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.