Rules for summoning spirits
After a few years of battling the Shadowrun rules, my table eventually threw in the towel and ported our in-progress campaign to Sprawlrunners. So far, we’ve been really happy with this decision.
This is the multi-page printable view of this section. Click here to print.
You need two books:
(For players in my campaign - our Google drive share is here. For players not in my campaign - this link is not public; sorry.)
Savage Worlds relies in having simple, reusable rules but making them versatile via trappings. You can create a trapping to dress up just about any ability your character has however you please. Suppose a face, a streetsam, and a physical adept all take the Level Headed edge, which gives them an advantage in initiative draws. This game mechanic could represent, respectively, an intrinsic talent for the face, a piece of augmentation for the streetsam, and a mystical ability for the physad. I encourage you to go nuts with this!
The Shadowrun system is a huge, sprawling, bloated beast of a thing. For any given edition, the CRB plus splatbooks contain thousands of pages of rules; it’s just too much. Inconsistencies and unbalanced elements abound. Pages are devoted to irrelevant rules like SCUBA diving. On-the-fly rules clarifications are required of GMs constantly.
Like many GMs, I hacked away at it, trying to cut it down to something manageable (see my efforts on the rest of this site) – but I tired of the fight. I’d much rather be devoting my energies to running my games than rewriting rules.
Furthermore, these issues are getting worse over time, not better. Shadowrun 6e did little to address the issues of 5e, while having significantly worse editing and organisation. I no longer have any trust in SR’s publishers to assemble a high-quality product that I want to play.
There’s lots of fan hacks around that aim to use other RPG systems to run Shadowrun games with. But for my table’s style of game, I think Savage Worlds is a good choice. Why?
Simply put, Sprawlrunners is by far the most polished and well-considered of the various hacks that attempt to blend Shadowrun’s setting with Savage World’s ruleset.
It is also probably the adaptation that sticks most closely to the vanilla Savage World rules. For example, the use of (mostly) existing Edges and Racial Trait rules and costs to model cyberware means the game is more easily balanced.
Sprawlrunners is perfectly playable as-is, so why have I written all these houserules for it? It’s mostly a question of game era. Sprawlrunners has a very classic FASA-era SR feel — the first to third editions. This means:
There’s nothing wrong with those decisions. But they don’t work for our table because we already have a pre-existing campaign and pre-existing characters set in the 2070s using the Shadowrun 5e rules. One character is a chaos mage, and doesn’t fit into the hermetic mage or shaman traditions. One character is a rigger/decker, optimised for in-combat AR hacking.
I do not want to start with fresh characters, I want to convert my ongoing campaign. Hence: I wrote the rules you find on this site. They attempt to extend the Sprawlrunners base to cover wireless hacking and unified magic theory, plus a few extra houserules of my own divising just to suit my own tastes and biases.
There is a character generation tool for Savage Worlds at savaged.us. It’s free, and has support for Sprawlrunners, but there’s a few non-obvious things to getting the best from it. It also has a few minor areas in which it doesn’t quite reflect the Sprawlrunners rules, so you’ll need to manually adjust your character or just ignore it’s validation warnings.
NB: the chargen quick reference in the SWADE CRB, pages 55-63, are very good and are recommended reading. Remember that the Sprawlrunners book adds extra options on top of those, though.
SWADE chargen is pretty simple, especially compared to Shadowrun, so you might like to do it all by hand. Even if you do use savaged.us, it helps to understand the steps.
This is covered in detail in SWADE pgs 9-59, but I’ll do a summary here.
You can only access the Sprawlrunners tools in savaged.us if you register for the site. So do that. Note that it has a bit of a habit of logging you out unexpectedly - keep an eye on that (if it does log you out, it’ll have a Login prompt at the top right.)
I have a custom setting for our campaign here: savaged.us/s/qlp2jxy3. It includes, wherever possible, houserules we are using. Click that link and click “use setting” at the top right to start generating your character.
Once you’ve done the above, you’ll get a series of tabs you step through in order (more or less) to create your character.
Most of this is completely optional but selecting your native language is helpful later. All characters speak two languages by default: your mother tongue (English, Japanese, German, etc) and “Sprawlspeak”, a pidgin commonly used on the streets of metroplexes. If you want more, take the Linguist edge.
Don’t worry about adding Sprawlspeak to your character sheet at this point. There’s no way to do it that won’t cost you points. We’ll take care of that during play.
For now, I think we’ll be starting freshly generated characters at the Seasoned rank. This will not only make you more powerful, it’ll also significantly expand the options open to you.
To do that, go to the Advances tab and enter “4”. You don’t need to use those advances – for extra edges, points etc – just yet. But doing this now will open up options to you through the rest of character generation.
To play a mage, shaman, or physical adept character, skip ahead to Edges and add “Arcane Background”, then come back. This will unlock other options you want to take.
Remember that you are restricted to no more than 4 points of hindrances, where a Minor hindrance is worth 1 point and a Major hindrance is worth 2 points. You can use these points for various boosts, like increasing skills or more Edges. You can choose how to use each point in the “Perks” box in the left column.
For descriptions of the Hindrances, see the SWADE CRB and the Sprawlrunners book. You also get a one-line summary within savaged.us when you add them to your character.
Also remember that you can use Hindrances to your advantage – when you roleplay them well, I’ll generally five give you a Bennie.
Keep in mind it costs more points to raise a skill to a die type higher than the linked attribute. For example, if you have Agility at d6, it costs 1 skill point to take Shooting to d6, then 2 more skill points to take it to d8.
Note that some skills you get for free at the basic, d4 level: athletics, stealth, common knowledge, notice, and persuasion. For any other skill you don’t take, you will roll (d4-2).
Some notes about specific skills:
For more information, see the Skills page.
Sprawlrunners uses an innovative system for most gear where you do not purchase it at character generation. Instead, your character has Logistics Points (LPs), representing their cash on hand, contacts, and trustworthiness. You “spend” these points during play to acquire gear you need for the mission, then discard the gear later so you can’t be traced or tracked through it. This gear is off-the-books; your contacts have taken the time to scrub it clean of any identifying or traceable marks, and it comes complete with low-grade fake licences where appropriate.
You can use LPs to buy stuff in chargen if you want, just to get a feel for what it costs, but you’re not committed to those purchases.
If you want more LPs, look at the Rich or Filthy Rich edges. You will also earn more as your character advances.
Items your character owns permanently, like cyberware or magical foci, works differently. You choose an Edge and get the gear, forever, without spending LPs.
To get cyberware, take the Chromed, Man And Machine, and/or More Machine Than Man edges. Each of these gives you 2 Implant Points to spend on cyberware. Note that (for technical reasons) the cyberware part of savaged.us lists the “cost” of cyberware as Logistic Points, but this is incorrect, they’re actually Implant Points. You’ll have to double check the calculation manually.
Some common/small cyberware doesn’t cost any Implant Points. To get these, you have to take the Implanted edge. You can take any amount of zero-rated cyberware once you take the Implanted edge once. The Implanted edge is free, but note that savaged.us will charge you a point for it.
To select your spells or adept powers, you’ll use the Powers tab. This will appear once you select an arcane background.
Adept powers work similarly to Implant Points. You get Chi Points with your Arcane Background edge, and more via other edges as your character progresses. Then you spend those points on powers.
Mages and shamans also use the Powers tab to select their spells. Note that shaman have a much shorter list of allowed powers, but their summoned spirits can cast spells, whereas a mage’s elementals cannot.
These are closely based on the rules in Justin Licht’s Savage Worlds / Shadowrun conversion (also available directly on Google Drive.)
Note that these are based around +4 racial attributes per race, rather than the standard SWADE +2. This change gives each race more room to breath and be more closely modelled on the original Shadowrun races. The races are still balanced against each other. I think it also balances against some of the racial traits granted being quite situational or easily replicated with advanced gear in a cyberpunk setting (eg low-light or thermal vision.)
My houserules make some small changes to the available skills in Savage Worlds and Sprawlrunners. Below is a complete reference to all the skills, including the ones in core SWADE. It also has some clarifications of which skill applies to some common actions where it’s perhaps not immediately obvious (eg. is a Matrix search Electronics, Hacking, or Research?)
Skill specialisations are available for Common Knowledge, but these are a house rule for this campaign and not handled like normal skill specialisations in Savage Worlds. As for other specialisations, they cost 1 skill point per specialisation you take. Unlike other specialisations, they don’t change the roll you make; but on any Common Knowledge check where the specialisation applies, you will get considerably more information on a Success or a Raise than if you didn’t have the specialisation. The narrower the specialisation, the more information you’ll get on a Success. You can purchase as many of these as you want.
All characters get a d4 rank in these skills for free, without having to spend any skill points. You can, of course, spend points to improve them further.
See also “Athletics” and “Stealth” under common skills, above.
See also “Persuasion” under common skills, above.
If using a social skill in a language other than the character’s native tongue, if their language dice is lower than their social skill dice, roll the language dice instead. Sprawlspeak (a pidgin made up of English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, German, and many others) never counts as a native language for this rule, as it’s somewhat clumsy and not suited to rhetoric. If you’re playing a social manipulator role, strongly consider taking the Linguist edge so you can talk to people in their native language.
See also “Arcana” under knowledge skills, below.
When repairing or modifying electronics, use the lowest of the characters' Repair and Electronics skills.
See also Common Knowledge, above.
Language skills mostly act to limit your use of social skills. When using any skill where your command of the language you are using is a factor (most notably Persuade and Performance, but others may apply), if the language skill has a lower rating than the skill you are rolling, you use that instead.
Example: Alice has Persuade d10, English d12, and Sprawlspeak d8. When trying to Persuade someone using English, she rolls d10. But when using Sprawlspeak, she can only roll d8.
Occasionally, you may also need to roll the language skill itself, eg. to understand something or make yourself understood when acting under time pressure.
In core SWADE, a language is treated as a full skill, costing one skill point per die type to raise. This gets very expensive in settings with lots of languages, so I am replacing it with the following houserules:
At chargen, everyone gets:
Per RAW, the Linguist Edge is “character gains a d6 in a number of languages equal to half her Smarts die.”
As in RAW, the Linguist edge will give you knowledge of a number of languages equal to half your Smarts die. Rather than working at a d6 level, however, in these rules this edge grants Partial level knowledge to the bonus language skills.
These languages can be upgraded to Fluent for one further skill point each.
In my campaign, the Seattle sprawl is a melting pot of Pacific Rim and Native American cultures, and, accordingly, of languages. English, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Cantonese, Salish, Sioux, Russian; all are commonly heard around the city.
Each megacorp and major criminal organisation typically conducts day-to-day activities in their native tongue:
Two ancient languages have returned to the world with the Awakening:
With a sharp need for inter-group communications across language barriers, a pidgin language has emerged in Seattle and other similar international metroplexes. Called Sprawlspeak or Streetspeak, it is a mixture of half a dozen common languages in the area. Sprawlspeak is a common language amongst ordinary people in lower-class areas; anywhere people from different language groups have to mix and communicate, sprawlspeak flourishes.
In Seattle, the local dialect of sprawlspeak is about half English, with the other half comprised mostly of Japanese, Salish, Sioux, and Cantonese. Loan words from another dozen languages creep in here and there, though.
