Bar fight: Sample combat (02/X: Yu’s stats)

Here’s Yu’s statblock. Minor note: Rude’s stats have been updated to add his Social Rating of 0/6. That’s 0 for non-Intimidation, 6 for Intimidation.


  • CRB = Core Rulebook aka Sixth World
  • FS = Firing Squad
  • p# = page number (so CRB p249 means page 249 of the Sixth World book)
  • AR = Attack Rating
  • DR = Defense Rating
  • DV = Damage Value

Yu (Elf Covert Ops / Face)

B 2, A 6 (8), R 4 (5), S 2 (4), W 5, L 5, I 5, C 8, Edge 2, Essence 4

Note that Elves can have max 8 Charisma, 7 Agility, 6 on all other attributes. Yu has 6 Agility, 8 Charisma, so only 1 Attribute max. CRB p63 mentions only 1 attribute “only one attribute may be at the maximum for the selected metatype”, ergo 7 Agility would have been illegal.

Also be aware that it says for the selected metatype: Magic and Resonance are not capped based on Metatype. As such, by some this is interpreted as that Magic/Resonance are excluded from this restriction.

Important augmentations

  • Muscle Replacement: +2 Agility and +2 Strength (CRB p287)
  • Reaction Enhancers: +1 Reaction (CRB p287)
  • Smartlink & Image Link: Can use Smartguns, see AROs, etc (CRB p275 + p285)

You could have gotten the Links in glasses or cybereyes, but no, Yu went badass with direct implants while keeping his natural eyes. This means Yu keeps his natural Low-light Vision. The rules don’t mention this explicitly, but when you replace your natural eyes, you also lose your normal natural sight quality if you have one. Ingentis Athletes p17 does reference this restriction, when noting that replacing a Cyclopean Eye with a cybereye negates the impact that said Eye has.

Important skills

  • Biotech 1
  • Influence 5, Con 6 (Impersonation +2)
  • Stealth 6 (Palming +2)

So to translate those stats to dicepools: Yu has 8 Charisma + 5 Influence = 13 dice on things such as Negotiation, and 8+6=14 when lying. Impersonation adds another 2, so Yu is extra good in pretending to be someone he’s not.

Yu’s special stats

  • Defense Rating: 5 (2 Body, +3 Crimson Sky Suit)
  • Social Rating: 13/3 (FS p50: 8 Charisma, +5 Crimson Sky Suit, armor flipped on Intimidation)
  • Base Initiative: Reaction 4 (5) + Intuition 5, no augmentations on the dice = 10+1D6 (CRB p39)
  • Base Actions: 1 Major/2 Minor (CRB p40: 1 default Minor + 1 per Initiative dice, aka 2 total when unbuffed)
  • Default defense pool: Reaction 4 (5) + Intuition 5 = 10 dice (CRB p105)
  • Condition Monitors: 9 Physical, 11 Stun (CRB p38: 8 + Body/2 rounded up, and 8 + Willpower/2 rounded up)

Yu’s Crimson Sky Suit (FS p52) provides +3 Defense Rating, has 6 Capacity and has a Social Rating of +5. He spent the capacity on the following:

  • Chemical Protection Rating 6 (CRB p266: 6 Capacity, can protect against Corrosive status 6x, both those numbers are equal to the rating. Also provides a dice bonus on Toxin Resistance tests where it’s ‘appropriate protective gear’, CRB p121)


  • Ares Predator VI (CRB p253 + table p255)
    • 30 Gel Rounds loaded (an Ares Predator VI can have multiple ammo-types loaded and uses the type you want)
    • Personalized Grip (FS p62, +1/+1/-/-/- on available Attack Ratings)
    • Active Smartgun (CRB p260-261, since Yu has an implanted Smartlink, the combination of Smartlink+Smartgun gives 2 on all available Attack Ratings, and other benefits)
    • Gel Rounds (CRB p262): 12/12/10/-/-, 3S damage (When striking an enemy, they must roll to avoid getting knocked Prone. It says player’s choice on whether to Roll Agi(2) or Body(4), chances are this should read Target’s choice. No errata / author intent known at this point.)
  • Shock Gloves: 9/-/-/-/-, 4S(e) (Strength 4 + weapon’s 5/-/-/-/- AR as Attack Rating, see CRB p109)

Healing Pools

When applying First Aid, Yu will roll 1 Biotech + 5 Logic = 6 dice. Without a first aid / biotech kit, there is a -2 dice penalty. (CRB p119, note that p273 mentions Tools are for a skill, so there is no such thing as a First Aid kit, there’s only Medkits and Biotech Kit/Shop/Facility available in the rules. CRB p281 states a Medkit counts as a Biotech Kit.)

When doing a detailed Medkit healing, Yu can opt to let the Medkit take the wheel, replacing their Biotech skill of 1 with the Medkit rating (CRB p120), they still roll Logic though.

Don’t forget a Wireless Medkit adds +1 die to healing tests. (CRB p281)

Bar fight: Sample combat (01/X: Rude’s stats)

Quick intro: Since rules can be confusing to people, especially the finer details, I am designing a sample encounter. I was going to write the entire thing first, but that way I’ll never finish it. Instead, I’ll write it out over several posts and eventually compile it into a Google Doc with sidenotes to make it easy to go through and understand all the small rules.


  • CRB = Core Rulebook aka Sixth World
  • FS = Firing Squad
  • p# = page number (so CRB p249 means page 249 of the Sixth World book)
  • AR = Attack Rating
  • DR = Defense Rating
  • SR = Social Rating
  • DV = Damage Value

So let’s explain what the fight will contain: Some go-gangers walk into a bar. That’s the joke. If they were proper go-gangers, they’d ride in on their bikes and act as if the bar is a drive-thru. 🥁

Anyway. They see some runners they got beef with, and attack them. The runners fight back, the bartender gets pissed, bullets and gas grenades fly around. It’s a nasty event. This will let us touch on quite a bit of small details, such as Surprise rounds, using combat drugs, how toxins work, etc. As well as default Attack Rating vs Defense Rating, Edge actions, Cover, and so on and so forth!

But first. The characters. Let’s start with Rude, the Troll Street Samurai, a slightly-tweaked version of the Street Samurai archetype from the book.

Rude (Troll Street Samurai)

B 7, A 3(7), R 3, S 7(11), W 1, L 2, I 4, C 3, Edge 5, Essence 1.34

Important augmentations

  • Muscle Toner + Muscle Augmentation: +4 Agility and +4 Strength (CRB p292)
  • Titanium Bone Lacing: +2 DR, +2 soak dice, +3 Unarmed AR, 4P base Unarmed DV (CRB p286)
  • Dermal Plating: +3 DR (CRB p286)
  • Platelet Factories: Taking 2 or more Physical damage? Reduced by 1 (CRB p292)
  • Reflex Recorders for Close Combat and Firearms: +1 skill rating (CRB p293)

A 3(7) means that someone’s base Agility is 3, and their augmented Agility is 7, so for all rolls and checks you’d use the 7. Note that the maximum adjusted attribute value is +4, see CRB p37, so Rude’s Agility cannot ever be boosted past that 7. UNLESS the rules EXPLICITLY state something bypasses the adjusted/augmented maximum limit!

