Downtime

Things to do between missions

These rules are canon for my current campaign.

After each mission, your characters will (usually) enjoy a downtime phase. During this phase, you get four “scenes” that you can allocate to activities as you please. You also have to pay one amount of your lifestyle costs.

You get two bonus scenes - so, six in total - if you have any of the following augmentations: sleep regulator bioware (CRB); metabolic control adept power (CRB); booster endosont symbiotes (CF pg 123) or hyper-glucagon geneware (CF pg 160).

Spending one scene can give you any of the below options and benefits. Note: almost all tests for activities should be resolved by buying hits, except for a few noted exceptions, and Edge cannot be used in downtime to effect test outcomes. Ask me if you’re not clear if you should roll or buy hits.

Also note: you have to spend at least one scene on Leisure. All work and no play makes Jack an unhappy shadowrunner. If something happens that prevents you from spending a scene on Leisure, you cannot heal stun damage or refresh your Edge pool. Yes, ouch.

Karma & nuyen activities

Leisure

A scene spent on leisure gives you:

  • 3 free karma to spend on knowledge skills
  • an additional 1 free karma to spend on qualities - either buying new positive ones (at 2x the listed price, as is normal for buying new qualities in play) or buying off existing negative ones.
  • A complete refresh of your Edge pool.
  • Heal all stun damage.

You can save these karma points up, and you can combine them with regular karma to buy knowledge skills or qualities.

Reflection & self-improvement

You gain 1 karma, to spend on whatever you want.

Working for the man / people

Convert nuyen to karma or karma to nuyen, at a rate of 2000¥:1. You can convert up to five points for one scene. You can only do this once per downtime phase.

Training Montage

Except where noted below, increasing skills or attributes doesn’t require any scenes. You pick it up on the job, so to speak. Knowledge skill increases never require a scene.

However, these increases do need some investment during downtime:

  • Increasing an attribute to higher than 2 points less than your racial maximum (ie 4 for humans): 2 scenes
  • Increase a skill beyond 6: 2 scenes

Side Hustle

You spend time pitching your skills to do side jobs for your contacts and your contacts’ contacts. See calculation below. Most characters can earn 750-2000¥ for one scene spent on Side Hustle. You can only spend one scene on this; your contacts and their contacts only have so many opportunities for these sorts of off-the-books odd jobs.

See side hustle calculation for details on how to calculate the money earned.

Social activities

Hang Out

Earn a number of Favour Markers equal to your Charisma. You can use these to pay off markers you owe or bank them against future times you ask the contact for help. You don’t need to declare which contacts the markers apply to now, you can hold them as a pool and use them for whichever contact you want later.

You should expect to have to owe contacts Favour Markers when you ask them for help during play. See TBD link

Increase contact loyalty

You can raise a contact’s loyalty by spending a number of markers equal to twice their new loyalty value. I will encourage you to do a bit of roleplaying around this event! However, note you cannot raise a contact’s loyalty if you owe them any Favour Markers.

New Friends

Try and make a new contact, of any type you want.

Choose a contact rating for your new contact. Do an opposed test between your Charisma and the contact rating. If it succeeds, you find someone who will trust you enough to become a contact.

Yes, this means you’re unlikely to make friends above connection 3-5 this way. More powerful friends will need GM approval or to be made during normal play.

At the end of the downtime, the new contact will have loyalty 1.

Recovery activities

Rest & Recuperation

One scene is enough rest to heal any amount of physical damage short of being in overflow. If the character went into overflow on the last run, it takes two scenes to heal up. If you have a medical support contract, this is free. Otherwise it costs one favour marker per scene used.

Lie Low

If you didn’t gain any notoriety during your last mission, you can spend 1 scene to reduce your notoriety by 1. You can only do this once per downtime phase.

Acquire Gear

First, find the base number of markers this is going to cost you, depending on the item’s price:

Cost of item Number of favour markers
Below 5000¥ 0
5000 - 50k¥ 1
50k - 100k¥ 2
100k - 250k ¥ 3
250k+ 4

You have to pay these markers for anything you buy, even legal items. They represent the extra hassle of buying expensive items when you don’t legally exist.

Now, work out if you can get it. Each pass through this table takes one of your downtime scenes, except for the first row.

