Pen and Paper RPG House Rules

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New Prime Runner Qualities with Story Hooks

An human sized anthropomorphic rabbit was lounging in a small study tucked into an hidden region of the Jackpoint Matrix Host reading an article from the latest academic journal released by MIT&T on Nanotechnological Integrated Chip Manufacturing while his mentor putzed around with an old simulation program for 2d video games for some ancient console system from the 20th century.

“Uh, Fastjack?”

“Yes, Cereal?”

“Why did you want me to come to your study if you’re just going to play archaic video games while I’m here?”

“Well, hopefully I am teaching you. Pay attention to the game and watch how I interact with the code.”

Fruity stared for awhile at the complex interactions for about ten minutes before he noticed something weird…really weird.

“It’s almost as if your matrix manipulations have become partially invisible; if you weren’t paying attention then you wouldn’t pay attention if that makes sense?”

“You’re quick kid, most of the others can’t see it and of the rest only Slamm-o! picked it up faster.”

Fastjack paused the game and stretched causing his avatar to pop several times.

“Now you play and see if you can mimic me kid. This is super-cereal and if you can learn how you’ll have an huge advantage over the other script kiddies.”

“Hey, Fastjack you know I’m more than that. What will I learn from doing this?”

“Well, Frosted Flakes you’ll be able to with luck get one action off without attracting Overwatch attention and postpone convergence a little bit longer than normal.”

“Serious?”

“As cancer.”

“Who figured this out?”

“As far as I can tell it must have been the Dodger and from there it has spread like wildfire amongst the Elite of the Elite.”

“Are you saying?”

“Yeah, kid you’re graduating when you get this down. Full access to all Stage 3 protocols here at Jackpoint and you’ll be able to edit some threads.”

Cereal jumped up and hugged the old man and both were grinning ear to ear.

Game Mechanics:

Shadowrun tends to have a point were the characters hit a brick wall of growth in power as Karma trickles in and specialists find the costs to increase their key skills skyrocket. So, here are some Qualities that open up new avenues for character development or enable players to feel like their character is growing more powerful rather than standing still while also creating differentiation between powerful characters as there is a tendency for characters to become more similar to each other as they grow in power as the choices become somewhat obvious and characters fill up their weaknesses.

I think in most campaigns that these Qualities might not be available at character creation depending on what kind of campaign is wanted. They would be perfect for a Prime Runner campaign though!

Each character can only have one “Way” Quality. If a character already has a core Quality that is given to a follower of a Way than they can receive a discount on gaining the new Way Quality up to half the cost of the Way.

The Way of the Nerd (Quality):  15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Nerd with the Quality for 30 karma. The Nerd knows all and replaces what in previous ages would have been known as the sage and today are often fixers or assistants to established fixers. The Nerd must have at least six Logic based Knowledges or Skills at or above a Rating of 4. She gains a +2 for Matrix searches for information, for all Academic, Computer, Sixth World, and Hobby Knowledge tests the Threshold is lowered by 1, +1 to Mental Limit, the First Impression Quality with fellow nerds, and the “You know a Guy” choice in the Home Ground Quality but instead of being people in your neighborhood it involves fellow nerds regardless of location.

Nerd Story Hooks: The team’s regular fixer seems to have gotten an assistant and is now in charge of setting up runs for the team. The team is hired to rescue a Nerd who is supposed to head an important panel at Comic-con but is missing and presumed extracted by a corporate rival. One of the runners has a Nerd contact that needs help with a project and is willing to hire the runners.

The Way of the Assassin (Quality):  15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Assassin with the Quality for 30 karma. Assassins must take a Code of Honor though not necessarily the Assassin’s Creed though that would be the most common and the Assassin must have a Stealth skill at 6 or higher. Assassins receive half penalty for called shots, +1 to all Stealth group skill tests, the Natural Immunity Quality to a Poison of choice (4), and +2 to all Surprise related tests from detecting ambushes to making them.

Assassin Story Hooks: Large amounts of a deadly poison have been used to kill an important person and should’ve killed any assassin present. One of the players climbs up the ranks in the Triads and gets handpicked to learn from the dying master of assassins who needs a replacement. An extraction goes wrong when someone Elite manages to kill the target during the extraction at the worst possible time without being seen or detected. An Assassin is given a job he can’t refuse without ramifications that involves contradicting his Code of Honor if he succeeds.

