Pen and Paper RPG House Rules

Making our favorite games even better

Tag Archives: knowledges

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.

Advertisements

Shadowrun Overhaul: Build Point Alternative to Priority System for Character Creation


As an alternative to the Priority Table path to character creation I decided to try my hand at using Build Points as previous editions have done. In order to help the character creation process I also made Archetypes which use half the BP’s for a standard character to provide a template and aid for character building. This system is compatible with my Shadowrun Overhaul Rules on Karma and Character Advancement House Rules and the standard ruleset. With this system Magicians, Mystic Adepts, and Technomancers will be weaker, Aspected Magicians will be much stronger, and characters that rely on nuyen will be a little bit better off.

Campaign Style:

Street: These are the young, the disadvantaged, the has beens, the almost was, and the burnouts.

125 BP +13 Karma

Limit on Resources to 10 BP or 75,000 nuyen. Skill limit at 6 for 1 Skill or Skill Group, 5 for a second Skill or Skill Group and the rest at 4 or less. Knowledges and Languages limit at 6, Attributes have One Terminal Rating and One (Terminal Rating -1) and the rest at +3 added to the minimum Attribute Rating for their metatype or less (Humans for all Attributes except Edge would be at a 4 or less). Availability at 10.

Standard: The young geniuses, the competent professionals, and the cream of the crop amongst the disadvantaged.

150 BP +25 Karma

Limit on Resources to 35 BP or 450,000 nuyen. Skill limit at 8 for 1 Skill or Skill Group, 7 for a second Skill or Skill Group and the rest at 6 or less. Knowledges and Languages limit at 8. Attributes have One Terminal Rating and the rest at +4 added to the minimum Attribute Rating for their metatype or less (Humans for all Attributes except Edge would be at a 5 or less). Availability at 12.

Prime Runner: The experienced geniuses, the exceptional professionals, and the best of the best amongst the disadvantaged.

175 BP +35 Karma

Limit on Resources to 45 BP or 600,000 nuyen. Skill limit at 10 for 1 Skill or Skill Group, 9 for a second Skill or Skill Group and the rest at 8 or less. Knowledges and Languages limit at 10. Attributes have One Terminal Rating and the rest at +4 added to the minimum Attribute Rating for their metatype or less (Humans for all Attributes except Edge would be at a 5 or less). Availability at 14.

High Life: The very best of the best. World class shadowrunners, mercenaries, hackers, and magicians. For those who seek the limelight their names are known to almost all in their fields of expertise.

200 BP +50 Karma

Limit on Resources to 65 BP or 1.1 million nuyen. Attributes have just Metatype limits. Standard Skill, Knowledge, and Language limit at 12. No Availability limit.

Karma Conversion: 1 BP is roughly 5 Karma give or take a few.

Purchase Costs:

Metatype:

Human: 0

Elf: 7

Dwarf: 10

Ork: 11

Troll: 16

Attributes and Special Attributes: 3 BP’s per +1 Rating.

Alternative rule: 6 BP for +1 if it is a terminal rating for the PC’s metatype such as a 6 in Logic for an human. (Don’t forget everyone starts out with their “free” minimum attributes.)

Skills: 1 BP per +1 Rating.

Alternative rule: 2 BP per +1 Rating for terminal rating based on character creation limit of the campaign.

Skill Groups: 2 BP’s per +1 Rating. (I prefer to encourage characters to use Skill Groups by providing a discount but if you don’t agree you can change it to 2.5 BP’s per +1 Rating)

Alternative rule: 4 or 5 BP per +1 Rating for terminal rating based on character creation limit for campaign.

Specializations (and Concentrations for Overhaul rules):  1 BP per new specialization or concentration.

Knowledges: 1 BP per 3 Ratings. 2(Intuition + Logic) for free. (Overhaul rules gives 10 free Knowledge points to be spent only on Interests)

Languages: 1 BP per 5 Ratings. (I like to encourage Language taking at character creation for realistic reasons because it is much harder to learn languages as an adult then it is to learn them as a child. Plus, most games seem to assume someone who knows lots of languages is rare probably because of the bias of americans. It isn’t uncommon in Europe to see well educated people able to minimally comprehend four or five languages and speak well two or three others.)

Spells, Preparations, Rituals, Power Points, and Complex Forms: 1 BP each.

Contacts: 5 Points to spend on Connection and Loyalty per 1 BP.

Registered Sprites/Bound Spirits: 5 Tasks or Service per 1 BP.

Special Talents:

Technomancer: 15 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Resonance. (Some GM’s may increase to 20 BP but TM’s have been blunted in many other ways and don’t need to be artificially expensive as they are on the Priority Table.)

