House Rules

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Core Rules Mods

Glitches, Failure Padding, and Bad Karma

Because I so love advocating for the Devil, here’s a new system to allow you to turn failures into successes. When you roll dice and don’t succeed, you can choose to succeed anyway! What more could you ask for?

Ah, but there’s a catch. Each time you accept this offer, you build up Bad Karma (BK). “Padding” a normal failure up to a success gives you one point of BK. Padding a Glitched Success into a Normal Success also gives you 1 BK. Padding a Crit Glitch into a Normal Failure gives you 3 BK, and padding a Crit Glitch into a normal success gives you 5 BK.

BK can be spent by the GM (aka Me) at any time to make your life miserable. It could be anything from “you head outside to find your tires are flat” and “you misplaced your keys” to “the hospital calls to tell you your mom had a heart attack and died” and “you get head cancer.” Or I could instead just spend it to give you penalty dice or increase target thresholds.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the total BK is actually shared by the group as a whole? Yeah, awesome, right?

Character Creation

We’re using the Shadowrun 2050 sourcebook for gear.

Starting characters get 4 free BP just for Contacts.

Low Lifestyle is free. Read about Lifestyles below for more information.

Tweaks to Magic

Astral Projection

As a GM, Astral Projection is a pain in the ass. As a brand new player interested in the spiffy-coolness of magic, it can also be extremely confusing and frequently forgotten. As such, Mages and Shamans no longer get to do it. Instead, it is now an Initiation power. If you initiate into the metaplanar knowledges, congrats, you learn how to astrally project. Until then, you have the sight, but no space-walking for you.

Mentor Spirits

I don’t care what the SR4 rules say, Mentor Spirits (aka Totems) are still an entirely Shamanic thing. Only Shamans and Shamanic Adepts can take them. In face, using the 2050 rules, Shamans get one for free.

Tweaks to Matrix

Accessing the Matrix

Anyone can access the AR version of the Matrix with just a commlink and the right peripherals. However, transmitting one’s own consciousness into the full VR of the Matrix requires the keyboard-sized simsense decks commonly referred to as Cyberdecks (or installed full-body simsense recording gear). Thus hackers are still called “deckers” and are still required to carry cyberdecks if they wish to go any deeper than standard AR.

Commlinks vs Cyberdecks

We’re using the Commlinks from SR4A as if they were cyberdecks. The stock models will serve just fine, just remember that you gotta plug that brain in and then plug that deck into a terminal in order to use them. Going down the line with the nine stock decks, they have Memory = 10, 10, 20, 50, 70, 100, 100, 200, 200. Memory only really matters in relation to data storage.

Each deck has a “Signal” rating which is the power of its radio, primarily for use with things like Drones. This means that yes, the Decker and Rigger are pretty much the same.

Otherwise, all of the Matrix rules from default SR4A are in use.

Buying Matrix Gear

All Matrix-related “Gear” is based on the SR4A stuff, but the cost is x10. This includes decks (aka commlinks), operating systems, and drones.

All Matrix programs and Autosofts and such have core SR4A prices.

Copying Programs and Shit

At the time of character creation, you are just assumed to be able to copy any program you purchase whose rating is less than or equal to your base Hacking skill. You can install that stuff everywhere on all your own personal gear, but not anyone else’s. You’re welcome.

During play, you can make tests to copy it over to other people’s stuff too. We can also use rules for patching and program degredation, etc, if that’s your interest. Starting on p. 108 in the Unwired sourcebook are a crapload of rules on copying and protection and such. If you want we can use those, if you find them enjoyable. Otherwise we can just hand-wave it.

Lifestyles, Wealth, and No More Cash-Tracking

There is a companion Google Spreadsheet I’ve worked up that has the chart on it: Clicky Clicky

Lifestyle is now a character Quality, and is used as the basis for all in-game character money purchases. No longer do we track money. Instead, we use Lifestyle, Scratch, and Availability checks. All brand new characters would be assumed to start with Low lifestyle. They could modify this like a quality (see linked spreadsheet for costs).

Character Creation Changes

During character creation, use the book item costs as is, for starting gear only. AKA normal BP cash costs rules, using stock book prices. After creation, we use the lifestyle instead.

