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.

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.

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.

Houserules: Movement 2

Last week I went into the Movement power, offering a possible way of nerfing the ability if granted to players through Channeling & Possession. It’s complicated, especially since people aren’t equivalent to vehicles so ‘sidestreets’ would become ‘sidealley’ or something like that.

Below are a variant and some possible combination-rules, coming from debates with my players about in what way I’ll nerf them.


Rule: Movement penalties are -25% per complicating factor

Complicating factors here are: Bad terrain, narrow area, stuff gets in the way. So if you’re running over rooftops, you’ll suffer a bad terrain penalty and a stuff-gets-in-the-way penalty. A forest has all 3, alleys can easily have all 3, sidestreets got 1~2, etc. In combat you’ll likely suffer -50%. No figuring out the terrain penalty or doing division, so more finesse (-25% instead of an immediate -50%) is possible this way. It’s the variant I’m currently leaning towards.


Rule: Only the increase from Movement is nerfed

If you get divided by 4, or -75%, a Force 6 only means +50% while Force 4 would give no bonus. Under this change, however, you’d still get a bonus of +75%/+125% for Force 4 and 6 respectively. This keeps Movement nice and nerfs the bonus without fully crippling the power.

Granted, under those circumstances you might want to add 1 to the divisor for the /difficulty rule, and consider taking a 20%~40% terrain-quality + 2x -20% penalties for the complicating factor rule. That way the bonus doesn’t go too crazy.


Rule: In combat you can try to go faster, using Gymnastic tests akin to vehicle stunts

The idea of the nerf is that some things are simply not built for you going that fast. If you keep pushing yourself you’d have an accident, so instead it’s nerfed period. In combat, however, one could try to push themselves to go that extra quarter mile. However, you’d have to roll well on a Gymnastic test, with a threshold directly related to the Vehicle Stunt table. This combines nicely with the idea beyind the division-rule, and rewards Gymnastics users which is a skill few people take.

The question is what do you do if they fail. Do they crash, bump into stuff or just not get up to speed? Maybe move but not do special stuff if they hit the terrain threshold but not the additional stunt threshold, or do a crash test to see if they manage to stay upright? GM call, discuss it with your players.


Rule: Spirits suffer a reduction only if they fly within 2 meters from varying obstacles or 1 meter from default obstacles

In other words, if a spirit is buzzing about but far away enough from obstacles to not have to worry about them, they don’t take a movement penalty from it. Here a straight wall / rooftop is far different from an alley with obstacles in the way or rooftops with AC Units and wires and more in the way. This keeps spirits from easily outdoing players without risks while also still letting them outshine players when it comes to what spirits do well: fly.

As for the reduction: Take a look at how you’d treat players, but keep in mind that they don’t have to touch the ground.


Rule: In combat Spirits need to roll Fly tests to buzz around properly

Akin to the Gymnastics rule above, a Spirit would need to roll Fly (normally used to cover extra distance, remember that any Running skill on a spirit should in fact be Flying) to pull crazy movement maneuvers in combat.


And remember: No only deciding on your actions after you moved, you declare intended actions together with your movement before going at it. Anything more complicated than ‘I fire at the first plausible threat I see unless I change my mind and lose my attack action’ wouldn’t fit in the 1~2 seconds going into your Action Phase.

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.