Important note: Bone Lacing and Bone Density Augmentation do not augment your overall Body, they only provide a bonus to Body when you’re facing physical damage. Note that that is lowercase physical. This means you could argue it applies to all damage you face in the flesh, even if it’s Stun and not Physical. Is that actually the case? I got no idea what’s official, but I’d say yes: These apply to damage resistance tests against attacks that attack your actual body, in contrast to for example Direct Spells that attack your mind and Matrix Biofeedback Damage.

Platelet Factories, however, state they work against Physical damage. Which means that a Direct spell that does 2+ Physical Damage would trigger Platelet Factories their effect.

Important skills

  • Close Combat 7(8), with a Specialization in Blades
  • Firearms 4(5), with a Specialization in Heavy Pistols
  • Perception 3
  • Seattle Street Gangs (Knowledge Skill) (CRB p97-p99)

So to translate those stats to dicepools: If Rude swings a first, he has 7 Agility + 8 Close Combat = 15 dice. If he swings a katana (which is a blade), he also adds a +2 from his Specialization = 17 dice. Knowledge skills are special, we’ll get to those in the actual gameplay example

Rude’s special stats

  • Defense Rating: 17 (7 Body, +4 Armor Jacket, +1 Dermal Deposits. +3 Dermal Plating, +2 Bone Lacing)
  • Social Rating: 0/6 (FS p50: 3 Charisma, -3 Armor Jacket, armor flipped on Intimidation)
  • Base Initiative: Reaction 3 + Intuition 4, no augmentations on the dice = 7+1D6 (CRB p39)
  • Base Actions: 1 Major/2 Minor (CRB p40: 1 default Minor + 1 per Initiative dice, aka 2 total when unbuffed)
  • Default defense pool: Reaction 3 + Intuition 4 = 7 dice (CRB p105)
  • Condition Monitors: 12 Physical, 9 Stun (CRB p38: 8 + Body/2 rounded up, note that the +2 from Bone Lacing doesn’t apply here, and 8 + Willpower/2 rounded up, so 8+7/2=12 PCM, 8+1/2=9 SCM)

Rude’s Armor Jacket (CRB p265, +table on p266) provides +4 Defense Rating and has 8 Capacity. He spent that all on the following:

  • Electricity Resistance Rating 3 (CRB p266: 3 Capacity, can protect against Zapped status 3x, both those numbers are equal to the rating)
  • MEMS Equipment Pouch (FS p48: 2 Capacity, gives Gear Access (FS p53: makes picking up items from the pouch a Minor Action))
  • MEMS Quick-Draw Holster (FS p48, 3 Capacity, allows the Quick-Draw action, boosts 1 AR when quick-drawing, can at most hold a Heavy Pistol)

Weapons (ignoring weapons Rude didn’t bring with him to the bar)

  • Ares Predator VI (CRB p253 + table p255)
    • 15 Explosive rounds and 15 Stick-n-Shock rounds loaded (an Ares Predator VI can have multiple ammo-types loaded and uses the type you want)
    • Personalized Grip (FS p62, +1/+1/-/-/- on available Attack Ratings)
    • Active Smartgun (CRB p260-261, since Rude uses Wireless Smartlinked Contacts, the combination of Smartlink+Smartgun gives 2 on all available Attack Ratings, and other benefits)
    • Explosive Rounds (CRB p261-262): 13/13/11/-/-, 4P damage (The – Attack Ratings do not become 2 with the smartgun bonus, they count as non-existent instead)
    • Stick-n-Shock Rounds (CRB p262): 14/14/12/-/-, 2S(e) damage
  • Unarmed Strike: 14/-/-/-/-, 4P (p39: Strength 11 + Reaction 3 as Attack Rating, and see Bone Lacing for why this is the unarmed damage)
  • Katana (CRB p247, +p249 table)
    • Personalized Grip: (FS p62, +2/-/-/-/- Attack Rating)
    • Attack Rating: 23/-/-/-/- (base 10, +11 from Strength (CRB p109 Combat Example, due to an errata mistake it’s not in the base rules), +2 from the Personalized Grip)
    • Damage: 4P (Note that Strength gives no bonus on melee damage, only on melee Attack Rating)

SR6 Chargen for newbies

Wrote this up for someone, and figured I might as well post it here: Some explanations, flow and tips for chargen.

In Shadowrun, there’s a bunch of basic archetypes, picking one can help you steer how to build. There’s sample Archetypes, which can be used for inspiration. You can be a Face, someone primarily aimed at social skills. A Street Sam, who is an augmented character (with implants) to buff their combat potential. A Physical Adept who buffs their own abilities with Adept Powers. A Full or Aspected Magician who slings spells or buffs people, summons spirits or uses alchemical preparations. Mystic Adepts that combine Adept Powers and other magic powers. You also have Deckers and Technomancers, who are hackers. And Riggers, who use and possess Drones to fight.

Let’s start with what not to bother with as newbies: Riggers, due to having to keep track of too many things. Technomancers, due to being an extra-complicated version of Deckers. Mystic Adepts, due to their Jack-of-all-trades style making them hard to play. Alchemists, due to requiring a lot of experience to use right. (And more magic gear that hasn’t made it to SR6 yet.) And forget Rituals: They take a lot of skill to be useful. Best to focus on Spells and/or Spirits.

A character basically exists out of 5 things: Their attributes, their skills, their qualities, their magical talents (if any), and their gear (both implants inside their body and whatever else). That’s what we’re going to use priorities and extra Karma for.

Aight. So. Priority. 5 categories, 5 levels. You assign an A, a B, a C, a D, an E. This gives you points, cash and stats. After spending those, you have Karma you can use to raise more stuff, or buy more toys. Augmented characters tend to want decent-to-high resources, so they can get decent gear. Same for Deckers. Magical characters need limited cash. So that might give you some indication what priorities you want to focus on.

Your first character choice should be to pick a Metatype. This determines the maximum value for your attributes, and some free racial qualities. Except Humans, who are bland. But hey, they’re the majority and least likely to stand out and face racism.

The fourth category, Magic, is where you start picking your priorities usually. If you don’t want magic/resonance abilities, put your E here and become a Mundane. Anything else, you’re either Magical or a Technomancer. You can take Full Magician, Aspected Magician, Adept, Mystic Adept, Technomancer. If you pick Adept, take Magic D. I’ll explain why later. Full Magicians vs Aspected Magicians are basically ‘I can do all kinds of magic’ vs ‘I can only do 1 type’.

What do you get out of your Magic priority? It gives you your Initial Magic Attribute rank. For Full/Aspected/Mystic, your Initial Magic rank comes with freebies. Ignoring Mystics, you get 2x your Magic in Free ‘Spells’. You can use said Free Spells for learning a combination of 3 things: Actual Spells, Rituals, and Alchemical Preparation. These are the ONLY ones you get in chargen, you’re not allowed to learn more until after play has already started. Thus, what spells you want to start play with, you have to pick a high enough Magic Priority to be able to get them.

So, let’s now look at the second category, Attributes. These are Attribute Points. You have 8 normal Attributes that start at 1 each: 4 Physical, 4 Mental. Attribute Points can be used to raise your attributes from 1 to whatever. You want 4 Body? 4-1 = 3 points. 5 Reaction and 5 Agility? That’s 8 more points. You’re an Elf and you want to use Attribute Points to max your Charisma at 8? 7 points. NOTE: In Chargen, you can only have 1 of your 8 Physical+Mental Attributes at Maximum, no matter what you use to raise them.

