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


Rigger Modifications 3/3: Spy Mods

Explanations short because again, temporary sloppy rules.

Chameleon Coating:

Programmable vehicle disguise. -4 Concealability when a proper disguise is chosen (such as a similar vehicle, or camouflage). Less effect or even reversed if disguise does not match environment.


Built-in Area Jammer.

Morphing License Plate:

Can change their looks freely to any chosen existing/non-existing license plate. Combinable with Spoof Chips.

Signature Masking:

Any Sensor test against this vehicle is reduced by the lowest of the Rating of the Signature Masking and the Rating of the Sensor.

Smuggling Compartment (restricted):

-6 Concealability against determined searches, cannot be discovered with normal searches.

Comes in 3 types, of Rating 1, 2 and 4: Rating 1 is Suitcase-sized and can be put in any Large Drone and any Vehicle. Rating 2 is Metahuman-sized and can be put in any Vehicle with at least 2 Seats. Rating 4 is Troll-sized and can be put in any Vehicle with at least 4 Seats.

Can be Shielded against detection methods, e.g. airtight versus chem sniffers, faraday versus radar scans, or biofiber versus assensing. A compartment can be shielded multiple times, each method costs nuyen but the availability modifier applies only once. Rating of the Shielding equals the rating of the Compartment.

Spoof Chips:

Can generate false access IDs on command or at a specified frequency. Can combine with Morphing License Plates, automatically instructing the Plates to change whenever needed.

Vehicle Tag Eraser:

Anti-RFID wiper that can destroy any RFID tags attached to the vehicle. Board electronics must be disabled for 1 Combat Turn for this. Internal RFID tags are not destroyed.

Oil-Slick Sprayer:

Can spray oil on the road, causing +2 Threshold on Vehicle tests for any chasing ground vehicle. 6 charges, refill costs 50¥.

Road Strip Ejectors:

Can eject Road Strips. 6 capacity.

Spike Strips pop any non-Run-Flat tires, causing a Crash Test and applying a -2 on Vehicle Tests per flat tire.

Zapper Strips electrically attack any vehicle that comes into contact with them, doing 12S(e)/-5 versus the vehicle and 8S(e)/-5 versus the passengers.

Smoke Projector:

Causes Smoke which obscures vision as normal smoke. Takes 1 Combat Turn to cover 20m diameter, 30m diameter after the second Combat Turn. Usually lasts about 10 Combat Turns. Holds 6 charges, refills cost 50¥.

Rigger Modifications 2/3: General mods

Explanations short because again, temporary sloppy rules.

Anti-Theft System (Vehicle-only):

Alarm system, can give audible alarm if non-authorized user approaches, can retaliate against unauthorized access with 12S(e)/-5.

Gun Port (Vehicle-only):

Lets someone fire in 90-degree cone from the car without exposing self, grants stable firing position (4 Recoil Compensation, does not combine with Underbarrel recoil compensation).

Mechanical Grapple/Arm:

Mechanical Grapple can be used to pick up or deposit items, while a Mechanical Arm offers finesse and can use human tools. Drone’s Strength equals Body, Drone’s Agility equals Pilot Rating. Length is Bodyx10 cm. Full Arm is a cyberarm with 15 Capacity, but cannot take Armor Enhancement. GM Fiat for other Enhancements.

Motorcycle Gyro (Motorcycle-only):

+2 on Crash Tests.

Improved/Off-Road Suspension (Wheeled+Treaded):

Off-Road -1/+1 Handling. Improved +1/-3 Handling (+Crash Test made every Combat Turn spent Off-Road).

Valkyrie Module (Vehicle-only):

Takes up 2 seats. Medical unit, can be used to stabilize and automatically or remotely treat people. Counts as a Rating 6 Medkit.

Weapon Mount:

Weapon Mounts are normally internal and have -2 Concealability when not in use. Concealed Weapon Mounts have -6 Concealability instead. Manual Mounts can be used by a physical gunner. Armored Mounts give the vehicle’s protection to the gunner.

Armor (Normal/Concealed):

Cannot exceed Body * 2, or Body * 3 for Drones.  Replaces existing armor. Normal Armor is always visible, Concealed has (at least) -4 Concealability. If the Armor Value of this modification exceeds Body, Acceleration is reduced by 1. If Acceleration is already 1, Speed is reduced by 1 instead.