Lifestyles in Play

The lifestyle has a monthly cost, which is modified a bit from the initial setup. Now, the cost is 4x that of the previous lifestyle. A typical run would give the players an ambiguous reward of, say, “covers lifestyle, plus some scratch.” Players keep lists of Scratch they’ve earned, such as “a favor from Eddie” and “some extra gear from the Burger Run,” and the like. They also keep a “Wish list” of things they want to work towards getting one day. Keep these two lists next to their Gear lists.

Wish lists are items and things you want. Take note of the Top 5, in order of importance. After completing a paying Run, you can possibly put some Scratch toward getting an item on your list. or instead, the GM might say you “take one forward” on it, marking a dot. Maybe a more expensive or hard to find item needs two or more dots.

When a Run is complete, the player should note any payoff. If it’s a standard run, they will pay off that month’s Lifestyle costs. If they earn any scratch, write it down. Or maybe they make some headway towards getting something off their wish list.

If a player wants something in the game, and the base cost is less than the cost of the lifestyle one lower than theirs, they can generally have it, provided it is available. Otherwise getting it is a basic Availability test, with some situational mods based on the character’s Lifestyle.

Players can use Scratch when appropriate to help this test. Maybe add some hits to the test. Maybe some dice. Depends on the situation. And maybe Scratch can also be used for other purposes, like spare parts, bargaining pieces, etc.

It’s all very open to group interpretation at the moment.

Can I Afford To Buy It?

  • If the item is 1/10 the cost of your Lifestyle or less, then yes. There’s very likely any question about it. This amount is listed on the chart as “Easy Buy”
  • If the item is up to 1/2 the cost of your Lifestyle, then probably, but let’s check. Make an Availability test.
  • Cost is up to that of my lifestyle, you can try. Availability test, with a Threshold modified by your current Lifestyle’s Avail Thresh mod (see spreadsheet)
  • Up to that of the next lifestyle, Availability test, with a Threshold modified by your current Lifestyle’s Avail Thresh mod plus that of the next (and any lifestyles in-between, too, if you’re buying really high)
  • Beyond Luxury? Additional +4 to Threshold

This is an extended test. The Interval for the test could be days, weeks, even months, depending on the item, the rarity, and the GM’s whim.

You can use Scratch to add 1-3 bonus dice to the Availability test, determined by the GM on a per-Scratch basis. Failing an availability test does not sacrifice any Scratch spent unless it’s a critical glitch. In other words, the Scratch isn’t gone until you agree to the deal.

Can’t I Just Have It? (CIJHI)

You’ll notice a CIJHI (pronounced “see-jee”) number on the chart. Sometimes, you just want something, let’s move along, no need to roll this crap man, you know? “Man,” you say to the GM, “Can’t I just have it?”

The GM might just say “Yeah, sure, pay the CIJHI.” In that case, pay that listed Karma cost, and you’ve got it. End of transaction.

Taking a Lifestyle hit (going “In the Hole”)

You can attempt to bank against your current lifestyle. Think of it as a liquidation sale, or a payday loan. To do so, your Lifestyle temporarily raises to a higher level for the duration of your next big Availability test, but you are now “In the Hole” (ITH) for the difference in BP costs between the two lifestyles. For example, raising from Low to Middle puts you five points ITH. You now are considered to be temporarily at the higher lifestyle for purposes of comparing costs and making the Availability test. Additionally you can use bonus hits on the test (and only this test) to cancel out ITH on a one-for-one basis. If completely canceled, then it’s your lucky day, you didn’t take the hit after all.

Being In the Hole means you got some negative karma. You need to pay that shit off fast, before the debt collectors come to get paid. If you are ITH, you can choose to use any amount of incoming (as in, you didn’t already have it) karma to remove it, at an equal cost. The GM can also choose to use it against you at any time. Any one point turns a success into a failure, or a failure into a critical failure (it gets spent in the process, though, so that’s good, right?). He can also spent a point to have someone dangerous come collecting…

House Rules

Shadowrun: The Series, Revisited phasmaphobic