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: Movement Power

The Movement power is what allows some spirits to move at incredible speed, as well as either buff or restrain others by either multiplying or dividing it with the Spirit’s Magic (which equals Force).

In SR4 this power had only two restrictions listed: Inside terrain it controlled, and based on Body (B>M = halved effect, B>2*M = no effect). SR5 has more detail to it, going back to SR3’s description and talking more explicitly about terrain/domain the Spirit controls, as well as containing a separate rule for vehicles.

This unfortunately runs into two complications. First of all, what IS terrain a spirit controls? Clearly it’s not just ‘their natural habitat’, since otherwise an Air Spirit could easily target any plane they see, while a Plant spirit would rule surpreme in the jungle. Don’t even get me started on what kind of terrain would be a Guardian spirit’s natural habitat…

The second is that the power’s description went back to its SR3 version. Unfortunately, some mechanics have changed since SR3… Some even midway SR5’s development, such as Vehicles… Rather than having a significant Acceleration and Speed directly translating to m/CT, Acceleration is now a tricky number solely for Vehicle Chases (which a previous houserule already covered) and Speed simply is a limit as well as translating to how fast you can go.

I mean nobody woudl believe it’s intended that a good test on a good car could easily make it go 2^18 as fast. That’s 50 million km/hour… If we look at SR3’s Speed system the original intent seems more clear: Say you got a vehicle with an Acceleration of 10, and Speed actually is your actual speed rather than a single-digit number, then those 6 hits would translate to making the vehicle go 100 m/CT faster/slower instead, which likely (especially with deceleration rules) could actually cause it to crash due to the sudden changes.

I’ll be discussing three core Movement houserules here, two of which I have already applied in my own campaign. An important note: This has actually impacted my campaign’s balance and I’ve been thinking of ways to nerf it down for a while, which will be included as corollaries. It wasn’t that bad (sorta) with one Speedster, but with four magicians all outshining the Rigger’s speed… Not to mention it kinda ruins ambushes and all that.


Ahem. Before we go into the houserules, there’s something VERY important you should know first, a small detail of the rules that many probably missed.

Your actions and movement are declared at the START of your Action Phase. That is, you FIRST declare what all you’ll do, THEN you start executing it. (Page 158, 159, 163.) You can stop or change direction, but you cannot increase your movement after finding out some of the results of your actions. Logically the same would apply to your offensive actions, even if not explicitly stated.

So say you decide to run around a corner. If there’s an enemy waiting around it, you can’t go ‘oh then I’ll just run past him’. You can break or dive back, but not go further than originally declared. You also cannot attack him if you didn’t keep the option in mind. That’s why I make my fast players declare what their intent will be in somewhat-vague terms, for example ‘cut the first enemy that dares to get in my way in two’. That way the runner still can go around a corner and attack, assuming there is in fact an enemy within reach.

This might seem like nitpicking but when it comes to combatants easily moving 100 meters in a single Combat Turn, it becomes VERY important. You can’t walk 20m, see what enemies are where and THEN make a detailed plan for the rest of your Action Phase: Decide at the start and run into danger! You can run up a staircase but only if you knew it was there and declared the intent.

A sidenote: This also means that you got to keep a few possible outcomes in mind as player. As GM I wouldn’t give you a lot of hassle if you used an If-statement in your Action Declarations, but you got to keep in mind the highest declared movement will count for your movement allotment of the Combat Turn. Just make sure you make clear to your players what the limitations will be before they run into nasty complications, as part of the social contract.


Rule: Spirits can only use Movement on others inside Aspected Areas

There are basically three ways for an area to get Aspected in the advantage of a Tradition: The Personal Domains of some Free Spirits, frequent use by that tradition and magical lodges, in order from large to small (multiple acres, ?, very-small-region). Which means that for nearly every situation the Spirit will not be able to use Movement on others, only on themselves, fitting with the ‘only in terrain they control’ restriction being an actual restriction.

If they have the home advantage though, from defending their magician’s turf or their own… Ohboy… And that’s exactly what this houserule is about: Making it about the home-advantage. You get the enemy to fight in an area aspected in your favor, they’ll be in massive trouble against your Spirits unless they cleanse the area… Only being able to run 6 meters per Combat Turn as a 9-Agility character can REALLY hurt in combat, especially once AoE effects are put into play!


