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Shadowrun Overhaul: Astral Combat House Rule and two new Qualities


Astral Combat:

Eliminate the Active Skill Astral Combat.

From a game mechanic min/maxing meta point of view the only character likely to purchase Astral Combat at an high level would be an Adept wanting to fight non-materialized spirits. Even in that case a smart spirit would take advantage of the astral environment to stay out of range of a dual natured enemy limited to just close combat. The adept would be a 2d character fighting a 3d enemy.

A magician would be better off using any Karma spent on Astral Combat on specialized spells that target astral beings from an effectiveness and efficiency perspective.

If Mystic Adepts could Astrally Project and you were making an astral combat warrior than there might be some usefulness to the skill as the mystic adept could combine ranged and close combat in the astral then but since they can’t without a house rule even that option falls flat. Otherwise the 42 Karma spent to make a solid professional Astral Combat skill could be spent on 8 spells or raising your Magic rating or Spellcasting and the character would see a much larger return on their investment.

So, why have the skill if it is just a point sink, not very effective compared to Spellcasting or Banishing, and is very rarely used even in magic heavy campaigns? You get the occasional character getting a 1 in it just for emergencies. Even then with a 1 you’re not likely to be effective in astral combat so you might as well use that Karma somewhere that provides consistent benefit in as many arenas as possible.

In the end a magically talented character is more powerful and more versatile in the Astral Realm by NOT learning Astral Combat. This kind of defeats the purpose.

Instead…

An astrally projecting Mage with a weapon focus can just use her Weapon Skill or use her Unarmed Skill when attacking with her astral body just as if she was attacking an astral form with her meat body. Absolutely no need for the skill. If a PC has sunk points into the Skill give her one or both Qualities below or add the karma cost to a close combat skill. The character can even use appropriate Martial Arts Techniques against Astral opponents. Rumors of a Martial Art devoted to Astral Combat have surfaced in Hong Kong involving a variant of Wu Shu which takes advantage of the possibilities in the astral realm and uses maneuvers that would only be possible while in astral form.

A sapient creature native to the Gaiasphere may attack a materialized Spirit and substitute Charisma for Strength during a melee attack for damage purposes and bypass the Spirit’s Immunity to Normal Weapons. The creature may also be able to defend against a materialized spirit by using the Steeling the Will Interrupt Action. These actions should be powered by the story and fueled by powerful emotion and not something that a typical being would be able to tap into at will or very often. Hate, Fear, Rage or even Love of another could empower even the most physically feeble of defenders to harm the mightiest of spirits. This also brings some hope for a team should the mage get geeked as spirits are pretty much unstoppable by mundanes in many situations. I could imagine a water elemental drowning a Face and getting a little surprise. A PC can tap into this rage or will by spending a point of Edge and taking the appropriate Interrupt Action if there isn’t adequate story reasons or if they don’t have the necessary Qualities.

Spirit Brawler:

Positive Quality: 10 Karma (Can be learned after character creation without doubling Karma cost with an Instructor who has this Quality and takes a month of intensive training)

This Quality was originally codified by charismatic welterweight boxing champion Lee Ray McDaniel after an event in 2018 when a shadow boogeyman spirit tormenting his daughter caused her to scream in terror waking him up and he rushed into her room and lashed out with all his fear and rage into the materialized spirit with a single right hook that ‘knocked it out’ in one hit.

Decades later a squad of Red Samurai honored an elderly Lee Ray upon his induction to the Boxing and MMA Hall of Fame with a masterwork Daisho crafted by the Imperial Swordsmith saying that the reason they were able to survive the Manila Bug swarm of ’58 and save thousands of lives was because of his techniques that he freely taught to respectful members at his dad’s gym in between fights during his entire career.

A spirit brawler can in melee combat add his Charisma to his Strength to increase the DV of his attack against a spirit in the physical world or any astral being that is Materialized. The attack also counteracts the power Immunity to Normal Weapons for materialized astral forms. A dual natured spirit brawler can do the same against astral targets when in close combat.

Against an astral target a projecting spirit brawler still knows the right way to channel their rage and strike an astral form in close combat to do the most damage and thus have their DV and appropriate Limit/Accuracy raised by 1 when in astral melee combat.

A spirit brawler is experienced with combat with spirits and has improved defenses to prove it. Their limit is increased by 1 when actively defending against any attack by an astral form or a materialized spirit.

Steeling the Will: 

Positive Quality: 5 Karma (Can be learned after character creation without doubling Karma cost with an Instructor who has this Quality and takes a month to learn)

A newly commonly available ability by many soldiers in special or elite forces that deal with dangerous spirits on a regular basis. This Quality allows the use of a new Interrupt Action “Steeling the Will” at will. Developed separately by the Sioux and by the Wuxing Megacorporation in the sixties it has since been made available to be trained in by most of the world’s armed forces.

Interrupt Action

(-5 Initiative)

A trained and prepared defender with the Quality of the same name can at will take a brief moment to focus their minds and gain additional “Armor” equal to their Willpower for the rest of the Combat Turn when resisting physical attacks or damage from a physical medium that are caused by Materialized Spirits. This Interrupt Action can be spontaneously used by the untrained who are mentally very disciplined through meditation or introspection or it can be the product of a cold rage such as could be felt by a parent defending a child from a malicious spirit.

