Shadowrobo, Part 3

Comments Off on Shadowrobo, Part 3

Let’s Do Some Crime

I don’t like building facilities in Shadowrun. It’s a lot of work to map them out, there aren’t any good guidelines in the core book for what’s a reasonable level of expense and challenge, and my group tends to figure out how to skip to the end. Good on them (I encourage it), but it winds up meaning I do a lot of mapping and security layout work that never gets used. Atomic Robo‘s science systems suggest a way to lessen that work considerably.


Use the brainstorm rules when you want to offload a lot of the security design to the players. This works pretty identically to the standard rules, except the players use any skills they can justify rather than Sciences, representing various steps of research and investigation into the situation they’re trying to overcome. Just like the standard rules, you run three cycles of the players competing to get to be the one that states a fact (and the GM naming one if all the players fail), with a final phase to decide on the hypothesis aspect. The facts and hypothesis become what’s true about the situation, giving the GM a lot of guidance for laying out the run (and some facility aspects).


Conversely, the invention system works well for when you’ve laid out a scenario and want to establish that there’s a profound blocker before it’s safe to proceed. That is, there’s a special layer of technological or magical security that is over and above what the team usually has to deal with. An invention, therefore, becomes just however the crew is going to bypass this unusual difficulty: a rare widget, secret codes, suborning someone with access, etc. With some catches involved, you can run a large part of the session around putting together materials for the run; once they have them, the run itself may be rather easy, with the drama being about creating the invention.

Resources and Organizations

The Tesladyne Industries organization rules in chapter 12 work very well for setting up corps and the PCs’ own resources. Rather than one overarching player-controlled org, under this system:

  • Whenever the PCs are hired by a corp or other large group, that entity has its own Resources mode. Antagonistic corps may also have a Resources mode (used as a gauge for what they can bring to bear and what their intel can determine about PC activities). For corps, AAA corps have a Great Resources, AA corps have Good, and A have Fair. They should usually have one focus and one specialty skill (often Armory or R&D for the major corps and Intel or Transport for the police agencies).
  • The PCs have their own organization that represents a much more loose collection of the crew’s pooled reputation, wealth, connections, etc. It should be named after whatever their team name is.

All organizations get a Mission Statement aspect, and that’s immediately known to the PCs (and they should come up with their own for their team org). All plot-important orgs also get Pressure aspects, but the players likely only know their own team’s pressures to start. The pressures on other orgs go a lot way to explaining their agendas and why they keep hiring runners or having runners sent against them, and figuring them out will go a lot way to moving the PCs from reactive to proactive. Only the player’s org accumulates Title aspects, but does not have an innately refilling Supply (see below).

When the PCs are on a mission for a corp, they can often use its Resources rather than their own as “expenses” for the run. This may only be available if they know who they’re working for so they know what kind of stuff to ask the Johnson for (even if it’s in a plausibly deniable way). For every point using these items increases the GM’s fate point reserve, also make a note that they have a point of debt that they have to pay off if they don’t return the items at the end of the run. (The reason to keep the items is that they may be better than what the PCs can get through their team org.)

The PCs’ team org starts at Fair Resources with no focused or specialized skills. The players can advance individual skills per the normal rules (paying their own character points to increase them). To upgrade the whole Resources level, the players need to accumulate rewards.

At the end of a run, come up with a rough reward level:

  • 1-3 points for the wealth of the employer (3 is for a AAA corp)
  • 1-5 points for the overall danger of the run
  • 0-3 points for mission success and secrecy (3 is for ghosting the run with all objectives completed)
  • Subtract up to five points for failing to meet secondary objectives, collateral damage, and generally making a mess
  • Subtract the debt rating for any items the PCs requisitioned from their employer and lost or kept

Whatever’s left is the payment for the run. Add this to the fate point Supply on the team org’s sheet. This is the only way to add Supply (the org doesn’t refill it naturally based on total aspects like in the rules). Like normal Supply, these points can be spent as fate points for anything that can be justified as spending money or using team resources. Once they’re spent, they’re gone until new rewards are earned.

At 10 points in Supply, the team’s Resources becomes Good. At 30 points, it becomes Great. Spending Supply below these thresholds drops the team’s Resources back down to the appropriate level.

Shadowrobo, Part 2

Comments Off on Shadowrobo, Part 2

Weird Modes

Within the frame of Shadowrun, these modes aren’t really that weird. Most PCs will have at least one of them, with some oddball Concepts allowing you to take more than one.


An adept, or physical adept, has innate magical control over her body, allowing a wide range of seemingly impossible stunts. Some such individuals are “mystic adepts” and can also take the Mage mode with this one.