Mystic Adept: 20 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic. Mystic Adepts must purchase Power Points to unlock Adept Powers.

Magician: 15 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic.

Aspected Magician: 10 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic, an Active Skill Group equal to their final Magic Rating, and as many Spells, Preparations, Rituals, or Bound Spirits (each with 5 services; # of spirits is limited by Charisma) equal to their final Magic Rating. (In my opinion the Priority Table as setup in 5e really discourages anyone from picking Aspected Magician as a trait and I think having the extras added on makes it a viable choice. Also, by leaving Magician without any extras it allows for a full magician character who is as new or untrained in magic as a minor talent but has greater potential which can be a lot of fun depending on the style of the campaign.)

Adept: 10 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic with an Active Skill equal to her final Magic Rating, and automatic gaining of Power Points equal to Magic at character creation and whenever their Magic Rating increases.

Minor Talent: 5 BP’s and includes a 1 Rating in Magic. At character creation the PC can only have 1 Magical Skill and 1 Spell, Preparation, Ritual, Bound Spirit or Power Point.  After character creation the minor talent can learn new abilities by purchasing Power Points if an Adept up to their Magic Rating and once that is done they are a full Adept and automatically gain Power Points when they increase their Magic Rating. If a potential Aspected Magician then they can learn other Skills in their Skill Group and new Spells, Preparations, or Rituals by spending Karma as normal. This is a good special trait to have in a Street level campaign and it can be quite fun to watch the nascent Awakened grow into their full power. (An example of a common Minor Talent would be someone who can Astrally Perceive. Buy 1 Power Point for the Astral Perception Adept Power and buy a Rating in  Assensing and voila!)

Nuyen: (A PC who wanted 80,000 nuyen would pay 11 BP’s) an alternative system is to simply have 1 BP = 10,000 nuyen.

1 BP = +5,000 nuyen

5 BP = +30,000 nuyen

10 BP = +75,000 nuyen

15 BP = +140,000 nuyen

25 BP = +275,000 nuyen

35 BP = +450,000 nuyen

45 BP = +600,000 nuyen

55 BP = + 800,000 nuyen

65 BP = +1,100,000 nuyen

 

Archetypes:

Each Archetype includes an example of a standard character brought to step 5 and thus still have Karma to spend.

 

Street Samurai:

Standard PC: 150 BP

(35 BP) +450,000 nuyen in gear and cyberware

(11) Ork

(69 BP) B: 8 A: 6 R: 5 S: 6 W: 4 L: 2 I: 3 C: 2 E: 1

(32 BP) Close Combat Group 6, Firearms Group 6, Pilot (Ground) 1, Sneaking 2, Perception 2, Intimidation 2, and First Aid 1.

(1 BP) Knowledges (10): Law Enforcement 3, Safehouses 2, Small Unit Tactics 3, Triads 1, Yakuza 3, and Seattle Gangs 1.

Interests (10 free): Great Restaurants  4, Poetry 2, Matrix Fantasy MMO’s 2, and Akira Kurosawa movies 2.

(2 BP) Languages: English N, Or’zet 5, Japanese 4, Aztlaner Spanish 1

 

Face:

Standard PC: 150 BP

(15 BP) 140,000 nuyen in gear.

(7 BP) Elf

(10 BP) Adept

( 75 BP) B: 3 A: 4 R: 3 S: 3 W: 4 L: 3 I: 3 C: 7 E: 1 M:5

( 39 BP) Acting skill group 3, Influence Skill Group 6 (Negotiation 8*), Close Combat Skill Group 4, Stealth Skill Group 2, Pistols 5,  First Aid 1, Perception 5, and Pilot (Ground) 1.

(0 BP) Knowledges(12): Business 4, Neuro-Linguistic Programming 2, Psychology 2, Bartering 1, and Nonviolent Communication 3.

(4 BP) English N, Cantonese 5, Mandarin 5, Japanese 4, Sperethiel 4, Aztlaner Spanish 2.

(0 BP) Interests(10 free): Designer Clothes 4, Elven Wine 3, and SF trids 3.

(0 BP) Voice Control 4 levels (2), Kinesics  2 (.5), Improved Reflexes 1 (1.5), Improved Negotiation* 2 (1).

 

Combat Sorceror:

Standard PC: 150 BP

Hermetic Tradition

(10 BP) 75,000 nuyen in gear.

(16 BP) Troll

(10) Aspected Magician: Sorceror (includes a 1 Rating in Magic, an Active Skill equal to their final Magic Rating, and 6 spells or rituals.)

( 75 BP) B: 6  A: 4 R: 4 S: 6 W: 4 L:5  I:3  C:2  E: 2 M:6

( 27 BP) Sorcery Skill Group 6* (free), Close Combat Skill Group 4, Perception  4, Assensing  4, Arcana 4, Sneaking 3, Pilot (Ground) 1, and First Aid 3.