Over time, linguistic scholars are watching with interest to see if sprawlspeak continues to develop and become a creole.
Sprawlspeak is still an awkward, halting language, although it is becoming more sophisticated and fluid over time. It can only ever be learned to Partial level. There is no such thing as Fluency in sprawlspeak. Therefore, characters planning a social manipulator role would be well-advised to consider taking multiple language skills, so they can converse with their targets in their native tongue.
Mage characters will need to take one or two special Edges in order to become mages. These Edges, in effect, unlock a whole skill tree. See Arcane Backgrounds for more information.
In my houserules, certain standard SWADE edges are modified to require an “augmentation” trapping. This means they are only available as either bioware or a physical adept power. These Edges are all listed below. For details on how the trappings work, see Bioware and Adept Powers.
NB: for avoidance of doubt: only characters with the Adept arcane background can use the Adept Power trapping. And mages who take edges with the Bioware trapping suffer the same -1 penalty to magic rolls as if they’d taken one of the Cyberware edges.
The above doesn’t effect cyberware, which follows standard Sprawlrunners rules; ie., you take Cyberware edges that grant implant points (see below), then spend those implant points on specific cyberware that grant you buffs and abilities (see Cyberware).
Only available with augmentation trapping.
These are edges that give a character implant points, that they can (in turn) spend on getting cyberware.
Per Sprawlrunners RAW, the Implanted edge doesn’t cost an Edge point, and once you take it, you can have any amount of zero-implant-point cyberware. This might seem slightly counter-intuitive, but that’s because it only exists to track the effect of these implants on magic users.
As such it is functionally equivalent to a rule that says “Anybody can take any amount of 0-cost implants they like. However, mages or shamans with any number of 0-point implants take a -1 penalty to all magic rolls, which stacks with any penalties from the Chromed edges.”
If you character is not a mage of any kind, you can skip the Implanted edge entirely, as it has no effect on you. If your character is a mage, and you do want to take some zero-implant-point cyberware, that’s the only time you need to take it.
Note that if you take Implanted on savaged.us, it’ll use up one of your perk points, as there’s no way to zero-out the cost of an Edge on there. So just skip adding it on the site, and only add it to your character sheet later if you need it.
Required: Novice, Spirit d6+, Vigor d6+
Same as Sprawlrunners RAW (pg 15).
Required: Seasoned, Spirit d8+ or Vigor d8+, Chromed
Same as Sprawlrunners RAW (pg 15).
Required: Veteran, Man and Machine
The character has gained regular access to a betaware clinic, which can offer a higher grade of cyberware, more closely tailored to the user’s system. They get 2 more implant points.
Required: Heroic, Betaware
Same as Sprawlrunners RAW (pg 16) but you can only take this Edge once.
Required: Legendary, Betaware
The character has gained access to a top secret black lab that offers the most cutting edge cyberware in existence. They get 2 more implant points.
Replaced by Bone Density.
Replaced by Overclocked Platelets.
Only available with augmentation trapping.
Replaced by Recoil Compensation System for cyberarms.
Replaced by smartlinks.
Only available with augmentation trapping.
Replaced by improved vehicle control rig.
Requirements: Novice, Repair d6+
Character gains a pool of 3 Mod Points.
Mod Points are used to represent access to tools and parts. They are spent similarly to Logistic Points, and can be used to upgrade vehicles before the mission, or even during it if the opportunity presents itself. See vehicle mods for how to use Mod Points.
Requirements: Seasoned, Repair d8+, Mod Shop
Character gains a further 4 Mod Points, in addition to the 3 granted for Mod Shop.
Requirements: Veteran, Repair d8+, Improved Mod Shop
Character gains a further 5 Mod Points. This Edge can be taken a second time at Legendary rank.
These houserules contain quite significant changes from normal Sprawlrunners. The intent is to give players the flexibility to freely create their own magical traditions, beyond the existing archetypes of shaman and hermetic mage.
Note that this entire section assumes a reasonable familiarity with existing Shadowrun rules and canon for magic abilities; I won’t do a full recap of them here.
Rules for summoning spirits
Game mechanic for summoning
How different magical traditions approach spirit summoning
Rules for creating stats for spirits
Using the rules from Furious Magic in Sprawlrunners
Different types of Awakened characters
In a rush? Prepared to take a risk? Here you go!
Houserules and clarifications for specific powers
Options for combat spells
The astral plane; how to go there and what to do
These are some ideas on how to combine ManuFS’s Furious Magic supplement with Sprawlrunners and MagusRogue’s Guide to the Sprawl. It draws on all three of these books to hopefully present a coherent whole.
Note that this is not currently canon for our campaign. These are just some ideas for now and need further fleshing out before they will be ready to play.
The following Sprawlrunners Power Edges are left unchanged: all the Chi/Physical Adept ones, Weapon Focus, Flexible Signature, Lord of the Spirits, Masking, Shielding, Spirit Companion. See below for notes on the other Focus Edges.
All the Edges in Furious Magic are left unchanged, although several do not apply to Sprawlrunners as there are no Weird Scientists.
The Shadowrun concept of Initiation is translated to Furious Magic by using the Higher Spheres Edge. For plot reasons, if the GM is requiring a metaplanar initiation quest, I suggest skipping the Seasoned variant of Higher Spheres; just do it at Higher Spheres II (which is equivalent to “Initiate”) and III (“Greater Initiate”).
Sprawlrunners’s Focus Edges, in particular, need special handling.
When obtaining and binding the focus, the caster picks one Power that it is associated with. Whenever using that Power with an Extended Duration, the caster does not take the usual point of Fatigue when the Power ends and the caster does not suffer the usual -1 penalty to further arcane skill rolls while the Power in being sustained.
Note that this contrasts with Focus Effort, which works with any Power the caster chooses but prevents them from maintaining a second Power at the same time.
When obtaining and binding the focus, the caster picks one Power that it is associated with. If the spellcaster gets a Backlash on that spell, the focus absorbs the damage instead, and the caster does not suffer the effects of the Backlash.
The focus’s astral link to the caster is disrupted by this and it must be re-bound before it can be used again (takes hours; GM discretion; likely cannot be used again until after the next Downtime phase.)
On a Critical Backlash, the caster avoids Backlash but still has to roll on the Uncontrolled Magic table.
(this mostly based on MagusRogue’s work)
Modelled as a new Arcane Background. Requires Spirit d6+, Fighting or Shooting d6+, Focus d6+.
The Summon Ally power continues to be used to summon Shadowrun style spirits, but with the following limitations:
RAW Sprawlrunners offers three types of Arcane Background - hermetic mage, shaman, and qi adept (same as physical adepts in Shadowrun). This reflects an approach similar to Shadowrun 1e/2e, where hermetic mages and shamans had very different rule mechanics, but other magical traditions were rather less fleshed out.
I wish to adopt an approach closer to Shadowrun from 4e onwards; what is often called “unified magic theory.” Bring the rules for different magical traditions into closer alignment, then use that as a springboard to make it easier to add new magic traditions. My ultimate goal is to allow players the freedom to define their own traditions, and how their characters interpret them.
For my game, I am using two Arcane Backgrounds for PCs:
Mages start play with three free Powers, and get more via the New Powers Edge, as usual.
There are two variants of this skill, linked to different attributes, reflecting that different magic users have different ways to interact with mana:
For avoidance of doubt: the only difference between Magic (Spirit) and (Smarts) is the role-playing aspect and the choice of linked attribute for the skill. Everything else is the same – available power list, drain rules, etc.
Any character with AB(mage) gets a free Astral Projection power. Adept characters can purchase Astral Perception for 1 Chi Point. Activities on the Astral plane, including assensing and astral combat while projecting, are governed by the new Astral (Smarts) skill.
See Astral Space for more details.
I have not yet fleshed out rules for mystic adepts - characters who combine physad abilities with limited magic abilities. I think this is best modelled by giving physads some ability to learn Powers, similar to the Power racial trait (see SWADE pg 19.) Let me know if you want to play such a character in my campaign and we’ll figure it out.
I have some ideas for how to handle magical traditions that are used for various types of NPCs, although these are not yet fully fleshed out:
Normal magic involves carefully constructing a structure in astral space to draw the magic through. This helps prevent damage to the mage from wielding the mana, and when Drain does occur, its effects on the body are limited.
If the chips are down, any mage may choose to spend a Bennie to instead use wild magic, drawing mana directly into and through their own aura. The extra power surge allows them to cancel up to 2 points of penalty to the roll (which stacks with any other similar penalty-cancellation effect.) However, if they take Drain, then it will be a Wound rather than Fatigue.
If you roll a Critical Failure on a reckless casting, you should expect significant problems to occur…
All powers in SWADE (pgs 154–171) are allowed as part of the Mage arcane background, except the following:
Note that this overlaps somewhat with the Shielding edge (see Sprawlrunners, pg 17). I won’t stop you taking Arcane Protection, but the edge is arguably more powerful and useful.
Rank: Seasoned (changed from Veteran in RAW)
Power Points: See below
(NB: slightly changed from RAW.)
Forces other summoned spirits back to the metaplanes. Opposed roll of caster’s Conjuration skill versus the target spirit’s Spirit. Success leaves the spirit Shaken; each raise inflicts a Wound. If the spirit is incapacitated, it is dismissed from service and returned to the metaplanes.
If the spirit is a companion (see Sprawlrunners pg 17), then it gets to roll the summoner’s Spirit in addition to its own (choosing the highest dice, as usual.) Additionally, if incapacitated, it will not be permanently banished, but will return to the summoner’s side after 1d4 days.
The power point cost, and hence roll penalty, is determined by the target spirit’s rank, similarly to when it is summoned. Hence:
Healing cannot be used to heal Wounds caused by drain.
By default, Illusions are mana-based; they only appear within the minds of living creatures. Purely technological systems like cameras or drone sensors see nothing. (Living characters with cybernetic senses like cybereyes still see the illusion, however.)
The Strong modifier (+2PP) instead produces a physical illusion, which does affect technological systems.
Relief cannot be used to heal Fatigue caused by drain.
Power Points: See below
Summons a spirit from the metaplanes to do the summoner’s bidding. See Summoning for rules. The power point cost, and hence roll penalty, is determined by the target spirit’s rank:
Shadowrun has long been distinguished by a wide range of magical combat spells, with different strengths and weaknesses. This gives mages some tactical flexibility and trade-offs to weigh up when considering which spells to learn and to use.
In these rules, I am attempting to bring this variety of spells to SWADE and Sprawlrunners, without breaking the system in the process. I’ve done this by taking an approach detailed in Gods and Masters. Below are some pre-created “bundles” of power modifiers, attempting to simulate some flavour of the trapping in question. For each bundle, these modifers are not optional - they always apply to all powers cast using that trapping.
Mostly, the power modifiers come from SWADE. A few new ones appear, drawn from Gods and Masters.
Each trapping has a total associated PP cost. This is added to the mage’s spellcasting penalty in the usual way whenever they use that particular trapping.
Under these houserules, the three combat Powers - bolt, blast, and burst - are always cast with one of the following trappings. These trappings only apply to those combat spells. Rules for trappings and power modifiers for other spells work as per normal SWADE.