Associated Skills: Athletics, Combat, Notice, Physique, Stealth, Will (this is essentially the Martial Artist mode from AR and represents a standard adept; for adepts with social powers, feel free to pick different skills)

Improvements: None

Sample Stunts: The Martial Artist mode’s stunts work great as examples.


A decker is the most elite of the hackers, totally at home in virtual reality. He uses an incredibly powerful and incredibly illegal computer “deck” to accomplish his hacks, and has built in cybernetics to seamlessly connect to the Matrix.

Associated Skills: Burglary, Contacts, Deceive, Notice, Provoke, Stealth, Will

Improvements: None

Sample Stunts: Most stunts for a decker will be gear stunts, representing the deck itself and specialized programs running on it.


Riggers are to vehicles and drones what deckers are to the Matrix: a combination of mental cyberware and advanced computer “rig” designed to help control vehicles like extensions of their own bodies.

Associated Skills: Burglary, Combat, Notice, Stealth, Vehicles, Will

Improvements: None

Sample Stunts: Most stunts for a rigger will be gear stunts, representing various vehicles and drones.


There are a wide variety of ways to install tech into and improve your body in the Sixth World. While just about anyone might have a few pieces installed, a full-on cyborg has given up a substantial part of her essence to become more than human.

In addition to compels to the Concept aspect about this loss of essence, a character with this mode cannot take the Adept or Mage modes.

Associated Skills (Street Samurai): Athletics, Combat, Contacts, Notice, Physique, Vehicles

Associated Skills (Bioware-Augmented Face): Athletics, Deceive, Empathy, Physique, Rapport

Improvements: None

Sample Stunts: A wide variety of stunts can be justified with various pieces of cyberware and bioware; look at the Robot and Mutant modes for ideas. For more fiddly cyberware, you can bolt on the Cyberware rules from the Fate System Toolkit.


A mage is an individual born with the ability to channel mana and affect the spirit world. This is accomplished by spiritual awareness and the use of spells and rituals.

Associated Skills: Conjuring, Notice, Will, Every spell as its own skill (i.e., spells work like Science skills for the Science! mode, see below)

Weird Skill: Conjuring

Overcome: Use as a Lore skill for spirits
Create an Advantage: Summoning a spirit is a specific kind of advantage creation
Attack: Banish summoned spirits
Defend: Defend against summoned spirits

Essentially, use the conjuring rules for Storm Summoners in the Fate System Toolkit, with Shadowrun flavor.

Weird Skills: Spells

Each spell has up to two applications around its theme. You technically have access to all spells at your mode rating, but you should probably work with your GM to come up with a few of them that you’ve pre-agreed upon. Remember that, like Science, you have to individually focus and specialize each spell if you want it to have a higher rating than the mode.

For using these skills, use the Channeling rules from the Fate System Toolkit, with the individual spells replacing the “Channeling” skill.

Improvements: Specialize one trained skill, Focus one trained skill

Sample Stunts:

  • Astral Perception: Use Notice to perceive on the Astral Plane.
  • Astral Projection: (Requires Astral Perception) Enter a trance to generate an astral body that can move extremely quickly and interact with things on the astral plane (using your normal skills). Spend a Fate point to use magic on the physical world when projected.
  • Signature Spell: Add a weapon or armor rating to one of your spells, or make it one that you can “fast-cast” without having to tag an aspect or take damage.

Shadowrobo, Part 1


Do you have the Fate-powered Atomic Robo RPG yet? This will make much more sense if you do. If you preorder, you get the PDF right away.

I’m probably running Shadowrun wrong. I get the vibe that the normal way to run it is a gritty, simulation-heavy crime drama where you can’t buy much for a nuyen but lives are cheap. I tend to run it much more like Leverage: as a pulpy tale of quirky master criminals that are rare enough in their awesomeness that the system they’re robbing has a hard time adapting to the threat they present. So keep that in mind.

With that style of running, the Atomic Robo rules immediately jumped out at me on reading as highly in-tune with my style of GMing Shadowrun. So we’ll see if there’s anyone else in the intersection of “Runs Shadowrun,” “Has Atomic Robo,” and “Loves Leverage.” In general, I’m erring on the side of trying to keep the rules drift from AR minimal, so there’s a good bit of “give the rules descriptions a Shadowrun flavor” rather than thorough hacks to make the game more like the normal SR rules. If you have Fate but not Atomic Robo, some of this will make a little bit of sense, but I recommend going ahead and getting AR. It’s good.

This will be a multi-part series.