(2 BP) Knowledges (16 free): Critters 3, Magic Theory 4, Small Unit Tactics 4, Military Procedures 3, Russion Vory 3, Triads 2, Yakuza 1, and Street Gangs 2.

(4 BP) Languages: English N, Aztlaner Spanish 4, Latin 4, Greek 3, Hebrew 3, Sperethiel 2, Or’zet 2, and German 2. (He likes to read Arcane Texts in their original languages)

(0 BP) Interests (10 free): Action Trids 3, Urban Brawl 3, Fantasy Matrix Games 2, Ancient Languages 2.

(6 BP) (6 free) Spells and Rituals: Heal, Stun Bolt, Combat Sense, Ball Lightning, Flamethrower, Increase Reflexes, Armor, Detect Enemies Extended, and Invisibility. Ward, Circle of Healing, and Remote Sensing.

 

 

Shadowrun Overhaul: Primer on Mana


Posting onto Magicknet on 6/1/2075

Everything you needed to know about mana but were too bored to ask.

By Goldeneye

One of the most confusing things to beginner magicians is mana. Mana is what enables us to perform magic whether it is casting a spell or summoning a spirit. Mana flows everywhere there is life and thus extends from kilometers deep into the earth’s crust and around 80 kilometers up. This is called the Gaiasphere. The Gaiasphere contains two coupled realms: the physical and the astral. Mana flows through both realms with limited back and forth transfer of mana from the two realms because there is a barrier between the realms which prevents an astral being from casting a spell at a physical being and vice versa.

When a magician astrally perceives she becomes a dual natured being in which she is both in the physical realm and in the astral realm which means that she can use magic on targets in either realm but she can also be targeted by enemies in either realm. When a magician astrally projects she leaves her meat body behind and becomes an astral being who exists in the astral realm. This is one of the best ways to explore, reconnoiter, and spy.

Adepts are for the most part immune to fluctuations in mana as they and their abilities are centered on themselves. However there are a few Adept Powers that have some degree of variation in use and require drain resistance and in those cases the amount and flavor of mana can make a difference. There are rumors of Adepts finding advantage in staying for at least a lunar month in an high mana area and adapting and storing that higher mana density within their essence. This may be the origin of legends of fighting monks and clerics of many faiths who hole up in holy locales the majority of the time.

Mana can vary by region and by locale. Background Count is the normal amount of mana in a region usually on par with a metro area or a county in the UCAS. The amount or density of mana is measured by academic hermetic mages using the Schwartzkopf Scale of Ambient Mana Density which is shortened by normal people to Ambient Mana and is averaged at 0 with a minus rating showing less than normal and a positive rating showing more than normal. As you might guess having more mana makes magic a bit easier and having less makes it harder.

Mana can also be distorted in a locale or region. The amount of mana turbulence is measured by hermetic mages using the Schwartzkopf Scale of Aspected Mana Vicissitude which begins at 0 (no distortion) and rises as the mana is distorted or flavored by disturbances in the physical realm, experiences in the astral realm, metaplaces and even metaplanes. Personally I shorten that mouthful to Aspected Mana when talking outside of academia to non-hermetics.

Now most of the old textbooks on mana seem to ignore that there is a difference between the amount of mana in an area and the degree of “flavor” to that mana. They just used the term Background Count for any old area whether it was an house or an entire temple complex rather than the modern usage for the density of mana in a large area like a city or county. So, be careful about being confused by this.

A way to look at the decoupling of Ambient Mana and Aspected Mana is to imagine a mighty river of liquid representing say the ley line from Alexandria to Saqqara. Now, if it was unaspected at all we could say the river was made of water. If it was aspected towards your tradition we could say it was flavored with arabica coffee and if it was a toxic domain it would be poisoned. Now if it was only slightly aspected the coffee would taste watered down and the poison would be slow acting but if it was strongly aspected the coffee would be beautiful or the poisoned river could be as slow as molasses as nasty sludge.

In my studies of history I am convinced that there were successful Magicians and Adepts in the Fifth World. Even though the rivers were instead creeks and maybe dried out periodically there would have been surges on occasion and Domains. I imagine that ancient Tibetan temples were the Shao-lin practiced might have had a fair amount of mana and a very strong Aspect. Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Nazca and Chartres Cathedral and the druid grove that preceded it would’ve been places of power and with a strong enough aspect and a strong enough magician miracles could’ve happened.