Mages learn spells in the usual way. They learn bolt as a single power, and can cast any of the trappings below – ice bolt, fire bolt, manabolt, etc – freely.
Except where mentioned below, no additional power modifiers can be used on these spells; for example, you cannot put Heavy Weapon onto an acid bolt (consider using earth bolt instead.) However, the specific modifiers that are part of each spell are still allowed - +2PP for +1d6 damage, and (for blast only) +0/+1PP to change the blast template to Small or Large
“Affected” above means the target actually suffered damage. If the damage roll does not exceed their Toughness then the extra effects do not happen.
Total: +3 PP
Total: +3 PP
Total: +2? PP
Powerbolt, powerball, and powerburst are magically generated fields of sheer kinetic force. They use the standard power description as written.
Total: no change to PP
Manabolt, manaball, and manaburst are special in that they connect directly to the target’s aura, so the magical energy flows into the target directly from Astral space.
Total: +2 PP
Most of the trappings above – wind, ice, water, fire, acid, power and lightning – take the form of physical energies that the caster manifests at their body and then travel to the target. Cover affects this as usual. If the target is behind transparent cover, such as armoured glass, the power hits the glass; it may or may not penetrate, as per the rules for Cover and Obstructions (see SWADE pg 101.)
Lightning spells can penetrate metal conductive barriers if the target is touching them. The target gets no benefit from cover.
If the target is inside a vehicle and the vehicle has insulative armour (see vehicle mods), the energy flows safely around the outside of the vehicle, and the occupants are unharmed. This applies even if the spell was area of effect, ie. burst or blast.
Acid spells that strike any form of barrier or cover will always damage it, even if they also penetrate and damage a target behind them.
Mana spells never penetrate barriers, as they travel to the target in Astral space. Cover penalties still apply to the Spellcasting roll, but only because they obscure the target and hide some of its aura.
The summoner rolls their Magic skill, taking a penalty according to the level of the spirit:
Don’t forget that - per the Power Preparation rule (SWADE pg 140) - if a summoner concentrates for an entire round (taking no action, not moving, not being Shaken or Stunned), they can cancel up to 2 points of penalty to any power roll. This applies to practically all summoning done outside of combat and helps offset the penalties listed above.
Take a Drain resistance test on a natural 1 on the Magic die, as usual.
Summoned spirits last for (Spirit die type) hours and can do unlimited things for the summoner in that time. There is no concept of favours as used in spirit summoning in Shadowrun. Remote services - anything that takes the spirit more than (Spirit die type)×10 metres away from its summoner - use this time period up at 10× faster rate.
A summoner can dismiss a summoned spirit as a free action.
On a raise on the summoning roll, the spirit gains the Resilient power, and so it will be able to withstand an extra Wound before being disrupted. If the spirit already has the Resilient power, it is promoted to Very Resilient (two wounds) on a raise.
The spirit enters the world already materialised on the physical plane and can act immediately. In combat, they act on the same initiative card as their summoner. Mages can send mental commands to their summoned spirits as a free action and they can do that immediately after summoning.
By default, summoners can only have one lesser/common/greater spirit summoned at a time. This does not count as maintaining a power, so there is no ongoing penalty to the mage’s rolls. They can also keep one servant/watcher summoned.
Although different magical traditions have the same abilities to learn powers and cast spells, they use draw upon different types of spirits when they use the Summon Ally power.
As in Sprawlrunners and Summoner’s Circle, spirits have defined power levels. I’ve additionally given them explicit names, to make it clearer:
A mage can only summon spirits of their own rank or less.
A mage doesn’t need to do anything to “learn” new ranks of spirits as they increase their own rank. On their 8th advance, when they move from Seasoned to Veteran, common spirits become available to them automatically.
All mages can summon watchers - little more than a blob of magical energy squished into form by the mage’s will. Although the true nature of spirits is hugely debated, most mages agree that watchers are not “summoned” as such but rather created on the spot.
Hermetic mages can summon elementals of the four classic elements: fire, earth, air, water. Each spirit exists at lesser, common, and greater levels.
Compared with other spirits, elementals are somewhat… dreary. They lack intellectual curiosity and are easily confused by unexpected situations. They also seem to have no capacity for boredom, and will carry out the most rote of repeated tasks without seeming complaint or irritation. Hermetic mages treat them as mere servants, and elementals seem content in that role.
Elementals have stats and abilities as per Sprawlrunners.
Shaman spirits take the form of nature spirits. Shamans treat them with great reverence and respect. Nature spirits are more independent than elementals but can be capricious, and sometimes have their own ideas and agendas.
Nature spirits have stats and abilities as per Sprawlrunners. Note that nature spirits can ignore 2 points of casting penalties when in their home environment.
Note also that Sprawlrunners RAW uses “Focus” as the spellcasting skill for spirits. For technical reasons related to FoundryVTT, it’s easier to rename this to “Magic”, so it’s the same name as everyone else uses.
Many other magical traditions are what magical researchers refer to as attuned summoners. These are characterised by having a much smaller roster of spirits to draw on than other summoners, but these spirits are much more closely bound to the summoner and typically demonstrate greater loyalty than other spirit types.
When they first take the Summon Ally power, attuned summoners automatically gain access to two spirits of lesser rank. As they increase their own rank to Veteran and then to Heroic, they gain two common spirits and then two greater spirits.
These spirits can be created freely by the player.
Once a character achieves Initiate status (by taking the Edge), they can take a downtime action to journey to the metaplanes and bond with a new spirit type, of any rank they choose. At that time, the player can create a new statblock for the new spirit type. Afterwards, they can summon that spirit as they please. See downtime actions.
They can repeat this process until they have a total of four spirit types at each of lesser, common, and greater rank. At that time, if they undertake an Attune action again, they must remove one other spirit from their roster to make room for the new one.
In addition to the above, there are other types of spirit that are strongly associated with various magical traditions. There are no game mechanics for these currently.
There are also traditions associated with dark magic:
Players who’s characters follow magical traditions other than hermetic mage or shaman will have to create their own spirit stats as their character learns to summon new spirits. For the main, these will follow the rules in the Savage Worlds Summoner’s Circle supplement. You can freely define everything about the spirit.
All spirits always have the following powers and abilities. Numbers in brackets are the points value from Summoner’s Circle.
Net total: 8 points.
Spirits can have the ability to use Powers (spells), with some notes and caveats:
Power points: 2
Causes the target to experience mishaps, slips, and other instances of bad luck at an accelerated rate. Whenever the target rolls a natural 1 on their skill die (regardless of the value of the wild die), they experience a crit-fail or similar effect.
Must be sustained as usual (ie. the spirit takes a -1 penalty on further Magic rolls while sustaining the power.) This -1 also applies to rolls to use magical spirit abilities that roll skills like Shooting or Athletics.
Modifier: +2PP: can effect all targets inside a Medium Blast Template.
Sprawlrunners RAW does not use astral projection and significantly limits astral perception compared to Shadowrun.
Our campaign will allow astral projection as a houserule. Astral perception will work like Shadowrun (long distance) and not Sprawlrunners (where it has a very short range).
Characters with the Physical Adept arcane background can choose to purchase Astral Perception as a power. They cannot astrally project. Full mages can both perceive and project, without having to buy any powers.
A mage can safely astrally project for (Spirit Die/2) hours.
Beyond that, the mage must roll a Spirit test every ten minutes, at a cumulative -1 penalty each time (so -1 after 10 minutes; -2 after 20 minutes, etc.) When the caster fails a roll, they get 10 more minutes, then if they do not return to their body they will fade away and die.
Movement in the Astral has two speeds: ‘slow’ is Pace 100, ‘fast’ is 5 km per initiative turn. At the ‘fast’ rate, everything whizzes past in an incomprehensible blur, so it’s really only useful for long distance travel where the mage knows where they are going. (Mages who do a lot of long-range astral travel get really good at memorising maps!)
Astral beings can fly freely up to the limits of the manasphere (about 80 km). They can pass through any solid objects, but cannot pass through the living earth as that has its own aura.
Astral beings cannot pass through each other. They can pass through the auras of living beings on the physical plane, but the process isn’t very pleasant, and the person being passed through can roll Notice to be aware of it (it’s like an amped-up version of the “someone just walked over my grave” creepy feeling.)
Astrally projecting mages can “manifest” to show themselves to mundanes in the physical world. They appear as a hazy, ghostly version of themselves. They can be seen by people, and talk to them.
This is actually a sort of localised psychic link. They don’t have a real form, and cannot interact with any physical objects. They cannot be recorded by technological devices like cameras.
Manifesting is difficult, and can only be kept up for ((Spirit Die type) * 5) minutes at a time.
If someone moves a mage’s body while they are away from it, they’ll need to make a Dramatic Task to re-locate it before their time on the astral plane runs out!
Roll Astral versus TN4. If the target has the Masking Edge and are choosing to use it, they can oppose this test with Spirit. If the target has Masking and the assenser does not, the Spirit roll is made at +2.
Depending on the outcome, you might learn the following:
This is handled very much like melee combat:
Note that - given how fast astral travel is - the back-and-forth of astral combat can easily cover an area hundreds of meters across.
Spells can be used between targets on the Astral plane as usual, but an astrally projecting mage cannot cast spells at auras that exist on the physical plane. However, dual-natured beings (like some magical critters or an astrally perceiving Awakened) can be targeted for spells.
Click here to see all rules in this section on one page (good for printing or saving as a PDF.)
Sprawlrunners uses a fully abstracted resource system, replacing the traditional RPG structure of buying gear and tracking a currency balance with a mechanic called Logistic Points. This works well for some tables, but we found it a little jarring for the characters to have no reason to discuss or negotiate the in-game payments for the jobs they undertake.
The rules in this section consist of several linked systems that work together to nudge the feel of Sprawlrunners a little closer to how Shadowrun works, but still without requiring detailed tracking of the resources each character has to draw on.
There are two kinds of rewards my characters earn from a mission: karma and nuyen. Nuyen is used to fund downtime actions. Karma is used to Advance the characters.
I typically award karma at a rate of 3-5 per session, depending on how much the PCs get done, and also give out occasional bonus points for cool writeups of downtime actions and stuff like that. (Note: at-the-table cool stuff, like clever strategies, funny jokes, and excellent roleplaying will earn Bennies, not karma.)
Core SWADE has a simple structure for advancement: every so often, the character earns an advance. Each advance can be spend on a few things, such as improving traits or new Edges. Every three advances, the character also improves their rank, which unlocks new Edges and other abilities. Sprawlrunners doesn’t change this structure.
Advances are quite “large”, as it were. Each one is quite a significant power boost for a character. It’s slightly tricky to work out at what rate to hand them out, as our mission length varies quite a lot and our sessions are quite short.
For my campaign, to smooth over this, I made a small change and re-introduced karma from Shadowrun. Karma will be simply spent on advances at a straight 10:1 ratio (ie. one advance costs 10 karma.) This means I can have a slightly more granular mechanic to reward my PCs than just SWADE advances, but it doesn’t change any game balance.
These rules are for discussion with my table and are not currently canon for our game.
