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Decking is very expensive, both financially and during character creation.

  • A decker needs a decent deck which can cost over ¥100,000, as much as 2 Ares Roadmasters (among the game's heaviest vehicles) or a Northrup Wasp (basically, a light attack helicopter). Software is extra, by the way.
  • A decker also needs skills like Computer (Matrix Perception, Edit File), Hacking (Hack on the Fly, Crack File) and Software (Disarm Data Bomb), plus Cybercombat to brick something. The character needs all three of his Logic, Intuition and Willpower attributes high for skills and for defending himself in the matrix.

I don't mind the investment in skills and attributes since mages and faces have to do the same, but that plus the cash seems excessive.

Are there mechanical rather than lore reasons why decks are so expensive?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just out of curiosity: did your create other characters yet? What you mention does not seem much compared to others. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Jul 25 '15 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have created characters for pretty much every archetype and must admit that no character caused me that much headache as the decker did. The problem is less how do I create a good decker and more how do I create a decker that is not a one trick pony. When I build a street sam it is easy to make him a good driver. Maybe I lack experience but all my other characters, about 6, were easier to create for me. \$\endgroup\$ – Antrix Jul 25 '15 at 17:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe that would make a better question? How to give your decker a second role in your team and what it could be? Mechanic or demolition expert seem to be a good starting point for example \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Jul 25 '15 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @nvoigt. If the problem is your deckers seems limited (they can be!), then the real question is how to build one that's only limited to helping in the Matrix. \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jul 25 '15 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question only secondarily resulted from my experience with the creation of decker characters and primary was a result of a discussion I had with a player of mine about the creation of AI characters. I have almost no experience with that but experimenting with it I noticed that it is quite difficult. Which led me to the question why is it so difficult and noticed that decks are rather expensive when you compare them to things like vehicles. Since I did not see a reason why they would be so expensive I cam to SE to ask the experts. \$\endgroup\$ – Antrix Jul 25 '15 at 18:58
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As a GM and a player, there are a few reasons I see as to why:

Risk vs. Reward

For the longest time most Deckers would do their job from a place of safety. There wasn't too much risk in their job: sure, they might get a little brain fry, but that's only if they're going after the really big or shady hosts. In many cases the worst the decker would have to deal with is repairing or buying a new deck. Street Sams can spend as much money on their chrome, but they also risk catching a lucky bullet. Magicians get to wiggle their fingers, but...are more likely to catch the lucky bullet once the others figure out who's flinging the mojo.

Deckers, though, can hide in a safe place and take out every single wireless item the opposition has. They can hack into hosts and make life hell for the rent-a-cops in the Arcology they're running in. Ultimately, Deckers tend to be the least likely to end up with bullet wounds.

Easy Nuyen

A good Decker doesn't often go long without having an opportunity to score some of that sweet cred. Any good team wants them around to make sure they get the most use of their chrome and gadgets without having Mr. Corporate Spider taking them down. Additionally, if that Decker is poking in a host, they're likely able to steal some paydata to help boost the team's profit...or their own.

Decker vs. Technomancer

A Technomancer is always hot simmed. A Technomancer has a higher chance of dying from working in the Matrix. If you brick a Technomancer...well, let's just say you don't want to use them as a paperweight for too long. Hard to get rid of the smell. Deckers can deal with some drek, too, but in many cases have ways to mitigate having anything but that weird smell after a bank run went a little south. Technomancers have to have good attributes, since they are their decks; a Decker just has to know how to use a deck.

Ultimately, it's all they need

Sure, 123k might seem a lot. But all you need after that are some trodes and you're ready to go. Ready to go for quite a long time. No need to maintain an arsenal, keep up your armor, get your limbs replaced, or be born with the "special" stuff. All you need is the desire to code and the nuyen (or resources) to buy or cobble together a thing someone might call a deck. Sure, you're going to want to upgrade to take down those heavier hosts, but after you get that deck all the scratch you make only needs to go to keeping you fed and sheltered.

Aside: I can't find RAW for making a deck, but it's a thing that has been discussed with me by others. Data Trails does have a section for modding a deck, though, which you could use as a GM if you wanted them to be able to make one.

Cheaper Decks/Reconfiguring

Data Trails offers a cyberdeck for as little as 21k if the Erika is too high for you, and some specialty decks that are cheaper than their peers but can't be reconfigured like them.

Also, while doing the research for the question in the comments, I came across another point: A Decker can reconfigure their strengths and weaknesses on the fly with the standard decks. Technomancers are left with what they have, but a hot Decker can shift their deck around as needed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there a way to acquire a deck on the cheap? For example, can one cobble one together oneself, loot or rook a wealthy wannabe, or have swiped a loose deck from one's former corporate overlords? (I don't know enough about SR5 to know if there's any other option except going to the Buy More and picking out a deck, but I think it might be useful for the answer to address such a possibility.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 25 '15 at 15:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe so, let me find the right passages and I'll update my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jul 25 '15 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hope that helps. There are actually no rules for making a deck, although as I GM I'd allow a weak one to be made in certain situations. But at least there's cheaper options. \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jul 25 '15 at 15:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Juryrigger quality allows to make any temporary item out of other things, subject to GM approval of course. I guees it could be used to put together a few-uses deck. \$\endgroup\$ – raven Aug 7 '15 at 6:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I knew there was something like that in there. Forgot it was a quality. I'll update my answer later. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Aug 7 '15 at 12:54

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