An important thing to realize is that because of the barrier between the physical and the astral realms there isn’t always a balance on the amount of mana in each realm. With Dragon Paths and Ley lines a magician might find it is easier to cast Physical spells or Mana spells in an area because of the difference in mana density. When mana is balanced between the realms and flows along or collects at a locale they are simply called mana lines and mana nodes.

Sometimes mana levels surge and increase temporarily in a region which is called Sha and sometimes mana levels ebb and decrease temporarily which is called Shen. Sha and Shen normally also include an increase in mana turbulence or Aspect but don’t have to do so.

This brings up mana voids and warps. Space is exceedingly dangerous to the Awakened because of the severely low amount of mana. There are a few places on earth where the mana has been stripped from an area usually by combative geomantic magic from my experience. A way to look at casting spells in a mana void is to imagine yourself as a balloon filled with air out in space. Once you do magic or astrally perceive you are basically putting a needle to your balloon and since there is a differential in pressure you pop! All your mana within yourself wants to fill up that vacuum by leaving yourself which if you aren’t careful can easily kill you.

With mana warps you get too much of a good thing. The greater the density of mana the more likely it is going to Aspect somehow either connecting with a metaplace or metaplane or being targeted by every magical group or powerful spirit, critter, or dragon or just spontaneously creating a Domain which I wll go into more details later. Now with this extreme amount of mana and extreme amount of distortion the very fabric of the realms’ mana warps. To reuse the balloon analogy in this case it is like being underwater. The mana around you is denser then the mana within you so when you do magic or perceive astrally you are popping your balloon which just makes the mana want to flood into you and since it is powerful and turbulent it can make it all but impossible to cast magic and in extreme cases kill you on the spot simply for astrally perceiving.

Mana can be distorted in the astral realm by powerful emotions or experiences and in the physical realm by environmental damage or loss of life. This can cause temporary or ephemeral aspecting along with turbulent mana making it more difficult to take magical actions contrary to the nature of the aspect or distortion.

This often leads to Domains which are regions which have a Genius Loci spirit with aspected mana. Some magicians use Ritual Sorcery and Geomancy to convert ephemeral aspecting to persistent aspect by using the Create Domain Ritual while others use Constructs applying Geomasonic principles. In those cases it is common for the Aspect to include the individual, Tradition, or Magical Group. The advantage of having a place that improves your magic and counters that of your enemies is priceless.

One of the most important techniques that any magician can learn is to filter their mana. This can remove mana turbulence and make it far easier to cast spells in some environments. For initiates the metamagic of Cleansing allows Spells, Rituals, and Preparations that can remove Aspects and eliminate or in some cases cause mana pollution and distortions.

For talismongering it is very useful to pay attention to mana as areas with strong aspects or mana density have higher than the usual amounts of reagents.

Hopefully, this quick breakdown of mana helps novice Magicians become more aware and understanding of the nature of the mana that we manipulate every day. Key terms I discussed are below with a further in depth definition to help answer any questions.

Here is an academic paper on Mana: An Abstract from the Journal of Practical Thaumaturgy Volume 17: Mana Theory.

 

Game Mechanics:

Official Rules:

Background counts impose a negative dice pool penalty equal to their rating for all tests that are linked to or utilize magic in any way (i.e., spellcasting, summoning, assensing, any test made while astrally projecting, and any active skill that benefits from active adept powers such as killing hands, critical strike, great leap, or improved skills, etc). Dualnatured creatures and spirits suffer this penalty to all actions. 

Aspected background counts grant a boost to any limit that utilizes magic in any way (see above) to any metahuman, spirit, or dual-natured creature that matches the aspected domain. This includes spellcasting Force limits, so spellcasters need to be careful as it can be hard to control the additional surge of mana. Any magically active being that does not match the aspected domain should treat this as a normal background count and suffer penalties. 

Background counts above 12 are called either a flux (for aspected domains) or a void (for magically dead zones), and are very dangerous. Any being that is magically or astrally active in any way (dual natured, astrally perceiving, casting a spell, has an active adept power, has an active foci, etc.) takes background count – 12 unresisted Stun Damage each turn that they are active and exposed to the flux or void.

 

The main differences between my rules and the semi-official rules above are that Background Count is split into two main branches: Ambient Mana and Aspected Mana. Ambient Mana is how much or little mana is an area. Aspected Mana is the flavor or orientation of the mana in the area. Ambient Mana can be further split into Physical Realm and Astral Realm (Parageology points this out with Dragon Paths) as the evenflow of mana is prevented by the barrier between the realms so there can be imbalances there. Physical Realm spells would be effected by the Ambient Mana of the Physical Realm while Astral Realm spells (or Mana Spells) would be effected by the Ambient Mana of the Astral Realm. Aspected Mana has been flavored by the environment, actions, thoughts, experiences, or living beings in the area. If reinforced for long enough or after the Create Domain Metamagical Ritual this Aspected Mana will become a Domain and the mana will actively support actions and individuals in line with the philosophy of the domain and resist those who are contrary to it.