Personal Armor (Vehicle-only):

Cannot exceed Body. When people inside the Vehicle are attacked, not only is the Vehicle’s Armor added to their soak test, the Personal Armor is added as well.

Special Armor Modification:

Modifies armor similarily to metahuman armor with Chemical Protection, Fire Resistance, Insulation, Nonconductivity or Radiation Shielding. Can be taken multiple times for different versions, but total sum of all ratings cannot exceed Body.

Tires (Wheeled-only):

Cost is per tire, so multiple needed for all vehicles. Run-Flat Tires do not take a -2 dice penalty when flat. Off-Road Tires count as Run-Flat and also grant -1/+1 Handling, stack with Off-Road Suspension.

Hardware Upgrade:

Required for Pilot upgrades. Replaces normal Device Rating, which impacts Data Processing, Firewall, program space, Noise and anything else involving Device Rating.

Pilot [Model]:

Rating cannot exceed Device Rating, so to increase Pilot one must first upgrade the Hardware. Pilots are designed for their specific model, while they can be illegally copied they cannot control other kinds of vehicles/drones. A Roto-Drone Pilot cannot control ANY other type of Drone, not even similar models.

Temporary Rules: Rigger Modififications 1/3

Since Rigger 5 won’t be out until at least Q1 2016, both my open events (Black Hearts!) and my normal campaign are lacking material that they desperately need. The only material we have is in Stolen Souls, which only presents costs and a fluff explanation, mechanics are missing.

So to give Riggers options, I have made temporary conversions of some vehicle modifications. Of course these have been changed here and there to my personal taste to fit SR5 better.

Warning! These are NOT meant as general houserules! They are solely meant as temporary rules for my own campaigns until the official material arrives.

We don’t know how vehicle modifications will be changed in SR5. The Weapon Mods system was also changed, and the thresholds would need adjusting because Extended Tests are now limited. As such I’m not bothering with slots at all here, and simply applying gm fiat and generic restrictions. One such example is the Special Armor Mod limitation. Modification Thresholds are unlisted so what your contact charges you for it is up to me.

(With Black Hearts Mr. Smith will not charge the players for mechanic costs, just for the parts.)

I have made two lists of vehicle modifications, each with their own post. The first is general vehicle mods, ranging from Armor and Weapon Mounts to Mechanical Arms and Pilot Upgrades. The second is all the sneaky stuff a Runner might need: Morphing License Plates, Chameleon Coating, Smuggling Compartments, Road Strip Ejectors, and so on.

General Vehicle Mods
Name Avail. Cost
Anti-Theft System 6R Body * 200¥
Gun Port 6R 500¥
Mechanical Arm 4/6 1,000¥/4,000¥
Motorcycle Gyro 8 Body * 300¥
Suspension (Off-Road or Improved) 4 Vehicle Cost * 25%
Valkyrie Module 10 5,000¥
Weapon Mount
   Normal 8F 2,500¥
   Heavy 14F 5,000¥
   Concealed +4 +3,000¥
Manual +1 +500¥
Armored +2 +2,000¥
Name Avail. Cost
Armor (Normal) 1~20 6R R * 200¥
Armor (Concealed) 1~20 12R R * 1,000¥
Personal Armor 1~10 (R)R R * 500¥
Special Armor 1~10 8 Rating * 500¥
Tires (Off-Road) 6 400¥ each
Tires (Run-Flat) 4 250¥ each
Hardware Upgrade 1~6 R*2 R^2 * 500¥
Pilot 1~6 R*2 R^2 * 500¥
Spy Vehicle Mods
Name Avail. Cost
Chameleon Coating 12R Body * 2,000¥
ECM 1~10 12F R * 1,000¥
Morphing License Plate 8F 1,000¥
Signature Masking 1~6 14F R * 2,000¥
Smuggling Compartment 6F R * 1,750 ¥
Shielded +6F +R * 1,500¥
Spoof Chips 8F 500¥
Vehicle Tag Eraser 6F Body * 250¥
Name Avail. Cost
Oil-Slick Sprayer 8F 500¥
Road Strip Ejectors 12F 800¥
Spike Strip 8R 200¥
Zapper Strip 12R 2,500¥
Smoke Projector 6R 700¥