Picking Aspects

Shadowrobo inherits AR’s lack of a Resources skill. Unlike AR, the assumption is that you’ll be doing runs to make money, rather than having a permanent job with relatively easy gear requisitions, and I’ll hopefully get to some systems about that later. But it does mean that your wealth is not specifically expressed as a skill, and the various members of the team are more or less in the same boat (of needing to do runs to make money). If you want a character who’s better at managing money or has a trust fund and just does runs for the fun of it, by all means represent what would be a Lifestyle in SR with your Omega Aspect or tailored stunts. And if you live on the streets and fritter away every nuyen you earn, that’s an excellent use for a compel-happy Omega Aspect as well.

Similarly, so much of the effects of race in SR can be modeled by just using it to justify particular skill choices, so there’s no specific rules for that. You should probably include it in your Concept Aspect, as that will let you make a custom weird mode if you want it to be really important, or just use invokes and take compels when it’s relevant to the story. But if you want to play, say, a troll whose massive physical stature doesn’t mean much except when fate points are in play (e.g., you didn’t buy much Physique), that’s perfectly fine and right in keeping with how the Fate system works in general.

Remember that the Sixth World has a lot more “weird” modes that are actually pretty common, unlike the standard assumption for AR, so if you want access to ‘ware- or magic-based modes, don’t forget to mention it in your Concept aspect. This is particularly important because that allows the GM to model things like essence loss and drain (which don’t have very deep systems in this conversion) with compels if it makes a better story.

Adapting the Standard Skills

Shadowrobo uses the same standard skill list from AR.

Some of the weird modes will get weird skills to fully flesh out what you can do in Shadowrun, but, in particular, hacking falls mostly under the purview of standard skills. That is, you use Burglary to break through data security, Contacts to track down information online, Deceive to trick a system, and Stealth to get through it unnoticed.

The idea behind this is twofold. On the one hand, there’s very little security that isn’t electronic and networked, and even human observers have all kinds of electronic aids, so there are limited options for a burglary- or stealth-expert that can only get past purely physical security. On the other, there have been several generations growing up in the information age at this point in the setting, so it doesn’t really even make sense to think of “computers” as a separate discipline that some people are completely ignorant of. That is, your decker is probably well trained (as represented with focuses, specialties, aspects, and stunts) to be the best at solving computer problems, but any runner can do some basic computing in a pinch. If you want to make an old-school thief who’s hopeless at computers or a hacker that’s unprepared for a physical lock, represent that with an aspect and prepare to soak up the compels.

Other than computer-related skills, a lot of the skills are also used without much modification to represent magic and ‘ware. Since Fate is a results-based system, if you really want to differentiate the troll with a natural Physique, the adept with mystically augmented strength, and the samurai with built-in servos, do it with Stunts and Mega-Stunts.

Standard Modes

The standard modes in Shadowrobo are Soldier, Face, Thief, and Operator.


Maybe you were actually part of the military before retiring to the shadows. Maybe you were a “soldier” in a gang, learning your trade on the streets. Maybe you moved to a martial-arts monastery and studied real hard for ten years or your family was wiped out by drug dealers and you swore yourself to revenge. Whatever the case, you have a strong baseline of physical and combat skills.

This has the same skills as AR’s Action mode (Athletics, Combat, Notice, Physique, Provoke, and Vehicles), and similar stunts are probably appropriate. It’s a good mode for anyone to grab some facility in combat, and often serves as an additional mode for samurais and adepts that want to be real badasses.


There comes a time in the formation of every group of runners where they realize they’re going to have to find some burned corporate marketer or salesman or hit up their fixers for contact info for a quality grifter, because none of them can con their way out of a paper bag or talk a Johnson into paying a living wage. You’re the one they make talk to people.

This has the same skills as AR’s Banter mode (Contacts, Deceive, Empathy, Provoke, Rapport, and Will), and supports similar stunts. It’s the kind of mode where, if you have it, you’re probably going to put it pretty high, hoping that some of the other party members will at least have it as their Average mode. But they all left it off the sheet entirely because now they have you to do all the talking… so they can get better at shooting people.


Most crews pay lip service to getting in and out without it requiring a storm of bullets, a suitcase of explosives, and a busy day for the local coroner. In order to actually achieve those lofty goals, it helps to have members trained in the arts of thievery. Your skills are partly physical training, partly computer hacking, and all about getting paid without requiring a body count.

This has the same skills as AR’s Intrigue mode (Athletics, Burglary, Contacts, Deceive, Notice, and Stealth), and supports similar stunts. It’s the chassis on which to build a decker that actually goes into the building and most other flavors of ninja.


The more organized crews often realize that it’s worthwhile to have a member that stays in the van, providing surveillance and support from a more objective perspective (i.e., not getting shot at while making decisions). This individual often also fulfills the role of getaway driver, even without a control rig. Since the other members of the team tend to expect some kind of above-and-beyond for the greater safety, the operator also tends to be the one to do a lot of the initial footwork and setup for a job.