Allies/ally actions to a domain get extra dice rolled after the Limit is applied while concordant entities/actions get net hits that are applied to the total after the Limit is applied. Everyone in the domain gets the same effect from the Ambient Mana of the locale which is applied to Limits on their magical actions. For mana warps and ebbs the character has a chance to handle it by resisting Drain.

Example: 

An hermetic mage by the name of Tomas Firebringer rules his Domain which is tied to the metaplace of Knowledge. At his sanctum sanctorum or magical lodge the Domain has a +3 Ambient Mana Rating which drops off to +2 for the rest of his home and +1 to cover his yard and the three mana lines that form the nexus leaving his home to connect to other places of power. The Aspected Mana Rating for the entire Domain is +2. The Background Count of the metro Tomas lives in is 0.

A team of runners with a street shaman raid his Sanctum thinking that he was gone but he was in deep meditation. The street shaman would have -2 dice penalty on all magical tests from the Aspected Mana and +3 to his Limit from the Ambient Mana since they are in Tomas’s sanctum. Should the shaman do any magical activity that would destroy or harm Knowledge in any way such as casting flamethrower in a room full of books then he would have two net hits subtracted from his total after the Limit/Force had been applied. The Magus would have +3 to his Limit from the Ambient Mana and +2 net hits to all his magical activities unless they should directly cause damage to Knowledge as that would be contrary to his philosophy and that of the metaplace his Domain is connected to. Should the battle continue to the lawn then Tomas would have +1 to his magical Limits and +2 net hits on magical activities while the Street Shaman would have +1 to his magical Limit and -2 dice on magical activities that didn’t directly oppose Knowledge.

 

The Schwartzkopf Scale of Ambient Mana provides an awakened character or critter, a spirit, and anything that is dual natured a bonus or penalty to their Limit on all magical actions equal to the rating of the mana they are physically or astrally located at. The normal range on earth is from -7 to +7. A dual natured or otherwise physical being like a ghoul is going to be effected by the Physical Realm Ambient Mana on all their actions except any ‘Mana Spells’ they might cast while a Spirit would be effected by the Astral Realm Mana for most any action unless they Materialize into the Physical Realm.Other than on a narrow band of a mana line and at places of power for the most part awakened beings are effected by the background count of the area (metro or country county) which is usually 0 on the bell curve with the occasional 1 or -1 and the rare 2 or -2 in places like Crater Lake or hidden jungle cities in Amazonia or within 30 miles of the Pyramids. On certain days the background count of an entire area can increase such as the nights of December 24th and October 31st or solstices/equinoxes.

The Schwartzkopf Scale of Aspected Mana Vicissitude is a scale that represents the amount of agency the mana in the locale has to support or deny support to magical activities and beings. The normal range on earth is from 0 to 5. Most areas of Aspected Mana are quite small and could be a closet, or a chapel or a basement. Should a Domain

Mana Turbulence: For contrary actions the awakened being subtracts dice from any magical actions equal to the Aspect Rating. For antithetical actions subtract net hits from any magical actions.

Domains: Areas that have been solidly converted to an orientation, flavor, or perspective of magic and thus aid those who match the Aspect of the Mana in the region of the Domain. Ally actions gain bonus dice equal to the Aspect Rating. Concordant Actions gain net hits equal to the Aspect Rating. Concordant Spirits have an “Acting Force” equal to their original Force plus the Aspect Rating but don’t gain any other bonuses from Concordant Actions. Range 1 to 5 and uses the Aspect Rating. If the Domain Rating is equal or higher than an antithetical Spirit’s Force it is automatically disrupted. For a spirit with an higher Force simply subtract the Domain Rating from its Force to find its “Acting Force” when within the Domain. The regions a Domain covers is usually any mana line/dragon path/ley line/song groove that flows in the area and where they connect. The strength of a Domain radiates outward from the line or place of power and drops precipitously the farther you go until it merges with the area’s background count.

Dragon Paths/Nests, Ley lines/nodes, and Song grooves/pools:  They have two ambient mana ratings; one for physical realm mana and the other for astral realm mana. If the mana is Aspected or Turbulent it would have a third trait of ‘Aspect’. Mana lines/Nodes would only have two traits as their physical and astral realm mana levels are equal.

Example: Mount Shasta has one of the strongest Dragon Nest’s in North America at the top where Hestaby has a lair. It is rated under normal circumstances at Physical 5, Mana 3, and Domain 3 (Air). So, when one of her shamans (an ally) casts a flight spell from the top of the mountain to go to the bottom quickly (concordant action) they would have their limit increased by 5,  and have+3 Net Hits added to their roll.

