SR4 allowed you to fire once or twice per action phase, and recoil resetted each phase. In SR5 recoil got changed to accumulate. The way it was originally phrased, many assumed you would have to not fire for an entire Action Phase to reset your recoil. The errata changed all that, and in my opinion this was a bad change. So that’s where these come from, a strict rule to bash it down, plus one corollary and one alternative that others came with in debates about the recoil rules.
Rule: Recoil requires an entire Action Phase without firing to reset
Under the errata, recoil resets when a Simple Action is spent on something other than pulling the trigger. Since you can only fire once per IP, however, that quickly translates to Simple Action fire, Simple action something-else, repeat ad infinitum (7 IPs without wireless smartgun). Recoil isn’t a problem this way unless you use Complex Actions, at which point it quickly starts stacking up.
Is this a bad thing? It might be. Before the errata, one reason to take up Longarms was that you’d be able to keep up firing longer than the Automatics user. You may hit less often but you’d be able to fire off more shots in a longer battle. After the errata it’s a different tale altogether because the Automatics user can simply keep firing Simple FA Bursts. While Longarms do more damage, they also hit less. Comparing the Ranger Arms to the Ares Alpha with competent enemies is tough due to existing tools having a hard time with multiple layers, especially when only >0 results need to be continued. However, it suggests that the average damage after soak seems to still be in the advantage of the Alpha, because the decrease in defense dice translate to both a damage bonus and hitting more often.
The pre-errata situation also encouraged players to think tactically. If you had, say, 9 RC then you could fire a Long Burst (either as a Complex Burst-Fire or a Simple Full-Auto Action), switch to BF if necessary with a Free Action, and fire a Short Burst before your recoil was out. This would be a good choice for a battle where you really want to hit on the first attack and don’t expect many enemies to be left standing after the second. If you wanted to get three shots off before your dice started to suffer, however, you’d have to use 3 Short Bursts instead. You could switch to SA-mode, throw a grenade or dive for cover in turns where you decide recoil is getting too much. This made it so that FA bwasn’t always the mode to take.
Under the Simple-Action system, it basically doesn’t matter. Sure you could do BF and then use Complex to get recoil issues, but then you could have simply fired in FA mode to begin with.
SR4 comparisons are made in this debate but run afoul on something important: In SR4 you needed more recoil compensation for continued fire, while you didn’t get (Str/2) free points there. For a LB+SB combo you needed 8 RC, whereas for LB-forever in SR5 you only need 4 on top of 1~3 Strength. But if you enter Progressive Recoil, you’ll suddenly need more than in SR4. So the difference between when it adds up (Complex Actions or subsequent Simple Actions) and when it doesn’t is far more extreme.
There are of course bonuses to Longarms still. Their range is greater. However, only past 350m does it really start to matter, which is a range that hardly ever will be relevant in a run. A clean shot past 2 city blocks requires a rather rare situation to be possible. And cost-wise Longarms lose out, it’d take >500 IPs of APDS Long Bursts before the price difference is made up between an Alpha and the heaviest Sniper Rifles, which still lose out in DPS.
So the rule would be to require an entire Action Phase without firing to reset recoil. Negative consequences are that it penalizes Automatics users and also SA users who want to fire SA Bursts and easily reset it with a simple SA shot. Positive consequences are that it makes Longarms more viable and encourages tactical thinking over spray-and-pray.
Rule: Metahumans (not Drones) may use Take Aim solely to recover their natural recoil compensation
While it’s an interesting change to only let Recoil reset after an entire Initiative Pass of no firing, it makes sense that steadying your aim may help you at least partially recover from it. However, the gun itself would still be stressed. So as a partial solution, Take Aim would have a third possible benefit added, as alternative to the bonus and range-reduction effects one can choose between now.
Take Aim: Alternatively can be used to reset Natural Recoil Compensation.
This natural recoil compensation is the (Str/3)+1 part, and would not work on the recoil compensation provided by accessories, harnasses, etc. This means that a weak human can only recover a bit, whereas a huge high-Strength Troll can keep up the FA spam, rewarding their high Strength with something other than Melee ability.
This means high-Strength characters become far more dangerous than others in combat because they can afford to keep up the Simple-FA spam for quite a while. As long as they sacrifice their other Simple Action for solely recovering their Aim, that is, and Simple Actions have plenty of other tactical benefits. So it makes for more interesting tactical choices and rewards high-Strength characters, letting them suffer less under the consequences of overriding the Recoil Errata.
If functioning under the rule interpretation where Drones can fire as a Simple Action, this would make it far too easy for them to keep unloading bullets. And Vehicles would be able to keep firing all their guns without worry. As such, this rule should not apply to Drones (including Vehicles).
Rule: FA-mode cannot fire as a Simple Action
Rather than making recoil harder to recover from, a more elegant solution is eliminating the most problematic case from the scenario. Since the only real concern is the Simple FA burst of 6 bullets, removing that would work as well. So while BF and SA mode both know Simple and Complex Bursts, FA would only be possible as either 10-round Complex Burst or 20-round recoilless Suppressive Fire.
This means it’d be far harder to use the FA mode as instakiller. One would need a solid amount of RC and go |cFA|sTA-sBF|sBF-sTA| in repeat to be able to regularly throw 10-round bursts out with a decent recoil. It also increases the pressure on getting a decent amount of Recoil Compensation, otherwise it’d make more sense to just use the 6-round Complex BF Burst and not have to constantly switch weapon mode with Free Actions. So this mostly eliminates the sFA-spam that make the recoil errata so problematic.
Note that additional houserules could be made, such as varying recoil for different weapons. However, there is no general consensus on what could be nice houserules, nevermind on how solid they would be. So such houserules would first have to be actively debated before I could add them as possible suggestions.