My Shadowrun House Rules
Herein lie the rules modifications that I just can't live without.
The rationales are after the rules to avoid clutter:
The Rules (in the order they appear in the books)
Shadowrun 3rd Edition Main Book, By Chapter
- Game Concepts
- Creating a Shadowrunner
- Vehicles and Drones (none yet)
- The Matrix (none yet)
- Running the Shadows
- Beyond the Shadows
- Contacts (Not yet)
- Spirits and Dragons (Not yet)
- Street Gear
- Seattle and the Modern Northwest (Not yet)
Magic in the Shadows
- Advanced Melee Combat
- Advanced Combat Rules
If you play a Troll, don't forget
how big the character is. It is a mixed blessing.
- Big can be bad: Some additional considerations are the bad
effects of the fantastic size of Trolls.
- Moving through a human-sized structure, i.e. most structures
and vehicles, may be difficult
- Transportation may be problematic (although Viking combat
bikes are cool and Troll friendly)
- Big people are scary - police will notice you and take
an interest in your motives, any concealed weapons, etc.
- Big can be good:
- The many benefits rules already provide
- Getting on top of and over fences, walls, and vehicles
may be easier
- No really, they are BIG
- Average height 2.8 m (106") - whip out a tape measure
and see just how big that really is.
- Average mass 225 kg (~500 lbs.) - yes, that's really heavy
and a lot of it is muscle!
Categories [pg. 85]
Combat Clarification: no "style" specializations. Although
you are more than welcome to describe your character's actions
in terms of a specific style, it will not have a game-mechanical
Aura Reading: Aura Reading will
be used as a complementary skill for Astral Perception.
Etiquette clarification: This
skill covers the social aspects of looking like you belong, recognizing
powerful people within the culture, and making people in a subculture
comfortable dealing with you. It is not a knowledge
skill that provides information on specific people, places, etc.
It is a general social intuition. It can be used as a social
"Stealth" of sorts, but it is not acting. It can
be used to gain access to information and equipment, but it is not
Negotiation or Interrogation. If a player wanted his character
to obtain a piece of equipment, that character would need an appropriate
Contact or have a Knowledge skill that tells him where to go and
who to talk to before he would have a chance to use Etiquette.
It is generally a skill useful in a friendly atmosphere; if the
target was hostile, then skills like Negotiation, Intimidation,
and Interrogation might be needed. Every
PC must buy Etiquette, it is usually reasonable
to specialize, but not necessary.
Electronics & Electronics
B/R: Please realize that you need to have high levels in these
skills to use them effectively. Also, Electronics can be replaced
by expensive gadgets, but Electronics B/R cannot.
What about (mechanical) Lockpicking?
You can buy the Quickness-linked Lock Picking Active
skill (introduced in SOTA 2063), or just buy an Autopicker (SOTA
pg. 100; Availability 10, which is too high for a beginning character).
Skills [pg. 89]
Specializations - Because of the
vague nature of Knowledge skills, all Knowledge specializations
need to be approved.
This skill confers information of a geographical area, generally
a neighborhood, to include places of note, contacts, which areas
are safe, etc. All PCs must
have a minimum of one skill in the neighborhood they grew up and/or
where they usually work.
You must buy one and only one
vocation skill. This is a catch-all skill
to reflect the smatterings of knowledge consistent with your
chosen vocation. This is a safety net for the player and GM to
help increase the likelihood that the PC is competent at what
he does. You may end up rolling vs. a target of 6 for many uses
of this skill, but you may not even need to roll in other cases.
It will come in handy.
Background Knowledge [pg.
I do use the optional rule that gives characters a background
knowledge skills in Active skills they possess at a level equal
to the Active skill - 3.
The Combat Phase
Free Actions [pg. 105]
fire is slower than a free action - suppressive fire effects occur
at the absolute end of the phase, allowing targets a chance to
Dive to cover or any other Free
Action (pg. 105, SR3).
to cover - This is an extension of Drop Prone. A character
can move one meter while dropping prone.
