves excel with these skills with the tougher races lacking with the ranged and ballistic weapon combat. You will have to decide which weapon to go with instead of dividing up your points between three different types of guns available. There is also the skill of Dodge, but it is for physical attacks, and if you are planning to be a ranged warrior, this won’t be needed.

Attribute: Intelligence

Skills: Biotech, Decking, ESP Control, Drone Control, Drone Combat

The Intelligence Attribute should be reserved for the Deckers and Riggers. They are the most reliable on the attribute and the skills that come along with it. Deckers will always want to drop points in ESP Control and Decking, while Riggers will want their points in Drone Control and Combat. At levels 1,3,5,7, the Rigger will get access to different and more powerful Drones, making you a tough bastard to deal with. The other skill in this category is the Biotech skill. This skill can be used by any archetype and grants the user additional HP when using a health pack, which if you’re not a Decker or Rigger will be the only reason to drop points into this attribute at all.

Attribute: Willpower

Skills: Spellcasting, Chi Casting

This Attribute is for use basically for only the Adepts and Mages. Like the Strength attribute, you will gain additional spell slots at levels 2, 4, and 6 to allow you a greater selection of spells and more powerful attacks. With the Chi Casting skill however, each level that is unlocked will open up a new power to you. If you are using an Adept, or a Melee character, you will want to hit these up as soon as possible to get the most out of the skills.

Attribute: Charisma

Skills: Summoning, Spirit Control, Conjuring

For the attribute of Charisma, players should drop at least one point into it to receive the Etiquette skill. With this skill, players will be able to converse in certain situations much easier. There are seven different choices which are listed below in further description. Other the Attribute, the skills in this category are mainly for a shaman archetype. The summoning skill will allow a Shaman to summon creatures to help in battle, the more levels you have unlocks with points, the more creatures than can be summoned. When level 3 is unlocked, you can then choose one of 5 Totem Animals that will offer buffs to you and your team, such as the Eagle which will offer 15% accuracy for 2 rounds or the Cat which adds +1 to Dodge for 3 rounds. Spirit Control will allow greater chance to control your summon, while Conjuring will allow the Shaman to call in various types of barriers that will hurt enemies if they cross them.


Once you have chosen your race and archetype for your character, and if you dropped a point into Charisma, you will then need to choose which Etiquette you possess. Etiquettes are skills that allow you to talk to certain groups with more ease and bypass certain situations. There are 7 different types of Etiquettes to choose from, those being: Corporate, Security, Gang, Socialite, Shadowrunner, Street, and Academic. Sadly there really aren’t many times during the campaign where these etiquettes are used, and when they are, it’s usually one of each, so which one you choose, really doesn’t make a difference from a gameplay perspective, but more along the lines of how you think your character would be. Additional Etiquette choices can be added when your Charisma is leveled up to levels 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12, depending if your race can go that high. Only the elf can go up to level 12 to gain all the etiquettes, but even then, it seems a waste of karma points to spend on.