Rule: Movement against vebicles uses (M+W)d6*Accel*10/Body

Leaving aside the whole ‘Speed-changes’, which obviously no longer is intended like that with the new Speed mechanic, there’s another problem I personally have with Movement against Vehicles. Right now they have to hit a threshold, which can be MASSIVE for high-Body vehicles (9 for a Roadmaster!), but the threshold itself is merely to decide if it works! You hit a threshold 6, you suddenly count as 6 hits instead of 0. That’s plain weird. It’d make more sense if your effect was divided by Body.

Now keeping the Acceleration is an easy call since it seems logical that the better a vehicle accelerates/decelerates, the more easily a Spirit can manage to change its speed. The biggest problem is what multiplier to use. SR5 mostly uses Acceleration 1~3, where 3 is the max that matters for a Vehicle Chase, only the occasional vehicle goes above it. So a significant multiplier seems required.

A Force 6 Spirit would average 4 hits, so on a 2-Accel Body-8 Jackrabbit we’d be at 4*2/8 = 1 as base modifier. To compare, in SR3 Accel-rates were roughly from 3 to 12 and the SR5 rule employs a Body/2 for the threshold. So let’s roughly quadruple to convert back to SR3’s concepts, double to fit with B/2 and round up to x10. Now 4 hits would translate to 40 m/CT. With the modified Speed system from my previous houserules, this could actually lead to a lot of discomfort for your enemies or even a crash test.


Rule: Channeled/Possession Spirits can use Movement

A Spirit can only use Movement on itself outside terrain/domains it controls. When a Spirit possesses someone or is channeled by a magician, they form a special kind of combination which impacts Physical attributes and their resistance to mental spells. So it makes sense to also let them use their powers (such as Elemental Aura and Movement) inside these bodies, with all the downsides in the case of Elemental Aura. (Congratulations, you’re on fire, how well-protected is your gear? You’re electrifying? Enjoy the fried commlink.)

There is a big balance risk with Movement though. Even a 3-Agility character Channeling a Force 6 Spirit will suddenly have 6 Agility and 72/144 as their Movement rates… A 5-Agility with a Force 8 would hit 9*8*4 = 288 m/CT running rate, that’s ~345 km/h. Compare that to a Rigger whose 4-Speed Drones, even under my Speed table if you don’t make them lose Speed categories (which I should consider only doing for walkers, and for any drone moving indoors), can only move 150 km/h, and you realize that indeed this houserule risks favoring Movement players too much. Of course there’s downsides (spooking cars, Metamagic or Tradition sacrifice, drawing unwanted attention, cannot mask this only Manascape it, etc.) but there’s still space for a few fixes to this.

(Incidentally, I already employ slight Accel/Decel-rules and ‘Gridguide hates you and demands you wear a tracker on the highway so you don’t spook their cars’, but there’s still space for more because it’s fun but not enough.)


Rule: Movement’s buff is divided by TerrainDifficulty

Note that this does not just matter for Channeling and Possession. Great Form Spirits with 6+ net hits on the ritual can Endow a power, meaning you can now let your Spirit pass Movement on to multiple teammembers… Anyway:

On page 201 you’ll find terrain modifiers for vehicle stunts. Now we could demand Gymnastic tests for magical-boosted movement speeds, but that’s a bit tricky for long movement and rather detracts from the game. So instead we’d nerf it differently: You want to channel a spirit and run through side-streets? The buff you get is divided by 2 for the Vehicle Terrain Modifier, so a Force 6 only triples your speed instead. Want to hit the back-alleys with a Force 8? You only double instead of eightfold due to/ 4. Rounding is of course on the final movement speed, not the multiplier.

(No, these are not insane examples. Now it might be because I employ a karma<->nuyen rule but I actually do have people working towards being able to Channel Force 10 Spirits and already using Force-9 ones…)

An important note here is that the same Vehicle table includes terrain modifiers for flying. Irrelevant for metahumans themselves, but Spirits CAN fly, even if they normally don’t. Still facing some restrictions even if they take into the air is quite nice and means drones are still quite useful: A Roto-Drone managing 200 km/h (+1 Speed Category with risks, no Speed Category reduction for being a drone) would still be able to outfly a Spirit using Movement, IF directly controlled by its Rigger or solely doing normal low-altitude flying (threshold-2 is doable for 9 dice, 15% failing odds and that simply means failing and a second attempt normally).

An alternative houserule would use percentages rather than division, and of course the vehicle table is for vehicles so the descriptions would need to be altered. What is the pedestrian equivalent of sidestreets?