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Shadowrun Overhaul: A Talismonger’s Guide to Hunting and Gathering Reagents


Wrote this up for a campaign with a PC as a talismonger with the rest of the team as her employees. The campaign deals with the chaos in the Talismonger community after the casualties of the Dragon Civil War. Since the system in the books is pretty sparse and basic I came up with something more realistic that would make it clear how much of a difference an hot spot makes in the bottom line of a talismonger.

In my next post I will be further explaining the value of the Grade of the reagent which is glossed over in Street Grimoire and just priced in Shadow Spells. I also came up with a new mechanic called Glitch Prone to handle the poor grades of the reagents. I don’t follow the pricing of Reagents shown in Shadow Spells partly because I use an house rule for how reagents work and partly because demand is up and supplies are down these days.

I have also invented a new type of Reagent called Flawless. It takes 10 Radical Reagents to make 1 Flawless Reagent. Orichalcum is made of 3 Flawless Reagents not 30 Radical. This change was because of my new Artificing rules and because it seemed more elegant to my new rules on what reagents do besides help with focus creation.

There are two types of search when looking for Reagents. The Hunt and the Gather. When Hunting in order to avoid harming the reagents the Hunter needs to use treated and clean weapons of the bow and arrow or melee type as more high tech weapons harm the quality of the reagents.

First of the Talismonger picks an area to Hunt and/or Gather in and the GM decides the state of the area and rolls for how many reagents it would be possible to harvest in that area if harvesting. If Hunting the GM decides what critters are in the area and their possible qualitative and quantitative value for reagent harvesting. If Gathering the key for the talismonger is to find the reagents, notice their quality and harvest them correctly.

Depending on hazards of the location whether urban or wilderness the PC is likely to need to make a Survival Test or three as most talismongers are going to be covering a lot of ground searching for as many reagents as they can find as quickly as they can find. In many cases this could lead to many days in places far from civilization. As some locales are hidden or out of the way or difficult to travel in and out of the smart talismonger doesn’t want to make many different short trips if one long trip can get the job done.

A smart talismonger has bodyguards or security when traveling in dangerous areas as they will be significantly distracted by the process of assensing an area to gather and harvest reagents or hunting a critter. It is far too easy for a hunter to be on the scent of one critter and get blindsided by the critter they didn’t know was also in the area.

It would be wise to have someone skilled in Outdoors Skills like Navigation to get to the region and go from area to area and Survival to…survive. When Hunting a critter someone with a good Hunting Knowledge and Tracking Skill will make the difference between an happy bottom line and a disgraceful snipe hunt.

Game Mechanics:

An Arcana + Logic [3] Test would be appropriate if the Talismonger is searching for a reagent appropriate for their or a client’s needs. Say a client who is a Mountain shaman wants a Power Focus than the Talismonger would spend some time to consider what kind of specimen or source would provide the best results as a part of a telesma. This is part of the process of tailoring the focus to the client. Net hits above the threshold of this test and successful gathering of the specified reagents to be used should provide tangible benefits to the talismonger like a bonus die per extra hit on a test as well as to the client such as lessening the Karma cost by the extra hits that the shaman would need to bond with the focus. A good talismonger should have a strong sense of how mana and reagents work. This also rewards the PC’s for going along with the GM’s adventure plot.

Hunting:

Tracking Skill and Hunting Knowledge Tests are par for the course once the team has made it to the area.

Once found the critter can be slain but depending on the way it was slain the reagents could be harmed.

The GM will have to decide the Potency of the critter and make some rolls to determine the reward for the team.

Talismongers with control over an area or with ethical reservations about killing the critters can use non-lethal incapacitating weapons and try and harvest what they can from a critter. In many cases this is the smarter choice depending on how the reagents express for that species. For example a talismonger in Wales is famous for making Foci out of the superior reagents made of shorn wool from his awakened black sheep.

Trapping and Fishing are other options that a Survival Test can help with. Non-lethal Trapping simply traps the animal in such a way as to do no physical harm to the animal and thus avoid harm to the reagents prior to harvesting.

The Specimen:

The GM decides on the Potency of the Critter by comparing the power level of the critter to a starting PC with some consideration about how “magical” the critter is, how important the critter is to the talismonger’s tradition, and the nature of the specific critter that is being hunted like if it is an Alpha or an Omega.

Potency:

Superhuman Rating: Prime Quality with 5d6 or more raw reagents

Superior Rating: Prime Quality with 1d6 or more raw reagents

Equal Rating: Superior Quality with 1d6 or more raw reagents

Inferior Rating: Baseline Quality with 1d6 or more raw reagents

Spirit’s Potency:

Of Talismonger’s Summoning Tradition: Superior Quality with Force reagents

Of Different Tradition: Baseline Quality with Force reagents.

If Great Form: Raise Quality by 1 and Force x 2 reagents.

Hunting Techniques:

Best Practices: No Modifier

Non-lethal Trapping techniques, treated traditional fishing equipment, careful harvesting of living animals especially domesticated animals, capture using weapons like bolas or some manipulation magic, or when a critter is killed by melee and archery weapons that are specially treated and cleansed.