Mana Voids and Mana Warps:  If the Absolute Rating of the Ambient Mana Scale is over an Awakened Being’s Magic + Grade +5 and they take any magical action or action that is enhanced by magic then the awakened or dual natured character must resist a Drain Value with (Force=Ambient Mana Rating)  as if it was a spell at the beginning of every Combat Turn adding an Initiate’s Grade to the roll (Adepts and most critters/spirits use Intuition + Willpower + Grade). The Ambient Mana also has an effect on handling the normal Drain a character might experience using their magical gifts in that Combat Turn and it is important to remember if the mana in the area is Aspected against the magician then it acts as a penalty to dealing with this Drain as it does with all magical actions.

Filtering: A complex Action that lasts a number of Combat Turns equal to the Magician’s Arcana and counters penalties for lack of mana or mana turbulence equal to the magician’s Assensing Rating. If the mana turbulence or the absolute value of the Ambient Mana is greater than their Assensing Rating than they can’t handle the complexity of the mana in the area and fail to filter the mana in their area. Each time a filtering action is made in an area with low mana the next filtering attempt suffers a -1 penalty to Arcana and Assensing.

 

Definitions:

Geomancy: A metamagic that allows the manipulation of mana through the use of metamagical Ritual Sorcery.

Geomasonry: A metamagic that allows the manipulation of mana through the use of Artificing to create Constructs which shape and alter mana flows and can prevent or lessen Sha and Shen events. Wuxing Towers is probably the greatest modern example while Stonehenge and the Pyramids would be the greatest ancient examples of Geomasonry.

Mana Lines: A path of varying length containing an above normal amount of mana that might or might not connect with other lines or form nodes. Ratings range from 1 to 7 using the Schwartzkopf Scale and the amount of mana is evenly balanced between the two realms.

Mana Nodes: A locale or power site containing an above normal amount of mana that might or might not connect with other lines or form nodes. Ratings range from 1 to 7 using the Schwartzkopf Scale and the amount of mana is evenly balanced between the two realms. Nodes tend to be stronger than the lines that feed into them.

Sha and Shen: Sometimes mana levels surge and increase temporarily in a region which is called Sha and sometimes mana levels ebb and decrease temporarily which is called Shen. Sha and Shen normally also include an increase in mana turbulence or Aspect but don’t have to do so.

Mana Voids: Places that have excessively low amounts of mana in them. Space is dangerous because of the lack of mana which is caused by the lack of life. Lack of mana can make it dangerous to astrally perceive or perform any magic ability.

Mana Warps: Places that have excessively large amounts of mana in them that are also extremely turbulent in nature which can make it dangerous to astrally perceive or perform any magic ability.

Domains: A region with aspected mana that is protected by a Genius Loci. Domains can be created by casting a metamagical ritual or can spontaneously arise. Domains are often connected to a metaplace or metaplane making it easier to summon spirits of that type and use magic appropriate to the Aspect of the Domain. Mana in a Domain can also oppose or resist certain types of spirits and magical actions depending on the nature of the Aspect.

Aspected Mana: Mana that is flavored or distorted and only aids certain individuals, groups, types of magic, categories of magic,  traditions, spirits, or species. There are also types of Aspected Mana that aid certain types of actions depending on the source of the Aspect. A locale with mana aspected towards Fear would provide enhancement towards magic that caused Fear while an area aspected towards Fire would provide enhancement towards fire magic, fire aligned critters, and spirits. Usually Aspected Mana has something antithetical to it that it provides a penalty towards such as a water aspected locale penalizing fire magic and spirits.

Turbulent Mana: Mana that is in a state of flux and hard to use and drain is stronger. Can be temporary or persistent. Annoys spirits greatly and in some cases can disrupt them. Astral pollution or turbulence interferes with ‘mana’ based spells like stun bolt or influence while Physical realm pollution or turbulence interferes with physical spells like a lightning ball or physical mask. This increase in difficulty represents how mana pollution or turbulence disrupts the mage’s fine control and equations from an hermetic perspective or by disrupting the intuitions of a shaman by having an unpredictable flow of mana. Turbulent Mana can happen in a Domain which can make antithetical magic really difficult to perform.