Avail score (legal gear) Avail score (R or F) Outcome
Below 18 Below 9 You get it automatically. This doesn’t need you to use any scenes, either. You still pay markers as above.
18+ 8-12 If you have any gear-related contact, you get it automatically; if not, you or any contact can roll. If you use a non-gear contact, this costs +1 marker.
13-18 If you have a gear contact specialising in this type of gear, you get it automatically. If not, you or any gear contact can roll (again, this costs +1 marker.)
18+ A gear specialist contact can roll. This costs +3 favour markers.

(These numbers err somewhat on the side of generosity.)

If the result is “can roll”, remember you are rolling against the availability of the item, as a dice pool. You can purchase extra dice on this test at a cost of 25% of the item per dice. Remember, for very big-ticket items (high-end cyberware, big vehicles, cyberdecks, etc) it can be more effective to negotiate to receive them as ‘run payouts rather than sourcing them through contacts.

Repair Gear

If you have an appropriate skill (Hardware for Matrix damage, Mechanic for vehicle/drone damage, etc), you can repair up to your total dice pool in damage track boxes across any of your gear for one scene’s worth of your time. You can spend multiple scenes on this if your gear is really badly banged up.

You have to have access to a facility; either a Garage/Workshop/Facility in your dwelling or access to one via a contact.

There is no further cost; a supply of parts comes with the nuyen you paid for the garage/workshop/facility.

Get Augmented

It takes time to have ‘ware installed, recover from the surgery, and then learn how to use your new abilities. This varies with how invasive the ‘ware is:

  • 0-1 Essence: 1 scene
  • 1-2 Essence: 2 scenes
  • 2-3: 4 scenes
  • 3+: 6 scenes

Magical Initiation

Take an extended test: Arcana + Intuition [Astral] (initiate grade, 4 scenes)

If you can’t get all of this done in one piece of downtime, you can “bank” the scenes you have spent and to return to it during the next downtime phase.

Learning spells

First buy the formula (see below.) Then resolve a test of (Spellcasting + Intuition) [magical lodge’s force]

Like most downtime actions, don’t roll actual dice, just buy hits.

Substitute in Ritual Spellcasting or Alchemy if that’s what you’re learning

Learning the spell takes two entire scenes, divided by the number of hits on the test. This means you can learn more than one spell in a single scene, as long as you have 4+ hits on the test. Other than that, you don’t get any sort of refund for part-used scenes, however.

Create alchemical trinkets

You can create a number of trinkets equal to your Alchemy skill in a single downtime scene. See Reagents in the Magic section for more information.

  1. Choose how many drams of reagent to use
  2. Roll Alchemy + Magic (this will usually be rolled and not fall back to buying hits)
  3. Resultant trinket has Force equal to the lesser of the roll and the number of drams used.

NB: Regardless of resulting power, all the reagents you declared in step 1 are consumed.

See addiction houserules for full details on these.

  • Indulge - lose 0/1/2/4 scenes if you choose to indulge your addiction, depending on its level (mild/moderate/severe/burnout)
  • Go cold turkey - lose no scenes, but you have to roll for withdrawal at the start of the next mission
  • Rehab - spend 1-3 scenes undergoing therapy and treatment for your addiction. Each scene offers a cumulative +2 bonus to your next withdrawl roll. There’s also an escalating cost: 1 scene costs 1000¥, the second costs 2500¥, and the third costs 10k¥.

You can’t combine indulge and rehab.

Other activities

Each scene can be used for 60 hours of downtime to do things like binding spirits, enchanting, making gear, etc. Anything that needs extended tests in the book and isn’t mentioned above can be done via this scene.

Modified downtime rules to account for qualities

Shadowrun has many, many qualities, and probably lots of them should affect the rules above. These are just the ones I’ve thought of so far.

  • Side Hustle and Day Job: if you have Day Job, you must spend downtime scenes working.
    • at the 5 karma level, you have to spend one scene working.
    • at the 10 karma level, you have to spend two scenes working, but earn a minimum 1,500 nuyen.
    • at the 15 karma level, you have to spend three scenes working; you earn a minimum 2,500 nuyen.