The above advancement rules will take a charater from the rank of Seasoned (our starting level) to Legendary (SWADE’s maximum “level”) in about 9-12 months of play. There’s no level cap in SWADE; you can continue to advance forever, but your character does become more and more powerful. Eventually this will cause me problems - it’ll get harder and harder to create challenges without stretching the narrative - and we’ll have to talk about retirement.
There’s a few options we could take here:
Some ideas for how to slow stuff down:
Example of (3): normal SWADE uses four advances for each rank. Here, we make it only three advances to get from Novice to Seasoned, then +1 advances per rank after that; so it’s four for Seasoned to Veteran, five for Veteran to Heroic, etc. This doesn’t produce a huge change but is just an example. Obviously we could further change these however we want.
|Number of advances||Normal SWADE rank||Possible houserule|
Your character’s gear is bought with Logistic Points, as per Sprawlrunners core rules. LP represents not just the cost of acquiring any old gear, but the cost of acquiring gear suitable for crime: untraceable, scrubbed of all hidden RFID tags, no inconvenient ballistics records on file, no background checks carried out, etc.
Occasionally, though, your character might need to pay for other things. Incidental lifestyle expenses in the game (eg. if Mr Johnson stiffs you on the restaurant bill); bribes to get past a snooty nightclub bouncer; spreading some cash around to grease the wheels during legwork.
For these, we use the SWADE wealth mechanic (pg 145.) This abstracts the amount of liquid cash your character has available to a SWADE-style die type.
At the start of each mission, Wealth resets to your lifestyle’s die type. For most characters, that’s a d6. If you have the Poverty hindrance, it’s a d4. The Rich edge makes it a d8; the Filthy Rich edge a d10.
Trolls starting wealth die is one step worse than usual, because of their increased lifestyle costs. A troll with Poverty rolls d4-2.
Downtime actions such as Side Hustle or Stash Nuyen can provide short-term bonuses or reductions to your Wealth Die.
When the time comes to spend money, I’ll tell you what to roll, based on how much you’re spending and what your current Wealth die is:
Note that this might mean that when (say) splitting a restaurant bill, some of you are rolling to see if you can afford it, and others aren’t. It sucks to be poor.
As a rough guide, you can translate Shadowrun monetary amounts into Wealth roll penalties as follows:
When your characters complete missions, they will typically be paid for this (usually in nuyen.) These nuyen are only used to fund a number of Downtime Actions you can take before the next mission begins. You do not use nuyen to buy things directly; that is handled by your character’s LP pool and Wealth Die.
Every 10k¥ you earn from a run buys you enough time off afterward to complete one of the below Downtime Actions. (If this seems like a high figure to you, remember that this is the “gross” pay your character receives. A substantial amount is lost in money laundering, or spent on maintaining your contacts, paying your rent, buying food and other essentials, etc etc.)
A note for my players: you can roll Savage Worlds style dice in Slack with the syntax
/roll 1d6x + 1d8x. Obviously, change the d8 for whatever your skill is. The
x will make the dice exploding. This can be used for any downtime dice-rolling, as a more convenient option to Foundry.
Spend 10 points of karma to advance, as per usual SWADE rules. If you have multiple advances to take, you can take them all as one action; you don’t need to spend one action for each advance.
You can use karma earned via Hang Out or Train in the same downtime phase to advance. For example, suppose you earn 19 points of karma on a run, and have three downtime actions. You can use the first action to Train to get to 20 points of karma, and the second to Advance twice. Then you still have the third downtime action to use as you please.
If a character accumulates enough karma to advance during a mission, and gets some suitable amount of downtime (like a good night’s rest), the GM may allow them to perform the Advance outside of the Downtime Action. This helps to spread out the rate of advancement when doing longer missions that span multiple sessions.
An attuned summoner mage with the Initiate edge can journey to the metaplanes, explore a new metaplane, and learn its True Name. From then on, they can summon spirits from that metaplane whenever they please. You can do this action multiple times in a single downtime phase if you want.
See summoning traditions.
Your character decides to blow off some steam and celebrate still being alive. They spend an extended period of time indulging whatever hedonistic vices most appeal to them.
Take a one-step penalty to your wealth die type die for the next session.
There is no mechanical game benefit to carousing. This is deliberate ;)
You spend some quality time with your nearest and dearest. Write a scene telling us what you do together, and take a free point of karma for your trouble! (If you don’t want to write a scene, see Train below.)
If you attracted an unusually breathtaking amount of attention on the last run and so have a Heat Die, you will need to skip town for a while until the heat dies down. This takes one of your actions and clears the Heat Die. In extraordinary circumstances (a Heat Die of d10 or more), it might even take multiple actions. Be less obvious next time!
Maybe your character is engaged in some sort of longer-term thing: researching something, making something, trying to create a spell… anything we’ve agreed upon.
We’ll handle this a bit like a Dramatic Task in SWADE or a Clock in Blades in the Dark. You’ll have some fixed number of segments to complete - you might or might not know how many, depending on what you are up to. For a single downtime action, you can make a Trait Test using any appropriate skill to work on the project.
Test success will tick a segment on the progress clock. Each Raise will tick a further segment. On a critical failure, you lose one segment. You cannot spend Bennies on this roll.
You spend time working your contacts, buttering them up, making sure the next time you come calling they’ll have the good stuff set aside for you.
Roll a standard Networking test (Persuasion or Intimidate vs target number 4). If you succeed, take bonus LP on the next mission according to the table below. For each raise, take a further bonus LP (again, as per below). You cannot spend Bennies on this roll.
No penalty for failures, but you can’t try again; people have had enough of you for now. You can only do Network once in a given downtime.
|Character rank||LP bonus on Success||LP bonus on Raise|
Each Healing roll takes one downtime action. (See SWADE pg 96 for full details.) Roll Vigor; success clears a Wound, each raise clears another Wound.
Other characters can Support this roll if they also spend a downtime action. This will usually involve them rolling their Healing skill, for obvious reasons.
Characters with the Fast Healer Edge can make two Healing rolls for a single downtime action.
Your character is saving up for a rainy day. Retirement? Paying off their dear old ma’s mortgage? Up to you. They spend their downtime living thriftily so they can divert as much money as possible to their savings. If you want to work to a specific goal, let me know what it is, and we’ll set up a clock to track progress towards it.
Take a one-step penalty to your wealth die type for the next session. You can only Stash Nuyen once per downtime.
Shadowrunner’s skill sets can be used for more mundane activities than the epic, daring heists we play out at the table. Riggers can do courier work; streetsams can work as bodyguards; mages can provide protection services; deckers can skim low-security systems for paydata.
If your character spends their downtime on a side hustle, they can earn a little extra cash in their pocket. Take a one-off bonus to their wealth die type for the next mission.
You can only do Side Hustle once in a given downtime.
You spend time honing your skills. Take a free point of karma.
Savage Worlds already has a game mechanic that is very similar to cyberware augmentation, in the form of Edges. Unlike cyberware, however, these are available to any character. This (IMO) goes against the grain of cyberpunk a little - I value the genre trope where the only way to survive involves desperate self-sacrifice, by literally having bits of yourself chopped off.
Sprawlrunners extends the core Savage Worlds edge system to offer an additional catalog of cyberware at different power levels. This is designed to be complementary to core Savage Worlds edges, not to replace them. It does this via a series of edges that give you implant points. These implant points can be spent on items of cyberware chosen from the catalog. This approach is a little unusual, but it keeps the game very close to core Savage Worlds, which is good for game balance.
As a houserule, I will be enforcing that a number of Edges can only be taken with a trapping that they are an augmentation – either a piece of bioware or a physical adept power. This means they are out of the reach of mundane or mage characters. It also, effectively, extends the cyberware catalog. Edges where such a trapping is required are listed in the characters section.
Edges taken with a bioware trapping do not cost implant points, and those taken with a physad power trapping do not cost chi points. They are paid for as an Edge, as usual. Also, their prerequisites – on rank, on abilitie die types, or on other edges - do not change.
In general, as long as the storyline allows time for characters to go through the necessary surgery, characters may choose to have old cyberware systems removed or upgraded when acquiring new cyberware. For example, if you have Wired Reflexes (1.5 Implant Points), you can pay another 1.5 points to upgrade to Improved Wired Reflexes.
Clarification that all cybereyes provide, by default, approximately 20/10 vision, or around twice as good as a normal person today.
(See Sprawlrunners pg 54) To clarify: These augments boost the entire body. If the user has cyberlimbs, the base stat of the cyberlimb always matches the rest of the body.
Only available as part of a cyberarm; see below.
Implant points: 1 (reduced from RAW)
These do not count as natural weapons, and therefore their damage does not stack with Edges like Martial Arts / Brawler / etc. They can be fitted to a cyberlimb, but they do not require one.
Implant points: 1
When using a smartlinked weapon, the shooter may ignore up to 2 points of penalties due to range, cover, called shot, speed, or scale. (For ease of use, this is the same as the list of penalties affected by the Aim action.) This stacks with the Aim action.
If there are no penalties from any of those categories that effect the roll, the smartlink adds +1 to the Shooting roll instead.
Implant points: 1
Gain the ability to Jump In to a vehicle or drone, either wired or wirelessly. When doing so, gain +2 bonus to rolls when trying to interrupt opponents.
Implant points: 3
Cyberware trapping for the Ace edge (SWADE pg 47)
In addition to the benefits of the VCR, above, the user can now ignore 2 points of penalties to any Boating, Driving, or Piloting roll. The rigger may also spend Bennies to soak damage for any vehicle or drone they are jumped into, using the appropriate Boating/Piloting/Driving skill instead of Vigor. Each success and raise negates a Wound the vehicle would have taken.
Implant points: 1.5
Implant points: 3
Synthetic wiring replaces major nerve trunks with faster-acting pathways.
With Wired Reflexes, the character can ignore 1 point of Multi-Action Penalty per turn. With Improved Wired Reflexes, this increases to 2 points. This effect is compatible with with reflex-changing bioware, like Synaptic Accelerators or Adrenal Pump.
To unlock any of the below upgrades and add-ons, you first need to replace the limb:
Implant points: 0.5 (each)
Required: Novice, Chromed
+1 Toughness per pair of limbs.
Natural-looking disguised cyberlimbs use the same rules as Sprawlrunners RAW (see pg 55.) In addition, they can only fit TBD implant points of mods before they’re just too bulky to look realistic.
Limb replacements are usually fitted to the shoulder or hip joint, replacing the whole limb. Partial limbs can be taken (eg starting mid-bicep or at the elbow) with no change to game rules.
Cyberarms can be fitted singly. Cyberlegs can be fitted singly if you want a straight replacement, but if you want to fit any additional modifications, you need a pair. It’s really difficult to balance a natural leg and a amped-up cyber one for comfortable walking and running.
Implant points: 2
Required: Seasoned, Chromed
Taken as a package deal, the cybertorso and skull provide extensive and invasive protection for the user’s internal organs and brain. They are not full replacements, like a cyberlimb is, but they provide substantial shells that replace or reinforce bone mass and exterior tissue, as well as providing armoured internal partitions within the torso and abdomen that help keep damage localised.