Now, the first category is Metatype (Adjustment Points). Ignore the Metatype part, because all Metatypes are identical point-wise. This really is about the Adjustment Points. Adjustment Points are basically special Attribute Points. You can spend those on 2 things. First of all, the Special Attributes: Edge/Magic/Resonance. Edge starts at 1, Magic/Resonance at whatever value you got from your Magic Priority. Magic/Resonance cap at 6 (and ignore the 1-at-max limit for Attributes). Edge 6 except for with Humans.

Second: Remember how your Metatype decides what attributes are allowed to have what maximum value? So, the Adjustment Points can also be used to raise your Racial Attributes. Racial Attributes are any Attributes your Metatype says can be above 6 for you. An Elf can have 7 Agility and 8 Charisma max, so they can use Adjustment Points there. Etc, etc. You don’t have to use these for getting above 6, though.

[[Let’s do an example: You took Attributes A, Metatype C, Magic E, and decided to play an Elf. This gives you 24 Attribute Points and 9 Adjustment Points. You raise all Attributes from 1 to 4: This is 8×3=24 Attribute Points. You then put 3 of the Adjustment Points into Edge, raising it from 1 to 4. You raise Charisma from 4 to 8 with 4 more Adjustment Points. And the last two points you put into Agility, raising it to 6. This puts Charisma at maximum, all other attributes below maximum, so you’re still valid.]]

[[Second example: Attributes A, Metatype D, Magic E. 4 Adjustment Points. Adjustment Points to raise Edge from 1 to 5. Attribute Points to raise Charisma to 8, Agility to 6, costing 7+5=12 normal points. Remaining 12 Attribute points into raising remaining six attributes from 1 to 3.]]

The third category is Skills: This gives you Skill Points, that you can use to raise skills (all starting at 0), for 1 rank per point. Max rank is 6, only 1 skill allowed at max in chargen. Per skill you can also buy a Specialization for 1 point, which gives you 2 extra dice on whatever they apply to. Don’t do that. Use Karma for that instead. Again, explanation later.

Last category is money. You can get some more for karma, but this is your primary income source in chargen. This is what you’re going to spend for your implants, armor, weapons, vehicle, monthly lifestyle (aka your monthly rent and social standards), fake ID and more.

So, one last note: Why Magic D for Adepts? Because Adepts get their Power Points from their ADJUSTED Magic in chargen. You add 3 special points to raise from 1 to 4, then take cyberware and lose 1 Essence, lowering you to 3 Magic? Then you have 3 Power Points. Since each Magic rank only gives 1 point, you’re better off getting Adjustment Points to raise your Magic as Adepts.

Now that you picked your priorities, you start by spending all those points. Then, you pick Positive and Negative Qualities. These give benefits and drawbacks, each accompanied by a karma cost or gain, which adds to / comes out of your initial 50 Customization Karma. There’s 2 rules that apply here. First, you can only take a total of 6 qualities max in chargen. Second, if you take more karma gain than karma cost, you can gain a max of 20 karma. Oh, and technically a third: Don’t be a dick, pick downsides that actually impact your play, don’t go for free points.

[[Example 1: Player spends 24 karma on Positive Qualities, and gains 44 from Negative Qualities. This raises their Customization Karma from 50 to 70.]]

[[Example 2: Player spends 60 karma on Positive Qualities, gains 10 from Negative Qualities. Spends all 50 of their Customization Karma, none left for other things.]]

With Qualities handled, you start spending karma. You can spend up to 10 on extra cash, at a rate of 2k nuyen per point. You can buy/raise skills, buy specializations (1 Specialization per Skill max, they’re 5 karma each, so get them with karma, not with points), raise attributes (useful if you left a 1 and you want to raise it to 2 for 10 karma, for example). NOTHING ELSE. This is a whitelist, can’t do anything other than these with your karma.

Then, you spend cash for gear. Implants reduce your Essence. If you’re Magical, Essence loss also costs you Magic. For Adepts, this also costs them Power Points. And, important: The more Essence you lost, the tougher you are to heal!

You get Charismax6 free Contact Points to buy Contacts with. Contacts have Connection (how much they can get done) and Loyalty (how much they like you), each can max be equal to your Charisma. (p67) Then you get free Language/Knowledge points: You take 1 Native Language, the free points you spend on Knowledge Skills (1 point per Skill) and on Languages (3 levels per language max, each level costs 1 point).

[[Example: Character with 5 Logic takes English as Native Language, has 5 points. Buys 3 Knowledge Skills, and learns Sperethiel at the second rank (Specialist).]]

In the end, you can keep maximum 5k nuyen to enter play with. As for Karma, there’s no rule. -,- Best advise would be to restrict to a maximum of 5 Karma, spend the rest.

Houserules: Damage (Hardened, Toxins, Grenades)

SR6 restructured damage codes and soak pools. This heavily decreases one-shot chances, so that’s something I personally consider an advantage. This also would be why in errata they nerfed Unarmed Damage as well.

However, there’s a few things the rebalance seems to have partially missed:

  1. Grenades are 16P at ground zero, 10P~12P at 3m range
  2. Toxins, including Narcoject, go up to Power 15
  3. While Spirits have less Hardened Armor, the autosoak is still the same

Let’s start with Grenades. If you’re hit with a gun, you tend to face 4P~8P pre-soak, due to firing modes, ammo and net hits. It takes a really heavy attack to reach 10P or higher. Yet being within 3m range of an exploding grenade already does 10P, and this is to an entire group. Even a Fireball tends to not reach those damage numbers, and that faces Spell Defense zones instead of ‘1x per round, as alternative to Movement’ as defense action.

Now granted, throwing out grenades is a good way to get everyone REALLY mad at you, but they’re still far too easy and powerful an option. All it takes is one nutjob to take out a grenade, and suddenly wipes start happening. As such, reducing the damage:

  • Grenade damage is reduced
    1. HE and Frag Grenades are halved, Stun Grenades receive -2 per level (8S/6S/4S, aka same as Frag Grenades but Stun instead of Physical damage)
    2. All grenades do 75% of their current damage (rounded up).

With the first option, being hit directly will do about the same damage as a good hit, enemies nearby still take a chunk. The second keeps grenades as significantly dangerous, while decreasing the damage numbers to a point where they’re not the only valid option in dangerous fights.

Toxins are faced by Body+Willpower, so it’s easier to resist them. But one problem with Toxins is that a single point of Power left already deals the nasty side-effects. And against Injection and Ingestion, there’s limited protection possible. So unless you’re a smart street sam with a high-rating Toxin Extractor, toxins are a good way to drop you. Even a high-buffed character will perhaps score 5 hits vs a Power of 15…

On the other hand, a Gas grenade won’t immediately hit you and won’t keep hitting you, so you will not take repeated hits from them. And with Gas grenades, only within 5m do you face the maximized Power.

  • Ingestion/Injection toxins have their Power reduced to 50%
  • Contact/Inhalation toxins have their Power reduced to 75%

This way, damage numbers from toxins are more comparable to normal attacks taken. Contact/Inhalation toxins still are real dangerous within the 5m range*, however: Not only can you still get into cover and only take a single hit during the entire duration, and Toxin Resistance pools are greater than Damage Resistance pools, but Chemical Protection, Inhalators and Gas Masks also are viable counter-measures against these two vectors.

* Note that Gas Grenade rules are a bit vague, but a rule example notes 5m as the size of each range category for them.