This mode is not reflected in AR, and has skills that cover a range of support options (Burglary, Contacts, Notice, Provoke, Rapport, Stealth, and Vehicles). Invent stunts in that vein. It’s often paired with Decker for a hacker that doesn’t come inside, with Rigger for obvious reasons, and for anyone else that wants to round out their support skills.

SR5: Point Based Resources

Comments Off on SR5: Point Based Resources

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.

Shadowrun: Alternate Cash Rewards

1 Comment

After their first run, my group wondered why the cash rewards table in SR5 incentivizes turning the run into a total cluster. As written, the table mostly gives rewards for getting into fights; if you ghost the mission, getting in and out with the objective and no one the wiser, you get paid very little. It seems like that should actually get you paid quite well indeed.

By my count, the current table should give rewards from 3k¥-40k¥ base, plus 100¥-1300¥ per negotiation hit, so this hack tries to stay in a similar range (but see the notes about increasing rewards).

Setting Up a ‘Run

During negotiations, the Johnson should outline which elements from the table he thinks the runners are likely to encounter. This sets the minimum agreed upon payment (i.e., you can go ahead and add up those numbers including negotiation hits and state “I’ll pay you X”). As a GM, figure out the Johnson’s actual agenda and level of knowledge; assuming he plans to deal fairly, it’s in his interests to try to figure out exactly what the group will encounter and no more. If he tells them something might be an issue and it isn’t, he may overpay. But if he leaves out something, he may pay more for it.

After the run, total up what actually happened (according to what the players encountered), and how much the chart says that was worth. The runners are generally expected to demand double the difference as additional pay. This might be reduced to only 1.5 times the difference if the Johnson gave them at least a week and it was reasonable that they could do research on their own. If the Johnson pitched the entire project as knowing very little, and gave them at least two weeks to investigate and plan the run, this is reduced to just the difference (i.e., he only has to pay what the actual chart total suggests), but what kind of Johnson wants to appear that ignorant? Meanwhile, if the Johnson gave them a last second offer and claimed to have all the information for them, nobody would argue if the ‘runners demand three times the difference.

For example, after negotiating and hearing the basic terms, a run works out to be worth 4,000¥ a piece. But after the mission, the chart suggests what they actually did should be worth 6,000¥.

  • Under normal circumstances, they should expect to demand 8,000¥ (the 4k base plus doubling the 2k difference between expectation and actuality).
  • If they had a week to investigate and mitigate their risk, they can demand 7,000¥.
  • If they were told explicitly that the Johnson didn’t know much and had two weeks to prep, the 6,000¥ suggested by the chart is what they get.
  • If the Johnson sent them in blind and in a rush, they can actually demand 10,000¥.

Expenses and Increasing Rewards

It probably makes sense to let the runners charge an extra share for expenses (i.e., act as if there’s an extra member of the team when payment is determined). Runners who regularly give the Johnson an itemized list and stay under the their expense budget (i.e., accept only enough of the expenses share to cover actual expenses) probably deserve a reputation bump.

The standard reward range generally only pays out 10k¥-20k¥. This leads to forum advice that players should never expect to have any serious ‘ware other than what was bought in chargen, because the difference between actual payments and the money you can start with at a high priority is so great. If you want your players to actually plan to buy upgrades of value, particularly if you play infrequently and/or have long lifestyle-cost-heavy downtimes, you should double, triple, or even quadruple the standard rewards.

The Chart

Base Cost: 1,500¥ + 50¥ per negotiation hit

Situational Modifiers

Average opposing Dice Pool +(Dice Pool/3)
Highest opposing Dice Pool +(Dice Pool/6)
Could easily be outnumbered three to one in a combat situation +1
Could easily be outnumbered (any amount) by critters +1
Target has at least three non-watcher spirits +1
Target has easy access to non-internal security (e.g., Lone Star or Knight Errant) +1
Run risks public exposure or raised profile as natural part of the run +1
Run brings runners into direct contact with a notably dangerous part or element of Sixth World lore +1
Run is out of town or otherwise far from known resources and escape routes +1
Run is way out of town (i.e., severe logistics and escape issues) +1

Final Multipliers

Standard Ethics +0%
Cold Hearted +20%
Good Feelings -20%
Standard Run +0%
No non-target deaths or major property damage
(target is less likely to make a big deal about the crime)
Runners were not identified in any obvious way
(much harder to trace the crime back to the Johnson)
“Ghosted” the Run
(target may not even discover that a crime was committed for some time)
Deaths of non-security personnel
(anyone died other that those that were paid for the possibility)
Deaths of significant asset
(not including actual targets; i.e., someone died that was important enough to attempt vengeance)
Significant property damage
(targets may try for revenge just to recoup infrastructure costs)
Runners left significant clues as to their identities and those of their employer -10%

All modifiers and multipliers are cumulative.


