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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

Shadowrun Companion

Magic in the Shadows

  • ?

Cannon Companion


Game Concepts

Metahumanity: Trolls

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!


Active Skill Categories [pg. 85]

Combat Skills

Unarmed 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 effect.

Magical Skills

Aura Reading: Aura Reading will be used as a complementary skill for Astral Perception.

Social Skills

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.

Technical Skills

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 2063, pg. 100; Availability 10, which is too high for a beginning character).

Knowledge Skills [pg. 89]

Specializations - Because of the vague nature of Knowledge skills, all Knowledge specializations need to be approved.

Area Knowledge
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.

Vocation Skills
You must buy one and only one vocation skill. This is a catch-all skill to reflect the smatterings of knowledge consistent with your character's 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. 90]

Free Background Skills
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]

Suppressive 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).

Dive 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.

Ranged Combat

Range and Base Target Number [pg. 109]

Vision 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."

Situational 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]

Clarification 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:

  1. 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.
  2. An armored target continues to spoil the effect of Flechette unless the armor is bypassed with a Called Shot.
  3. Partial cover still affects Called Shots, the penalty is not bypassed by taking a Called Shot.

Projectile Weapons

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 and grenades.



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 lives.

  • 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 flames

  • 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 as prospective 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

  • Environment: Wilderness

  • Advantages: +2 dice to Combat and Detection spells , +2 die when summoning either Forest or Mountain Spirits (shaman's choice).

  • Disadvantages:   -1 die when summoning Spirits of Man.  +1 penalty to "friendly" Social Skill target numbers (Etiquette, Instruction, Leadership, Negotiation).

The Shamanic Lodge

The more powerful a Shamanic Lodge is, the more noticeable of an Astral presence it will have. You have been warned...

Street Grimoire

Indirect Illusion Spells

Since 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


[Shadowrun 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.

[Shadowrun Companion] Karma for cash - You cannot sell karma. It's a bad idea anyway.

Improving the Character

Improving 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.

Training [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.

Street Gear

Gear Ratings and Statistics

Concealability [pg. 270]

Concealability subtleties: 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 for weapons.

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.

Personal Weapons

New Personal Weapons

Brass knuckles
(Str+1)M Stun
5 - C

Brass knuckles: the old standby.  When you really want to make the punch count.

Security Gear

New Security Gear

Insulated gloves

Brass knuckles: the old standby.  When you really want to make the punch count.

Shadowrun Companion

Character Creation

Point-based Character System - see my Building a Shadowrunner Page

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 policing.


Cannon Companion

Advanced Melee Combat

Martial 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.

Suppressive 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 suppression area.
  • 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.