The Way of the Decker (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Decker with this Quality for 30 karma. The Decker must have a Cracking Skill at 6 or higher. Convergence doesn’t happen until it hits 50 and the decker doesn’t start adding to the Overwatch on their first Matrix action if they succeed with 3 or more net hits on the test. The second Matrix action that would trigger Overwatch does happen as normal.

Decker Story Hooks: A demigod somehow learns about the new Decker Quality and has a team of G-men on hand to find a Decker that is elite enough to know this Quality so he can learn how to undo the ability. Maybe it might take some torture or maybe even some vivisection to get recalcitrant hackers to turn on their own.

The Way of the Face (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Adept with the Quality for 30 karma or awakened through an initiation and taken in place of a Metamagic with a discounted price of 15 Karma. A Face must have a Charisma of at least 5 and at least four Charisma based Skills at four or better. An Adept with this quality can now choose Powers that amplify the Charisma Attribute as well as enhance social tasks and abilities, and have their Social Limit increased by their Initiate Grade. A single Social Power purchased with this Quality comes at half cost in Power Points. If a non-Adept takes this way they gain First Impression, Exceptional Charisma, their contacts have +1 Loyalty for free, and +1 to their Social Limit.

Face Story Hooks: After a negotiation with a particularly interesting opponent of suitable gender and type the Face realizes that he has somehow been duped and outwitted by her. Did she use some sort of new Social Power or was it Pheromones? Who will win the rematch?

The Way of the Master (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Master with the Quality for 30 karma. The Master must have the desired skill at 6 or higher. The Master delves so deeply into a skill that they are able to achieve the near impossible especially when attempting extremely complex and difficult extended tasks. The Master receives an automatic hit on every ‘roll’ involving the Skill and has no Limit involving that Skill.

Master Story Hooks: MCT needs the best robotics expert in the world to fix a key problem on their latest SOTA drone. A prideful specialist PC faces off against a rival or enemy who has suddenly become much more dangerous.

The Way of the Wizard (Quality):  15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Wizard with the Quality for 30 karma or awakened through an initiation and taken in place of a Metamagic with a discounted price of 15 Karma. The Wizard must have the desired Magic Skill at 6 or higher and a Magic Attribute at 6 or higher. The spellcaster chooses an area of focus on a specific Magic Skill and the acting Force of any use of the Skill is increased by the Grade of the Initiate. So a Summoner with a Grade of 3 would when summoning a Force 4 spirit would attempt all tests as if it was a Force 4 spirit but the actual spirit would be Force 7.

Wizard Story Hooks: The Black Lodge attempts to recruit a PC offering access to new and amazing Power! A riddle in one book leads the PC to a question in another esoteric book which leads to an author which leads to an hidden Master who might be willing to train an apprentice…after a lot of drudgework is done!

The Way of the Dilettante (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Dabbler with the Quality or can be self taught for 30 karma. The Dabbler or Dilettante is exceptional in that they tend to know a shallow amount about any test that the character could possibly have a chance of knowing. The Dilettante  acts as if they have a 2 in a Skill or Knowledge that they could possibly have been exposed to including Languages. A Dilettante from the UCAS could’ve learned German in high school but wouldn’t have learned an extinct ancient version of German only available to specialist linguists and anthropology.

Dilettante Story Hooks: The Dilettante tried out for a trivia show for kicks and gets a call back that they are filming nest week.

The Way of the Totem (Quality):  15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Adept with the Quality for 30 karma or awakened through an initiation and taken in place of a Metamagic with a discounted price of 15 Karma. The Adept must have the Quality: Mentor Spirit to purchase a Totem Power Pool equal to up to his Grade +1. This pool is versatile and with a complex action the character can change the Powers in the Pool as long as those powers match the theme of the Mentor Spirit and the situation at hand. The player and GM are encouraged to invent new Powers for the situation that are fair and balanced such as allowing a Bat Adept to shift his Totem Pool to Blindfighting and Light Body to mimic a bat’s ability to “see” in the dark and glide as Light Body helps with falls and in another situation use Animal Empathy to “talk” with bats but not any other animals.

Totem Story Hooks: A mentor spirit appears to a character in a dream warning about possible dangers to one of his “children” and asking for the PC to find and protect him. The current run violates the ‘spirit’ of a PC’s Mentor Spirit…does the PC continue with the run or abandon his team?

