Addiction: Houserules

The previous post had a clarification for how the Addiction system works. Now it’s time to focus on the houserules. Again, only some of these are more forgiving than the core rules. The why is simple: As noted before, if your players avoid the nastiest drugs and your runners only go on a run once per month, they will never face Addiction anyway. Not to mention that if you pay for Pharmaceutical drugs (see Chrome Flesh) the Addiction Threshold will be 1 lower anyway.


Rule: An Addiction’s level cannot rise past its Addiction Rating

Soykaf has an Addiction Rating of 1 (so an Addiction Interval of 10) and an Addiction Threshold of 2. If someone has Willpower 3 + Body 3 and drinks Sofkay every day (so the threshold never resets), they have 256/729 chance to fail an Addiction test, which means that on average they fail once every ~2.85 intervals. After 11.4 intervals they’ll be at Burnout, after 14.24 intervals they’ll first start losing attributes. If we continue with average rolls we end up that after almost 4 years our Average Joe will slip into a coma.

This peculiar situation is basically a consequence of that the Addiction system is geared against players, whocan game the Addiction clock or manage an excellent dicepool. So for NPCs it grows strange, which means that yes the system would kill Soykaf drinkers within 4 years and alcoholists even faster.

To prevent that kind of strange situation, while keeping Addiction dangerous and lethal for stronger stuff, we can cap the maximum Addiction level on the Addiction Rating. This means Alcohol, Long Haul, Soykaf, Zen, Hot-Sim and Cold-Sim are not lethal in the long-term.

Possible add-on: A Rating of 4 could be ruled to only get you to Burnout level without making you actually go above that and start losing attribute points. This would add Cram to the non-lethal list. Asides from the side-effects when using that is.

A stronger adjustment could add the total Attribute Points burned out to the level, so a Rating 6 drug would only let you lose 2 attribute points by burning out. Of course that rather takes the lethality out of Burning out, but even losing two attribute points already hurts like hell for a player. I’d keep the lethality in myself though.


Rule: Gain (Current Addiction Level + 1 – Addiction Rating, min 0) dice on Addiction Tests

The previous rule, where Addiction Level is hardcapped, would mean some drugs simply cannot kill you. But let’s face it, Alcohol is something that can in fact kill you. So taking that out is a bit strange. As alternative solution we could instead give you bonus-dice on the heavy addiction tests, making you last longer.

With Alcohol (Rating 3) you’d only get bonus dice when you’re at Severe (3+1-3=1) or Burnout (4+1-4=2) when rolling your Addiction Test to make things worse. With Soykaf the second level already gives you a bonus die and losing Body/Willpower would face 4 bonus dice, making it near-impossible but still possible to die from the weaker stuff.


Rule: You cannot Edge Addiction Tests

Quite honestly, as far as I’m concerned Addiction Tests have no bite whatsoever if you allow Edge on them. Let’s say you face a threshold of 2 with 6 dice, you’d fail once every 2.85 intervals. Without Edge. Second-Chance that and you’re at once every 15.26 intervals… If we assume 1 interval per session, then your runner would essentially never actually get into the dangerous area unless you play for a long, LONG time.

In other words, during normal campaigns they will not have to care at all, even if they take the heavy stuff such as Kamikaze. And I’m not interested in letting a player get away with doing something dangerous without it actually being dangerous. So since CanRay said Edge-use for Addiction is basically up to the GM and table, I myself would advocate not allowing Edge on it.


Rule: Additional tests if the interval is 0 or less

Normally the Addiction interval caps at 1 minimum. If you dip heavily into Focus Addiction, however, or a very heavy custom drug, you might want to give that actual consequences. Under this houserule, if Addiction Rating > 9 you have to make AR-10 tests in a row… So if you use 11 Force, you have to pass two Threshold-2 addiction tests. An Addiction Rating 12 drug would require 3 tests, and so on.


Rule: Immediate test with penalty on use past Addiction Rating 10

An alternative to the previous rule, here instead you’d face an immediate addiction test if you dip that high into the Addiction Rating, on top of the end-of-week test. And on this immediate test you’d face a dice penalty equal to Addiction Rating – 11 on your test, so Rating 12 would be -1 die, Rating 13 -2 and so on.


Rule: Addiction Threshold +1 if multiple drugs used during the same day

A stronger version of the Speedballing rule from Chrome Flesh (which only raises the Rating if you mix), this raises the threshold if you use multiple drugs in the same day. Multiple times the same drug also counts here. This is to signify how tough it is on you if you keep using drugs throughout the day.