Schwartzkopf Scale of Ambient Mana Density: This scale was designed by the great Dragon Schwartzkopf and his team of researchers at the Charles University of Prague in order to measure the amount of mana in a given region, locale, or mana line or power site. The scale is normalized by the worldwide median average mana level in 2075 at a 0 rating with a minus rating showing lower than normal mana and a positive rating showing a greater than normal amount of mana. It is known that the higher the mana density the easier it is to perform magic and the lower the mana density the harder. At the extremes of the Scale such as found in space or powerful magical locales during Sha events it can be hazardous to magicians and other dual natured awakened entities to astrally perceive or perform magic. A good way to look at it is using Boyle’s gas law. If the amount of mana differential between that contained within the magician and that of the surrounding environment becomes too great then harm can happen to the magician should they become dual natured which connects the magician’s mana to the ambient mana around her. If the ambient mana is too low then astrally perceiving or casting a spell is like taking a needle to a water balloon surrounded by air (which is lower density than the water) and watching the water explode out. If the ambient mana is too high compared to the magician’s mana then when the connection is made the water rushes in like a submarine punctured by a rock. This uncontrolled flow of mana in rare cases can kill those without sufficient talent or skill.

Schwartzkopf Scale of Aspected Mana Vicissitude: This scale was designed by the great Dragon Schwartzkopf and his team of researchers at the Charles University of Prague in order to measure the degree of distortion or change in mana within a Domain. This distortion is measured using an analogous system starting at 0 with higher numbers representing greater mana distortion or aspect. This can be caused by anything from a murder which causes an Ephemeral Domain which can sometimes last just a few hours to the holy aura found at a place of worship to a place of natural power like a volcano or river. Mana Vicissitude in a Domain makes magic use easier for those who are aligned with its Aspect and harder for those who oppose it. There are ceremonial rituals that can create a domain and are usually designed to make an Aspect that aligns the mana in the area towards that magician’s tradition or magical group. A Domain can be created by environmental disaster in which case the Domain is Toxic and the mana is connected to the Physical Realm or an invasion of Insect Spirits in which case the Domain is aligned towards insect magic with the mana connecting and colored or flavored with the Hive metaplane’s mana.

Background Count: This is the normal amount of mana (or density) in a region usually about the size of an American county or traditional City State. There are often many fluctuations or deviations from this at different locales within the region depending on the actions of geomancers, plate tectonics, mana lines, and other causes but for the most part the region has a norm. Worldwide the median average mana density is a 0 on the Schwartzkopf Ambient Mana Scale which spiked up to a 1 during the Year of the Comet and was a -1 prior to the comet and a -2 in 2050. The change in the world’s Background Count effected some magical principles in particular interactions between the Astral Plane and the Physical Plane involving grounding spells. This change wasn’t local but global so even though there are regions today with a Background Count lower than the norm in 2050 a magician can’t ground spells from the Astral to the Physical at those locales or during a Shen event.

Dragon Paths/Nests: Mana lines and Power Sites that have an excess of physical realm mana compared to the locale’s astral realm mana. This has shown to be advantageous to Magicians casting spells that target the Physical Realm but it has also shown to be extremely dangerous to incautious or lower skilled Magicians. Most Dragon locales are in places of great beauty, rarity, clashing elements, exemplar of an element, or obvious physical power such as volcanoes, cliffs, fault lines, lakes, rivers, mountain tops, subterranean caves, coral reefs, heart of the jungle, hidden groves, straits, geysers, hot springs, or places full of non-sapient life and places of great physical tragedy such as a crater from a meteorite, a locale that survived a drastic and sudden flood or flash fire, or an environmental disaster such as an oil spill, toxic waste dump, or radioactive fallout. Dragon Paths and Nests are likely to spontaneously create a Domain upon particular powerful Sha events or after a powerful Magicians, Spirits, or Critters live in the area or after sudden drastic change in the physical environment. Dragon Paths can link to Metaplanes appropriate to the nature of the physical environment such as a river connecting to the Water Metaplane, a volcano connecting to the Fire Metaplane, a coral reef connecting to the Beasts Metaplane, a crystal cave connecting to the Earth Metaplane, a millennia old oak tree connecting to the Wood Metaplane, and a Mountaintop Eyrie for Griphons for Air. Dragon Nests connected to a Metaplane provide extra bonuses to magical actions relating to the Metaplane. Genius Loci tend to be dracoforms though it is not uncommon for the dominant local paranormal animal to influence a Dragon Nest Domain with a Genius Loci representing them. When Dragon locales move or shift it can have effects on the land around it. Living things tend to be healthier in Dragon Regions.

Song Grooves/Pools: Mana lines and Power Sites that have an excess of astral realm mana often from metaplanes and even deep metaplanes compared to their physical realm mana. They are designed for travel and navigation in the physical and astral realms but don’t have the same kind of flex to them that other Mana locales have. This can lead to mana storms, greater mana turbulence in general, and more common Shen and Sha events. They tend to have no influence over the land or the people. There are rumors of Shedim hijacking a Song Pool’s Domain in South America in order to open an Astral Rift to bring in more Shedim from their home metaplane. The rumors say that slavers working for the cartels were hired to bring cargo containers full of SINless people to the site. Tales also suggest that such a thing happened in Chicago.

