I’ve been running Shadowrun for the last few months, and one of the rules elements that’s a little too old school for me is the cash management aspect. First, there’s the giant lump sum at character creation that requires a spreadsheet and several hours to negotiate, making chargen a giant accounting chore (particularly if the player’s and GM’s totals don’t add up the same). Second, there’s the fact that cash expenditures are actually pretty solidly firewalled into three types without any real acknowledgement: ‘ware (which is essentially alternate character powers and progression to magic and which already have an additional solid limiter in Essence), lifestyle (which is theoretically a huge social limiter but doesn’t actually have any solid rules attached), and tools (which are used directly to accomplish a run).

So this is my first pass at a system that dramatically simplifies and abstracts the resources system, as is the current trend in game design. Long term, I would probably convert item costs directly to point ratings, but for now I’m using the lazier method of using digits in the price plus ranking (as described below). More experienced Shadowrun players feel free to let me know what hilarious exploits this will create in the comments 🙂 .


Convert your Resources priority to the following:

Priority   Major Resource Points   Minor Resource Points  
A 7 20
B 5 13
C 3 7
D 2 4
E 1 2


As per the normal rules, ‘ware is limited to an effective availability of 12 at character creation (so characters with access to alphaware may still use standard for rare stuff to be able to get it to 12 or less). Also, per normal, it is still limited by your Essence. Beyond those limits, you use Major Resource Points to pick a whole class of ‘ware, and any of your upgrades can be that class or less.

One major resource point gets you minimum access to ‘ware. At that level, you can only afford Used Legal Cyberware. You can get as much of it as you want, but your Essence is likely to fill up quickly.

Past that, you can spend major resource points on a one for one basis for the following upgrades:

  • Standard/New: You no longer have to buy Used
  • Alphaware (Requires Standard): You can now get Alphaware in addition to Standard
  • Bioware: You can now get Bioware in addition to Cyberware
  • Restricted: You now have access to R availability ‘ware
  • Forbidden (Requires Restricted): You now have access to all legalities of ‘ware

For example, two characters with Priority C both decide that they’d like to spend all three of their major resource points on ‘ware. The first decides to be able to get New Legal Bioware, while the other chances access to Used Forbidden Cyberware.

You can spend minor resource points as major resource points for one piece of ‘ware. For example, you could spend six minor points to buy a piece of Alphaware Forbidden Bioware even if you have no other ‘ware. If you were one of the characters in the example above (and had already spent three major points) it would only cost three minor points per piece of Alphaware Forbidden Bioware.


You spend major resource points to purchase your lifestyle. This counts as a permanent purchase, but the GM may feel free to deduct rewards (see below) if he feels scraping together rent is a major portion of play, and game activities might cost you your lifestyle. However, the player is spending a major portion of her character creation budget to be rich, so that should be respected as much as other chargen decisions are.

  • Streets (0 points): Purchasing Power 2, Influence Group -3, Acting Group -1
  • Squatter (1 point): Purchasing Power 3, Influence Group -2
  • Low (2 points): Purchasing Power 4, Influence Group -1
  • Middle (3 points): Purchasing Power 5
  • High (4 points): Purchasing Power 6, Influence Group +1
  • Luxury (5 points): Purchasing Power 7, Influence Group +2, Acting Group +1

The group bonuses or penalties are to any skill tests for that group (Etiquette, Leadership, and Negotiation for Influence; Con, Impersonation, and Performance for Acting). Feel free to waive the penalty for social rolls against characters of equal or lower social standing, but the group’s Face will have an uphill battle in polite circles while reeking of squalor, and even a good clean and costume change isn’t enough to hide mannerisms ground in on the streets (i.e., this is not a commentary on poor people, it’s a mechanic to keep your players from shorting their lifestyle because poverty doesn’t keep them from being an awesome cyborg).

You can spend or receive minor resource points for the normal lifestyle options:

  • Special Work Area: 2 minor resource points
  • Extra Secure: 3 minor resource points
  • Obscure: 1 minor resource point
  • Cramped: +1 minor resource point
  • Dangerous Area: +2 minor resource points

You can also spend minor resource points to obtain a safehouse/backup residence. Spend minor points equal to the major point cost for that level of lifestyle, and you can’t exceed your main lifestyle rating. A safehouse doesn’t adjust your purchasing power or social mods, just gives you an extra place to stay. You can purchase options for it in the same way as for your main lifestyle. For example, you could buy an Extra Secure, Obscure, Cramped Low safehouse for 5 minor resource points (assuming your main lifestyle was at least Low). You cannot gain net minor points from a safehouse, drawbacks can just reduce the cost (e.g., you can’t claim you have a cramped squat in a dangerous area for +2 minor points).

Purchasing Power

You cannot buy ‘ware with purchasing power. You can get anything else.

When you buy an item with purchasing power, you can get something with digits in the price equal to the purchasing power rating. For example, purchasing power 5 can get you a 45,500¥ Erika MCD-1 cyberdeck, because it has a five-digit price tag.

  • If multiple similar items share the same pricing tier, you get the cheapest within that tier. For example, the character got the Erika cyberdeck even though the Microdeck Summit was also five digits, because the Erika was the cheaper option.
  • You can spend minor resource points to move up the options within a tier. For example, purchasing power 6 and three minor points would get you the Renraku Tsurugi cyberdeck (fourth on the list of 100k+ decks).
  • You can go down a digit to get the highest item in a tier. For example, a purchasing power of 7 would let you get the Fairlight Excalibur with no minor points spent (because it’s the highest six-digit deck).

At character creation, you may have:

  • One item at your Purchasing Power; spend additional minor points equal to your Purchasing Power for each additional item at this level
  • Two items at your Purchasing Power -1; spend additional minor points equal to half (round up) your total Purchasing Power for each additional item at this level
  • Four items at your Purchasing Power -2; spend one additional minor point for each additional item at this level
  • A reasonable stockpile of items at your Purchasing Power -3; the GM will tell you when you’re going nuts
  • Functionally unlimited items at your Purchasing Power -4; at High Lifestyle, you can buy all the bullets you want

You still have to spend minor points to go up items in a tier, even for additional purchases, so it’s often wise to spend the minor point cost for the next purchasing power up, if available to you. For example, at a High Lifestyle with Purchasing Power 6, it might often be worthwhile to spend 6 additional minor points for another six-digit item, then drop down to the highest five-digit, than to spend points to upgrade a five-digit item in a packed tier.

You can’t spend minor points to exceed your highest purchasing power. If you live on the streets, you’re going to have to beg your rich teammates to kit you out if you don’t want your contribution to the team to be your fabulous knife.

Run Rewards

Runs should award minor resource points instead of cash (and in addition to Karma). Why do these rewards go further for those with better lifestyles? Because money management is their superpower, maybe. Minor resource points should probably be given out at a similar rate as Karma (with fluctuations for good feelings vs. total bastard runs).

After chargen, you can spend minor resource points for the following:

  • Buy a single piece of ‘ware (using the rules above, but you can finally dispose of the 12 availability limit). You can theoretically go higher than alphaware, for 1 point for each step up, but it’s up to the GM whether you have access to better grades, and it may be a run reward just to get access to purchase a single piece of betaware or better.
  • Buy additional gear (using the purchasing power rules; e.g., minor points equal to total purchasing power to get an item at your max rating, one per item at rating -2, etc.).
  • Permanently increase your lifestyle. This costs ten times your current maximum Purchasing Power and upgrades you to the next lifestyle step. Yes, for the low cost of 20 minor resource points, you can finally abandon your life on the street for a nice squat. Remember, it’s not just about buying the apartment, but making investments to keep you there.