Poor Practices: Quality -1

Using melee or archery weapons which have ‘dirty’ mana. The same residue that a Psychometrist can read from an object can harm the integrity of the mana in the critter and thus the reagents. Indirect Combat Spells and some Manipulation spells as well. Methods that cause the critter to endure long term negative emotions or pain prior to harvesting can spoil the reagents as well.

Bad Practices: Quality -1 per box of damage from a bad source

Direct Combat Spells that do physical damage scramble and mutilate a target’s mana on a massive scale as do firearms and demolitions. Direct Combat Spells that do Stun damage may only disrupt its mana temporarily and can be used to capture and then after a sunrise or sunset allow harvesting without penalty.

Harvesting Modifiers:

The Goose who laid the Golden Eggs: Lessen the amount of reagents harvested by at least half but the talismonger is able to harvest reagents without harming the critter. The GM should decide how long of a period is necessary for reagents to renew depending on the form of the reagent. Taking a tail feather from an awakened bird means you have to wait until the tail feather grows back. This also works for domesticated animals.

Fresh: No Modifier.This is when a talismonger harvests the corpse of a critter or any once living matter before the corpse had experienced its first sunset or sunrise which will disrupt the mana in the critter just like dawns and dusks wipe out temporary magical lodges.

Didn’t use an Alchemy Kit to Harvest: Lowers Quality by 1 and makes transportation difficult as a kit enables the talismonger to coax the mana into a few small areas. Instead of reagents weighing less than a dozen grams a piece now have a weight of at least a kilogram per dram.

Mana Level: If the critter had spent most of the latter part of its life in an high or low Background Count or Domain than the GM can add a d6 or subtract a d6.

Not Fresh: Lowers Quality by 1. This could be shed fur or a scale that fell or rubbed off found at the critter’s home or when a critter is slain and brought to a talismonger after a sunset or sunrise has past.

Ancient or High Status Critter: Raises Quality by 1

Final Potency and Quality of the Specimen:

Tally up all the modifiers above until you have a Quality modifer and roll to see how many drams are there. A Quality raised by 1 that was of Baseline starting Potency and Abundancy increased by 1d6  would yield 2d6 Superior raw reagents.

Harvesting the Reagents:

First an Assensing + Intuition [Astral] (# of reagents, minute) Extended Test to locate and understand the mana and its concentration within the specimen. The character can only harvest the reagents that she can find in this process. Thus, if she stops getting six hits than that is how many reagents she can harvest as a maximum.

Then make an Alchemy + Intuition [Astral] (2x # of reagents, hour) Extended Test to concentrate and focus the mana in the specimen and harvest the reagents. Every hit on the Test can be split between concentrating the reagent and harvesting the reagent. A talismonger in a hurry can choose to skip the concentrating part and instead of reagents weighing under 12 grams a piece each reagent weighs at least a kilogram apiece. Once Harvested a reagent can’t be further concentrated without disrupting the mana making bulky reagents less valuable and useful for many endeavors. Superior 5th Generation Alchemy Kits also lower the time interval required in half and provide other benefits.

If attempting to harvest from a critter in a renewable way than an additional hit on the above test can be spent to carefully harvest without harming the critter or its ability to recover its reagents in the future. The GM should decide how much can be harvested safely but no more than half of its total reagents should be available without harm.

An Animal Handling Test may be necessary should the critter be awake and mobile. More reagents can be harvested in a renewable way from a calm, alert, and trusting critter. In many cases this isn’t possible and the critter should be harvested while immobile or unconscious. When a critter is in that sort of state its mana is in flux making it more difficult to concentrate the mana into reagents safe to harvest without harming the critter.

Gathering:

Parabotany, Parageology, Magical Theory, and other knowledge tests can help out with finding good spots to gather reagents.

These are the factors that will determine how many and what quality the reagents might be in the area. It is possible that more than one source of reagents might be in an area and if that is true the grade of the raw reagents may differ between the various sources in the area. The Status of an Area might be excellent but if it is well known it is probably being harvested regularly and thus not as objectively good an area as another. All the pieces connect.

Source:

The Source of the reagents could be a gold vein, a stalactite, a critter nest, ancient bones, moss on a gravestone, feathers discarded by an awakened eagle, petrified shit from a blackberry cat who ate the wrong magical compound, a chess set used in a grandmaster match, the discarded wood shavings leftover from making icons of Cthulu by a lunatic carpenter obsessed with HP Lovecraft, old amusement park coins discovered in a junked automated fortune teller, the smaller piece of a wishbone broken and discarded in tears by a child, and more.

The Abundancy of the Source:

Potent: 3d6 base reagents.

Baseline: 1d6 base reagents.

Poor: no base reagents.

The Purity of the Source:

Pristine: Raise Quality by 1.

Typical: No Modifier.

Poor: Lower Quality by 1.