Other qualities I think should affect these downtime rules, but I haven’t yet had a player take them so don’t have numbers at the moment:

  • Dependent: reduce scenes
  • Addiction: reduce scenes when it gets past a certain level

Side hustle calculation

First, choose a skill you are going to use to freelance. Find your highest relevant skill dicepool on this list:

Skill Base
Medicine, Biotechnology, Cybertechnology 4
Technical skills (except the ones above) 3
Pilot Aircraft, Pilot Aerospace, Pilot Exotic
Sneak
2
Social Active skills
Combat Active skills
Professional knowledge skills
Arcana
Pilot Walker, Pilot Watercraft
1
Academic knowledge skills
Pilot Groundcraft
0

Add +1 to this for every rank you have in the skill over 4. Don’t include things like improved ability, reflex recorder, etc - just the normal skill score.

Add bonuses (these all stack):

Skill Bonus
One or more specialisations in your chosen skill 1
At least 4 ranks in any Influence skill (Leadership, Negotiation, Etiquette) that you are not using for the skill you are selling 1
At least 4 ranks in a skill related to the skill you have chosen 1
At least 4 ranks in 4+ skills related to the skill you have chosen 1 (plus the 1 above)
Have a rating 6 fake SIN, or a real national/corporate SIN 1
You have a control rig & are using a vehicle skill 2
You have the Fame quality at National or higher level 1
Your best fake SIN is of rating 3 or below -1
No fake SIN, or your best fake SIN is rating 1 -1 (plus the -1 above)
Lifestyle is Squatter -1
Lifestyle is Street -2

Add all these together to get your multiplier.

Finally, work out how many hits you can buy in your chosen skill - that’s your dice pool, divided by 4, rounded down.

Each scene spent freelancing will earn you:

multiplier * bought hits * 50¥

This is a fair bit of crunch but each character should only need to do it once.

Remember, characters can only spend one scene on doing this sort of work before there are no more opportunities to be done. They don’t have the right sort of criminal networks and reputation to find these jobs endlessly. If they did, they probably wouldn’t be shadowrunners.

Side hustle example activities:

  • Deckers - small-scale theft/fencing of low-value paydata; spider work securing illegal business’ Matrix stuff; repairing other people’s gear
  • Riggers - package delivery (for packages of varying illegality); smuggling; repairing other people’s drones
  • Street sams / physads - paid muscle; bodyguards
  • Mages - Astral security for illegal business, providing low-level spirits for one-off services
  • Face - running cons, negotiators on others behalf
  • Medicine skills - patching people up, light including cyberware repair
  • Everyone - training others in their skills

Appendix: important acknowledgements

I didn’t realise I wanted downtime rules until I looked at the ones from A Light In the Dark… then I immediately saw that I did. A few things didn’t fit though; they’re optimised for a living campaign, so they’re a bit too detailed in places and a bit too simple in others.

So I wrote my own, which you can read here.

I’ve never been completely happy with how I’ve handled downtime. It felt a little like an underbaked idea, a randomised tax the GM imposes; “well done for finishing that run. It’s now going to be… ummm, let’s say three weeks until your next one. Pay lifestyle costs. OK next run!” This system puts players in control, with a series of options they can pursue. Hopefully, the balancing works where all the options have their own attractions, without anything being overly powerful or creating a cognitive dissonance around “well, why are these people shadowrunners, then?”

I’ve tried to minimise dice rolling, including a speedy gear acquisition path that makes stuff easier to get hold off when the schedule isn’t tight. I’ve added a sort of resource currency for contacts, to represent the flow of favours back and forth to them, and hopefully give a little flavour of being part of a group of criminals. I’ve added zero-cost healing and repair options to recover between runs.

I’ve also taken the chance to buff a few things I feel are a little underpowered in RAW. Sleep regulators become quite potent, for example. Faces should shine here, able to butter up contacts for future favours as well as find new contacts more easily. People with good technical skills might make a non-trivial amount of nuyen on side hustles, which is more for feel and plot hooks than anything else.

Feedback welcomed! I’m still very much moving some of the numbers around, and trying to balance options against each other; I expect this will continue as it gets a proper playtest. But to tell me if you spot any egregious oversights or exploits.

For all the work I’ve done, this remains very closely based on these houserules for A Light In The Dark SR living campaign. All credit for any goodness here belongs to them. Anything you don’t like was probably something I added. More credit goes to u/mercilessming_, from whose houserules I derived further inspiration & the term “scene” which was much better than what I had before..

Last modified June 30, 2020