  • The group is hired to steal some paydata.
    • The Johnson expects that the target mostly employs scrubs (+1 for average die pool less than six) but has a couple of skilled guards (+2 for a highest die pool around 12). There are potentially a lot of the scrubs, so the ‘runners could easily get outnumbered three-to-one (+1). He makes all this clear to the group, and (after three hits on the negotiation), offers them 6,600¥ a piece (plus the same as an expense budget).
    • What he left out was that the the targets had been beefing up their mystic security, and they had a pack of Hellhounds (+1) and several spirits (+1); and those actually brought up the average opponent dice pool to over six (+1 beyond the expected). Despite this, the group took the extra time to do it without deaths or major damage (+10%) and without being identified (+10%). They count up that they were actually owed 13,860¥
    • Since that’s a difference of 7,260¥ from what they were told, they actually demand 21,120¥ a piece. Maybe next time, the Johnson will give them more time to plan, and try to do some more legwork on his own first.
  • Another group is hired for some wetwork.
    • The Johnson expects them to sneak in and take out a high profile target. If they do it right, they’ll get the 12-die-pool target alone and have few other encounters (12 average and highest pool for a total +6). The target has mage backup, so the Johnson warns of spirits (+1) and the possibility of a call to Knight Errant (+1). This is a Cold Hearted run (+20%), and the Johnson expects them to get in and out with only the target dead (+10%) and without being identified (+10%). For all this, and with three hits on negotiation, the Johnson expects to pay 18,480¥ a piece.
    • What actually happens is that the group screws up and Knight Errant shows up. They wind up lowering the average die pool they fight (just because they fight so much Knight Errant backup) to 9 (-1 to average threat), but they do manage to have to take out a 16-die lieutenant (+1 to highest threat). They’re certainly outnumbered three-to-one (+1), risk public exposure (+1), wind up doing significant deaths and property damage (-30%, plus the loss of the 20% from the expectation of not doing that or getting identified). At least they get the target. When counted up, they were actually only owed 11,550¥ a piece.
    • The Johnson grudgingly pays out the 18,480¥ he promised, since they did at least complete the job, but resolves to never work with this crew again.

Shadowrun 5 – Crafting

1 Comment

The SR5 core rules don’t have much more than a paragraph and a chart for bonuses on crafting (p. 146). Notably, it doesn’t really give any guidelines on costs or difficulties. I’m sure that information is coming in a later supplement, but my players want to start working on designing robots now. Hence, this represents my pass at a homebrew crafting system for my game.


The Base Threshold of an existing item is equal to its Availability rating x Legality factor (x1 for unrestricted, x2 for restricted, and x3 for forbidden). If the availability is –, this is equal to the digits in the price +3. For example, an Ares Predator V is availability 5R, so has a Base Threshold of 10, a Ford Americar is availability — and 16,000¥ so has a Base Threshold of 8, a flashlight is — and 25¥ so has a Base Threshold of 5. This is a rule of thumb based on the complexity of items often tracking with their availability; the GM is encouraged to adjust the Base Threshold for things that seem like they should be easier to find schematics for and create than their legality indicates.

The Build Interval for an item starts at Short (10 minutes) for items that cost less than 10¥ and increases by one step per digit of the cost (e.g., something that costs 300¥ is three digits and thus has a build time of 1 hour). See the extended test intervals chart on page 48. All crafting rolls are extended tests. It’s up to the GM whether long builds consume all your waking hours for the whole period, or whether you’re only doing them around your ‘runs and other errands. For really long builds, it’s probably best to let the crafter take breaks without harming the project.

The Base Cost of an item is based on the cost within the gear lists for existing gear, and pegged as closely as possible for new inventions. If you have existing items that are being repaired or used for parts, they contribute their individual cost based on how damaged they are. For example, the GM rules a Ford Americar from the junkyard is nearly totaled and only worth 20% of its price of 16,000¥, so contributes 3,200¥ toward any attempts to repair it or use it for parts.

In general, you can double the effective Threshold of an item to reduce the Build Interval by one step, and halve it to increase the Build Interval by one step. For example, a Ford Americar normally has a Base Threshold of 8 and a Build Interval of Exhaustive (1 week); by increasing the Threshold to 32, the Build Interval becomes Long (1 hour). This cannot reduce the Build Interval below Quick (1 minute) or over Mammoth (1 month).

There are four ways to use the crafting system:

  • To repair or tinker with an existing item: This does not require schematics (but they help), and is based on how damaged the item is.
  • To create an item from the existing gear list: The primary reason for doing this is that you can’t manage to get it through social channels or you want to make sure it’s made from untraceable parts.
  • To create something based on existing gear but improved/altered: This lets you get a little more punch out of your gear, make it more concealable, or otherwise create something that’s similar to an existing item but not really supported.
  • To create something totally new: This lets you make something that is totally unsupported by the existing gear list but within the possibilities of the fiction, like robots and power armor.