Ley Lines/Nodes: Mana lines and Power Sites that follow man made and fey features that have an excess of astral realm mana compared to the locales’s physical realm mana. With Geomancy which is a metamagic that allows advanced Initiates to cast advanced metamagical rituals and Geomasonry which opens up the ability to create magical constructs using Artificing they have successfully created modern Ley Lines and Nodes. Very quickly Ley locales tend to become Aspected and form Domains once they flow through areas where sentient creatures congregate and emote powerfully. The original creators of Ley locales can also Aspect or flavor the mana towards different ideas, traditions, and magical groups. The astral realm mana can be influenced by connections to Metaplaces of Battle, Charisma, Destiny, Fear, Knowledge, and Magic in addition to the influence of the geomantic features and the living experiences of the minds in the region of the ley lines and nodes. Ley Regions can also connect with the metaplane of Man and Hy Brasil and other metaplanes of the Faerie. People tend to be happier in Ley Regions.

Genius Loci: Spirits that are formed in some Domains that represent, reflect, defend, and are connected intimately to the Domain. It is a type of spirit with its own personality influenced by its environment and history. A genius loci at a Sylvestrine Cathedral might take the form and personality of an angel while most Dragon Nests have dracoform style spirits. Many also take forms that seem connected to mentor spirits, passions, old pagan gods and christian or buddhist saints. It is rumored that Zebulon is a genius loci spirit. Recently Ares has released that some Hives (which usually have Domains) now have a new type of Insect Spirit that seems to be a Genius Loci Insect Spirit. The Force of the genius loci is usually equal to the amount of Ambient Mana plus the degree of Aspected Mana as represented by the Schwartzkopf Scales. The Force is dependent on those ratings at the specific location of the genius loci so since most Domains have an interior region with the most mana the Spirit is strongest at the heart of the Domain. Killing or Banishing a genius loci can severely disrupt mana flow in an area leading to a Sha or Shen event or even semi-permanent changes in mana lines and Aspects. The effect on Dragon Nests or Paths with Domains can cause physical realm disruptions like a Volcano going off or an earthquake or tsunami or sudden storms. Any Domain connected to a foreign deep metaplane such as the Hive metaplane for example can have unpredictable effects upon the death of the genius loci from Aspected Mana flowing into the region from the metaplane to Aspected Mana flowing out of the region into the metaplane or out and tainting the rest of the mana network in the area.

 Ephemeral Aspect: Temporary distortion of mana towards an Aspect. Aftera powerful experience there can be temporary aspecting of an area’s mana which usually lasts a number of hours equal to the degree of aspecting using Schwartzkopf’s Aspect Scale. In some cases it can last days or weeks especially if the event is reinforced by continuing action. If persistant enough the mana can at some point spontaneously form a Domain.

Aspect Neutralization: Aspects can sometimes be dealt with by removing the cause of the mana pollution which could be as easy as cleaning up the toxins in the soil and planting a garden or by finding an abusive parent and freeing the children from their terror. Sometimes in a matter of hours the degree of mana Aspecting can start to disperse. This can cause problems with Genius Loci who are just fine with the status quo usually. Another way of Neutralizing an Aspect is by taking actions that would dominate the area by basically “covering up” the Aspect with a new and stronger one. Some magicians call this “Hijacking the Aspect.”

Filtering: A complex action that allows a Magician to lessen or eliminate mana turbulence for a temporary period making it easier for her to use magic in the area.

Cleansing: A metamagic that allows a Magician to remove with an Ephemeral Aspect or weaken mana turbulence within an area using Ritual Sorcery or Preparations or Constructs. The filter matrix metamagical spell allows for filtering out aspected mana along with mana turbulence for a temporary fix.

Constructs: The magician uses the Artificing skill to create magical items that influence and manipulate mana.

Antithetical Entity: An awakened being or spirit that is directly opposed by a Domain or Aspect.

Antithetical Action: A magical action that is directly counter to the philosophy of a Domain or Aspect.

Contrary Entity: An awakened being or spirit that isn’t an ally of the Domain.

Contrary Action: A magical action that is from a contrary being that isn’t directly opposing the Domain or Aspect.

Ally Entity: An awakened being or spirit that is an ally of the Domain.

Ally Action: A magical action that is cast by an Ally Entity.

Concordant Entity: An awakened being or spirit that is closely connected to the Genius Loci and/or a metaplane linked to the Domain.

Concordant Action: A magical action directly connected to the metaplane or Aspect of the Domain that is cast by an Ally or Concordant Entity.

 

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