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In Shadowrun are there official rules as to when you would reduce your magic rating due to various -wares?

Point in case, if you decide to purchase say bioware at the beginning of the process, before you've purchased traits, does that make your effective magic score negative for the purposes of then increasing your magic score, or can it never drop below zero, until you take a trait which raises it to 1?

For example, which of the following scenerios is correct:

Joe soon-to-be-Mystic-Adept (a human) has decided that he really needs an embedded comlink in order to fit in with the group. He purchases this with money before he takes the Mystic Adept trait. This immediately drops his Essence to 5 and drops his Magic to -1 and gives him maximum Magic of 5. Joe then purchases Mystic Adept which gives him a Magic score of 1, regardless of his previous -ware habits.

OR

Joe has decided that he really needs an embedded comlink in order to fit in with the group. He purchases this with money before he takes the Mystic Adept trait. This immediately drops his Essence to 5 and drops his Magic to -1 and gives him maximum Magic of 5. Joe then purchases Mystic Adept which gives him a Magic score of 1 that immediately drops to 0, because of his previous negative. Joe then needs to spend 10 BP to raise that back to 1, or else he's a burn out.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

It has to be the case that any penalties due to essence loss are applied after your Magic attribute is determined at chargen. Otherwise, by the rationale you gave above, you could purchase any amount of ware at character creation, and you would have no penalty. If you want to nitpick, gear-buying is the last leg of character creation; I don't think that matters, though. If you get ware, you will be at a penalty. There's no way around that. (Oh, unless you get the ware removed later... then there's a monstrously expensive genetech treatment to get back the lost Essence.)

As an aside, why not get a neural net for your commlink, instead of getting one implanted? That way you can use full-immersion VR, send text messages secretly, or whatever, without any augmentations.

Edit: It specifically says 1 full point of Magic or Resonance, AND the maximum for that attribute (SR4A p. 68).

Edit 2:

You must purchase awakened qualities at character creation, because magic is something that you're born with. In SM, you can purchase qualities that give you "latent" magic; but, nevertheless, your character has the potential from the time they're born, so it makes sense for them to take the loss, no matter what point in their life they get the 'ware installed

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Well the idea here is that you still have a maximum magic cap, so if you have 3 Essence worth of -ware, you'd only be able to buy up to a maximum of 3 Magic. The order above matters only in how much it would cost you to raise your magic. So, for example, if you apply the penalty after your magic score is determined, in order to start with Magic 1, with 3 Essence of -ware, you have to spend 30 BP canceling out your ware damage. Whereas if you didn't you could save the 30 BP using the second example. Think I should edit that into the question? –  Cthos May 22 '11 at 2:16
    
You're right, it's kind of ambiguous. It says, though, that it reduces your Magic score, not just your maximum Magic. Why would they put it that way if they intended it to work as a cap? It's designed to screw your build if you try to take both Magic and 'ware; because either one is more than powerful enough on its own, and mixing them is supremely twinky. I should add, I suppose, that that's my interpretation as a GM. –  RMorrisey May 22 '11 at 3:08
    
That's true. Though, it could also be in there to screw you after character creation, were you to get ware after you started the game. So for example, if I start the game with Magic 6 and no ware, and then I get ware, my magic drops to 5. The argument I ran into was what if you got the ware implanted before you awakened, should you have to pay the BP cost of increasing your magic to 2, in order to remain a mage after you awakened? –  Cthos May 22 '11 at 3:16
    
You must purchase awakened qualities at character creation, because magic is something that you're born with. In SM, you can purchase qualities that give you "latent" magic; but, nevertheless, your character has the potential from the time they're born, so it makes sense for them to take the loss, no matter what point in their life they get the 'ware installed. –  RMorrisey May 22 '11 at 3:19
    
You should put that in your answer. :) –  Cthos May 22 '11 at 3:24
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