Repairing and Tinkering

Use the rules on page 228 for Matrix Damage.

For repairing physical damage, the GM should come up with a rough approximation of how close to totaled the item is; how much of the structure of the item remains intact vs. fully functional? For example, a heavily damaged but still driveable car might wind up at 50% totaled:

  • The Base Threshold is equal to this percentage (e.g., if the Base Threshold was 10 and the item is only 20% towards totaled, the effective Threshold is 2).
  • The Build Interval is based on the price of the item. As noted above, the effective Threshold can be doubled to reduce the Build Interval by one step (e.g., that Threshold 2 item can become Threshold 4 to reduce the Build Interval from a day to an hour).
  • The Base Cost is equal to this percentage of the item’s value (e.g., something that is 20% damaged will cost 20% of the item’s cost to repair to full). Any additional parts for the inefficiency of repair are assumed to be rolled up into the lifestyle or kit costs; PCs that are doing a lot of repair work out of a non-lifestyle based kit or shop might be expected to rebuy that item periodically as spare parts are used up.

For example, the GM rules that the player’s Ford Americar is heavily damaged and is 50% totaled. The effective Threshold is 4 (50% of the base 8) and it would take a week Interval based on its 16k cost. But the player chooses to reduce the interval by two steps to 1 hour, making the effective threshold 16 (doubled twice), and now we have the example from page 48. The car only contributes half of its 16k cost due to being 50% damaged, so will cost 8,000¥ to repair.

Use the modifiers from the Build/Repair Table on page 147. See the next section for how to determine if you have the Plans/Reference materials.

Tinkering allows the user to install upgrades or switch between standard options. It assumes that the crafter has all the parts required and is just trying to put them together.

  • The effective Threshold is equal to half the Base Threshold of the highest component. For example, an Armor Vest is Availability 4 and Fire Resistance is Availability 6, so the effective Threshold is 3 to add Fire Resistance to the vest.
  • The Build Interval is based on the total Price of the combined items. That Armor Vest is 500¥ and the Fire Resistance is 250¥ per level, so it takes an hour to apply level 1 but a day to apply any stronger coatings (since they increase the price above 1,000¥). As usual, the crafter can double the Threshold to reduce the Interval by one step (e.g., at Threshold 12, the interval on that vest upgrade can be reduced to half an hour).
  • The Base Cost is 0, assuming all components are on hand and the crafter is just putting them together.

Creating an Existing Item

This item will have exactly the same stats as an existing item. Cosmetically, it may look a little different, but you’re really just trying to get an existing item; maybe because you can’t afford the corp’s markup, you don’t want it to be traceable in any way, or because you don’t have a good enough Face or contact to get it through proper channels.

To make such an item you need the proper schematics (you’ll still get the plans/reference materials bonus):

  • The effective Threshold is equal to the item’s Base Threshold – 10 (if the result is 0 or less you can assume the item is so common that the plans are easily available on the Matrix).
  • The Interval works normally. There is no cost other than standard bribes and fees that come out of your lifestyle.
  • Roll Computer if you’re searching for the plans online, Negotiate if you’re tracking them down through contacts, or some other skill that you can convince the GM makes sense.

For example, you’re trying to create a deck that’s equivalent to a Novatech Navigator. It’s Availability 9R so has a Base Threshold of 18 and an effective Threshold of 8. It has a six digit price so it has an Interval of 1 month. You can double the Threshold normally to reduce the Interval (and you should; ferreting out complicated deck schematics isn’t a fast process).

You can also acquire schematics through in-game actions; the extra gravy on a ‘run might be grabbing plans for miscellaneous items the corp makes while you’re already grabbing the paydata.

Once you have the schematics:

  • Base Threshold works normally (Availability x Legality) and is not further modified.
  • Build Interval works normally.
  • Base Cost is equal to the normal Cost of the item. You can double the Base Cost to halve the Base Threshold. You can halve the Base Cost to double the Base Threshold. You can only double or halve the cost once.

For example, now you have the plans for your deck and want to build it. It’s still 9R so has a Threshold of 18, an Interval of one month, and a Cost of 205,750¥. If you were really trying to get a deal on it, you could reduce the cost to 102,875¥ if you think you can hit a threshold of 36.

If you end the extended test without meeting the Threshold (either because you ran out of dice or out of time), the GM might rule that you have a Prototype (see below).