Not everyone always manages to follow this, but here we go: A Spirit who Materializes with Materialization, receives Immunity to Normal Weapons (ItNW). This isn’t actual immunity: Immunity simply gives Hardened Armor equal to a creature’s Essence, which for Spirits equals their Force. And Hardened Armor gives an Armor Boost and autohits equal to its rating.

In other words, Materialization means a Spirit gets both their Force in Armor, and their Force in autohits on damage resistance. But only against non-magical attacks.

And unfortunately, Hardened Armor is more powerful in SR6 than in SR5. This is where the damage nerfing missed its mark.

Let’s start with numbers: In SR5, a Spirit received 2xForce as Hardened Armor, and their modified Hardened Armor gave autohits per 2. So facing 0 AP, they had Force autosoak. In SR6, they receive Force as Hardened Armor, which equals their autohits. So while they no longer add Armor to their Soak pool, their autohits remained the same, meaning the overall reduction in attack DV means they actually take less damage than before.

Worse, this is no longer reduced by AP. So in the past, the autohits could be reduced. Now, that no longer is the case. As a result, even against tough enemies with assault rifles, a Spirit will take far less damage, often none at all.

There’s three variants to discuss for nerfing this, of which two are shamelessly stolen from people on Facebook, at Shadowrun 6th Edition Chummers. Fortunately we don’t have to nerf too much, because currently there’s only 2 critters with Hardened Armor: Spirits, and Sharks. (Shame that that’s going to get errataed eventually. XD)

  1. Hardened Armor only gives Rating/2 Autohits on soak
  2. ItNW gives rating 3 Hardened Armor
  3. ItNW gives rating 4 Hardened Armor against ranged attacks, and rating 2 against melee attacks

The first variant scales with Force, so high-Powered spirits are still much tougher to injure. With the second, both weak and strong spirits take about the same damage, so even weak Spirits are still a threat.

The third variant follows the second variant, but buffs melee against Spirits. This nerf where Spirits their protective measures don’t work well up close and personal, is semi-representative of the old classic Attack of Will. Now watch a Troll headbutt that big mean Spirit in front of them. Just hope they don’t have Energy Aura.

Houserules: Edge (4/4: Qualities & more)

Rather than stretching this into a total of five posts, I’m going to first do Qualities, then a bunch of smaller rules here, and wrap it all up now.

There’s several important sources of Edge. We have Attack/Defense Ratings, tactical advantages, and gear/qualities giving a benefit in specific situations. In the SR5->SR6 move, a lot of the dicepool modifiers got turned into granting Edge (or disallowing gain and spending). And as one can expect with a complete overhaul, the ball got dropped here and there. Let’s start with the primary offender and another quality to compare it to.

First of, Photographic Memory: 12 Karma, gives a temporary point of Edge on Memory-tests (aka Logic + Intuition). Meanwhile, we have Analytical Mind: 3 Karma, bonus Edge (so not just temporary) when making Logic-based tests. Not only is it superior and cheaper for the same test, but AM also boosts Hermetic Drain Tests, Hacking, etc… In other words, AM is not only cheap as hell, but also by far superior to almost every other quality there is.

Now I am not going to go through every Positive Quality giving Edge, or every piece of gear. Instead, I’m just going to offer some quick-and-dirty rules, where every specific case can be weighed against these guidelines and decided on tweaking or not. There’s just two qualities I’m explicitly suggesting a nerf for.

  • Analytical Mind only works on knowledge-based Logic-skilltests
    • In other words, this no longer buffs Hacking, or drain tests. If your knowledge skill lets you roll an active skill + Logic, this quality helps. Perception + Logic (Seattle Street Gangs) to figure out why a gang is behaving strangely, you get the bonus. Perception + Intuition to identify what exact gang you’re dealing with? No dice.
  • Indomitable only works when dealing with Intimidation, Nauseated status, Natural Recovery and resisting Magic spells/effects (such as Movement)
    • This means it won’t help Drain Resistance, Astral Combat, Mentor Spirit downsides, Matrix Tests, Lifting, Judge Intentions, resisting most Influence/Con, Toxins. Why? To fit better with the description and not be horribly overpowered.
  • All Edge-granting Qualities cost 12 Karma
    • No concerns about cost imbalances if they’re pulled straight across the board
  • Gear/Qualities that cover edge-cases give permanent Edge, ones that are more frequent only give temporary Edge
    • For example, this means that Spirit/Sprite Affinity and Control Rigs only grant temporary Edge. Combined with the 12-Karma rule, this means that there’s only one dimension to worry about: Is it a rare case, or will it be used an awful lot?

No doubt there are way more options to be considered and finetuning to be done, so decide where you deem it fit. And as always, don’t be afraid to change your mind.

And now, some smaller rules, some of which are alternatives to previously-mentioned houserules.

  • An attack with – as base AR, or a net AR that fails to exceed Cover DR, automatically misses
    • Right now, an Assault Rifle can fire and hit at Extreme Range no matter what DR it faces. This also encourages the owner to use the heaviest DV-bonuses they can find, since the AR penalty afterwards doesn’t matter. With this restriction, that’s not an option anymore: 0 means a failure no matter what, and even 4 AR canno beat Full Cover
  • Assisted Climbing (p93 climbing gear advantage) gives one point of temporary Edge, also gives a discount of 1 (min cost 1) on Edge Boosts
    • No Edge-abuse possible this way, and Assisted Climbing has value past the first time you decide to use Edge during the long climb, because at the low progress made when climbing, a longer advantage is definitely needed
  • Edge Pool caps at Edge Attribute + 2, rather than 7 or 9
    • Adds more value to high Edge, since it also impacts how much you can keep with you during combat. 1 Edge? Forget about ever doing Anticipation.
  • The Edge-gain limit per Action is capped at 3 instead of 2
    • This is for if your players are excessively tactical (or Riggers with Control Rigs) and you want to reward them more for it. Raising the cap, rather than just throwing it out, prevents a desperate race for tactical advantages while still giving more leeway for your clever bunch. Of course this also counts for enemies that get the drop on them…

And with that, we’re done! For now…

Seriously though, I still have a bunch of houserules I’ll write about another time. But Edge-wise, this is a wrap right now. Talk to you later, chum.

Houserules: Edge (3/4: AR vs DR)

So, on this third post about Edge houserules, let’s start with Attack Rating vs Defense Rating. If AR-DR is 4+, or DR-AR is 4+, the bigger side gets a point of Edge. 11 AR vs 8 DR? Nobody gets anything. 12 vs 8? Edge to attacker. 2 vs 12? Edge to defender.

When people argue Armor does nothing in SR6, this is what they talk about: In more extreme cases, the extra armor won’t matter for this equation (if I already beat you by 4, extra DR won’t help me, if you have extremely high AR usually more armor won’t help me). But at the same time, it also has extremely little impact in the middle: If the enemy’s AR is 3 above my DR, they can drop 6 AR on their firing mode without giving me any advantage. Oh, and if the enemy Takes Aim with a Scope, suddenly your high DR solely blocks enemy Edge but you get zero benefits.

At the same time, if we look at a crazy Tank in SR5, it was quite easy for a character to take on average 7 damage less than others. Which means that an attack that does 3 damage against said Tank, will do 10 damage against a Face. To threaten the tough players, you had to risk one-shotting the others. If too big a benefit is given to high DR/AR ratings, we reintroduce this problem. So this is definitely something to avoid. And, as many who altered this mechanic noticed, it plays a big part in the new Edge system, so just cutting out the Edge is a bad idea.