Simple Actions [pg.105]
Change Position - This requires
movement and thus incurs the penalties for Walking, at a minimum.
It also "costs" walking movement. A character would
have to run if they wanted to stand up and move; they would spend
1/3rd of their movement getting up.
Range and Base Target
Number [pg. 109]
Magnification Clarification (From the FanPro FAQ)
"The rules state that image magnifying scopes are not
compatible with smartlinks, but what about cybernetic vision magnification
or the equivalent adept improved sense?
While a character may be simultaneously equipped with a smartlink
system and an imaging scope/vision mag cyberware/vision mag adept
power, the modifiers from both may not be used at the same time.
So a samurai could use vision magnification to reduce the target
number when shooting a target at long range, and then switch to
using a smartlink to reduce the target number against a target
at short range--but he couldn't use both the smartlink and vision
mag modifiers on the same target."
Modifiers [pg. 110]
Target Prone +4
This is cumulative with partial cover. All movement-related
tasks have +1 target, to include Dodge tests and Athletics tests.
Remember that Dropping Prone is a Free Action and I allow one meter
of movement when dropping prone.
Dodge Test [pg. 113]
Damage Modifiers - I will follow
the standard rules and apply Injury Modifiers to the Dodge Test.
Don't forget that you can use your combat dice on your damage resistance
tests instead of Dodging.
Called Shots [pg. 114]
and Extension of Called Shots Effects: There are two ways to do
this according to the rules. Vehicles are covered in detail later
in the book. The first option, shooting a more vulnerable location
on a person/animal with a gun, calls for clarification:
- You have a choice of staging the damage of a called shot
OR bypassing armor, not both (clarification pg. 106, Man
& Machine). Note that under special circumstances, the
penalty to bypass armor might be greater than the standard +4.
- An armored target continues to spoil the effect of Flechette
unless the armor is bypassed with a Called Shot.
- Partial cover still affects Called Shots, the penalty is not
bypassed by taking a Called Shot.
Grenades (and explosives) [pg. 118]
Hitting the target - Some situational
modifiers may be invalidated when grenades are used as indirect
fire. Rolling a hand grenade a few meters is not too hard
to do, assuming a reasonably smooth terrain. The test, if
any will depend upon the situation.
Missing completely - If the
attacker misses completely, then scatter occurs twice; that is,
scatter the grenade once, then a second time from its new location.
Damage Staging - The optional
rule on pg. 119 is used for staging up damage from explosives
The Shamanic Tradition
Description: Agros is the creator and destroyer.
Her beneficence can quickly turn to rage. He is the
bearer of seed, the reaper, and the representation of man
as the top of the food chain. This ancient idol has
been acknowledged and revered by man since he could conceive
of life and death as two sides of the same coin. The
reverence paid to her does not wane with the cycles of magic,
only the clarity of her presence. Agros has had many
names in the past to include Ceres, Cernunnos, and Saturn.
His multiplicity has been reflected in many forms, such as
the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. She reflects
virility and life as much as she represents death. He
has the strength of the land and knows it's mysteries.
She has the fertility of the fields but possesses the ability
to pluck such fertility from the land, leaving famine and
death in his wake. That which poisons the land is an
effrontery to him that will not be abided.
Environment: Land, that in which man is living in
harmony with his environment is preferred.
Advantages: +2 dice Combat and Health Spells, +1 die
when summoning Field Spirits and Storm Spirits
Disadvantages: -1 die to Illusion spells; -1 die when
summoning Spirits of the Water.
Note: The totem name and concept was generalized to
take it away from one specific deity concept and to allow
more varied and fruitful role-playing. The name was
changed from Cernunnos to Agros and the concept was generalized
into the realm of life and death deities in line with more
primitive agrarian deity concepts.