The Status and Potency of the Area:
Prime: Rare pristine places free of physical and astral pollution and very little interaction with metahumanity. Or places of relatively pure purpose, emotion, and intent. Cathedrals, a memorial, a family graveyard tended lovingly for a dozen generations, an old half forgotten out of the way research library at one of the first universities like Salerno or Oxford, the original historical set of buildings at West Point, or a sept’s castle. Prime base Quality
Superior: Clean or Esoteric locales like a bucolic village or well maintained park with little but good natured traffic. A centuries old graveyard open to the public but off the beaten path, an old bookstore district, a community church where famous abolitionists gathered, a research lab at a quality university. Superior base Quality
Baseline: Mundane like most areas on earth: Baseline base Quality
Subpar: The nicer part of the Barrens. Subpar base Quality
Inferior: The bad part of the Barrens. Inferior base Quality
Tainted: Whole swathes of Tsimshian. Tainted base Quality

Resting State of the Area:
Untouched: Hasn’t ever been harvested. Quality raised by 2 and number of drams is raised by 3d6.
Unspoiled: Hasn’t been harvested in years. Quality raised by 1 and number of drams is raised by 2d6.
Fallow: Hasn’t been harvested in months. Number of drams is raised by 1d6.
Cultivated: Has been harvested this month. No Modifier.
Recently Harvested: Has been harvested this week and most of the reagents were found. Lower Quality by 1 and drams by 1d6.

These two factors can also define the Resting State of the Area and can both impact the above States.
Over Harvested: Area has been Harvested more than once a month for a year. Lowers Quality by 1 and drams by 1d6.
Tapped Out: Talismongers regularly harvest every single reagent in the Area for a year. Lowers Quality by 1 and drams by 3d6.

Harvesting the Reagents:

First an Assensing + Intuition [Astral] (# of reagents, minute) Extended Test to locate and understand the mana and its concentration within the specimen. The character can only harvest the reagents that she can find in this process. Thus, if she stops getting six hits than that is how many reagents she can harvest as a maximum.

Then make an Alchemy + Intuition [Astral] (2x # of reagents, hour) Extended Test to concentrate and focus the mana in the specimen and harvest the reagents. Every hit on the Test can be split between concentrating the reagent and harvesting the reagent. A talismonger in a hurry can choose to skip the concentrating part and instead of reagents weighing under 12 grams a piece each reagent weighs at least a kilogram apiece. Once Harvested a reagent can’t be further concentrated without disrupting the mana making bulky reagents less valuable and useful for many endeavors. Superior 5th Generation Alchemy Kits also lower the time interval required in half and provide other benefits.

Final Potency and Quality of the Source:

Tally up all the modifiers above until you have a Quality modifer and roll to see how many drams are there. A Quality raised by 1 that was of baseline starting Potency and baseline starting Abundancy increased by 1d6  would yield 2d6 Superior raw reagents.

Glitch Prone:

This quality of a reagent is a way for the GM to show the dangers of cheap reagents and gives a mechanic to the story fluff in Street Grimoire that talked about foci made from inferior reagents. It would be easy to apply this mechanic to making new negative qualities for characters, guns, computers et cetera so feel free to do so.

Minor Glitch Prone: Whatever magical test the reagent is used for is modified so any 2’s rolled are counted as a 1 for declaring a glitch or critical glitch.

Major Glitch Prone: Whatever magical test the reagent is used for is modified so any 2 or 3 rolled are counted as a 1 for declaring a glitch or critical glitch.

Critically Glitch Prone: Whatever magical test the reagent is used for is modified so any non hit is counted as a 1 for declaring a glitch or critical glitch.

Quality of Reagents:

The Quality of a refined reagent is determined by the lowest grade of a component. So 9 Prime raw reagents and 1 subpar raw reagent yields 1 subpar refined grade reagent making accurate discovery of the grade of all reagents important during the refining process especially with Orichalcum as the purity of the Orichalcum becomes a big deal at that level of cost. The benefits of Prime and Superior Quality reagents will be described in my next post.

Prime: 100% higher base cost and 50% faster to refine than baseline reagents.

Superior: 50% higher base cost and 25% faster to refine than baseline reagents.

Baseline: No modifer to base cost or refining time.

Subpar: 25% lower base cost and 25% slower to refine than baseline reagents. Minor Glitch Prone.

Inferior: 50% lower base cost and 50% slower to refine than baseline reagents. Major Glitch Prone.

Tainted: 75% lower base cost and 75% slower to refine than baseline reagents. Critically Glitch Prone.

Unusable: No value and impossible to refine with current alchemical techniques. Can’t be used with magic.

Equipment:

Alchemy kits: are very portable tools for Alchemists and help with harvesting reagents, preserving, and focusing discovered reagents into a smaller more portable raw form. An Alchemist might take a vial and some rare herbs and powders and take a little blood from a slain paracritter and weave the mana from the corpse into the blood mixing into the vial or use a ritual athame to cut a wand from a lightning damaged tree and have the dozen “raw reagents” channeled into just the wand or takes a bucket of awakened berries and weaves the mana into an handful saving space and providing ease of use as no mage wants to carry a bucket of reagents while on a run. A fifth gen kit increases the Astral Limit by 1 and cuts harvesting time in half as well as concentrating the reagents into portable objects. A 4th gen is standard also concentrates reagents and a 3rd gen doubles the normal time.

Alchemy Kit Enhancements: Adding extra features like the Ghostbusters Enhancement that lets Talismongers salvage reagents from Spirits or a kit tailored to a specific Tradition which raises Harvesting Test Limits by 1 if the Talismonger is of that Tradition. Think of a good enhancement and there is probably some doodads the alchemist can buy that will enable that help.