Two sidenotes to make. First, Harlequinn channeling would easily go faster than the speed of sound but others would have a hard time coming close. Even if you go with ‘Increase Agility stacks with Possession’ like I do, you essentially need a Force 16 Spirit in a 5[9]->17 Agility character or a Force 14 in an 8[12]->19 to barely reach 1 mach.

Sidenote two: You need ~30 m/second, so ~90 m/CT, to be able to run on water. If we count running on water with Magic as /2 for difficulty, you’d need 180 meters/CT before division. Divide by 4 for running, and 6 for a normal Force 6 Spirit and you’d need 8 Agility which is doable.

Want to walk on water without running penalties or eventual running-exhaustion? You’d need 360, say Force 9 Spirit for 10 Agility, 4 of which from the Spirit so quite doable with a bit of magic. A Force 8 would require 11~12 Agility.

Houserules: Perception Teamwork

Perception is often rolled to see if someone notices a sneaker, a hidden object, a pickpocket or stuff like that. But there’s times where the Perception rolls seem a bit strange in execution. I’m listing a few of those situations below:


Say everyone’s together and something happens. They all get a Perception test, so you end up with some people rolling poorly and not noticing a thing, some decent, one or two rolling high and they all receive different intel and then quickly share it. If what they spot isn’t the equivalent of a Surprise test, the ‘some notice different things’ element just seems silly. Especially in cases where the team is clearly working together. You’re clearing a room? Investigating a mansion? Protecting someone and looking out for hostiles? Obviously you’re working together, so why are you all rolling separately? Why not a teamwork test?

Mathwise, by the way, the teamwork test likely will roll higher on average but with more extremes. It’s a bit related to how when you roll a test often, you’ll get relatively closer to the average, you get less extremes. A d12 has 1/3 chance to roll 9+ and 1/3 to roll 4-, while 2d6 is at 10/36 and 1/6 respectively. This gets you the kind of statistics I like in Shadowrun, but let’s leave that aside. So, summary: A Perception Teamwork test here would better represent your team actually working together, would have a slightly higher average but with more chance on the extremes due to boiling down to one final test.

One side-effect of this is Edging by the way. If you’re doing a teamwork test, you got more dice to Edge but it all boils down to a single person having to make the call on whether or not they use a point of Edge.


Drones can roll Perception, as Riggers are wont to do. Unfortunately Drones run into 1 big problem… Their Sensor Rating is 3, which is their Limit. So if you roll 3 hits on Sneaking versus half a dozen drones with Clearsight 6? Even if the Drones take a -3 circumstantial Perception penalty they’ll have only 68.04% chance to not roll 3 hits, chances not a single drone pierces your Sneaking is <10%. At the full 9 dice, only 3 drones put you at ~5%.

On the other hand, if you roll 4 hits, even if they have their full 9 dice they now don’t stand a chance, simply because of their limit. So the entire drone-spy-network thing is utterly useless all of a sudden, only jumped-in can a Rigger stand a chance (or they could pay thousands to upgrade each drone…)

Teamworkwise, however, suddenly the drones will do rather decent. With several drones they’ll likely hit the maximum 15 teamwork dice, which puts you at ~60% to hit 5+ hits. Suddenly a properly-deployed network of spy-drones can truly serve as a Rigger’s Eyes! And even with just two they already can up their limit to 5!

Now granted, a GM may want to put restrictions on this. One option would be to require them being slaved to the same RCC, or even running a communication program (taking a program slot!) as well. In that case non-streaming drones would need to run their own, streaming drones could get it from the RCC. Your call really. I’d go with RCC-slaving, to further reward RCC-owners for going the extra mile. 🙂


Concealment, giving a penalty to physical detection, is real nasty against mooks. Quite often they’ll have 0 or nearly no dice left, giving them zero chance to ever detect the players. It’d be more fun if they’d still receive a bit of risk, through other means than ‘okay they just get plenty of extra dice each!’ Adding their PR (like with social resists) would be a bit weird since it’d mean that high-Perception people get a bigger bonus, since better PR translates to better stats and skills already.

So instead teamwork would be allowed only in professional settings, so a group of NPCs doing a big search and stuff like that. You randomly surprise them, they still roll individually, but if a team is trying to hunt you down specifically… Of course this rule has 1 big problem: It screws over non-Concealment players. 15 Sneaking versus 10 Perception is good, 15 Sneaking versus 15~18 Perception will do poorly.