Mathwise, by the way, it’s possible to basically have anywhere from 2 to 20 AR thanks to weapon mods and grunt groups, while default DRs of 5~8 can become closer towards 20 if you really try. (Let’s not touch on Cyberarmor-tanks for a second.) Don’t forget Cover can add anywhere from +1 to +4 to DR, as well.

So, all this means a houserule should fit 4 criteria.

  1. AR/DR differences should still grant Edge
  2. We want some form of gradual benefits, within limits to not encourage DR/AR-hoarding
  3. Benefits shouldn’t be at the level of reintroducing oneshotting with big differences
  4. Imaging Scope needs a form of nerf

My own proposal is as follows:

  • Steps of 3 difference, not 4
  • First step grants Edge
  • Second and third step grant +1/-1 soak die
  • Imaging Scope’s benefit reduces the Defender’s benefits with 1 step, and only does so at Medium+ Ranges

Steps of 3 are meant to make AR/DR-difference matter quicker, so you don’t get the extra benefits only in really big cases. The second and third benefit are smaller-scaled, so that it’s not an absolute must to get as high as possible. AR 8 vs DR 17+ means 9/3 = 3 steps, defender gets +1 Edge and +2 soak dice.

With more than 1 level, suddenly we can nerf Imaging Scope. Plus a Scope won’t help you in close quarters, it’s really meant for long-distance situations.

Now, the reason we’re impacting the soak dice, rather than the attack/evade dice: This way the AR-DR comparison doesn’t impact the hitchance directly, instead it impacts the damage taken. Means it feels more like the Armor is helping you avoid damage, which makes more sense than that it helps you evade.

Of course plenty of alternatives are possible, such as:

  • Imaging Scope reduces DR with 3 if DR>AR, aka you don’t lose 1 step of benefits if your DR is high enough
  • Steps of 2 difference, so AR-DR game gets to its benefits much faster.
  • Bonus on attack/dodge, reflecting that poor/excellent armor makes it easier/harder to land a dangerous hit on you
  • Full soak point instead of just a soak die, making the AR-DR benefits far more lethal
  • Extra points of Edge instead, which bypass the ‘2 Edge gained per Action’ limit, but not the ‘2 Edge kept per turn’ limit
  • Introducing special AR/DR-modifying circumstances for special situations (a sandstorm may add 2 Cover-levels, while still capping at 4 levels, for example)
  • No step-limit, meaning AR/DR armsraces are encouraged and Tank builds become much harder to injure again

Now I disagree with some of these of course, as you can tell from the justifications I posted above for the rules I wrote down as my version. However, let’s face it: My preference is not everyone’s preference. You should go with what feels right at your table. Just make sure everyone understands that if the mechanics feel too much or too little, it’s okay for the rules to alter after a few sessions to try them out. (Don’t spring ‘I am altering the deal, pray I don’t alter it any further’ on your players. Darth Vader was the bad guy, GMs are not.)

Oh, and you will want to write down your grunts and players their default step-ranges, if the math proves frustrating. If you have a simple chart, you can just go ’16 AR is orange, so you get 1 Edge and they lose a soak die, go roll’. Might help with the bookkeeping.

Now I still want to discuss a few Edge-related qualities and such, and a few alternatives to houserules from my previous post, but let’s touch on those another time.

Houserules: Edge (2/4: Cinematic Play)

As I started writing this, I realised there’s no way to fit the Edge-houserules into a single properly readable post. So this one will focus on Cinematic Play. Qualities/Gear-balancing and AR/DR will have to wait. This one is focused on the restrictions to gaining Edge: Max 2 per test, max 2 per turn, no more than 7 total.

So on one hand, it makes sense that Edge gains are limited. If you can only gain 2 Edge in an action, it prevents crazy gains that make the Edge flow waaaaaay too fast. It also means players won’t be pushing for yet another way to get Edge, since you cap at 2. And the limit of 2 Edge per turn, also means you won’t be tossing out big Edge moves one after another.

On the other hand, when granting an enemy Edge is supposed to be a downside and a big impact on the balance, that not happening due to the restriction is not balancing. For 1-on-‘1’ fights, it’s doable, but it just feels weird once dogpiling is concerned.

With that in mind, here’s a combination of rules that are meant to unify these concerns. Since under these rules Edge will still flow much faster and you can almost feel like you’re in an action movie (don’t forget, rerolling 2 enemy hits basically equals costing them 4 dice on average), I tend to label the set ‘Cinematic Gameplay’. Glossary involved: Temporary Edge is ‘spend or lose it’ Edge, kept/permanent is Edge that you’re allowed to keep past the Action and do so.

  • 2 Edge max gained per ACTION, including temporary Edge.
      • So a Jumped-In Rigger with Thermographic vision at night and a massive Attack Rating still only gets 2 Edge.  This way, players won’t be trying to farm method after method to gain Edge.
  • 2 Edge KEPT max per combat round. If you spend it on the Action (such as Spellcasting&Drain, or defense&Soak, or Attack), it doesn’t count against the limit.
      • This way we still maintain the max gain of 2, meaning that the really big Edge moves are still something you have to save up for.
  • Edge Pools max at 9.
      • Meaning high-Edge peeps don’t have to spend it at once but actually can save up a bit, and PR9 Grunts aren’t defying the limit.
  • Edge transfers ignore the limit, BUT you can’t transfer non-kept Edge.
      • Edge transfers are what you do for ‘hey this roll really matters big time’, such as big negotiations or crucial attacks on big foes. It’s also a way for people that got more Edge than they need to help the ones that have a harder time. But the cinematic style is focused on additional gains being ‘spend it or lose it’, not ‘hoard like crazy’. Being able to farm Edge and pass it around to bypass that restriction, violates the spirit, and now the letter as well.
  • If you and an ally are attacked together, and you transfer gained Edge immediately to the ally, it counts as kept Edge (and is restricted by the 2 kept max limit).
      • A partial exception to the rule above for a specific edge-case: If I didn’t keep my max 2 Edge yet, I can use what I gained to help pay for transfering, but it counts as part of the kept limit.

And for the grunt perspective, where I am introducing the term ‘unit’ for all grunts combined, which may be multiple grunt groups (e.g. 8-grunt unit => 2x grunt groups of size 4 each).

  • (Unit-size/5, rounded up) Edge Boosts allowed per turn, instead of 1 Edge Boost per turn for the entire unit.
      • Larger units should be a bigger threat, not be the perfect example of more foes meaning less competence. At the same time splitting a unit into more groups shouldn’t matter Edge-wise.
  • Downed grunts still count for the unit size (see rule above), but routed grunts do not. Routed grunts also cannot gain or spend Edge.
      • When your comrades are down, there’s more on the line than just your own hide. But those that ran away, won’t make you think more tactically. And when you’re running away, there’s no way you can be contributing tactically.
  • 2 Edge KEPT max per combat round, for the entire unit combined.
      • They have 1 shared Edge pool, so we’re restricting their gains as well, with similar reasons.
  • If Edge cannot be kept or spent, due to the Edge Boost and Edge Kept limits, convert the remaining point(s) into bonus dice
      • Limiting how often grunts can spend Edge is a nice limit, but we still want to prevent them from getting no benefit. Since we restrict both their Edge gains and expenses, we should add an auto-conversion for the excess Edge. Bonus dice is less powerful than forcing the PCs to reroll hits, but still makes it tougher to hit/dodge.
  • When multiple grunts are attacked at the same time, they gain Edge together (so just once), but also spend Edge together (e.g. they gain 1 Edge but spend 2 to reroll two of their failures? Then each grunt gets the benefit of the reroll).
      • The rules don’t describe how this goes, so here’s how I propose we handle it. A buff to AoE and Multiple Attacks, since you’re not giving away multiple points of Edge just because you target multiple enemies (just like you only gain once yourself). On the other hand, we shouldn’t penalize the grunts on their defensive use of Edge, when we already restrict their gain to once for all combined.