Prices:                                                                                                       

Increase the cost of any Magical Compounds in the books by 25% to 50% and increase Availability by 1 to represent supply and demand.

Item Retail Price Availability
Raw Grade 20¥ per dram
Refined Grade 450¥ per dram 6 + 1 per dram
Radical Grade 5000¥ per dram 8 +1 per dram
Flawless Grade 55,000¥ per dram 10 + 2 per dram
Orichalcum 175,000¥ per dram 14 +3 per dram
Prime Quality +100% Base Cost +2
Superior Quality +50% Base Cost +1
Subpar Quality -25% Base Cost -3
Inferior Quality -50% Base Cost -5
Enchanter’s Lab 5th Gen 75,000¥ 12
Enchanter’s Lab 4th Gen 40,000¥ 10
Enchanter’s Lab 3rd Gen 25,000¥ 10
Microlab 5th Gen 100,000¥ 12
Microlab 4th Gen 60,000¥ 10
Alchemy Kit 5th Gen 10,000¥ 12
Alchemy Kit 4th Gen 4000¥ 10
Alchemy Kit 3rd Gen 1000¥ 8
Alchemy Kit Enhancements 1000¥ each +1
Minor Foci (F x 900¥) + (F x OR x 250¥) (F x 2)
Major Foci (F x 10,000¥) + (F x OR x 250¥) (F x2) +4
Grand Foci (F x 110,000¥) + (F x OR x 250¥) (F x 3) + 3
Focus Tailoring (Days x 1000¥) + (3 x Reagent) +2
OR is Object Rating of Telesma Doesn’t include cost of Telesma

D&D 5e House Rules: Familiarity vs Skill Proficiency


With this rule I am blending the Jack of All Trades Feature idea from Bards and the Background optional rule from the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Familiarity with a Skill, or Tool grants the character a bonus equal to half their Proficiency bonus.

Familiarity with a Weapon, Armor, or Language gives the ability to communicate and comprehend basic everyday concepts or the ability to use or wear weapons and armor without the benefit of bonuses from Strength and Dexterity Ability Score Modifiers and with Stealth Disadvantage as well as a higher risk of exhaustion.

Familiarity represents a basic knowledge or ability that would be gained with an apprenticeship, training, or heavy exposure and use of a Skill. It basically represents completion of an apprenticeship within the purview of the Background.

A Bard with the Jack of All Trades feature can be regarded as having Familiarity with all skills, tools, languages, weapons, armor, and ability checks that the Bard can reasonably explain that they might have been exposed to during their journeys. A Bard would not be familiar with a gunpowder weapon if it was foreign to their travels but would quickly pickup the basics of a flintlock after seeing it in action or given a quick tutorial.

Each Background in the Player’s Handbook or created by the DM now only provides Proficiency in one Skill or Tool but instead provides Familiarity with any tasks that the Player can reasonably explain via their character’s history.

Gaining Familiarity in gameplay is relatively easy if during the game the PC is often engaged in activities surrounding the topic such as a Rogue impersonating a low ranking janitorial employee of a Fugger bank for a few seasons would pick up a lot of the jargon and concepts of the banking world just by exposure and overhearing conversations. The player just makes a good argument to the DM or other players depending on your style of play for why she should be familiar with a given process or tool.

For example:

A merchant’s daughter who accompanied her mother on her monthly journey to the Elven trading outpost at the borders of Qualinesti might reasonably have picked up proficiency in Elven customs, language, and writing system along with an understanding of appraisal, markup, accounting, paying tariffs, and general rules of trade. Maybe she played in the forest with elven children and learned a little about surviving in the forest or practiced with an elven composite shortbow enough to not embarrass herself with the other kids.

A squire to a knight who paid for his living by traveling from one tourney to the next across the many lands and city states of the Marches might be Familiar with Martial Weapons and Light, Medium, and Heavy Armors while picking up an understanding of how to gamble and place bets, analyze other warriors for strengths and weaknesses, a smidgeon of an half dozen languages and more dialects, a fairly comprehensive list of the Heraldry of prominent champions, fighting houses, martial orders or tourney hosts, and how to behave without embarrassing yourself around knights and lesser nobility.

With Armor the character with Familiarity must make a Constitution Saving Throw equal to the AC rating of the armor after every full minute of constant battle or 8 hours of wear while active.

D&D House Rules:

Character Creation Backgrounds

Crafting, Magic Items, and Economics

Familiarity vs Proficiency

Character Focus

Tactics of Mistake

Counterattacking

Shadowrun Overhaul: Knowledges and Skills Overhauled


I went through and attempted to balance out the skills list in fifth edition Shadowrun which are a mess. At least they took Herding and Lockpicking out as you can see by looking at the Errata for page 90. So, I consolidated a lot of the weak Skills or pushed them into Knowledges were many of them belonged anyway. The other major change is the introduction of Concentrations. Many of the Skills should be grouped together for someone who is really good at one thing is very likely to be good at the other. A master gymnast is likely to be an excellent swimmer if she was properly trained and it wouldn’t take nearly as long for her to be trained as it would someone starting athletics from scratch. This system uses my Character Advancement rules. With the consolidation of so many skills into a single skill there are no longer Skill Groups in this system. There are two additional Knowledge categories: Wilderness and Science & Technology. Wilderness works much like Street but deals with life outside of the urban environment. Science & Technology represents practical, theoretical, and applied knowledge within the sciences and technology fields.