The Way of the Mentat (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Adept with the Quality for 30 karma or awakened through an initiation and taken in place of a Metamagic with a discounted price of 15 Karma. The Mentat must have a Logic of 6. The Mentat has heightened cognitive ability and can now increase Logic along with Skills and Knowledges based on Logic by purchasing Adept Powers. The Initiate with this Quality has their Mental Limit increased by their Grade and gains the Analytical Mind Quality. A single Mentat Power purchased with this Quality is at half cost in Power Points. If a non-Adept takes this Way they gain the Exceptional Logic Quality, the Analytical Mind Quality, Photographic Memory, and +1 to their Mental Limit.

Mentat Story Hooks: An AI interested in humans and their form of intelligence finally discovers that Mentats exist and absolutely must have one. Is one of the PC’s going to be extracted or will the runners extract a mentat from his accounting job at Saeder Krupp?

The Way of the Warrior (Quality):  15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Adept with the Quality for 30 karma or awakened through an initiation and taken in place of a Metamagic with a discounted price of 15 Karma. The Warrior must have a ‘Code of Honor’ not necessarily the Warrior’s Code as presented in SR5 though that would be the most common and a Combat Skill of 6 or higher. The Adept with this Quality has heightened combat ability by having their Physical Limit increase by 1 and the Enhanced Accuracy Power in one combat skill equal to their Grade. The other major benefit is that the Power Point cost for Combat Sense, Mystic Armor, and Improved Ability (combat) is discounted by half.

Warrior Story Hooks: A particular brutal murderer is out killing the Warrior’s protected group and it is being splayed all over the news day in and day out. The Warrior must stop this monster. Will the rest of the team help with a pro bono run to catch a killer?

The Way of the Athlete (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Adept with the Quality for 30 karma or awakened through an initiation and taken in place of a Metamagic with a discounted price of 15 Karma. The Athlete must have an Athletics Skill of 6 or higher. When purchasing the Attribute Boost power the Athlete doesn’t have to pick a specific Attribute as it applies to all physical Attributes and the Adept can choose at will which Attribute to boost. The Athlete also gains the “Natural Athlete Quality” but instead of just +2 bonus the Initiate gets to add their Grade to the +2.

Athlete Story Hooks: A physical adept from an urban brawl team has just recently went from obscurity to star status and Mr Johnson wants to know why and how it can be duplicated.

The Way of the Ronin (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Street Samurai with the Quality for 30 karma. May have one piece of normal cyberware that is so integrated into his body/mind system that it acts as if it was deltaware for all purposes from Essence Cost to difficulty in Assensing it. The Ronin must have a Combat Skill of 6 or higher and a Physical Limit of 8 or higher. The Ronin also has a +1 to their Physical Limit and a +1 to their Accuracy/Physical Limit when using any of their cyberweapons as long as their Street Cred is higher than their Notoriety.

Ronin Story Hooks: The Ronin must make a decision between their Honor as a Street Samurai and their family when during a run they find out that something terrible has happened to a dependent.

The Way of the Merc (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Mercenary with the Quality for 30 karma. The Merc must have experience as a Mercenary and at least two Knowledges relating to Military or Combat subjects at 3 or better and a Physical Limit of 6. Availability of Milspec Gear acts as if it was 2 lower, +2 on Negotiation involving Milspec gear “exchanges”, +2 on Knowledge tests involving Armed Forces and combat related subjects from weapons lore to military history to who is in command of Fort Briggs, +1 to Physical Limit, and +1 to all Defensive Totals in combat.

Merc Story Hooks: Fixer calls up the Merc needing his expertise to look over some rare, expensive or dangerous military gear that just fell off the back of a truck that the fixer doesn’t know what it is or does…Old Desert Wars teammate leaves a cryptic message about one of their tours and is later found dead in an highly suspicious manner.

The Way of the Bodyguard (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Bodyguard with the Quality for 30 karma. The bodyguard must have at least a Perception of 4, a combat skill of 4 and a Physical Limit of 6. The bodyguard gains +2 to Perception totals, can ready a weapon as a free action, +1 to Reaction (treat as augmented), and gains a +2 bonus to resist being taken by surprise.

Bodyguard Story Hooks: The team’s extraction is foiled by the same Bodyguard again. An old contact of a runner is getting old and needs some help and will pay in pointers and nuyen.