All these houserules combined mean that both players and grunts can benefit from Edge far more often, meaning no more ‘no worries, they’re already Edge-capped’, while still facing their natural restrictions and keeping the big-Edge actions as rare dramatic occasions. This hopefully will result in far more dramatic fights with fancy cinematic flow, impact lethality, and reward tactical choices more. And now, even if two dozen enemies all fire at you, you can still be badass.

Houserules: Edge (1/4: Intro)

If we were to look at what makes Sixth World so different from Fifth Edition, one of the core differences would be the new Edge system. Gone are a myriad of dicepool modifiers. Instead, we have circumstances providing attackers and defenders Edge. Edge points are now much smaller in benefit, but can be gained far more easily, encouraging GMs to give them out a lot. It’s an intriguing new system, and I love it. But there are some flaws and frequent criticism, which makes sense because no system is ever perfect. Let’s first explain a few details, then touch on some of the criticism. (We are not touching ‘the entire system sucks, go back to SR5’, though.)

There’s quite a few options with Edge. Some of them you can spend multiples of to do it repeatedly in 1 go. You can reroll 1 die (pick: own or opponent) for 1 Edge, so can for example force an enemy to reroll 3 dice for 3 Edge (no mixing allowed, by the way: either all rerolls are by the opponent, or by you). You can spend 4 Edge to not split the dicepool on your Ranged Multiple Attack, attacking each individual with a full pool instead. Or spend 4 Edge to raise two of your 4s to 5s so you have enough hits. The limit is that you only get to spend Edge once per action. I can reroll, but I can’t reroll AND raise a die.

The second restriction is that you can only gain 2 Edge per turn. So even if you had extra edge sources, they are futile. And another is that you cannot ever have more than 7 Edge in your pool.

Now, with the setting set, time for the criticism.

  • The max of 2 is penalising for efficient individuals, and means that once you reached your limit, enemies no longer have to worry about granting you Edge

Quite simply: If I fire at a grunt, and my Attack Rating is so high I get Edge, plus it’s dark because the Decker killed the lights, while I have thermographic vision and the enemy didn’t, I gain 2 edge. Then, a grunt group attacks me. Their Attack Rating sucks. It’s still dark. Doesn’t matter, I already gained my max 2 Edge this turn. So neither do I get rewarded, nor do they get penalised, because I am too good.

Of course there’s a few small details involved we’re glossing over. With more competent enemies, scoring Edge will be much tougher. And if you only get attacked by 1 grunt group, the impact will be small. (If each enemy attacks by themself, however…) But those details don’t change much of the problem: If you’re too good at getting Edge, you’re basically wasting it. Not that gaining too much Edge wouldn’t be broken, but why bother being good at it if you can’t benefit?

  • The max of 7 punishes people with 6~7 Edge

I first get Edge, then I spend it. So if I’m already at the cap, I can’t gain more and have to spend first. Which means being able to carry 6+ points over instead of 5, hardly is worth it. Given how that high value comes at a significant cost in Racial Attribute Points, having it mean so little is a rub.

  • AR vs DR isn’t finegrained enough

One of the biggest incomes for Edge, Attack Rating vs Defense Rating gives 1 Edge if the difference is 4+. That’s it. 2 AR vs 20 DR? 1 Edge for the Defender. 20 AR vs 4 DR? 1 Edge for the Attacker. Defender has 20 DR, but the attacker uses a Scope on that 2 AR? No Edge for the defender. On one hand, this means you don’t have to stack up crazy amounts of armor. On the other hand, it also makes it too much of an all-or-nothing. If you know it doesn’t matter, you might as well go full-out.

  • Some qualities are broken compared to others

There’s several ways to get Edge through qualities and gear. Some give no matter what, some give Edge that you must spend on the action or lose it. Their conditions are of various nature, for example whenever you’re resisting Intimidation/Frightened-causing effects. And some of them are far too powerful compared to others.

  • Grunt edge ain’t perfect

Grunt groups are restricted to a single Edge expense per turn for all grunts together. They also likely (not 100% certain) can only gain 2 Edge per turn. 3 grunts attacking you? One Edge expense max, 2 Edge gained max. 20 grunts divided in 4 groups of 5? Same. The bigger the group, the less efficient they are, resulting in the same problem for the Grunts as for the Players: When the max Edge gain is already reached, what good are those tactical benefits?

For those five points, we’ll later discuss possible houserules. There’s two more, for which I have more direct answers:

  • There are too many options to choose from

There are 12 ways to spend Edge, plus 12 Edge actions. That’s 24 options, 26 if you include ‘reroll own’ vs ‘reroll opponent’s’ and ‘no edge use’. The criticism is that this results in choice paralysis and people may spend too much time weighing their options. This in contrast to SR5, where it was basically ‘pick 1 of 2 Initiative options or neither, reroll or explode or neither’. However, let’s compare with Run&Gun. 12 kinds of generic called shots. Plus 16 different locations you can aim for, each with multiple possible side-effects. 24 different ammo-dependent called-shots, of which some ammo types have 4. Roughly 30 options. Yet not many people complained ‘there’s too many options’ and froze for 5 minutes on their turn due to weighing all the options. Why? Because they had a preference.

The same applies in SR6. There’s basically 4 options that frequently showed up at campaigns and Open Events I was a part of: Force die rerolls, raise dice-values, pass edge to someone else, reroll all failures in a big bang. Passing Edge is what you do when you don’t need it and someone else is going for THAT big roll. The same goes for rerolling all failures. Forcing an enemy reroll vs raising your own dice tends to be ‘risk-seeking vs risk-averse’, aka do you want to risk failure but going big, or are you going for the minimal certainty, even if it’s more expensive? With that in mind, most of the time it’s quite simple: ‘I failed, do I try edge in my risk-seeking/averse standard, or do I just accept the failure?’ 26 options reduced to 2 in a heartbeat.

  • Outside direct attacks, how do others gain Edge in tactical situations?

The rules talk a lot about Attacks, Hacking, or Social scenes. But they don’t touch much on gaining Edge through other means. Granted, a GM is encouraged to reward for roleplaying and such. But while a Combat Mage (or one abusing broken qualities) can easily gain Edge, a support-style Magician is far more restricted in the explicit gains.

Let’s look at it like this: Say I fire a smoke grenade. The next player can get a tactical advantage from it, which gives them a point of Edge. But I created the tactical advantage. In the case where a smoke grenade can matter (if not: sorry, there’s a very clear section about Preventing Edge Abuse in the book at p45-p46), maybe the person firing or throwing it should also be rewarded? If I make fellow runners invisible, maybe I too should get a point of Edge? The same for Illusion spells, etc: If a player, mage or not, does something that clearly creates a tactical advantage for the group, I ask GMs to please reward them for it, so Edge is not just for the combat-monkeys but also for the ones that help them set that up.

In the next posts, we’ll go into the houserules for the other five points.