Concentrations: Each Skill has three or more concentrations listed with it. With purchase of the skill comes one Concentration for free and each additional Concentration must be purchased in order to access that part of the skill.

Defaulting: The penalty for defaulting when having the Skill but not the needed Concentration is -5. Without the Skill it defaults to Attribute -3 though certain ubiquitous and simple abilities may get a -1.

Character Creation: Skills Priority Table: A: 40 skill points/ 20 Concentration or Specialization points, B: 30/15, C: 25/10, D: 20/10, E: 15/10. Max Skill or Knowledge Rating during Character Creation: 10.

Knowledges keep the free 2(Int + Log) points as in the base rules but in addition to that everyone gets 10 free points they can spend only on Knowledges in the Interests Category.

Character Skill Group Conversion: Any character with a Skill Group can be converted to a Skill with +2 extra Concentrations. So, an Athletics Skill Group of 4 would become an Athletics of 4 with three Concentrations.

Skills:

Performance: Singing, Per Instrument, Dancing,  Comedy, Dramatic Acting, Official Presentations, and more disciplines that involve captivating an audience by using your body or mind and its actions as the medium while Artisan deals with influencing an audience via a created work of art.

Artisan: Cooking, Sculpting, Drawing, Painting, Calligraphy, Runic Inscriptions, Metalwork, Jewelry, Carpentry, Scrimshaw, Glasswork, Ceramics, Matrix Graphic Design, Fashion Design, and other disciplines involving creating an objet d’art as the medium.

Gunnery: Artillery, Ballistic, Energy, Guided Missile, and Rocket.

Piloting: Deep space, Launch craft, Semi-ballistic, suborbital, Fixed Wing, Lighter than air, Rotary wing, Tiltwing, Vectored thrust, Walker, Exotic Vehicle, Bike, Hovercraft, Tracked, Wheeled, Modern Watercraft, Archaic Watercraft, Submarine, and Remote Operation. *A Rigger would need Remote Operation and Bike Concentrations to rig a bike from a distance.

B/R Hardware: Deep space, Launch craft, Semi-ballistic, suborbital, Fixed Wing, Lighter than air, Rotary wing, Tiltwing, Vectored thrust, Walker, Exotic Vehicle, Bike, Hovercraft, Tracked, Wheeled, Modern Watercraft, Archaic Watercraft, Submarine, Bioware Repair, Vat Repair, Commlinks, Smartguns, Cyberdecks, Matrix Host Servers, Robotics, Hydraulics, Structural Engineering, Electrical Power Systems, Bodyware, Cyberlimbs, Headware, Armor, Artillery, Explosives, Firearms, Melee Weapons, Heavy Weapons, Weapon Accessories, Biodrones, Nanomanufacturing Devices, Genetank Repair, Nanoware, Rigging equipment, Exotic Weapons, and Exotic Hardware.

Programming: Software, Computing, Cybercombat, Complex Forms, Compiling, and Decompiling.

Cracking: Encryption, Electronic Warfare, Registering, and Hacking.

Close Combat: Blades, Clubs, Throwing, Cyber, Exotic Melee Weapon, and Unarmed. “X” Martial Art may be taken as a Specialization.

Ranged Combat: Archery, Cyber, Pistols, Longarms, Automatics, Heavy Weapons, and Exotic Ranged Weapon.

Athletics: Free fall, Diving, Gymnastics, Running, and Swimming.

Grifting: Forgery, Con, Escape Artist, Gambling, and Palming.

Awareness: Assensing, Matrix Perception, Social, Bodyguarding, and Combat.

Infiltration: Impersonation, Locksmith, Disguise, and Sneaking.

Influence: Etiquette, Instruction, Intimidation, and Leadership.

Sorcery: Spellcasting, Ritual Sorcery, and Counterspelling.

Conjuration: Summoning, Binding, and Banishing.

Enchanting: Artificing, Alchemy, and Disenchanting.

Arcana: Astral Combat, Spell/Ritual Design, Spirit Formula Design, and Preparation/Focus Design.

 

Knowledges:

Examples of Knowledges in each Knowledge Category.

Wilderness Knowledge Category: “Area” Survival, “Area” Navigation, Hunting, Gathering, Archaic Farming, Tracking, Trapping, Curing, Butchering, Fishing, Herding, Riding, Camping, Gardening, Outdoors Cooking, Leather working, Animal Handling, “Exotic” Animal Handling, Talislegging, Tribal Culture, and Herbalism.

Area: Desert, Forest, Ocean, Jungle, Freshwater, Urban Barrens, Polar, and Plains. “Exotic” could be a difficult to handle and rare non-awakened Beast or a paranormal animal of some sort. Each paranormal animal requires a different Knowledge unless it is very closely related.