Description: Mongoose is brave, clever, swift, and
deadly. He hunts the Cobra, using his reflexes to dodge
the serpent's strikes, tiring it out, then he lures it into
one more strike and grabs it's head in his teeth, crushing
the skull and killing the vile snake. Mongoose is known
to protect man from such predators, and Mongoose shamans are
no different. They are not vigilantes stalking the night,
but they take joy in striking out down human predators when
the opportunity arises.
Environment: Urban or rural, generally anywhere man
Advantages: +2 dice to Combat and Health spells; +2
dice to summon one type of Spirit of Man (shaman's choice).
[Etienne has chosen Hearth Spirits]
Disadvantages: Mongoose kills the cobra by sheer determination;
Mongoose shamans have to roll a Willpower (6) test to break
off a fight. The shamans of the snakes know Mongoose
and do not like him; Mongoose shamans suffer +2 to social
tests when dealing with a shaman of any snake totem.
Description: Shaper is the idol of smiths and artisans.
He manipulates his environment to serve his needs. He
has had many faces in times gone past. In ancient times, he
was called Vulcan and Hephaestus and fire was his to control,
to create or destroy as he saw fit. He shapes the environment
to serve as flawlessly obedient automatons, tools, and weapons.
Mastery of his ability to manipulate that around him is his
passion and he is oft consumed by it, leading to a susceptibility
to deception and a general inability to sustain marital relationships.
His art is a boon to man and the Spirits of Man acknowledge
this. The Spirits of Waters, however, know of his ancient relationship
with fire in all its forms and are less willing to help him.
Environment: Urban, near crafted/forged objects and/or
Advantages: +2 dice to Manipulation spells, +2 dice
with Spirits of Man.
Disadvantages: -2 dice to resist Illusion spells,
-1 die when summoning Spirits of Water.
Description: Tiger is the exemplar predator.
He moves unseen in the night and strikes with precision and
strength. Eat or be eaten, survival of the fittest,
these are his mantras. Man is just another part
of the food chain, no more no less. Tiger sees everyone
prey, except perhaps proven predators that might be dangerous
to tangle with. As a result, his demeanor either
frightens or irritates most people. The meek
see him as threatening and the strong see him as confrontational
- "Damn why do I
get the feeling he's actually deciding whether or not to
eat me?" The Spirits of Man sense this lack of respect
for Man and as such, they are loathe to help him
Advantages: +2 dice to Combat and Detection spells
, +2 die when summoning either Forest or Mountain Spirits
Disadvantages: -1 die when summoning
Spirits of Man. +1 penalty to "friendly" Social Skill
target numbers (Etiquette, Instruction, Leadership, Negotiation).
The Shamanic Lodge
more powerful a Shamanic Lodge is, the more noticeable of an Astral
presence it will have. You have been warned...
Indirect Illusion Spells
these spells operate against a fixed target number, are generally
able to be cast at leisure, and are unlikely to be affected by
spell defense, they are limited to a number of successes equal
to the Force of the spell cast.
Running the Shadows
Target size modifiers.
Size is not really handled thoroughly for Perception tests.
As a general rule of thumb, the Perception test modifiers will
be twice those for Manual Gunnery found on pg. 153.
Stealth can affect Concealability.
Note: Shotguns are noisier
than normal guns (duh). Per Cannon Companion, a normal shotgun
blast is "the aural equivalent of full-auto fire". [CC103]
Beyond the Shadows
Companion] Cash for karma - You can buy a karma point for 5,000
nuyen or 10% of your current money, whichever is greater, but
only one point per run.
Companion] Karma for cash - You cannot sell karma. It's a bad
Improving the Character
Attributes - In general, I will not allow a PC to improve their
Attributes more than 3 points beyond their original value and
no more than one point per game year. Improvements beyond this
are possible, but require appropriate rationales and my approval.
[pg. 245] - You cannot simply buy new skills or raise your skills.
I have to approve any such changes. Do not have great expectations
to have a skill higher than 6.
Gear Ratings and Statistics
Concealability [pg. 270]
Note that on concealability, one factor that can make an object
less concealable is how likely people are to take notice of it.