Cybertorsos can be upgraded with boosted Strength, just like a cyberlimb. This increases the user’s core strength, and can help the boosted strength attribute apply in more circumstances, like lifting things over their head. Cybertorsos also act as stronger anchor points for cyberlimbs than a fleshy torso can, helping to apply the strength bonus in a wider number of circumstances.
Cyberskulls are always (extremely) obvious, as are torsos if you’re not covering them with clothes.
Implant points: 1
Adds 1 die type to the stat for tests when only the limb with the boosted stat is being used. For example, boosted strength applies to calculating melee damage when the limb is being used to attack with, but not to a test to lift something heavy over your head, as that requires whole-body strength.
This boost has no effect on skill dice increase costs. Example: Alice has Agility d8 and Shooting d8, then gets a boosted Agility cyberlimb. It would still cost her 2 skill points to take Shooting to d10.
If the user has artificial muscle replacement or muscle enhancement, this increase applies on top of that. Example: Alice has Strength d6. She takes Artificial Muscle Replacement and then adds Boosted Strength to her cyberarm. Her cyberarm now has d10 Strength.
Implant points: 2 (reduced from RAW)
Str+d6 damage in melee combat. Owner always counts as Armed, so never suffers the Unarmed Defender penalty (which grants melee attackers +2 to Fighting rolls if their target has nothing to parry with.)
This counts as a Natural Weapon, and hence the damage increases with use of Edges like Martial Arts and Brawler.
Implant points: 3?
TBD; probably pick from light pistol w/ autofire, heavy pistol, or flechette pistol.
(Cyberarm only, requires smartlink & smartgun)
Implant points: 1 or 2
A feedback circuit from the user’s smartgun to their cyberlimb or limbs automatically counteracts recoil and barrel climb in real-time as they fire.
Reduces the recoil penalty by 1 (for one Implant Point) or 2 (for two Implant Points.)
For one-handed weapons, this will work with only one cyberarm. For two-handed guns, two cyberarms are required.
Implant points: 1
Increases Pace by +2 and running die by one type.
Implant points: 1
Character can jump twice as far as usual. In addition, they add +4 to damage when leaping as part of a Wild Attack, rather than the usual +2. Can only be used if there’s enough room (vertically and horizontally) for the jump, however.
Implant points: 0.5
Required: Novice, Chromed
An extendable, fireable grapple system, using a small spool of lightweight polymer rope hidden inside the wrist and the hand itself as the launched projectile. The launching system is pneumatic; recharging the compressed air takes one minute after each shot.
The rope is a maximum of 15 m long, although it can be very difficult to aim at that range. Grip strength is boosted on the hand so it can grab onto things securely. The overall system is strong enough to swiftly pull the user up, although not to carry much extra load. Carrying another human/elf/dwarf is possible, but slows the winch speed down to snail’s pace. Anyone as heavy as an orc or heavier will overload it.
Make an Athletics roll to attempt to fire and attach the grapple successfully.
Requires: Novice, Agility d8+
Bioware trapping for the Quick edge (see SWADE pg 43.)
The owner’s adrenal glands are buffered by an implanted reservoir. In times of high stress, this reservoir pumps out, flooding their nervous system with adrenaline and super-charging their reflexes.
When dealt an action card of 5 or lower, you can discard it and draw again; you can repeat until you get a 6 or higher. If combined with Wired Reflexes or Move-by-Wire, you first draw the additional card(s) and pick which one to keep. Then, if it’s 5 or below, you draw again.
Requires: Novice, Strength d8+, Vigor d8+
Requires: Seasoned, Bone Density
Bioware trapping for the Brawler / Bruiser edges (see SWADE pg 41.)
A combination of genetic modifications and implanted engineered glands alters the subject’s bone tissue, making it much harder and more dense.
The subject hits harder and breaks harder. With Bone Density, they take +1 to Toughness, and their unarmed damage becomes Str+d4. With Improved Bone Density, they take a further +1 to Toughness, and the unarmed damage bonus changes from d4 to d6.
Requires: Novice, Spirt d8+
Requires: Veteran, Overclocked Platelets
Bioware trapping for the Hard To Kill / Harder To Kill edges (see SWADE pg 42.)
Grafted platelet factories are added to the user’s blood system along major blood vessels. This greatly increases the body’s immediate response to trauma of all kinds.
With Overclocked Platelets, the subject may ignore Wound penalities when making Vigor checks to avoid Bleeding Out. With Hyperactive Platelets, even if the subject fails the check, there’s still a 50/50 change they only end up Incapacitated.
Requires: Novice, Vigor d8+
Requires: Novice, Pain Dampening
Bioware trapping for the Nerves of Steel / Improved Nerves of Steel edges (see SWADE pg 43.)
Drug glands implanted along major blood vessels respond to excessive trauma by releasing powerful opioid and NSAID analogs. The body’s pain response is significantly numbed.
The character may ignore 1 level or 2 levels of Wound penalties.
Requires: Seasoned, Smarts d8+
Requires: Seasoned, Synaptic Boosters
Bioware trapping for the Level Headed / Improved Level Headed edges (see SWADE pg 43.)
Genetic modifications combined with implanted bundles of grey matter tissue at strategic points around the limbs and spinal cord increase neural processing power, leading to faster reflex times.
A character with Synaptic Boosters draws two action cards in combat, and chooses which to keep. A character with Improved Synaptic Boosters draws three and chooses one to keep.
This page is currently blank as I have no phsyical/qi adept PCs, so this is a low priority.
When complete, it should contain approximately all the same edges as Bioware, but presented with different trappings to suit magical abilities.
By default, Sprawlrunners presents a classic ’80s cyberpunk take on cyberspace: wired decks and VR hacking. Since 4e, Shadowrun has moved away from this, blending in modern technologies like cellphones and wifi. People have different opinions about how good an idea this is, but I quite like it, so below are some houserules aimed at putting wireless devices and hacking into Sprawlrunners - while hopefully keeping it Fast! Furious! And Fun!
NB I will use Shadowrun-speak in this section ie “decker” not “operator”, “host” not “system."
If you’re reading these rules for the first time, you might like to start with this overview, which sets out the key concepts and how they fit together. The rest of this section is dedicated to the rules mechanics for applying these houserules to Sprawlrunners. The Matrix section in the Settings part of the site provides an in-world explanation of the Matrix and how it functions.
Stats for devices, stuff that matters
All kinds of things deckers can do
What to hack and how to hack it
Disregard stealth; brick devices instead
How the decker can help in combat
How the authorities catch deckers
Extra bits and pieces
Draft proposal for integrating ManuFS’s Furious Hacking rules into our game
Every device active on the Matrix falls into one of a small number of types:
Standalone devices connected directly to the Matrix are considered unattended. Unattended devices are very vulnerable to deckers. To protect them, they are often connected to a network that is controlled by a commlink, a cyberdeck, or a host. Networked devices cannot be directly hacked; the decker has to hack the network controller first, then the device second.
All matrix devices are defined by a small number of stats:
For all devices except cyberdecks, Hardening is derived from System Rating in a similar manner to Toughness in normal SWADE; half the die type, plus a bonus. The bonus is 0/+1/+2 depending on the device type. Firewall is 2 if the device lacks any active intrusion scanning. If it has such protection, then it is equal to Hardening.
Statlines below are listed as ([System Rating]) [Hardening] / [Firewall].
|Cheap||(d4) 2 / 2||(d4) 3 / 2||(d4) 4 / 4||4 / varies (“student”)|
|Civilian||(d6) 3 / 2||(d6) 4 / 2 1||(d6)2 4 / 2 3||(d6) 5 / 5||5 / varies (“cheap”)|
|Security||(d8) 4 / 2||(d8) 5 / 2 1||(d8) 5 / 2 3||(d8) 6 / 6||6 / varies (“streetware” & “corp”)|
|Military||(d10) 5 / 2 4||(d10) 6 / 2 3||(d10) 7 / 7||7 / varies (“security” & “military”)|
|Elite||(d12) 8 / 8||8 / varies (“fully custom”)|
Drone/vehicle system rating is just the autopilot’s Smarts die. ↩︎
Vehicles or drones in use will almost always be part of a network, and protected by it. ↩︎
Very unusual for these devices to be running unattended. ↩︎
Requires: Fighting utility
Rolls: Hacking vs target Firewall
Use on: network controllers, unattended devices, ICE
Requires: Persuasion utility
Rolls: Hacking vs target Hardening
Use on: networks, unattended devices, , hosts, ICE
Gain access to something, hopefully without anyone noticing. See Hacking.
Requires: Fighting utility
Rolls: Hacking vs target’s Smarts attribute
Use on: people with cyberware and wireless gear
Flood a target’s Matrix devices with bad traffic to impede their functionality. See DoS attacks.
Requires: Stealth utility
Rolls: Hacking, maybe vs Notice
Use on: your own network
Can be used on the local mesh to disguise and hide your cybderdeck’s network from observers; see Matrix Stealth for more. If nobody is actively looking, the target number for this test is 4. If you are being actively hunted (eg by a persona running the Notice utility) it is opposed by the hunter’s Hacking skill.
Can be used within a host to hide your persona from ICE and security spiders, see “Deceive ICE” on Sprawlrunners pg 39 for more.
Requires: Stealth utility
Rolls: Hacking, maybe vs Notice
Use on: your persona
Used within a host to hide your persona from ICE and security spiders, see “Deceive ICE” on Sprawlrunners pg 39 for more.
See Sprawlrunners pg 43.
See Sprawlrunners pg 39. Takes a couple of seconds to do outside of combat.
See Sprawlrunners pg 38. Can be a Free action, but then comes with risk of dumpshock.
Rolls: N/A or as required
Use on: any file(s)
Can be used to copy, edit, erase, or search for files or other data in any kind of store - a host, a node, a commlink, a data chip, etc. Obviously the decker has to have access to the store first, either legitimately or via a hacking action.
The actual file manipulations do not usually require a test. However, if the purpose of the edits requires skill - eg. they are intended to forge credentials, hide suspicious entries in an access log - then a test may be required to see how that goes. The skill required to do that will vary depending on what the content is; eg, to forge some personnel reports, the Corp skill would be used.
Copying or erasing a very large number of files under time pressure might be a dramatic task.
Requires: Decryption utility
Rolls: Hacking vs file encryption rating die type
Use on: any encrypted file
Decrypting a number of files under time pressure is usually a dramatic task.
Rolls: Hacking or varies, usually vs target’s Hardening
Use on: any device
Can be used to give commands to a device, or manipulate it in other ways. Maglocks can be told to lock or unlock, cameras can be shut down or told to loop a fragment of footage. Commlink calls in progress can be snooped on. The other end of a commlink call can be traced to a physical location.
If the device is part of a network, the network must be hacked first.
Used by a rigger to assume jumped-in control of a drone or vehicle.
Free action. Give a one-sentence command to a drone or vehicle autopilot. This can be combined with a Sleaze Hack to target drones or vehicles the actor does not own or control.
If a rigger is using a dronedeck that has multiple drones/vehicles in its network, they can issue the same command to any number of the drones/vehicles for a single free action.
Rolls: None or as Sleaze Hacking, above
Use on: host/node
Enter a host (from the local mesh) or a node (within a host that has multiple nodes.) When entering a node from the local mesh, this also switches the decker’s interface from AR to VR.