Science & Technology: Computers, Software Design, Graphic Design, Host Design, Grid Design, Demolitions, Matrix Design, Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Design, Neuroscience, Physics, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Botany, Bioinformatics, Bioware Design, Cyberware Design, Weapon Design, Medicine, Surgery, Prosthetics, Nanotechnology, First Aid, Robotic Design, “Specific type” Vehicle Design (See Piloting Concentrations), Manufacturing, Engineering Principles, Maglock Design, Spider Security Techniques, Matrix Defenses, Counter-Infiltration Security Technology, Grid Design, Host Design, Cyberdeck Design, Commlink Security, Vat Farming, Rigging Technology, Spider Technology, Remote Operation Technology, Skillwire Design, Hardware cannibalizing, Drone design, Food Science, Nano forge facilities, Genetech, Desktop Nanoforges, Nanofaxes, Nanoneurology, Nanoware Design, Bioware Culturing, and 3D Home Printing.

Academic: Criminology, Literature, Geomasonic Landscaping, History, Corporate Politics, Magic Groups, Magic Theory, Philosophy, Government Politics, Music Theory, Parabotany, Parazoology, Corporate Security, Economics, Black Markets, Gray Markets, Free Markets, Astral Topology, Shadowrunning Theory, “Area/City” Knowledge, Magic Threats, Dragons, Neo-Anarchic Philosophy and Practices, X corporation, and Architecture.

Street: Organized Crime, Magic Groups, Corporate Politics, Gang Identification, Smuggling, Vices, Urban Navigation, Urban Survival, Thrift stores, Fences, Corporate Security, Smugglers, Black Market Pipelines, Urban Critters, Runner Hangouts, Mr. Johnsons, Fixers, Riggers, Counter-Infiltration Security Techniques, Grifting history, Grifting lingo, “Area/City” Knowledge, Dragons, Law Enforcement Tactics, Street Gang Politics, Street Drug Dealers, Street Clinics, BTL dealers, Deckers, Local Technomancers, Neo-Anarchists, Cracked Software Dealers, Small Unit Tactics, Law Enforcement, Safe houses, Infiltration techniques, Building Layouts, Corporate Security Systems, Magical Community (City/Area), Police Procedures, Sprawl Life, Critters, Gang X, Area Squats, Area Black Markets, Gang culture, Local chop shops, Backstreets, Area waterways, Street drugs, and BTL chips.

Professional: Journalist, Professor, Lawyer, Doctor, Security, Military Professional, Mercenary, Business, “Nation/City X” Area Knowledge, “Nation X” Military Regulations, Matrix Security Measures, Spider Security Techniques, Military Strategy, Small Unit Tactics, “Nation X” Best Business Practices, “Nation X” Business Regulations, “Nation X” Laws and Legalities, Bioware Implantation, Cybernetic Implantation, Medical Procedures, Law Enforcement, Corporate Security Systems, Magical Community (City/Area), Magical Forensics, Detective Techniques, Police Procedures, Business, Weapon manufacturers, Cosmetic Surgery, Trauma Surgery, Implant Surgery, Gene Therapy, Border Security and Forensic Accounting.

Interests: Current Simsense Movies, Matrix Surfing, Something Terrible Forums, Victorian clothing, Quilting, Popular Trids, 20th century trivia, Poetry, Great Restaurants, Elven Wine, Troll Grog, Dwarven Mead, Urban Brawl, Microbrewing, Baking, Cooking, Stand up comedians, yoga, taxidermy, Graffiti, Combat Biking, Pop Music, Orxploitation Films, Martial Arts, Martial Art Movies, Extreme Sports, Sprawl dive bars, Floral Arrangements, Parkour, skiing, ice skating, rollerskating, Eating competitions, Opera, Broadway Plays, Horizon’s latest new thing, juggling, drinking competitions, homebrewing, Religion X, Sports, High Fashion, Detective novels, Egyptian Ceramics, SF movies, X Music, AR LARPing, dogs, cats, Matrix Games, Vintage X collecting, Nutrisoy “cooking”, and Jet Black conspiracy theories.

Languages: English, Japanese, German, Sperethiel, Salish, Or’zet, Swahili, Lakota, Mandarin, Russian, French, Italian, Aztlaner Spanish, Traditional Spanish, Dakota, and Dine (Navajo).

Shadowrun Overhaul Rules: Karma and Character Advancement


As the rules stand in SR5 there is really very little to prevent characters from all basically looking the same within an archetype after sufficient Karma is received. There is very little incentive to raise skills past 6 as it makes more sense to buy as many specializations in your key skills as possible, raise any attribute, and expand your character’s secondary and tertiary abilities. What’s the point of opening up Skills to 13 if few characters will ever improve past 7 or 8 even after achieving ridiculous amounts of Karma?

From a cognitive science point of view the game seems to think that adding completely new knowledge and skills or improving abyssmal attributes is extremely easy while mastering something is incredibly hard and unlikely. Gaining the fluency in a language equivalent of an year of high school or college in 21 languages is apparently the same as gaining professional fluency in one language which in an university environment would take four or five years. It also punishes the metahuman with greater than normal attributes from being able to achieve the same spot on the bell curve as an human. An Ork with a Body of 6 is the equivalent of an human with a Body of 3 but the human would only spend 20 Karma vs 35 to improve his Body as the rules currently stand despite being in the same statistical situation.