Rigger Judgement Calls

I did a search and found a list of seven judgement calls I noted in the past as needed to help make Riggers playable. Some of those I already covered with houserules, others are no longer needed since Rigger 5.0. However some are still needed because official clarification is still missing. Below I’ll go into these. (Note that I call them judgement calls. This because the rules are simply unclear as to how these work, and they’re simply interpretations of the rules, not explicit overrules.)

First let’s cover Rigger 5.0 rules though. Unfortunately Rigger 5.0 does not include a lot of rule upgrades, though there’s three worthy of noting here:

First of all: Rigger 5.0 has 2 types of Modification rules: Normal Vehicle ones, and optional ones for Drones. For Drones they’re cheaper than the normal vehicle ones, but also more limited (though they can get more bonus armor than a vehicle) in what they can get. One recommendation: Use these optional rules. 🙂 Much fairer for Riggers.

Second, it has advanced Vehicle Chase rules, and here you can actually break past the Extreme Category. This means high Acceleration rates actually have value: Originally if you drop to Extreme but the other goes back 1 range, you’ll never manage to break loose. Under the new detailed rules, you could break e.g. 3 categories past Extreme, and unless they manage to immediately bring that back to Extreme you’re free. There are air-vehicles with Acceleration past 5 so a good Rigger will really be able to push that vehicle chase!

Third, Autosoft rules have changed! Your Autosoft Rating IS limited by your Pilot Rating now, unless you employ an RCC! This means that you can’t just grab a Rating 6 Autosoft on a Rating 3 (or 1!) Pilot, you’ll have to use a lower-rating normally. So if you want your Drones to have 8 dice, you need to upgrade their Pilot to 4 (3.5k) and get Rating 4 Autosofts of 2k each. 10 dice? 10k for the pilot and 2.5k per Autosoft… Better get an army! Or an RCC and stream rating 6 Autosofts, which you can only afford to do for 1 or 2 dronetypes at any given time… Really buffs RCC-users there.

An extra nice upside (in my opinion that is) here is that you no longer only need 3k to have 7 dice on any vehicle. Instead there’s actual value to taking 1 rank of Pilot Groundcraft on a character with anywhere-near decent Reaction.

Oh, remember my houserule for teamwork tests for Drones? There’s now a program for that, which is run by the RCC and run on the drones slaved to it! It’s a 600¥ program which adds as a single Drone instead of individual drones, using the highest Pilot/DR for Pilot (including the RCC’s!), highest Autosoft rating, highest Sensor Rating, lowest vehicle attributes, and +(#-1)[+(#-1)] on tests.

This makes swarms more effective against competent enemies (albeit only counting as 1 attack so making it harder for others to follow-up on your drones) , because you have both better dice and a better limit. No more silly “I roll six drones but none can score more than 3 hits”, instead it’d be “RCC DR5, 6 drones with Sensor 3, Rating 6 Autosoft = 16[8] Perception”. This makes Surveillance a VERY good job for Riggers!

Another houserule that no longer is necessary is my Acceleration rule: It now actually applies to how fast you can get to your Top Speed (but only decelerate 1 ‘category’ per turn).


Anyway! Back to my seven judgement calls (of which some could be split up). Let’s start with the ones that are no longer needed:

  • “Yes, if a Drone has a Smartlink in its Camera both it and a jumped-in Rigger can get the +1 die from a Smartgun’s wireless bonus.”

There’s now a Smartsoft Autosoft in Rigger 5.0, which lets you access Smartlink benefits as alternative. Not sure if it’d grant a +2 or +1 though? Since you need an Autosoft for it and it’s integrated, plus it says “full use”, I’d go with the full +2. It’s a Rating 3 Autosoft so needs a Rating 3+ Pilot (which not all new Drones have)

  • “Sensor replacements cost normal sensor costs, they don’t require a full new array. So adding a new Sensor (or replacing an existing one if no space exists) to your default drone costs 300, not 3.000.”

In the Drone-Upgrade rules, these are pretty much the official rules: Entire Array or Single Sensor. However, the following judgement calls are still needed because no rules are listed still for this:

  • “Sensor upgrades (eg adding Thermographic Vision to a Drone’s camera) do not require replacing the entire sensor, but simply cost the normal price and can be done by any Mechanic.”
  • “Default Sensors are 2 Cameras and one Omni-Directional Microphone. Larger Drones/Vehicles come with extra Sensors by default, namely <…>.”

If you want something for those, just check the houserules I wrote on those in the past.

Next up, the three Judgement Calls that are still unfortunately needed and are VERY important!

  • “No, Targeting penalties only apply to Active Targeting, and Passive Targeting against concealed targets. In a normal gunfight a drone does not take a -3 against a metahuman.”

Needless to say that Drones NOT taking a -3 on every attack in a gunfight, especially given their weaker dicepools from the getgo, is very important! And it makes little sense that a penalty for someone hiding would apply when nobody is hiding but straight-up fighting instead.

  • “Agility+Gunnery only for AR Remote Control, Logic+Gunnery allowed for AR Remote Control as well, Logic+Gunnery as only options for VR Remote Control as well as only option for jumped in.”

The Core-rules describe Gunnery to be Logic+Gunnery. Then Control Device goes and notes you can use Agility+Gunnery, explaining how you’d make AR-gestures to command it. Sorry but that excuse won’t fly if you’re unconscious from being in VR… So rather than going ‘one is wrong’, I unified them here. AR and manual remains Agility, AR can also employ Logic, but in VR/jumped-in Logic is your only option.

  • “Yes, Drones and jumped-in Riggers count as normal combatants. We interpret ‘use the normal combat rules’ as ‘they can use normal movement rules’ and ‘they can fire with Simple Actions’.”

This one is the BIGGEST of my judgement calls, and actually exists of basically 2+ judgement calls unified in one.

Normal combatants plan movement per Action Phase. Vehicles move per Combat Turn. Manual Gunnery always is a complex action, which sucks with the recoil errata even more than before them. But there is a line in Core about how drones use the normal combat rules… And yes, I am perfectly willing to read that as ‘they use the NORMAL combatant rules, so no movement and gunnery screwovers’.

Result: If your Drone moves 21 meters in a combat turn (running Speed 3), it won’t suddenly only be able to move 10+ meters in the next Combat Turn (walking Speed 2). It also can actually fire AND take cover, and under the recoil errata that I personally despise it won’t suck balls after just a single round of gunfire.

Lastly, there are elements I disagree with. Vehicle Sensor Enhancements are EXPENSIVE AS HELL, which I consider rather overkill given how a normal Array was originally 7k for Rating 7. Now, Rating 7 isn’t even available (even though under Core they are…) for vehicles, and a Rating 6 costs 30k…

I can sort of live with the high cost, given how powerful expensive vehicles can be when fully buffed, but I disagree with no Rating 7. I’d go with Rating 1-4 and Rating 5-8 instead of 1-3 and 4-6, using the same costs for Vehicles and Buildings. (In other words, if you want to outfit a building with a Rating 8 Sensor Array it costs 40k, not a mere 8k while a car would cost more for a mere Rating 4 Array.)

This way the original cost remains standing for Drones and sensor packages carried in limbs or sticks, but vehicles and buildings are more expensive.

By the way, Rigger 5.0 is awesome. 🙂 Unfortunately there’s some gaps in Core they haven’t filled in yet, but the book does update some rules and add some awesome modification options, as well as AWESOME vehicles and drones! Hello one-lining Horatio drone! XD


Houserules: Noise

We’re getting close to the end of my houserules-list, all I got left after this is some rigger-stuff.