The Way of the Gunslinger (Quality):  15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Gunslinger with the Quality for 30 karma. The gunslinger must have a firearm skill at 6 or higher and a Reaction of 6 or higher. The gunslinger gains a +1 to DV for any firearm, automatically succeeds on quick draws, and gains a +1d6 bonus to Initiative that is compatible with other forms of Initiative increases as long as the first action taken involves shooting a firearm.

Gunslinger Story Hooks: The gunslinger is challenged to a duel in the middle of a run at a really bad time. Does the gunslinger fight it out or turn yellow and back away to help his team?

The Way of the Sharpshooter (Quality):  15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Sharpshooter with the Quality for 30 karma. The Sharpshooter must have a ranged weapon skill of 6 or higher. The Sharpshooter may “Take Aim” as a free action as well as a simple action and can have as many cumulative actions as their Willpower. They also receive a +1 to DV with any firearm or Bow.

Sharpshooter Story Hooks: A fixer approaches the Sharpshooter with a fantastic offer of a new prototype sniper rifle from Ares for gratis but the Sharpshooter must record at least five instances of its use against live targets on a run. Does the Sharpshooter tell the team that part of the run is going to be recorded? A sharpshooter PC is given a job of shooting a politician from a grassy knoll. Is there more to this then a simple assassination?

The Way of the Rogue (Quality):  15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Rogue with the Quality for 30 karma. A Rogue must have at least three Skills in Stealth, Influence or Acting of at least 4 and at least three Knowledges at 4 that would be helpful to a Rogue. The Rogue has many faces from the cat burglar to the pick pocket to the fencer of stolen goods. The Rogue has a +2 to Negotiations involving stolen goods either buying or selling, the Lucky Quality, +2 to Knowledge tests involving stolen goods and appraisals, and +1 to Stealth skill group tests.

Rogue Story Hooks: Someone just stole the very expensive, rare, or cool ‘thing’ that one of the PC’s loves and they want it back and whomever stole it. That Rogueish fixer always seems to luck out when it comes to finding the best runs and has another one for the team. Track down where a missing art item for a local museum that a cat burglar recently burglarized. No one else will look out

The Way of the City (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another city dweller with the Quality for 30 karma. The character flows through and into a city or metro environment and has no requirement other than an urban background. Pick three categories in the “Home Ground” Quality and enjoy those bonuses for your home metroplex and also receive half the bonus they provide in any metroplex/urban environment. Contact maintenance is at half cost for any contacts related to the Quality. All critical glitches dealing with this Quality are downgraded to just glitches and regular glitches are ignored as you know the city like the back of your hand and aren’t going to make too big of a mistake.

City Story Hooks: Some new player in town is executing a small group of NPC’s who all have immense knowledge about what is going on in the city and that are influential almost like they want to keep something in the dark…

The Way of the Rigger (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Rigger with the Quality for 30 karma or developed on the character’s own after years of messing around with technology. The Rigger needs at least five Electronics, Engineering, Pilot, or Cracking Skills at 4 or better. The character gets the Gearhead and Juryrigger Qualities but when the Rigger tries to coax more using both Qualities the device doesn’t become a paperweight and if the Juryrigging succeeds by three or more past the threshold it becomes semi-permanent (lasts until a glitch is rolled then begins to unravel with a critical glitch causing instant destruction) rather than just a temporary fix.

Rigger Story Hooks: A fixer approaches the Rigger with an offer of a job to juryrig a prototype that someone somehow damaged so that it will work during a presentation for corporate big whigs.

The Way of the Tank (Quality): 15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Tank with the Quality for 30 karma or discovered on the character’s own after developing an insane exercise regimen for years. The Tank needs a Body of 6 or higher. The Tank receives the Qualities Toughness, Quick Healer, 3 levels of Will to live, and his Armor acts as if its Rating was 2 points higher when calculating for armor penetration.

Tank Story Hook: The team’s tank was taken down hard on the last run. After a long recovery he vows to never be beaten down again and begins a search for the toughest guys in history and how they got there…maybe he’ll even have to ask the team’s aggravating decker for help!