All in all, just take a look at the circumstances and see if you’ll use some of these at your table (though for Drones, I strongly recommend it no matter what!). I can note that the third one added some excitement to Black Hearts #5: Biggest Guns.

Rule: Under Professional Circumstances players can teamwork Perception

(This of course does not EVER apply in Surprise Tests.)

Rule: Drones can teamwork Perception when slaved to the same RCC

Rule: Under Professional Circumstances enemies can teamwork Perception






http://www.AnyDice.com formulae used for this post, a d{0,0,1} simulates a Shadowrun die with 1/3 chance at a hit:

output [highest of [highest of [highest of [highest of 11d{0,0,1} and 11d{0,0,1}] and 10d{0,0,1}] and 9d{0,0,1}] and 8d{0,0,1}]
vs
output 17d{0,0,1}

output [highest of [highest of [highest of [highest of 14d{0,0,1} and 14d{0,0,1}] and 13d{0,0,1}] and 12d{0,0,1}] and 11d{0,0,1}]
vs
output 20d{0,0,1}

output [lowest of 3 and 6d{0,0,1}]
   (0.6802^6 = not anydice but just calculator)
output [lowest of 5 and 15d{0,0,1}]
output [lowest of 10 and 15d{0,0,1}]

 

Sensor Arrays: Clarifications

As promised last week, I’m tackling default sensor packages this week. It’s not really a houserule, since it’s simply filling something in that has been left open by the book. Still, the term houserule will suffice.

But first I should explain how sensor arrays work, because I’ve seen several people get horribly confused on page 445~446.


Sensor: A single Sensor uses 1 Capacity. A Sensor can be quite a lot, as seen in the Sensor Function table on page 446. It can be an atmosphere sensor, a MAD (metal) scanner, a camera and more.

Sensors can be put in quite a few things: There’s special Sensor RFID tags and ammunition, handheld housings, cyberlimbs, drones+vehicles, buildings and more.

Sensor Rating: A Sensor has a Rating, which can impact 3 different things. For some sensors the rating basically is irrelevant, such as motion sensors and atmosphere sensors.

  1. Limits for some tests done by/through the sensor, such as Sensor Attacks (p184, ALSO a confusing section that I judgement-called myself) and Perception by/through Drones(/Vehicles) (p270).
  2. Dicepool for tests, such as for Olfactory Scanners, MAD scanners, Cyberware Scanners and Radio Signal Scanners.
  3. For Cameras and Microphones, Internal Capacity for Vision/Audio Enhancements. So a Rating 3 Camera has 3 Capacity for vision enhancements such as Thermographic Vision and Flare Compensation.
  4. ((Electronics with an explicit Device Rating also are an exception to the electronics-device-rating-2 entry in the Device Rating table. So, assuming Sensor Rating = Device Rating, the rating (mostly matters for cameras) matters when it comes to hacking non-slaved sensors. But that’s not relevant here.))

Maximum Sensor Rating: Each type of Sensor Housing has a maximum as to how good a sensor you can fit in there. For example RFID Tags are limited at 2, Small(er) Drones at 3, a Motorcycle can handle rating 6 at the highest and a building can handle rating 8. So if you want to put Olfactory Sensors in your doors, they can be rating 8, costing 800 each. In a sneakily hidden Sensor Tag you can at most put a rating 2, costing 200 (+ 40 for the tag).

Sensor Array: A Sensor Array USES 6 Capacity, but it can contain UP TO 8 Sensors, each of which has a Sensor Rating equal to the Array’s Rating. So a Rating 5 Sensor Array contains 1~8 Sensors that all are Rating 5. If there’s 2 Cameras in there, each of them then is Rating 5 so has 5 Capacity.

6-Capacity-required means you can’t put a sensor array in a handheld housing, because that has at most 3 Capacity. The array requires 6. A cyberlimb can usually take it, but it will be a significant drain on your capacity. With vehicles/drones they already got a sensor array, which you can replace, so the required 6 Capacity isn’t a problem (unless Rigger V decides otherwise).

In return for taking 6 capacity for >6 namely 8 sensors, Sensor Arrays are slightly more expensive: They cost 10x as much as a single Sensor. So with 8 sensors you’d be paying 25% extra per Sensor basically, assuming you’re buying a new array that’s completely filled up.

Default Sensor Package: Vehicles and drones come factory-equipped with a Sensor Array, their stats note what the Array’s Rating is. The question is: what sensors are in that package? And THAT is the million-nuyen question. For that, see the accompanying houserule post here.