Some hosts/nodes have security checks for access; if so, they must be successfully hacked with a Sleaze Hacking roll to enter.
To exit a host/node again, see Jack Out, above.
Requires: Notice utility
Use on: any target
Get more information about a persona, ICE, icon, or device.
Sprawlrunners' RAW defines one type of hack target - nodes. In my houserules, these are expanded to include unattended devices and networks of devices controlled by a commlink, cyberdeck, or host. See Hacking the Wireless Matrix for definitions of these terms.
All hacking against unattended devices or networks is done over the local mesh. This means the hacker must be able to reach the target via the local mesh, which has a typical range of around 50-100 metres (but can vary with local network conditions, Faraday cages, signal-blocking smartpaint, etc.)
To carry out the hack, the decker rolls Hacking skill vs the device’s Hardening stat (also called System Toughness in some places in Sprawlrunners; same thing). If hacking a network consisting of lots of devices, it’s the network controller’s rating that is used here.
All local mesh sleaze hacking rolls contribute to the local mesh alarm state as follows:
All local mesh hacking is carried out in augmented reality.
The decker does not need to gain any sort of access before issuing hacking commands; common tasks such as opening a maglock or looping a camera feed is a single action and a single (Hacking) roll vs the device’s Hardening stat.
To manipulate devices attached to a network, first the decker must hack into the device that is running it. Once there, the decker can manipulate devices on the network (eg snoop on phone calls, read files stored on the commlink, or trace the device’s precise physical location). Each of those is an action and a further Hacking roll against the network controller’s Hardening (note: not the device’s Hardening), same as Sprawlrunners RAW.
Any failed sleaze hacking roll against a network immediately makes the owner aware of the intrusion attempt; they will typically react by rebooting or shutting down their devices, unless they are distracted or have some reason to think they are not under attack.
If the network controller device is a cyberdeck or a dronedeck, the decker/rigger also gets a chance to notice successful sleaze hacks. They roll Notice versus the results of the Hacking roll. On a success, they realise what is going on.
A network controlled by a host can only be hacked by entering the host or node that controls it, in VR, and avoiding or defeating the ICE within. See Sprawlrunners for rules. Once a decker has gained access to the host or node that is running the network, they can issue commands to the devices connected to it.
When hacking tough hosts, it can be particularly useful to compromise a device in its network and use it as a back door
The rules in hacking cover stealthy intrusion techniques so a decker can discreetly manipulate devices for their own ends. But if you want to take something offline right fraggin' now, and you don’t care who knows about it – what you need is cybercombat.
Calculate Shaken and Wounds as usual.
As per Sprawlrunners core. Shaken applies to the decker using the ‘deck. Cyberdecks have three Wounds; if the device takes all three, it is crashed, and the decker must resist dumpshock.
Networks controlled by decks stay up and running (regardless of the deck’s Shaken and Wound state) until the deck is completely crashed.
A commlink or other device that is Shaken is put into a crashed state. Starting on the next turn, it can attempt to restart itself (on the owner’s turn, but not costing the owner an action) by making an unshake roll using the device’s rating die type. Until it does so, it is offline, cannot function, and cannot be targeted for further Matrix attacks. The owner/controller of a Shaken device can choose to immediately restart it as an action without needing to pass any test.
If the device takes a Wound (via a raise on the attack roll) then they are bricked. They do not function again until repaired.
Networks run from commlinks are much less robust than those run by cyberdecks. If the commlink becomes Shaken, every device on the network is Shaken (and hence unusable) with it, until the commlink comes back. If it is crashed, every device on the network is Shaken. They can roll to unshake as usual (just roll once for all of them), but will come back as unattended devices, without the protection of the network.
Smartweapons and similar gear that are Shaken can still be fired, as they have manual fallback controls, but they lose any bonuses they normally get from their electronics eg. smartgun bonuses. Note that it might be more effective for offensive deckers to use a DoS attack instead.
All cyberware is controlled via direct neural shunts to the user’s wetware, so crashing the cyberware’s Matrix component only inhibits minor parts of its functionality; it doesn’t brick it entirely. You cannot render someone’s cyberlimb or wired reflexes completely inert via a cybercombat attack, although you can impede their use with a DoS attack. A few pieces of cyberware do inherently rely on Matrix connectivity to work - like implanted commlinks - and they can be crashed via cybercombat, however.
The rise of wireless hacking has made the decker much more useful and powerful on the modern battlefield. Deckers are now key parts of combat squads, performing counter-hacking, defening against attacking deckers, hiding their team from sight on the Matrix, and running denial-of-service attacks against opposing forces.
A decker facing an opponent using wirelessly connected devices can distract them by interfering with the systems using a special form of the Test action (see SWADE pg 108), called a DoS attack. The decker makes a Hacking roll opposed by the target’s Smarts trait. The following modifiers apply:
On a success, the decker can inflict either Distracted or Vulnerable on the target, as they prefer. On a Raise, they can also inflict Shaken.
As a general rule, you cannot hide on the matrix. Any smart devices - and this includes many items of gear and most items of cyberware - inherently rely on the matrix to work at all, and so anyone glancing in your direction will see the corresponding icons.
There is an exception, however. A decker or rigger running an network from their cyberdeck or dronedeck can ‘hide’ it by minimising traffic and disguising the devices within it as innocuous ones.
The ‘deck must be running the Stealth utility. Hiding a network is also an active, ongoing action that requires quite a bit of attention from the decker or rigger at all times. Out of combat, this takes about half their time. In combat, it takes one action per turn (so they will incur a multi-action penalty if they also wish to act.)
To attempt a successful sneak, roll Hacking against a target number of 4 (if no-one is actively looking for the network) or opposed by Smarts (if people are hunting for it.) This test will need to be repeated every so often as the situation changes.
While a network is in hidden mode, all traffic between devices is cut to the bone. It can only be used for voice and text comms; streaming video is capped to low-resolution, riggers cannot Jump In, and most electronic items are only semi-functional (eg. no smartlink or tacnet bonuses.)
If combat starts and the network is still in stealth mode, the decker or rigger can drop the stealth and restore full functionality as a free action.
A tacnet is a realtime augmented reality overlay used by all members of a team to co-ordinate their actions and share tactical data. Tacnets were created for us by elite corp special-ops teams, but have been co-opted by shadowrunners and other criminals (at least, those who can afford them.)
Tacnets can only be run by a decker using a cyberdeck. They require a network controlled by a cyberdeck, and they require the cyberdeck to be running the Tacnet utility.
Tacnets extent the Command Range for all Leadership edges to include everyone using it (see SWADE pg 44).
At the start of combat, the character on the tacnet with the highest Battle score can take a test. This test is at +2 if the character’s have thoroughly prepared for battle and know the terrain, or -2 if the characters were ambushed. On a success, the tacnet earns an anti-Bennie. An anti-Bennie can be used to force one die reroll from the opposition, and the lower of the two results used.The anti-Bennie can be used by anyone on the tacnet, to force a re-roll of any action taken against them. This benefit expires at the end of the combat scene.
All of these benefits are lost if the network is crashed. This makes tacnets a priority target for Matrix attack during combat - and the deckers priority targets for physical attack.
Suppose a decker has hacked into a building facility’s security node in VR and now wish to move with the team while maintaining that access.
They can do so via a new utility called KeepAlive. This allows the decker to switch to AR while keeping their matrix persona active in the node. They can carry out actions against whichever node they are in as if they were still in VR, although they cannot move to other nodes without logging back in.
The decker has to keep KeepAlive in their deck’s memory to maintain the access. In addition, while running KeepAlive, the decker cannot act promptly to defend themselves; all ICE take +2 on all rolls against the decker’s persona.
Alarms are a game mechanic that simulate how aware the authorities are that there is an intruder, and how close they are to finding them.
Within a host, alarms capture the alert level of both the host’s autonomous defenses (ie. ICE) as well as any metahuman sysops. On the local mesh, they measure the alert level of the mesh itself, and local GOD agents guarding the nearest uplink node.
There are separate alarm clocks for each host and for different parts of the local mesh. These clocks are typically 12-segment.
Alarms typically increment by 1 point for each successful sleaze hack (0 with a raise) and 2 points for each failed hack.
If a Raise on the sleaze hacking roll can be used to make the hack more effective, then the decker can choose to use the Raise to avoid the alarm increment or improve the hack effectiveness, but not both.
Each time the alarm score is incremented, roll a d12. If the result is lower than or equal to the current alarm score, consult the table below to see what happens.
Deckers can use a new utility called Spoof to dodge the effects of a high local mesh alarm score. Spoof works by routing all the decker’s traffic through a nearby device, setting it up to look like the culprit when the authorities notice.
The decker has to have had Spoof loaded before the first hack begun, and kept it loaded throughout. When Spoof is unloaded, the local mesh alarm value immediately halves (rounded down).
Spoof doesn’t help with host hacking.
Occasionally, particularly cautious people might spend some extra cash on defences for their commlink. These all require a commlink of d6 rating or higher; lesser devices don’t have the processing power required. Only one of the following options can be used.
If a decker can get physical access to debug ports on a device, they can get easier access to hack into it. They take +2 on the Sleaze Hacking roll.
This can be used when hacking unattended devices or commlink networks but it becomes particularly potent when hacking networks controlled by hosts. The bonus applies if the decker can access any device in the host’s network, as well as any ports that are part of the host infrastructure itself.
To hack a host through a network device, the decker usually requires a toolkit and a roll of the lower of their Electronics and Repair to open up the device and hook up the necessary connections. If the decker succeeds, they take +2 on all actions in the connected host node.
Host sysadmins are aware of this weakness, and do not usually put external devices like cameras or maglocks onto networks for that reason. Security networks tend to be reserved for more serious defences that are harder to get near, like turrets or security guard’s weapons.
Draft proposal for using Furious Hacking in our Sprawlrunners game.
NOT CURRENTLY CANON
Furious Hacking (FH) presents a new set of streamlined rules for host hacks in a cyberpunk game setting. It is faster to resolve than Sprawlrunner’s “Slow Burn” hacking rules, but offers a more dynamic and exciting difficulty ramping mechanic than the “Fast Lane” hacking option.
As written, FH covers a ‘classic’ no-wireless cyberpunk scenario of an operator hacking into a computer host. It doesn’t cover a few scenarios that we use at our table that derive from 5e/6e Shadowrun: wireless hacking, tactical use of hacking in combat, and so forth. This document presents some ideas for expanding FH to cover those.
All aspects of hacking into hosts can be run as per FH. As in my existing rules, hacking into hosts is always undertaken in VR, and the operator’s body is consequently in ragdoll mode.
A hacker does not need to be physically connected to a system in order to hack it; they only need to be within local mesh range (see below).
Note that wireless Matrix signals use high-frequency ultrawideband radio, and so very easy to block via physical means. Many secure corporate facilities will therefore use embedded Faraday caging in their construction to limit the size of the local mesh to their walls, making them very difficult to hack from outside the perimeter. This is expensive, however, as it means they will then need to run all building facilities via an on-premises system as well as running their own private uplink system.