The Way of the Bard (Quality):  15 points at character creation and in game play can be learned from another Bard with the Quality for 30 karma or awakened through an initiation and taken in place of a Metamagic with a discounted price of 15 Karma. The Bard needs a Performance or Artisan skill at 6 or higher. The Bard gains the “critter” power of Influence and if not previously awakened becomes so with a Magic Rating of 1 after accounting for cyberware and other Essence penalties but if their Essence is below 3 they cannot take this Quality. The Bard can use their Performance skill or Artisan skill to add to their Influence total if the art or music evokes a feeling similar in vein to the goal of the Influence attempt or explicitly tells the listener to perform the action. Performing an happy go lucky drinking song makes it easy to use Influence to encourage people to drink for example or in between verses say “Hey, everyone I want you on the dance floor!” thus those susceptible would head to the dance floor though the less explicit the instructions the more difficult it is to Influence people. Those following the Way of the Bard often learn the Bardic Metamagic to enhance their abilities.

Bardic Metamagic:  Magicians who learn this Metamagic are able to merge their magic and their passion for Art into a seamless whole. New Metamagical Spells, Rituals and Preparations become open to the character. The Bardic Performance Artist gains the powerful ability to have their bandmates aid in teamwork tests for Ritual Sorcery even if they are not Awakened using their Performance in place of Ritual Sorcery as long as the band performs the full length of the Ritual and the art is judged appropriate for the type of Ritual. Death Metal works well for a Prodigal Spell Ritual while gentle folk music would be okay for an Healing Circle. The Bardic Artisan Artist  gains the ability to use a new Trigger “Discerning Attention” in which the Preparation releases its magic upon discerning observation or study of the Art object as long as it would make logical sense. A painting designed to make people recycle more with an Influence Spell or Power Preparation works while it would fail as an anchor for a Fireball. The Bard makes an Artisan + Intuition roll after creating the art/alchemy piece with the net hits limiting the Force of the Preparation.

Objet D’art Metamagic: The advanced Bard can go beyond the rules and weave their Art and Magic into an almost inseparable structure that is very difficult for most magicians to detect requiring a threshold of 6 for Assensing Tests. This Metamagic allows the Bard to invest his Art with magic and Influence even when he is not performing or in the presence of the art piece. The bard makes an Performance/Artisan + Charisma/Intuition + Magic [Social] (24, Y) Extended Test with the Objet d’art’s Force of the Influence Spell or Power being equal to the Bard’s Initiate Grade with a duration of the Influence Power being equal to Grade times Y in time units (If (24, day) with a Grade of 3 the duration of the Artistic Preparation is 3 days after which it begins to decay following the rules of Alchemical Preparations with Y times). Karma equal to the Initiate’s Grade can be spent to extend the duration by one step on the “Extended Test Intervals” with the step after “Mammoth” being a year so with the example above karma expenditure would extend the duration to 3 weeks.  The created item is threaded with almost indetectable magic that can evoke an emotion or influence an action amongst those who view or listen to the Art even if it is a recording or simulacrum though depending on the quality of the duplication suffers penalties to the rolls. Even after the Artistic Preparation has faded an echo remains that the sensitive soul can feel.

Bard Story Hook: Rumors of a new marketing graphic artist wiz at Horizon hits the shadows and it seems that everyone has taken a big interest in her and are looking for an extraction including Novatech, Aztechnology, and no less than three dragons. Who will the Runners work for and how many other Shadowrunning teams will be looking to do the same? Someone in the Matrix is going around deleting a really awesome song called ‘Pride and Power’ that a trog rock band made celebrating strength and pride in who you are and what you might become that seems to have started a movement and is a rallying point for the Ork Underground in Seattle now that they are a city district. That someone erased the song off of the team Decker’s cyberdeck!

The Way of the Righ (Quality):  15 points at character creation and in game play must be awakened through an initiation and taken in place of a Metamagic with a price of 15 Karma. There are several requirements to following this Way which include the character must be an elf, have a Magic and Charisma of 6 or higher, a Sorcery Skill of 6 or higher, cannot take geasa, and cannot have cyberware or bioware as the body must be pure. The Righ gains +2 to all social tests with other Elves, has the Exceptional Magic and Charisma Qualities, and a +1 to Sorcery Skill Group tests.

Righ Story Hook: The Righ by his nature will draw the attention of other elves and eventually ‘Elves’ who will likely seek to use him or her as a pawn in their games. If a PC the Righ may get preferential treatment from a Mr. Johnson or another Runner team may be hired to “extract” him. If an NPC the players may be hired to kill, extract, or influence the Righ or maybe the Righ is one of the characters new love interest or even a relative in need of help and over their head.

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