Upgrading Sensor Arrays: Now the book doesn’t state these things explicitly, but…

Since a lot of vehicles/drones can contain a better rating array than they come with by default (see Maximum Sensor Rating above), you can obviously purchase a better array for those. However, you got your sensors as an Array, with a Rating. So it’s not as simple as ‘just buy a better sensor and put it in the array’, because that makes the extra cost of arrays ridiculous.

So while it’s not stated explicitly, I interpret things myself akin to Cyberware enhancements: They have to be the same rating. If you want to add a Sensor to an Array that has space left, or replace a Sensor in an Array with another Sensor, the Sensor has to be the same rating as the Array already was. No stealth-updating or paying only 100 nuyen for a Sensor whose rating is irrelevant, if you’re putting it into a super-advanced Rating 8 Array.

Upgrading Sensors in Arrays: Another thing unmentioned is how you add enhancements to a Sensor you already have. For example, how do you add Thermographic Vision to a camera on your drone? Do you pay the addition costs? Add a mechanic fee, do an availability test for the new availability? Buy a brand new sensor? Or do you have to replace the entire array? There’s nothing in the rules that I can base an interpretation on, unfortunately, just like I have no idea if you can upgrade armor or goggles you already bought. Anyway, again see here for a houserule on that. 🙂

Sensor Arrays: Houserules

With Sensor Arrays explained, next up is what default packages they come with. To start with, let’s look at the lessons we can learn from SR4.

Now in SR4, Arsenal defined a Standard Vehicle Sensor Package on p105, but back then each type of vehicle had a specific sensor capacity so drones had less sensors than that. This changed in SR5, as explained only the maximum rating of the sensor array depends on the vehicle, each array can contain up to 8 sensors.

Mind you, that’s UP TO. In other words it’s still perfectly possible, and with factory arrays even rather plausible, that a drone can come with less than 8 sensors normally.

Another thing Arsenal noted is that the GM could allow different default sensor packages, which I refer to below as well. (It also actually noted a test for replacing a Sensor with another.)

The standard package came with 2 Cameras, 2 Laser Range Finders and 2 Motion Sensors. This allowed vehicles to check out both its front and back, quite useful given how pretty much everything can move in reverse and you want to know what’s coming from behind you.

So these are the things we can gather from Arsenal:

  1. Vehicles come with Standard Sensor Array loadouts, rather than with completely-customizable loadouts for free.
  2. Custom Loadouts are possible but by GM discretion.
  3. Drones may have less & different sensors (though in SR4 this was due to a rule no longer valid here).
  4. The standard packages keep both front and back in mind and are willing to double-up on a sensor for that purpose.
  5. The standard packages include laser range finders for distances, and cameras + motion sensors for vision.

With that in mind we can design custom sensor packages for multiple types of drones/vehicles.

Disclaimer: This only applies to the factory arrays, not for any new sensor array you buy yourself!

Player Advice: If you buy Vision Enhancements, consider only getting them for your front camera! That will be the camera used when firing after all.


Rule: Land-based vehicles come with 2 Cameras, 2 Laser Range Finders, 2 Motion Sensors, 1 Atmosphere Sensor, 1 Omni-Directional Microphone, almost no plausible alternative loadouts exist

Since vehicles are big and expensive, there’s no real reason for them not to come with a full sensor package. This is pretty much the Arsenal package, except that the Radar has been replaced with an Omni-Directional Microphone for hearing stuff nearby. The Laser Range Finders let you measure precise distances, which is needed for Autopilots and more. The Motion Sensors you need for blind spots near you, so you realize there’s someone next to you while turning. No headsup on that truck barreling your way though…

The two motion sensors could perhaps be replaced by a single one because honestly, there’s nothing in those that explicitly forbids 360-vision despite the car being partially in the way. You could always replace the second and the microphone for two directional microphones.

This package is everything a car should ever need to come with under any normal circumstances. The only possible exceptions are the luxurious cars, which might come with a MAD scanner instead of the Atmosphere Sensor. Of course a GM can always change their mind, but I myself would stick with this layout.


Rule: Land-based vehicles come with 2 Cameras, 2 Laser Range Finders, 2 Motion Sensors, 2 Omni-Directional Microphones

Basically the same as above, except for following the ‘car blocks motion sensor’ logic for the microphone as well so using two instead of a silly atmosphere sensor. In a car you don’t usually care about the outside after all.


