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 variantscales 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.