A fist-sized book will attract less attention than a fist-sized
grenade. This also has the effect of being game balancing
Stealth can generally be used
as a Complementary skill for Concealability. This will be modified
by crowds, noise, your PC's awareness of his observers, etc. However,
this should facilitate folks being able to somewhat reliably sneak
a katana around in their longcoat just like their favorite head-chopping
immortal Scotsmen. However, more than one low concealability item
will make it significantly harder. You might say, "there
can be only one". :)
Racial Modification [pg. 272]
What really requires racial
modification? Basically, anything that depends on the size of
the character and/or precision grip. For Trolls, their huge fingers
are even more of a problem.
- Melee Weapons - No (I realize a rapier might not be balanced
well for both a Troll and human, get over it).
- Pistols, SMGs, and anything with a
pistol grip - Yes for Trolls
- Rifles, Shotguns, Assault Rifles, Heavy Weapons - No.
- Firearm accessories - No.
- Explosives - No.
- Clothing and armor - Yes, even shields,
as they need to be bigger/smaller as appropriate.
- Entertainment - Generally, no.
- Electronics - No.*
- Tools - Yes.
- Surveillance & Security - No.*
- Surveillance Measures - No.*
- Security Devices - No.*
- Survival Gear - Generally, no.
- Skillsofts & Chips - No.
- Cyberware - No.
- Cyberdecks & Programs - No.*
- Vehicles - for Dwarves, only if they
are using manual controls (not rigging); for Trolls, yes regardless.
* - You only really need bigger keys, plastic bits, whatever,
and the cost of a keyboard is trivial, so no change in cost. However,
a Troll might have problems using a human's deck and vice versa.
New Personal Weapons
5 - C
Brass knuckles: the old standby.
When you really want to make the punch count.
New Security Gear
Brass knuckles: the old standby.
When you really want to make the punch count.
Edges and Flaws
I am simply not going to include
them as a rule. It's a real burden to try and make the Flaws truly
feel like flaws and they are usually just free points. Also, given
the potential for imbalance for carefully selected Edges, the
risk seems to great. Finally, it's one more rulebook we have to
worry about, and it's not worth it. That said, if you think an
Edge or Flaw is crucial to your character concept,
feel free to ask, just don't get your hopes up. :)
Flaws and Edges I would consider:
- Ambidexterity [SRC96]: Only if it's essential, e.g. for a
two-gun-wielding John Woo special. See my
house rules for Ambidexterity.
- Blind [SRC19]: Because it's a disadvantage that does not require
Advanced Melee Combat
Arts: The Martial Arts styles will not be used.
Advanced Combat Rules
Using Two Weapons & Ambidexterity (Cannon Companion, pp. 95-96):
- Yes you can buy Ambidexterity with my approval, but it's all
or nothing. It costs 8 "Building Points" which you
can pay for with a combination of Attribute points (1 Attribute
Point = 2 Building Points) and/or Active Skill Points (1 Active
Skill Point = 1 Building Point).
- Ambidexterity is being able to use either hand equally well,
it is not a natural ability to fight with two weapons effectively,
therefore Ambidexterity will not obviate the need
for off-hand weapon skill if you wish to use two melee weapons
simultaneously. You can still fight with either hand, which
could be used to trick an opponent, or just plain handy if one
of your hands/arms is damaged.
- Just for clarity - If you shoot multiple targets, both weapons
suffer the additional penalties.
Armor degradation (Cannon Companion, pg. 96): For now, this optional
rule will not be used. If this happens,
it will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Athletics and dodging (Cannon Companion, pg. 97): This optional
rule will be used.
fire: I will use a modification of the rules in Cannon Companion
(pg. 107). Here are the differences:
- Bullets must be spread out as evenly as possible over the
- You must suppress at least a 2-meter area. Any less and you
are just dodging around the rules for recoil for a controlled
full automatic burst.
- Suppressive fire occurs at the end of the combat phase. This
allows targets to execute a free action first, such as Dive
to Cover or Drop Prone.