Particularly valuable hosts might have, as a last line of defence, either metahuman counter-hackers or nearline-sapient Black ICE. These are always played as Wild Cards and will attack the intruding operator in cybercombat.
Once a hacker has logged in to a system, they can disconnect from VR, switch to AR, but maintain their persona’s presence in the host. From there, they can continue to issue “control a device” commands to the system. These use slice rolls and then opposed rolls as usual.
While running under keepalive, the operator cannot benefit from the Exotic Utilites Edge, as they are limited by their meatspace reflexes. Nor can they use more complex Matrix actions like finding or manipulating information, or manipulating an entire subsystem.
Keepalive allows a hacker to move with the team through a facility, dealing with security measures as they go, without having to constantly dip into and out of VR.
A hacker can work more effectively inside a system if they can get physical access to a trusted device. If they can crack the device open and improvise a connection to its debug ports, they can exploit its trusted status.
To do this, they’ll need an electronics kit, a suitable device (a commlink, camera, almost anything that is connected to the system they are trying to hack), some time, and a successful roll of Electronics. If the device is armoured against physical attack, a roll of Repair may also be necessary to get into the guts of it without damaging the delicate components within. Alternatively, the GM can call for a single roll of the lesser of the operator’s Repair and Electronics skills.
If the operator succeeds in this, they gain a bonus +2 slice rolls, the same as if they had pre-existing security grade credentials on the system.
The wireless Matrix is divided into cells. Within each cell, devices use peer-to-peer connections to pass traffic around; this is called the local mesh. At the centre of each cell is an uplink host that is actively guarded by GOD counter-hackers. All traffic between devices in different cells passes through the uplink host. Uplink hosts are connected to each other via fibre cables, satellite links, and other hardline communication infrastructure.
Hackers are free to attempt hacks against any devices within their local mesh, but hacks against or through the uplink host are widely regarded as suicide. This means hackers must always be within local mesh range of their targets.
Treat each cell as its own system, per the FH rules. This represents a combination of anti-malware scanning by the devices within the mesh as well as traffic inspection from the uplink host.
For the purposes of determining slice rolls, treat the local mesh as a system of d4 to d8 value (ie. blue, green, or orange). Blue would apply in poor neighbourhoods, where the devices are cheap and GOD are not watching; orange would be downtown where people are carrying fancy commlinks and GOD are ever-vigilant. In the slums, also apply the “lax security” modifier (+2 slice rolls); in corporate facilities, the “extra tight” modifier will probably apply (-2 slice rolls.)
When determining the actual opposing dice type for any roll, however, consider the device being hacked. A fancy commlink does not become easier to hack because the owner has travelled into the slums; it still opposes with d8 rather than d4. But slice rolls work against it as usual, as they are a function of the local mesh network working as a whole noticing the hacker’s nefarious actions.
Apart from that, all normal FH rules apply, including slice rolls, opposed rolls, and card draws to determine consequences of failure.
As in my existing rules, all local mesh hacking is carried out in AR.
The Exotic Utilities Edge (reduces the multi-action penalty) does not apply to any hacks done in AR. You’re still limited by your meatspace reflexes.
Networks are ways for operators to use their ‘deck to construct secure areas on the local mesh. Each device inside the network severs its connection to the local mesh, communicating only with the cyberdeck. The cyberdeck inspects and filters all traffic to and from the device, sheltering it from hacking attacks.
Devices inside a network cannot be hacked (but they are vulnerable to DoS attacks; see below.) A hostile decker’s only option is to take the network down first, either by engaging the decker in cybercombat and crashing their deck, or by meatspace means - a bullet in the cyberdeck is a popular choice…
Maintaining a local network uses a portion of the cyberdeck’s power and the operator’s attention. The network will disconnect if the operator enters VR. This also means networks are limited in size, typically to only a dozen or so devices. It is not practical for even very secure corp facilities to have all their security cameras hooked into a network.
Networks only apply on the local mesh and for AR hacking.
The operator running a network can choose to minimise and disguise all traffic within it, effectively making the constituent devices disappear from the Matrix.
This requires active monitoring from the operator, and in combat, one action each round must be spent maintaining the stealth. This means combining it with any other actions will result in a multi-action penalty, as usual.
Hiding a network involves a roll of the operator’s Hacking skill. An observer can only have a chance of noticing a network if they have some sort of running AR system. If the observer is a counter-operator using a cyberdeck, they can oppose the Hacking roll with their Notice skill. If they are just normal schlubs with commlinks, the Hacking roll is unopposed.
Hiding is not available when working inside a system in VR. It only applies in AR/meatspace.
Cybercombat is any operator-vs-operator or operator-vs-Black ICE combat. Cybercombat can take place in VR or AR.
Treat cybercombat as similarly to melee combat in SWADE.
Give each deck a die type rating, depending on the decker’s Edge rank; Deck Builder = d6, Deck Optimiser = d8, Deck Customizer = d10.
Resolve damage to determine Shaken and Wounds as usual.
When operators fight each other, each Wound is only applied to their respective cyberdecks. When operators fight Black ICE, the Wounds are applied to the deck and the operator.
Almost all electronic devices and cybernetic systems maintain a connection to the Matrix for secondary functions, diagnostic reporting, and similar. Hackers cannot disrupt the primary interface or functionality of a device; they cannot turn off someone’s cybereyes, prevent a smartgun from firing, remotely detonate a grenade on someone’s belt, or force a vehicle to crash by overriding someone who is manually driving it.
What they can do is a Denial of Service attack. DoS attacks involve a hacker flooding someone’s electronic and cybernetic systems with bad traffic, jamming up their responses and making them glitchy and unreliable.
DoS is resolved as a Test action, pitting the operator’s Hacking skill versus the Smarts of the target. The operator takes -2 to +2, depending on the number of electronic devices the target has. Targets with no electronic gear at all are immune to DoS attacks. Resolve Distracted/Vulnerable/Shaken outcomes as usual for Test.
Gridguide is a centralised, automated traffic control system. When within its jurisdictional area, vehicles are guided and advised by its management systems. This covers both traffic routing around the city, managing flow for minimal congestion, and second-to-second control for accident avoidance and junctions.
Gridguide’s area is expansive but not total. It covers all major roads throughout the city, and all minor roads in downtown areas. It fades out in side-streets in the suburbs and is completely absent in the Barrens.
In game terms, GridGuide acts as a special sort of WAN that all vehicles are connected to. This does not provide the usual anti-hacking protection that WANs do, but it does provide the following game benefits:
As a very well-defended cloud host, hacking Gridguide directly is extremely difficult. However, Gridguide uses a distributed architecture with delegated controls to short-range local hosts, responsible for vehicle control across a small area as well as associated infrastructure like traffic lights. These are vulnerable to hacking in the usual way. They count as standalone devices with a d8 rating. Once a decker gains access, they can issue commands to all nearby connected devices, including vehicles - one hacking roll per command. Note that this will often quickly attract attention from GOD, however it can still be used to facilitate a speedy escape.
Basic idea: similar to cyberdecks, but cheaper. Several tiers with different LP costs. Each tier can load a different number of modules. Required in order to Jump In to anything wirelessly. Provides good bonuses to drones.
Drone decks can:
Drone decks cannot:
Per Sprawlrunners RAW, anyone can purchase an untraceable vehicle with LP; riggers get no special abilities to tune their vehicles. This aims to address that by giving riggers access to a workshop (via new edges ) that can be used to boost vehicle stats or outfit them with add-ons.
All the below cost 1 point each. They can be applied multiples times, but each subsequent application costs +1 mod points. For example, to add +3 to a vehicle’s handling would cost (1+2+3)=6 points.
You can also add vehicle accessories. Some of these don’t fit on all vehicles eg. you can’t put a medium turret on a motorbike or a medium drone rack on a single-seat commuter car.
Other mods available by negotiation ;)
Any vehicle or drone that has an autopilot can be attacked from the Matrix.
A successful sleaze hack against an autopilot is sufficient to issue it one command of about one or two sentences length or to Jump In to it. If you issue a command, that command can be superseded by the vehicle’s or drone’s owners or occupants when they notice, of course. If you Jump In, the drone or vehicle is yours to command unless/until you are overridden (see “control hierarchy” below) or somebody crashes your connection.
As usual, if the drone or vehicle is networked in a PAN, WAN, or s-PAN, that has to be dealt with (sleaze or cybercombat hacked) first.
If a vehicle or drone’s autopilot is crashed in cybercombat, then the autopilot and navigation is disrupted, but the occupants can still use manual controls to take over. Even if they don’t, then a backup failsafe system will attempt to bring it to a safe halt. (It might fail though, they’re quite basic.)
Drones are not smart and are easily confused by messing with their Matrix traffic. Deckers attempting DoS attacks against them take +2 on their rolls.
A single successful sleaze hack roll is enough to get a parked vehicle to unlock itself, disable the autopilot, and then activate manual controls. It can then be stolen. However, this comes with some severe caveats that kick in as soon as the theft is noticed:
Some vehicles are throwbacks and lack any sort of autopilot. They cannot be hacked. They can be stolen and hotwired with the Thievery skill.
A small number of prestige throwback vehicles have been retrofitted with rigger interfaces, however. They still cannot be hacked, and a direct cable connection is required in order to Jump In to thm.
If multiple entites are competing to control a given vehicle or drone at the same time, there’s a hierarchy which determines who wins:
Hence, hacking an autopilot and issuing it commands can be overridden by anyone inside the vehicle who can access the physical controls. A rigger can jump into the vehicle remotely, but a competing rigger inside the vehicle can usurp them with a direct cable connection.
The purpose of these rules is bring the flavour of fast-paced heist movies to the table, empower the GM to move the plot along quickly, empower players to feel like they are not at a disadvantage when we jump into the action quickly, and reflect the fact that the characters are skilled professionals who are able to prepare for situations the players might not think of.
When time is short or we just want to get into the action faster, we can replace a fully played out legwork phase with this compressed option.
Note that legwork takes a significant amount of in-game time, so the players may choose to skip this step and go in blind if time is of the essence.
These rules provide more structure on how Bennies may be spent to influence the story in the player’s favour (see SWADE pg 90.)
During play (either normal play or during a dramatic task (see below), a player may choose to spend a Bennie to Influence the Story in the following ways. (Note that this is how Legwork Bennies may be spent.)
When the plot demands it, we can resolve an entire heist quickly using a lightly modified version of the Dramatic Task framework from SWADE (see pg 122).
Failure to complete the task may result in a partial success, a complication, the players being discovered and having to fight their way out, or any other outcome as fits the narrative being played out.
The authorities in the Sixth World are bloated, corrupt, lazy, and largely ineffective. Rarely are they focussed on going further than “peacekeeping” (ie. violently intervening in violent crimes). Crime prevention and detective services get very short shrift in the annual budgets. The city may be covered in cameras and all manner of surveillance gizmos, but most of the time, ain’t nobody got the time to look at them on the off-chance they catch a glimpse of a perp.
Occasionally, though. the PCs may nevertheless do such spectacular things that they end up being actively hunted by forces much more powerful than themselves who are suddenly told “screw the budgets, we want these guys. NOW.”
These rules provide a simple framework for running these incidents.