Rule: +1 on Addiction Test if you are a frequent user

If you keep using a drug, not ever allowing the Threshold to reduce, then your body might be building up a tolerance. This may (if the GM decides so) give you a bonus on your Addiction Test. Note that the use has to be frequent enough, so expensive, and that you may have to start increasing your doses to still get the benefits.


Rule: Focus Addiction Addiction Rating = 2 + Excess*2

If you have 6 Magic and use 8 Force of Foci simultaneously, your Addiction Rating will be 8 so interval 3 weeks. If you have 9 Magic and use 10 Force, the Rating is 10 so the interval 1 week. If you have 30 Magic but use 31 in Force, the Rating is 31. That’s a bit strange. So under this rule, the Addiction Rating for Focus Addiction depends on the excess Force, rather than the absolute Force. If you have 6 Magic and use 7 Force, it’s AR 4. 9 Force becomes AR 8. You’d need to use 4 Excess to guarantee an Addiction test.


Rule: Addiction Rating is replaced by a Session Addiction Rating

As mentioned before, if you only play once per month nearly all drugs will never have any addiction consequences. On the other hand two runs in the same week would also not matter much. This rule makes addiction work every few sessions instead.

There’s two options for the SAR I thought of:  First is (4-AT), where the original AR doesn’t matter. A downside is that Pixie Dust and any custom drugs with a high Threshold would result in an interval of 0, rquiring the additional-tests use above to make sense. It’s also a bit strange that the original AR is completely discarded.

The second is simply the normal Addiction Interval /4, with the threshold reducing by 1 each session the drug hasn’t been used. So 7~10 would be once per session, 4~7 once per two sessions, etc. Basically you roll once per X months, rather than once per ~X*4 weeks, and there’s no avoiding a test by letting a threshold easily drop to 0. Instead it will take a significant while to wean off.

Of course under these circumstances Edge-use likely should be allowed, at the expense of it coming out of your session’s Edge like how downtime-Edge in Missions works.

Addiction: Clarification

CanRay’s Addiction Rules, first published in SR4’s Sim Dreams & Nightmares and later as part of SR5 Core, put numbers to Addiction. This helped solve the ‘What DO you roll for Addiction anyway’ conundrum. However, asides from the fact it is often misread it’s also not a perfect system. Furthermore, a GM may want to tweak it to give players either less or more leeway. So there’s some room for houserules, and definitely room for some explanation. Explanation here, houserules next post.

(Note, however, that the houserules I’ll list won’t include many forgiving houserules. Given the clock-killing space it’s hardly necessary to add much more leeway.)

First of all an important note though: The Addiction rules bring numbers to the table, ending the days of ‘nah I just only use once every session so there’s no way I’ll get addicted!’ So they’re quite useful there. Unfortunately they’re geared against PCs though, which results in a few wacky results. For example, a few years of drinking Soykaf can easily kill an average Joe, and once Focus Addiction goes high enough in Force you’ll hit the mysterious timespan of 0 or negative weeks as Addiction Test interval…


Let’s start with explaining how Addiction works. It notes that you make a test if you use X weeks in a row, but there’s an addendum in the rules that’s easily overlooked. Namely that if you don’t use during a week, the clock STILL ticks on. You simply reduce the Addiction Threshold for weeks you don’t use. The German edition actually removed this and also removed a line noting that some drugs can get you hooked with a single shot…

Each drug has the following 3 stats: An Addiction Rating, an Addiction Threshold and its Addiction Type: Physiological (physical) and/or Psychological (mental).
– Addiction Threshold is the base difficulty for your Addiction Test.
– Addiction Rating determines how long you have inbetween Addiction Tests, you test every (11-Addiction Rating) weeks.* So an Addiction Rating 9 drug like Kamikaze has you test every (11-9=) 2 weeks.
– Addiction Type determines your dicepool on the Addiction Test. You roll Willpower + Body for Physiological and Willpower + Logic for Psychological. If a drug is Addiction Type both, you have to make both tests.

* Given how the rules note you check at the end of each week, if the Addiction Rating is 11+ the interval would likely still be 1 week, not 0 or negative weeks.


Example: A Kamikaze user with 4 Willpower and 4 Body would roll 8 dice versus a threshold of 3 normally. A Novacoke user with Willpower 3, Body 4, Logic 2 would roll 3+4=7 dice on his Physiological test and 3+2=5 dice on his Psychological test. Both are against the same threshold (default two), if they fail either they’re hooked.


You test every (11-Addiction Rating) weeks, if at any point you fail your Addiction Test you get addicted. If you’re already addicted, your level goes up. If you’re already at Burnout level, you lose 1 current and 1 max Body/Willpower, whichever is highest. On a tie Body for physiological, Willpower for psychological. If it’s both Addiction Types you flip a coin. If either attribute hits 0, you hit a coma and can forget about your character.

