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


Vehicle Speed (2/2): Houserules

The following rules are 1 adjustment to how Speed works, combined with multiple add-on rules on top of that one, part to add fixes to the core rules and part to add fixes to the houserule. For the motives behind these rules, read this introduction post.

I’m not getting into Vehicle Chases here, because while I know a lot of people got issues with them, I haven’t actually done an actual Chase Scene yet* so honestly I don’t feel confident tackling a detailed alternative for them. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

* The one chase I did was without a traditional Chase with Range Categories, using rolls and tricks and gunfire and thinking on the fly instead.

Rule: The Speed->Movement table is updated

Minimum Move
Rate (m/CT)
Walking Move
Rate (m/CT)
Running Move
Rate (m/CT)
0 0 10 20
1 10 20 40
2 20 40 60
3 40 60 80
4 60 80 120
5 80 120 160
6 120 160 240
7 160 240 320
8 240 320 480
9 320 480 640
10 480 640 960
11 640 960 1280

Rather than double every step, this table doubles every two steps. Speed 5 is kept equal, lower Speeds become faster and higher Speeds become slower. No silly 768 km/h Westwind (which has 368 km/h instead), and no family cars that cannot handle the Highway. Now Speed 3 vehicles can go 80 m/CT so 96 (round that to 10o) km/h.

Rule: Acceleration determines actual acceleration/deceleration

Rather than blindly leaving it up to the GM, this puts an actual mechanic to acceleration and deceleration. Under this rule, Acceleration does not only matter for Vehicle Chases but also for changing your speed.

If your vehicle has an Acceleration of X, then it will be able to change X Speed categories per Combat Turn. Accelerating past that is impossible normally, Deceleration past it can require a Crash Test to determine if the vehicle goes out of control, and also is limited by GM fiat (no going from 400 to 0 in 3 seconds).

For example, the Ford America can hit 75 km/h in 3 seconds, whereas the Bulldog needs 9 seconds to hit 100 km/h. The Westwind would take 6 seconds to go from 0 to 300 km/h and will hit its topspeed 3 seconds later. Vice versa the Westwind can easily break fast, while a Bulldog has some rather annoying inertia to deal with. If you’re driving at 100 km/h, it will take more than 3 seconds to stand still on that sluggish car.

Rule: Each Speed category also has a minimum Speed

We already have Walking and Running Rates. Basically if you drive really fast, you’ll be pushing the vehicle causing you to suffer the traditional -2 Running penalty. With the table adjustment each Speed Category has its own Walking and Running Rate. To this we add a minimum movement rate, so a player cannot go ‘no I’m driving at Speed 7 but I only go 20 m/CT’.

Basically, a Speed category becomes like a gear, with a minimum and a maximum it can handle. If you go below the minimum Speed of a category without changing gear, the vehicle won’t like that. Consequences up to the GM, chances are the car shifts down automatically though.

Rule: Rotorcrafts get +1 Speed Category outside cities

The actual Speed remains the same, but outside urban environments Rotorcrafts can go 1 Speed category above their Speed. So a 4-Speed Helicopter can go 150 km/h inside a city and 200 km/h outside.

Page 200 notes Helicopters and tilt-wing aircrafts can go “around 220 kph cruising over open terrain” versus 140 inside urban airspace, while tilt-wings can hit 300 in rural airspace. Two out of three helicopters have Speed 4, under our rule that’s 120 m/CT -> 144 (~150) km/h. With the +1 we’re near-200, which is relatively close to the listed 220.

Rule: Rotorcrafts get +1 Speed Category, risk crashing in cities

An alternative to the previous rule. Rather than letting Rotorcrafts only get extra Speed outside urban airspace, instead we can let them also go that fast inside urban airspace. However the local law enforcement won’t be happy with it.. Plus going too fast makes it rather risky so will require Vehicle Tests to avoid crashing into things.

Note that one could also raise the actual Speed by 1, but this impacts Speed Chases so instead we merely modify the Speed Categories.