Improving on an Existing Item

The existing gear lists are incredibly comprehensive, so it’s probably difficult to find a modification to the stats of one item that aren’t very similar if not identical to another item. In that case, you should just treat it as creating the other item using the rules above.

If you’re trying to make modifications that the existing gear won’t cover, the GM should first have a good long think about whether those modifications might make the item too good. An item with the stats of a sniper rifle and the concealability of a pistol is probably better than intended, for example. This is all very dangerous territory, so try not to be offended when your GM denies something that feels like a blatant attempt to break the system, even if you didn’t intend it that way.

Once you and the GM have agreed that what you want is reasonable, the GM will come up with an Availability rating and Cost for the item based on the most similar other items. If the GM feels like the modifications are especially complicated to implement, the Availability should be increased by a point or two (and, thus, increase the ultimate Base Threshold).

In addition to having the schematics for the base item (see above), you need to design the modifications. This is an appropriate Knowledge test with the same Threshold, Interval, and Cost as finding the schematics (again, see above).

Once you have the schematics and the modification design, use the rules in the above section to actually build it.

Creating Something New

Once you’re in the realm of something that isn’t really all that similar to anything in the gear lists, you’ve begun a delicate negotiation with the GM. Ultimately, you’ll describe what you want and the GM will try to give it stats, Availability, Cost, and even rules based on what does exist in the gear list.

Unlike building a standard or modified existing item, at this stage it’s as much about the design as the build. Make an appropriate Knowledge test to create the schematics as above, but without the -10 reduction to the Threshold; you’re not just modifying something here or getting by on common Matrix knowledge. If you don’t think you can make the Threshold to start with, you can use the Prototype system (see below).

Once you’ve gotten the design worked out, you can start building as per the normal rules. As with other builds, if you don’t quite get it done, you might still have a Prototype.


If you end any kind of build before getting the required hits, you might be left with a prototype: a version of the item with worse stats, a high chance to Glitch, and the ability to teach you how to improve your next attempt at the item. When creating something new, if you don’t get enough hits on the Knowledge check to create the schematics, you can attempt to build toward whatever hits you did get to deliberately create a prototype (e.g., if the Threshold was 18 and you only got 9 hits to design, you can’t get more than 50% of the build threshold either).

A prototype should have its stats reduced based on how close you got to your target (e.g., if you only got 50% of the necessary hits, the item is reduced by whatever 50% means to the GM). Additionally, a prototype has an increased chance to Glitch; when using the item, treat the wielder as having Gremlins 1 (or +1 if you gave your prototype to someone that already had gremlins; see page 81). Finally, the item’s effective Cost is reduced by the same factor for purposes of using the prototype toward another attempt to make the item.

Whenever a prototype Glitches and the crafter is in position to make note of what happened (i.e., is wielding it, is close by, or is getting a detailed after-action report), make a mark. Every time the item gets Glitch marks equal to its Base Threshold, you get a +1 to your skill total on the next attempt to design or craft that item (to a maximum of half the Base Threshold). For example, a prototype gun similar to an Ares Predator V has a Base Threshold of 10; for every 10 Glitches, the crafter gains +1 to the next attempt to build/design the item (to a max of +5).


1 Comment

Prepping for an actual Shadowrun playtest/potential ongoing campaign, here’s a procedure for developing a plot and character web in the style of Smallville. It’s similar to Dresdenville and Heroville, but with even fewer direct hooks into the character sheet. Even though the process doesn’t demand additions to the character sheet, players should attempt to buy anything they link to with a positive relationship in a way that makes sense for the system (as a contact, safehouse via lifestyle, quality, etc.).

Each player should assign priorities (A-E to Race, Magic, Attributes, Skills, and Resources) and decide on character generalities before proceeding, but shouldn’t do too much actual point spending (to leave room to tweak based on the chart results).

As usual, go around the table for each step and sub-step before proceeding on to later steps. Whenever you draw an arrow, define the relationship. There can’t be more than two arrows between the same two nodes (and those have to be reciprocal).

The possible nodes for this process are:

  • PC (Square): These are the player characters. Start by adding each of these to the map but don’t connect them until later.
  • NPC (Circle): These are contacts, antagonists, and other known quantities. The players shouldn’t feel obliged to make all these friendly: it may be better to define your own principle antagonists and have a general idea of their capabilities rather than letting the GM make them in secret.
  • Location (Rectangle): These are locations where the players expect to spend a lot of time when they’re not on ‘runs. They may be clubs, places of business, whole neighborhoods, interesting landmarks, etc. They’ll tend to be important for meeting clients, investigating, planning, and laying low.
  • Macguffin (Pentagon): These are items that are likely to come up as objectives for ‘runs. The players will really only know their names and the relationship of groups or NPCs to them, but giving them an interesting name makes it more likely they’ll come up in an interesting way. In general, their style should match the Priority that placed it: magic (something magical), resources (some kind of tech), or attributes (some kind of information).
  • Canon Group (Triangle): This is an official corporation, gang, cult, etc. from canon setting material. This is how you vote for which groups you’d like to see heavily invested in the campaign, and establish some idea of what their initial goals are and who they’re connected to.

