Shadowrun 4 to 5
With Shadowrun 5, a consolidation phase seems reached. Apart from
the limits idea, it's basically the same as SR4 so all its remedies apply here
too. The most important changes between Shadowrun 4 and 5
seem to be:
- Skill successes are truncated by attribute-based limits
- Combat has become less dependent on salves
- Magic has become less deadly, and drain generally increased
- Wifi is not as prominent as before.
Skills now go generally up to 12 (not 6) while retaining the (new
level)*2 Karma costs. New skills now cost 2 instead of 4.
Specializations now cost 7 instead of 2, making them useless for
skill levels < 2. In general, more dice are available; this is
offset by limits which limit the amount of successes (not
net successes) that you or your opponent can have.
- Physical limit: (Bod+Str*2+Rea) / 3
- Mental limit: (Log*2+Int+Wil) / 3
- Social limit: (Cha*2+Wil+Ess) / 3
- Device limit: Some equipment, such as weapons, have a built-in
limit (e.g. high-quality weapons allow more successes).
All are rounded up, so typical NPCs (everything 3) will have a
limit of 4 or 5 everywhere.
Some skills have been unified, some divided:
- Acrobatics now includes Climbing.
- The new Freefall skill includes rappelling.
- There is no Dodge skill anymore.
- There is no Shadowing skill anymore (might be subsumed under
Infiltration, or Tracking).
- Disguise and Impersonate are now separate skills.
- There is no Data Search skill anymore (subsumed under
That concludes the skill section. Attributes are mostly the same,
except for Initiative, described below.
Initiative is now (Rea+Int)+1W6 or more with reflex
boosters. Astral Ini is Int*2+2W6, Matrix (VR) is Int*2+4W6,
Rigging (VR) is Rea+Int+4W6. Like in SR3, after everyone had their
action, -10 is applied to all initiative and everyone >0 has a
second action. Delayed actions are only valid within 10
passes (i.e. are resetted once you get your next regular action);
they also cannot be taken to the next combat round.
On the receiving end:
- Dodging is done with Rea+Int, no limit. Equal successes
are grazing shot without damage (but touches, important for e.g.
poisons). Close combat uses the same to evade. Wound modifiers
apply to dodge tests.
- Disruptive actions can be taken anytime. In close
combat, evade/block/parry confer
+Acrobatics/Unarmed/Armed to dodging (against one attack) but
modify Ini by -5. Full defense takes -10 Ini but dodges
+Wil for the entire combat round (against multiple attacks).
- Reach (dis)advantages in close combat are always
applied to dodging (no +Attack anymore).
- Bullet salves take -1 per bullet after the
first one from dodge tests (i.e. all salves are "wide" now).
- Armor has only one value (no ballistic/plate anymore)
and seems to be generally higher, e.g. 12 for a armor jacket.
- A knockdown occurs when damage taken in a single hit
is greater than the physical limit.
- Overflow mental damage now converts 2 mental to 1
physical damage box.
- Electrical damage takes -5 Ini and -1 for all actions.
Subsequently getting hit prolongs the effect for 1 combat round.
- Fire damage occurs if Armor+Fire resistance+Fire AP (-6
for flame weapons, -P for spells, -2 for open flames) against
attacker's net successes fails. It starts with 3P and gets +1P
per combat round. Dousing the fire requires
water/vacuum/extinguisher use with Agi+Int, with net successes
reducing current damage level.
On the "giving" end:
- If you use a simple action to attack someone, the
second simple action cannot be another attack action (so no
multiple targets anymore, unless dice pool split).
- With a simple action, you can fire 1 bullet (SA
weapons), 3 bullets (BF) or 6 bullets (FA).
- With a complex action, you can fire 3 bullets (SA),
6 bullets (BF) or 10 bullets (FA weapons).
- No adding damage by bullets anymore, because all salves are
- Recoil adds up through actions and combat rounds until
at least one simple action is used for some non-firing activity.
Recoil compensation is 1 + Str/3 (round up) + weapon RC (+
vehicel bod, if mounted).
- Armed attacks are limited by the precision of a
weapon. Close combat weapons usually have precision 5, golf
clubs 4, chairs 3. Ranged weapons usually 4 or 5, some sniper
rifles 6. Improvised throwing weapons 3.
- Cyber smartlinks confer +2 dice, external smartlinks
only +1 (finally!). Aiming gives either +1 dice or +1
- Subduing an opponent in close combat requires a
successful Unarmed attack and then Str+net successes to be
greater than the opponent's physical limit. Escaping requires
Str+Unarmed roll with more net successes than the subduer
Sight modifiers (for firing, spells etc.) are caused by
smoke, absence of light, flare, wind, and range. They are counted
in categories (light -1, middle -3, strong -6), and only the worst
modifier counts (not a sum, as in SR1-4), although 2x the same
modifier raises the category by one (and 2x strong = -10). Vision
cyberware reduces categories, not modifiers.
- Initial ranges are middle -1, long -3, maximum -6.
- Flare compensation +2 flare, sunglasses +1 flare but -1 smoke.
- Infrared +1 smoke/+1 light, lowlight +2 light, ultrasonic +3
light but -1 smoke.
- Smartlink +1 wind, vision magnification +1 range (no
compensating very far shots by magnification 3 anymore).
- Tracer ammo +1 wind/+1 range.
Situational modifiers (for firing, spells etc.) are
running or in vehicle -2, in close combat -3, firing around
corners with smartlink -3. Blind firing stays at -6.
In SR4, magic had become very strong. It seems that it is
balanced a bit better now:
- Performing magic is always obvious to an
onlooker. The magic itself can be seen with a Perception test,
threshold 6-Force (or Spellcasting skill level-Force).
- The Force of the spell is now always the limit for
- Drain is now based on Force F, not F/2. This makes
bad-ass spells much less scalable.
- Direct combat spells inflict damage equal to their net
successes. Force is not added to it.
- Indirect combat spells work like guns, Force+net successes,
but can be dodged like guns too.
- To dispel a sustained spell, roll
Magic+Counterspelling against Magic+Force. Net successes reduce
Rituals now have multiple well-defined variants. Wards are
also made by one of the ritual variants now.
Enchanting items is far more attractive than before. It
does not cost karma, just money and time, as well as having the
skill. Astral signature is still visible so take care whom you
Odds & Ends
Using First Aid has a threshold of 2. Only successes
beyond 2 erase damage boxes. The damage boxes healed are divided
by 2 if the patient wears full body armor. Expected modifiers are
generally -2 for street conditions, -2 for awakened or 4 points
essence lost, and +6 for highest-grade medkit, for a total of
Logic + First Aid + 2 [Mental Limit] (2).
It seems that most equipment can be had both with and without
WiFi, but there is a specific "WiFi advantage" per piece of
equipment (e.g. wired reflexes and reaction enhancers are only
compatible when both are in WiFi mode).
Cyber/bioware, adept powers as well as spells can, at maximum,
raise an attribute by +4.
A substantial amount of cyber/bioware now increases some limit
instead of giving more dice.
And with that, thanks for reading and goodbye!
EOF: May 2016