Rule: Microdrones and Minidrones come with 1 Camera, 1 Laser Range Finder, 1 Atmosphere Sensor and 1 Omni-Directional Microphone, no alternative  loadouts available

Since these drones are really small and are designed to essentially look forward, such as the Fly-Spy with its insect shape, their sensor packages represent the fact they don’t bother looking back. This restricts them to 180-degree vision. The Atmosphere Sensor is useful for hazardous situations, and at their size an Omni-Directional Microphone would never be restricted.

Keep in mind these drones normally cost at most 2 grand. Even though the factory has a scale discount, there’s still no reason for them to put extra sensors on these. They’re enough for what they need to do, and there’s no need for all the extra fancy sensors normally. You want extra? Well good luck, there’s still 4 space left so go ahead and buy your own! We only care about the bottom line after all.


Rule: Small Drones come with 2 Cameras, 2 Laser Range Finders, 1 Atmosphere Sensor, 1 Omni-Directional Microphone, alternative loadouts replace Camera + Laser Range Finder

Already more expensive than the tiny drones, these drones come with double vision+distances because they’re big enough to actually run into trouble if they don’t look at what’s behind them. They still don’t normally come with additional espionage sensors, but if you really need one they do sell those at a price: Sacrificing the back-view for it. This is so there’s an actual price paid for the additional option, since it doesn’t cost you a single penny. Still has 2 spare Sensor slots to fill up though.


Rule: Medium Drones and Large Drones come with 2 Cameras, 2 Laser Range Finders, 1 Atmosphere Sensor, 1 Omni-Directional Microphone, 1 Motion Sensor, 1 sensor of choice (Cyberware, MAD, Geiger, Olfactory, Radio Signal or Ultrasound), alternative loadouts replace Atmosphere Sensor with a second sensor of choice

Since these are bigger and more expensive, they come with a full sensor package that can keep both front and back in mind. This package is almost identical to vehicles, with one exception: They’re equipped with a single Motion Sensor because at their size the single sensor plausibly can cover their entire surrounding area. (The same applies for the microphone if you compare it to the second possible vehicle-package rule.)

Since you don’t buy a drone like this unless it’s to be prepared for trouble, the spare sensor slot is filled up with a sensor of your picking, all six options being sensors you’d like for security. If you really want to push it and the GM allows it, you could even get a model that comes with 2 security sensors but without atmosphere sensor.


Rule: Watercrafts and Aircrafts follow Land-based Vehicle default packages

You want to keep it nice and simple, this will suffice.


Rule: Watercrafts and Aircrafts have near-free loadouts, barring GM-vetoes

Since these things are rather expensive and follow different dimensions than mere cars, it’s quite plausible that no default sensor packages normally apply, instead leaving it entirely up to the buyer. I’d personally avoid this for the cheapest ones, but for anything past 50 grand this seems quite logical. The GM veto is because there’s a limit to how obscure a loadout you can easily score from a factory / mechanic without raising red flags.




Rule: Upgrading & Replacing Sensors requires Availability test for parts, Hardware test

If you want to add/replace a Sensor in an Array, or upgrade a sensor with new audio/vision enhancements, this lets you easily and cheaply do so: You first have to buy the sensor or the required parts, where for Enhancements you face the Availabily as if you were buying the combination new (just like Missions has for upgrading ware). So say you got a Thermographic Vision camera (Availability 5+6 = 11), and you want to add a Smartlink (+4R) to it. This means your contact has to do an Availability test of 15R to get the parts that wouldn’t clash with the TV already in the camera.

The reason for the rising availability is so that buying in chunks doesn’t avoid availability restrictions. No free ride here chummer!

If you want to add/remove a Sensor to an Array (replacing = remove + add), you need to succeed in the following: Hardware+Logic[Mental](8, 1 hour). This is basically the same test as in Arsenal.

For adding extra enhancements to a Sensor, or removing one from it, you need to succeed in the following test for each enhancement: Hardware+Logic[Mental](Ratingx2, 1 hour). In other words, the more advanced the camera/microphone, the tougher it is to put the parts in, doesn’t matter how much is already in there because you still have to leave space for future upgrades.

Of course a Kit suffices for these, so with a Shop or Facility you get a Superior Tools bonus. So if you hire a mechanic to put 2 Vision Enhancements into your rating 3~4 Camera, they’ll take ~8 hours which costs…. 800 nuyen I think?_? Buying a fresh one with enhancements already installed would still require 4 hours of cost to replace the sensor so not really a gain there. Just suck up to your Decker/Rigger instead.