Now comes the tricky part. What decides when the cycle-clock starts and stops? Well it starts when you first use a drug without being in its Addiction cycle already. It stops once the threshold hits 0. And as mentioned, every week you don’t use the threshold reduces 1. Stay clean long enough and the threshold hits 0 and you’re clear. If you use again, however, the threshold resets to its default value…


Example: A Troll runner uses Kamikaze (9,3), which has a cycle-length of (11-9=) 2 weeks as mentioned before. The moment he uses starts week 1. At the end of week 1 you see that he used Kamikaze that week (since that started the clock), so the Threshold remains at 3.

He stays off the drug so at the end of week 2 the threshold goes down 1. Now he’s at Addiction Threshold 2, and at the end of his Addiction Interval. Since he’s at the end of his interval and his threshold isn’t 0, he has to make his Addiction Test. He Rolls Willpower+Body with a threshold of 2.

Now there’s two possibilities. 1: He only scores 0 or 1 hits, so he gets addicted. Or he scores 2+ hits and doesn’t get permanently hooked.

Regardless the clock continues into week 1 of the new interval. Our runner stays off the drugs again so at the end of week 3, which is week 1 of the new interval, the threshold goes down again. Now the threshold is 1. After he doesn’t use in week 4 (= week 2 of interval 2), the threshold goes down to 0. Now he’s at the end of the interval so normally he’d make an Addiction Test, however the threshold hit 0 so the clock stops.

If at any point in the future he uses Kamikaze again, the clock starts fresh.


Example: A Decker gets spooked and uses Jazz during a run. Jazz is (8, 3, both) so has an interval of (11-8) = 3 weeks. Week 1 would be threshold-remains-at-3, week 2 it goes down to 2, if he stays off the drug in week 3 he’d have to make a double test at threshold 1, then week 4 he’d be in the clear. If he’d use again in week 5, well the clock stopped entirely so he’d simply start a new cycle as week 1 instead.

However, instead of staying clean our Deckers two gets in trouble again and a half weeks after using first. He uses Jazz again, which was a bad idea… This was in week 3, so at the end of week 3 the threshold resets back to 3. And since this is the end of the interval, he suddenly has to make a W+B(3) AND a W+L(3) test to not get hooked! His own bloody fault for not using another Initiative drug instead…


So again: Your Addiction Interval is (11 – Addiction Rating) weeks, with a minimum of 1. The base threshold for your Addiction Tests is the drug’s Addiction Threshold. At the end of each week your threshold goes down 1 if you haven’t used that week, and resets back to the Addiction Threshold if you did use. The clock only stops if the threshold goes down to 0.

If you use without being in a cycle, you start week 1 and at the end of the week you’ll count as having used that week. If you use while being in a cycle, the cycle continues as normal (but the threshold will reset at the end of the week).

If the interval ends, you roll either Willpower + Body for Addiction Type: Physiological drugs, Willpower + Logic for Addiction Type: Psychological drugs, and both for Addiction Type: both. If you fail either test, your addiction level rises (no double-rise if you fail both).

One VERY important use: For ANY drug where Addiction Rating + Addiction Threshold is 10 or less, unless the player uses more than once per month, they will never end up having to make a test. So unless your players use the heavy stuff (Jazz, Kamikaze, Nitro, Tripchips, Force 8+), or their runs have less than 4 weeks inbetween (rather, 1+Threshold weeks), they can just stay off the drugs and not ever face an Addiction test.

So you will never need to even look at the Addiction Rules unless your players use the heavy stuff, are popping drugs like crazy in sessions and you deliberately give them less time inbetween two runs once, or your normal schedule is more frequent than once per month. Which means that you don’t HAVE to know these rules.


P.S. One final note: Focus Addiction ONLY counts when the Active Force EXCEEDS your Magic. So if you have several Foci but only have your Magic in Force active at any given time, you’ll never face Focus Addiction.

Addiction houserules teaser

Unfortunately the friday-deadline today was either obtainable for Black Hearts or for the houserule post, not both. However I will have time tomorrow, so I’ll type in the houserule intel on addiction then.

For those who don’t know, SR5 added an actual mechanic for when to roll addiction tests. Previously GMs had to just ballpark it. The system is designed to add a potential risk for PCs without instantly destroying them, and unfortunately has a few gaps and weird consequences as a result. The houserules will try to balance that out, with the big core pillar putting a max on how badly you can get hooked on fairly benign stuff. This would mean that Soykaf no longer can kill a civvie within 2.5 years…

The post also will come with some clarification. 🙂 The rules are a bit tough to read after all, plus the German rules even erased part of them and took out the bite as a result…