Rule: VTOL/VSTOL get +2 Speed Categories

There’s 3 airplanes in Core. The Commuter which somehow can only go 50 km/h (and only 100 in our table), the Venture which could hit 800 and now only 400, and the Banshee which dropped from 1600 to 600 in earlier table. The Banshee would need Speed Category 11 for supersonic, while the Venture would need 2 extra categories to get back.

All in all, if Airplanes get +2 Speed Categories and the Banshee gets an exception of +3 instead, then the Commuter hits 200 (versus a 250-benchmark on p200), the Venture hits its old 800 (hitting the 800-benchmark on p200) and the Banshee is back to Supersonic. This fixes the Commuter and also undoes the damage our table-changes did to the other airplanes.

Rule: Drones lose 2 Speed Categories

Since we buffed movement rates, Drones are suddenly significantly faster… For some of them that gets us numbers that are a bit unrealistic, so in return we want to roughly their movement rates. No Duelist running at 100 km/h, thank you very much. This could be done by simply halving their movement rates, but that means they accelerate rather slowly. Instead we simply take off 2 Speed Categories, letting us still use Speed as limit and general indicator. And yes, this means the Kanmushi is permanently stuck in Speed Category 0, while the Dalmatian can hit its topspeed of 100 km/h in 3 seconds.

Vehicle Speed (1/2): Introduction

This post explains why Speed is weird in SR5, as introduction to an adjusted table. Said adjusted table, as well as a few smaller fixes, can be found in this follow-up post.

Vehicle Speed has changed significantly in SR5. In previous editions each vehicle had its own maximum speed and acceleration, which led to complicated situations such as ‘okay so my max speed is 200 km/h, BUT I’d need >15 hits on a vehicle test to hit that. What the hey.’

In SR5 it’s been simplified to two single-digit numbers. Your Speed number translates to how fast you can go. And Acceleration now simply matters for Vehicle Chases. (I looked through the rule and there’s no actual mechanic for the relation between Acceleration and movement speed… It’s merely implied.)

The reason for simplifying Speed seems quite reasonable: With Limits, you want an actual limit on movement speed. And I personally really like the unification of vehicles, where you don’t have a vehicle that can go 165 km/h versus one that can go 180 km/h. Of course Speed Chases don’t make much sense at all, but that’s a different story…

Limits aside, the Speed stat also translates to how fast you can go. A Speed 3 vehicle can at most go 40 m/CT (x1.2=48->~50 km/h), a Speed 5 can at most go 160 m/CT -> ~200 km/h. Every +1 Speed = x2 movement rate. Which is utterly insane. A Ford Americar can only go 48 km/h, whereas a Eurocar Westwind 3000 can go 768 km/h simply because it has 1 Speed more than the best of the rest…

It gets even sillier if you read the book. The book notes (SR5 Core p200) that Ground Crafts go 80 km/h on urban highways and 120 km/h outside the cities. But the number 1 family car cannot get close at all to that 80 km/h, and only 3 cars, including the Westwind and a luxury car costing 65k, can actually reach that 120 km/h…

And as far as boats are concerned, there’s a Speed-6 boat which thus can go 384 km/h. Page 200 notes 200 km/h for cigarette boats instead. Meanwhile almost all drones can go 48 km/h with the Medium/Large Air drones capable of going faster, while the Commuter aircraft is slower. It’s a tilt-wing, which classically can hit 400 km/h, but it only has Speed 3 while all the airbound drones are twice as fast or worse…

So on one hand your #1 family car cannot go faster than a fast Shadowrunner and even the Walking Ares Duelist can keep up with it, while on the other hand it can keep up with a classic commuter airplane.

The rules also note how Helicopters are faster outside city borders, but again this does not translate into an actual mechanic which is a damn shame. So I have designed a few changes to the vehicle mechanics that keep the vehicle stats intact but give them a different meaning.