The other problem is that the system really encourages min/maxing which discourages people from actually making the characters they want to make and love or punishes them for doing so.

Also, after character creation for the most part you are assumed to be an adult. Adults improve upon crystallized knowledge extremely well but have difficulty with novelty and learning new things. The min/maxing discourages making a character with a dozen knowledges at 1 representing a normal person’s amount of dabbling but instead rewards characters that have high skill levels in a few knowledges and pick up all the 1 and 2 rating knowledges and skills for that matter in game play.

Also, for example in “real life” improving one’s Charisma from 1 to 2 should be extremely hard as an adult just as reaching your full potential would be for an human to go from 5 to 6 just as it is harder for an adult to learn the basics of a completely new field than it is to slightly refine their ability.

By having Initial and Terminal Karma costs higher it encourages more realistic distribution of Attribute Ratings by players. As it stands it makes more sense from a meta pov to have a character freshly made with a 5 in one attribute and a 1 in another than it is to have 3 in both even though it is much more likely statistically for the latter to be true. It also meshes well with the idea of there being greater cost for Qualities after character creation.

It also encourages characters from really wanting to improve their Knowledges without thinking they are wasting their Karma.

Plus, this system is very simple and doesn’t require the player to look at a table in the book and try and figure out the best thing to do after an adventure.

Game Mechanics:

Definitions:

Initial Rating: Learning a new Skill or Knowledge by getting a 1 Rating in it or spending Karma to improve an Attribute at its minimum for that metahuman type. For example an human improving Edge from 2 to 3 would be improving her Initial Rating in that Attribute and if she learned the basics of Sperethiel and gained a 1 in the Language she would be gaining an Initial Rating and paying the higher Karma Cost.

Terminal Rating: Achieving the pinnacle of ability in a Skill or Knowledge or achieving the maximum possible for your metahuman type in an Attribute. For example an human raising their Edge to 7 would be achieving the greatest amount of luck they can achieve without magic or a Quality and if she raised her Blades skill to 12 she would be the finest swordswoman a normal human would be without being born with a special talent or aptitude in which case her Terminal Rating would be 13.

Karma Cost: The first number is the Initial or Terminal Karma Cost for improving or adding a new Rating. The second is for everything in between.

Attributes: 30/+15

Active Skills: 10/+5

Active Skill Group: 25/+12

Knowledge Skills: 3/+2

Language Skills: 5/+1

New Specializations or Martial Art Style: 7

New Martial Art Manuevers: 5

New Concentrations: (this is a “new” category) 7

New Positive Quality: 2 x Character Creation Karma Cost

Remove Negative Quality: 2 x Character Creation Bonus Karma

New Complex Form: 4

New Initiate Level: 10 + (Grade +3)

Spells, Preparations, Rituals, and new Power Points up to Magic Rating: 5

 

Shadowrun Overhaul: Fourth to Fifth Edition Conversion House Rule


The conversion rules from taking characters from fourth to fifth dealing with skills bothered me because they weren’t nuanced at all. Basically they make no allowance for character experience or NPC experience and just didn’t make any sense to me. There should be a big difference in a converted Street thug compared to a converted Red Samurai or Wildcat when it comes to how high their skills are even if a street thug managed to have a 6 in a skill.

The conversion rules PDF can be found at http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/116922/Shadowrun-Fifth-Edition-Character-Conversion-Guide

My house rule takes into account the various range of character potency. First I will start with NPC conversion:

Professional Rating 0: no change in skills or knowledges.
Professional Rating 1: One skill or knowledge raised by 1 pt.
Professional Rating 2: One skill or knowledge raised by 2 pts and one skill or knowledge raised by 1 pts.
Professional rating 3: One skill or knowledge raised by 3, one by 2, and two raised by 1.
Professional rating 4: One skill or knowledge raised by 4, one by 3, two by 2, three by 1.
Professional rating: 5: One skill or knowledge raised by 5, one by 4, two by 3, three by 2, and four by 1.
Professional rating 6: one skill or knowledge raised by 6, one by 5, two by 4, three by 3, four by 2, and five by 1.

A lieutenant could be converted as one Professional rating higher or given an extra quality, item, additional spells or a +1 to a skill.

A superhuman NPC such as an immortal elf could use the official conversion rules or a doubling of bonuses such as two skills raised by six, two by 5 and so on.

As you can see this gives you some freedom to decide just how diversified a professional with 6 rating in four skills can be rather than just having 12 in four skills she would have a 12, an 11, and two tens or maybe one of the five rating skills could get a boost retailoring the NPC a little bit. This makes having a 12 mean something and that 12 is the NPC’s top priority.

Skill groups should be split by this into their component skills to avoid skill group conversion issues.

For PC’s the GM could decide to simply pick one of the professional ratings above for all the PC’s to use or could use a system based on total karma gained since PC creation to place the PC’s into one of the above categories.

Rating 0: no karma gained yet. Might as well just make a new fifth edition PC.
Rating 1: under 50. Again for most PC’s just add the karma to the total in finishing touches and make new fifth edition PC.
Rating 2: 51-100.
Rating 3: 101-200 .
Rating 4: 201- 300.
Rating 5: .301- 400.
Rating 6 401+.

For my collection of house rules please visit: Shadowrun Overhaul House Rules