These noise-rules are copy-pasted from when I first made them so they might be outdated since Data Trails. Feel free to make your own stuff of course, here’s the things I think a Noise houserule should address:

  • Too much Noise should cut off wireless functionality in some circumstances
  • Spamzones shouldn’t cut off wireless, because then what’s the point, but simply supply a penalty
  • Devices close to each other should be able to communicate even in static, assuming nothing gets in the way inbetween

And don’t forget: Line-of-sight is always an option for commlinks.

Rule: Noise shuts down all wireless communication

Under Aaron’s clarification, Noise only shuts down Wireless Bonuses, not Functionality. In other words, any functionality using the Matrix that isn’t actively described as a Wireless bonus, still works. Smartguns still transmit, commlinks can still make phone calls, and so on. To describe an over-the-top scenario, someone with a DR1 commlink, a rating 6 jammer next to them, buried in a container on the bottom of the ocean, would still have a signal. More realistically, Headjammers would not be able to do exactly what they are meant to do: “neutralize implanted commlinks.”

This houserule basically follows the RAW of p421, rather than the RAI that Aaron told us about: “If there is a Noise Rating from a situation that is greater than the item’s Device Rating, not including distance, the item temporarily loses its wireless functionality (see Noise, p. 230).”

As a consequence wireless bonuses are easily lost since standard personal electronics would likely have a device rating of 2 (page 234, table partially contradicted by page 356 and the Rigger chapter). So if you walk into the Barrens or CCZ you’d normally be fine, but every increase would shut you down, and so would walking within 10m of a rating 4 (and 20m for rating 6) Area Jammer. An enemy could shut down a lot of your stuff with a directional jammer at up to 80m distance. This tactic goes both ways, of course.

Jammers will become a viable strategy this way, shutting down communication of any sucker with a bad commlink. They can now be used to prevent security from calling backup, or to block the wireless signal meant to blow up that grenade in front of someone’s feet. A Street Samurai taking trips into bad areas of town will have to live with the consequences of not always having his wireless boni at hand, or invest into datajacks.

Of course this rule comes with its own consequences, so next we have these three:

Rule: Noise is split between Spam and Static effects

There are two kinds of Noise Zones. Static Zones are places where signals are either blocked or far away, whereas Spam Zones are so filled with signals that processing info becomes hard since signals are drowned out.

The downside of communication shutting down at Noise >= Device Rating, is the Spam Zones. An Advertising Blitz comes with a Rating 3 Spamzone. While some RFID tags (used for AROs) are Device Rating 3, simple glasses with an image link aren’t. This means that people would not be able to see the same AROs that the blitz is trying to show them. And even though a GM could say “commercial area noise only applies during peek hours and the Noise is less inside shops”, this still means that nobody would ever be able to see the AROs from outside or likely even make a phone call while visiting a mall.

As a solution for that, Noise can be separated into two factors. There’s the actual blocks that damage the signal, such as distance, all kinds of situational modifiers and the general environment (Static zones). Then there’s the Spam zones, where the only real problem is the massive amount of data flying around.

Noise has 2 effects. A penalty on Matrix actions, and disabling your wireless. It makes sense for Spam zones to do the first, but it doesn’t make sense for them to do the second. So Noise is split into two factors, Spam and Other. Spam+Other decides the dice penalty, whereas Other decides whether or not the wireless signal is powerful enough to get through whatever circumstances are in your way. This means all the offensive functionality of Noise remains, and trying to hack while you’re in the frickin’ Mall will be tough due to the signals around you

The question would be which kind of Noise is first reduced by Noise Reduction. It makes sense that the software would prioritize the signal loss, so the Other Noise, but a GM could easily decide differently, such as splitting it in two or making it reduce the Spam first.

Rule: Noise blocks communication but not one-way signals.

A different solution to the Advertising blitz is ruling that one-way signals still work. Think of it like streamed real-time video, even if you lose some data you probably can still make something out of it. Those RFID tags are simply broadcasting intel, and while your AR Goggles may not be capable of communicating with their environment, they may still be able to make sense out of the signals they receive. Since talking kinda requires a two-way street, while file transfers involve double-checking to compensate for packet loss, the Noise would still make this impossible. Meaning you wouldn’t be able to get a call out, but you’d be capable to receive a text message.

So basically the total Noise would have to exceed the sender’s Device Rating in order to block it from sending a message. If one side is fine and the other isn’t, only one-way messages are possible. If the Noise exceeds both, they cannot communicate at all. In that advertising blitz RFID tags of DR3 would be able to send out AROs and the DR2 Goggles would be able to read them. In the Mall the local Hosts would send out the AROs and your commlink would be able to receive texts, but you’d need a good one to be able to send texts. And when faced with a Jammer, you’d still be in trouble.

Rule: Datajacks can only provide Noise Reduction for a single plugged-in device, and don’t stack

Datajacks provide 1 point of Noise Reduction as wireless bonus. Leaving aside RCCs, this is the ONLY non-magical form of Noise Reduction that can boost any piece of equipment. So if you are in a really bad part of the Barrens and stuck without a wireless Smartgun due to Noise 3 instead of 2, plugging your gun into the datajack can save your ass. It likely has DR2 as well, so past Noise 3 it’s out of luck itself (unless your GM decides better-grades have a better device rating), but it basically lets you run a piece of electronics at 1 Noise higher.

Now Noise is a GM tool, so while running into Noise 3 rather than 2 may happen, it’s quite unlike you suddenly run into Noise 4 unless you are getting hit by a perfect storm. This means that very likely this one point of Noise Reduction can be the difference between life and death! Nah, just kidding chummer, it’s a difference of a dice or two. Or 6 in case of a First Aid kit… And that’s a rather decent case where it IS a matter of life and death, so I’ll grant you that.

Which brings us to Aaron’s official clarification: He stated that a wireless datajack boosts all of a runner’s equipment. In other words, that wireless datajack would cover your commlink, smartgun, vision enhancement, chemical seal, medkit and more at the same time. Heck it’d cover your grenades. Furthermore they stack, so a decker could spend 0.4 essence and 6 grand for 5 Alphaware Datajacks in chargen, and bam, any plausible Noise their GM throws at them will be easily nullified. This takes a GM weapon that should be used sparingly, and makes it completely irrelevant unless used in ridiculous excess.

The problem here is that Noise Reduction is really hard to get. Yet in the form of a Datajack it suddenly would become harmless at a cheap price, where only awakened characters and some street sams would have a hard time with the essence loss. To solve that problem the datajacks would be tuned back: They only provide Noise Reduction for themselves and whatever single item is plugged into them, and cannot stack with each other.

Consequences are that Noise can still be real dangerous this way. If a Street Sam wants their smartgun to still run in rating 3 Noise, they’d need a datajack. If they also want their Thermal Dampening to work, that requires a second datajack. It makes datajacks an important strategic decision, and in Noise 3 environments a tactical decision is required on which wireless bonuses you want to keep and which you drop.

These Noise rules all have 1 thing in common: They keep Noise a dangerous thing. This means that excessive use by a GM can spell trouble for players, so the GM should keep in mind that Noise is a GM tool that should be used sparingly, just like Background Count, and not as a weapon of choice for every run. The official rulings ripped out the sting, while these houserules keep it sharp and dangerous.