Step 1: Priority A

  1. If your Priority A is:
    1. Race or Attribute: add an NPC
    2. Skill or Resource: add a Location
    3. Magic: add a Macguffin.
  2. Add a Canon Group.
  3. Draw an arrow from one of the NPCs or Canon Groups to a PC.
  4. If your Priority A is
    1. Race: add a Location
    2. Magic or Skill: add an NPC
    3. Attribute or Resource: add a Macguffin.
  5. Draw an arrow from one of the Canon Groups to an NPC or Location.
  6. Tag one of the NPCs based on your Priority A (see Tags, below).

Step 2: Priority B

  1. If your Priority B is:
    1. Race or Attribute: add an NPC
    2. Skill or Resource: add a Location
    3. Magic: add a Macguffin.
  2. Draw an arrow from your PC to an NPC.
  3. Draw an arrow from your PC to a Location.
  4. Draw an arrow from an NPC to a Canon Group or Location.
  5. Tag one of the NPCs based on your Priority B.

Step 3: Priority C

  1. If your Priority C is
    1. Race: add a Location
    2. Magic or Skill: add an NPC
    3. Attribute or Resource: add a Macguffin.
  2. Draw an arrow from your PC to another PC.
  3. Draw an arrow from your PC to an NPC, Location, or Canon Group.
  4. Draw an arrow from an NPC to another NPC.
  5. Tag one of the NPCs based on your Priority C.

Step 4: Priority D

  1. If your Priority D is:
    1. Race or Attribute: add an NPC
    2. Skill or Resource: add a Location
    3. Magic: add a Macguffin.
  2. Draw an arrow from your PC to another PC.
  3. Draw an arrow from any non-PC element to any other non-PC element.
  4. Tag one of the NPCs based on your Priority D.

Step 5: Priority E

  1. Draw an arrow from one of the NPCs or Canon Groups to a PC.
  2. Draw an arrow from an NPC to a Canon Group or Location.
  3. Tag one of the NPCs based on your Priority E.


For the current Priority, if you chose:

  • Race: Assign a race to the NPC. This can be any of the standard PC races, including human; NPCs that end the process without one default to human.
  • Magic: Assign a magic praxis to the NPC (Mage, Physical Adept, Shaman, Mystic Adept, Technomancer, etc.) or declare that the NPC is non-magical. NPCs without such an assignment default to no magic.
  • Attributes: Assign a method to the NPC (Agent, Operator, Conspirator, or Bystander; see below).
  • Skills: Assign a signature Skill Group to the NPC. The NPC is guaranteed to be good at the chosen Skill Group; other skill choices for the NPC are up to the GM.
  • Resources: Draw an arrow from one of the NPCs or Canon Groups to a Macguffin.


A method outlines an NPC’s general method of interaction with the world (colored by other tags and relationships decided for the NPC):

  • Agent: This NPC tends to be active in the world, and in the thick of things. The character is usually a ‘runner, guard, detective, or someone else used to face-to-face confrontation.
  • Conspirator: This character tends to be a social string puller who tries not to have anything directly traceable. The NPC is usually a face or Mr. Johnson.
  • Operator: This NPC tends to be active but at once step or more removed. The character is usually a mage, hacker, or rigger, or someone else that works directly but remotely.
  • Bystander: This character tries not to get directly involved. The NPC is usually a merchant, fixer, or other contact.

Contact’s Rating

Optionally, you can assign a fixed Connection Rating to each NPC that the PCs must spend to buy that NPC as a Contact. This keeps characters defined as movers and shakers from being purchased at low Connection Rating levels, and allows players that both want to have the same NPC as a Contact to know which Rating to take.

  • If the NPC seems like he or she should be very highly connected from the way the chart lays out (e.g., it’s implied that an NPC is high up in a corp or nationally recognized), the GM can simply assign a Rating over 6 that makes sense. This character will not be valid as a starting Contact, but might be befriended officially later. This shouldn’t be done for NPCs on the map that clearly have a relationship with a PC that implies that the player planned to buy the NPC as a Contact.
  • Otherwise, count the number of non-PC lines attached to the Contact (i.e., either to or from other NPCs, Groups, Locations, and Macguffins). That’s the Contact’s Rating; it should generally be between 1 and 6 and, thus, valid as a starting Contact.


Here’s a potential web created by the above system, using data I threw together to test it (click to enlarge):


Older Entries