Heat represents how close the authorities are to the PC’s trail and how complete a view they have of the PC’s ongoing activities. It is represented by a die type, ranging from d4 to d12.
Some authorities might not have the resources to take the die type all the way to d12 and so it might be capped at some lower value.
Every time the PCs take an action that puts them at any risk of exposure, we make a Heat Roll to see what happens. Actions that might result in a Heat Roll depend a lot on the resources of whomever is tracking the PCs, but might include:
A Heat Roll is a roll of the current Heat Die. If the search is being led or co-ordinated by a Wild Card NPC, an additional Wild Die is rolled.
If the result of the Heat Roll is a Success, the authorities investigate the outcome of the action after the PCs are done and successfully link it to the PCs. Raise the Heat Die by one step.
If the result is a Raise, the authorities realise what is happening in sufficient time to intervene - vastly complicating the PC’s lives.
Most of the time, the PCs can take precautions to obviate the Heat Roll. For example, they can wear disguises, hack or avoid cameras, destroy physical evidence, wipe astral signatures, etc.
Such precautions always come at an extra cost, either in consumable gear they need to use or in terms of extra time they need to take (or both.)
When taking active precautions, one PC can attempt a suitable Skill roll to oppose the Heat Roll. This cannot be Supported.
If the PCs can come up with a suitable set of actions to try and lose their persuers temporarily, they may attempt to do so.
This will usually take the form of a three-step Dramatic Task. If they can collect three task tokens, the Heat Die drops by one step; five task tokens and it drops by two steps. The Heat Die never below a d4, however,
For permanently getting rid of heat, see lying low in Downtime Actions.
See below for definitions of all these terms.
The Connections edge (see SWADE pg 50) provides your character with a connection to a specific group or organisation of people.
You can only use the Connections edge once per session, and only when the narrative allows (eg. you have to be able to contact the group, and they have to be able to reach you.)
NPCs you know through the Connections edge are Extras (not Wild Cards) and so do not roll a wild die. Should they have to roll any traits, they will usually roll a d8.
At any point during gameplay, you may spend a Bennie to make up an acquaintance who owes you a small favour. You may do this to get information, a small amount of specialist gear, access to a restricted area, or anything else that you can convince me makes sense.
Note that “I know a guy…” is restricted to being used once per session across the whole group (not once each.)
The acquaintance starts with Friendly disposition, as they owe you a favour.
Contacts are characterised by two stats: their contact die type and their disposition.
The contact die is the die type the contact will roll when making any test on your behalf in their area of expertise. Most contacts have a d8 die type, although this may vary when the story suggests it.
All contacts are Wild Cards, and so also roll a Wild Die on all trait rolls.
Contact disposition uses the Reactions table (see SWADE pg 33). To summarise, each contact’s current relationship to the PC can take one of these values:
|Hostile||Openly hostile; might attack, betray, or otherwise hinder. Will not help without a really good reason.|
|Unfriendly||Isn’t interested in helping unless offered substantial reward.|
|Uncooperative||Will only help with coercion or reward.|
|Neutral||No preconceptions. Expects fair payment for services.|
|Cooperative||Sympathetic; may volunteer small pieces of information.|
|Friendly||Will go out of their way; will do simple tasks for free, and willing to consider dangerous or very complex tasks for reasonable payment.|
|Helpful||Anxious to help, at any reasonable cost to themselves.|
You can call on your contacts at any time for help, without needing to spend a Bennie. But you can only do this once per session; your contacts have their own lives and they are not all sitting around at your beck and call.
Normally, after you spend a Bennie to do I know a guy (see above) or after you use the Connections edge, that NPC fades out into the background of the story. However if you wish you can spend a second Bennie to recruit them as a permanent Contact.
Note that it can be anyone in the group who spends the Bennie and hence “adopts” the acquaintance; it doesn’t need be the same person who spent the first Bennie.
Contacts recruited this way return to a Neutral disposition, as they have repaid the favour implied by I know a guy.
At the start of downtime, each PC who has any contacts must draw a card. If it’s a face card, one of their contacts will need their help with some thing (see below.) The PC can choose which contact this event affects.
At the GM’s option, this might have to resolved during downtime (taking one or more of the PC’s downtime actions) or after downtime, during the next mission. It might be resolved in a single Wealth check, need the PC to pass a Dramatic Task, or become an entire background story.
If the PC ignores the contact, their disposition will drop one or more levels. If they successfully help, their disposition will improve by one level.
|Clubs||The contact is in trouble with the authorities (Knight Errant or a megacorp) and needs to lie low.||The contact shows up at your door, wounded and bleeding.||The contact has been arrested; they need to be bailed (or broken) out; or the PC needs to find a patsy for their crime; or they need to prove their innocence.|
|Diamonds||The contact has a problem or difficulty in their profession and needs help.||The contact shows up at your door with a fat credstick and offers you half if you can deal with the people who want it back.||The contact is in deep to a loan shark or other shady source of credit, and their patience has run out.|
|Hearts||The contact’s livelihood is threatened and they need help to save it.||A personal tragedy has happened and they need your shoulder to cry on (a breakup, bereavement, illness, etc.)||The contact has been attracting too much attention and someone is hunting them… and the people they know.|
|Spades||The contact needs your help to get information on someone or something, and it has to be done discreetly.||They’re starting to worry about you and need reassuring that you’re loyal to them.||The contact is out for revenge on someone and needs your help getting it.|
Any contact at the Helpful disposition level will give you some extra service, assistance or item for free, above and beyond what they usually can do. The details will depend on the contact’s background and skillset and we will work together to create this.
Unless otherwise stipulated, all normal firearms in the game are assumed to be “modern”, for a 207x version of the word “modern.” This means they have:
[^1] Notoriously finicky, and infamous amongst security personnel for occasional false-positives that stop them shooting people they really, really need to shoot. Widely hated. Corp execs keep insisting on them, though, because they’re micromanaging arseholes.
Any gun the PCs purchase with Logistic Points has been supplied to them through criminal contacts that have already wiped the gun. Squealer tags are disabled (but can be re-enabled if it is helpful for disguise reasons), all other RFID tracking features are disabled, any present biometric safeties or friend-or-foe ID system are removed.
If you have a normal open-carry firearms licence, then you are required to have a broadcasting tag on your gun at all times. This tells everyone who cares to know that you are armed.
If you have a concealed carry licence, you are legally permitted to disable this broadcast. Criminals routinely do this on their guns, too, for obvious reasons.
If a cop or a guard spots a gun poking out of your clothes and you don’t have a squealer tag running, they are going to be intensely curious about you. For this reason, even criminals sometimes turn gun broadcasts on - it can, paradoxically, help you blend in better.
Although modern firearms use various Matrix features, they are all secondary to the functionality of the gun, or have purely non-Matrix backup failsafes. Hence, a gun cannot be completely disabled by hacking it.
A decker who wishes to disrupt guns wielded by their enemies can, however, carry out a Denial of Service attack. This follows the normal SWADE rules for a Test action.
Smartguns represent the pinnacle of firearms electronic control. The gun’s sensor package is extended to include LIDAR mapping and time-of-flight sensing; on-board secondary processing includes a ballistics model calibrated to the specific gun1. This links to a primary processor implanted into the user’s nervous system which can compute likely ballistic trajectories and overlay them onto the user’s cybereyes display, providing for firing accuracy unrivalled by any other mechanism – even from the hip.
Houseruled game mechanics: A smartgun can cancel up to 2 points of Shooting penalties from the same sources as an Aim action: range, cover, speed, scale and called shots. If there aren’t 2 points of penalties to cancel, it grants +1 to the roll instead.
A smartgun is required to use cyberarms with recoil compensation systems.
Weapons that are not modern (per the above definition) are called throwbacks. They have entirely mechanical firing mechanisms, use cased ammo, and have iron or optical sights only.
Game mechanics: Throwback guns are entirely invisible on the Matrix and cannot be hacked via Denial of Service attacks.
Throwback guns in good condition that aren’t linked to existing crimes via ballistics traces are difficult to find on the street, as is cased ammo for them. All throwback guns incur a +1 LP penalty, as does each purchase of ammo for them. Throwback ammo is only available in normal variety - no APDS or Ex-Ex.
Throwback guns cannot take certain accessories and modifications:
This requires “sighting in” after fitting to a new weapon, similar to dialling in optical sights. ↩︎
Cost: 3 LP
This replaces the “jammer” from Sprawlrunners pg 63.
About the size and weight of a hand grenade, this device emits a storm of wideband noise across a radius of 30 m. It has an integral battery pack that can keep this going for up to an hour, if necessary.
Within the affected area, all wireless Matrix traffic is restricted to line-of-sight and 1d6 metres only. Devices cut off from their WAN/PAN/s-PAN controller from this will drop back to standalone matrix connections automatically, although they will only be able to connect to other devices within a very short range. Drones will revert to autopilot and lose all benefits from any dronedeck they were connected to.
Wireless jammers are quite illegal and deploying one is about as subtle as a thunderclap in a library. Physical security will attempt to find and neutralise it as a matter of priority. GOD agents will deploy from the closest uplink node, and they will alert local police or security.
These are intrinsic to the weapon when it is purchased. Below are some houseruled additions to the standard ones list in Sprawlrunners (pg 56):
|Ares Lightfire 70||—||—||Sleek|
|Streetline Special||shots: 7, -4 Notice||2 LP||Compact Frame|
|Walther Palm Pistol||shots: 2, -4 Notice||2 LP||Double-barrelled, Compact Frame. Can fire both barrels for +1 damage.|
|Colt America L36||—||—||—|
|Beretta 201T||RoF:2||3 LP||Machine pistol|
|Ares Lightfire 75||—||4 LP||Silencer, internal smartlink, sleek|
|Fichetti Security 600||shots:20, +2 Notice||4 LP||Extended mag, laser sight|
|Ares Predator||—||4LP||Integrated smartlink, imposing|
|Browning Ultra-Power||—||4LP||Laser sight, sleek|
|Ruger Super Warhawk||shots:6, AP2, minStr:d6||4LP||Revolver, heavy calibre, extremely imposing|
|Colt Government 2066||—||—||—|
|Fichette Tiffani Needler||shots:4||4LP||Compact Frame|
|Remington Roomsweeper (slug)||damage:2d8||4LP||Reinforced Frame|
See SINs & licences setting info for defintions of the terms below.
Normal fake SINs cost 1 LP for the SIN and 0.25 LP per licence. Each licence can cover one category:
Milspec gear like APDS or Ex-Ex ammo, heavy weapons, very heavy armour cannot be licensed this way.
High-grade fake SINs cost 4 LP plus 1 LP per associated licence.
The core dice mechanic in Savage Worlds is simple to explain, but not always easy to reason about: roll your attribute or skill dice (a d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12), plus your Wild Dice. Each dice explodes, ie. if you roll the maximum, you re-roll, and add on; repeat as needed. Once you’ve finished exploding each dice, take the highest of the two numbers.
Below are tables of the chances of hitting at least a given target number, for each type of attribute or skill dice.
For brevity, I have omitted “unskilled” (d4-2) and dice beyond d12, as well as any rolled total above 20.
NB you can generate the above tables using anydice.com and the following script:
output [highest of [explode 1d4] and [explode 1d6]] named "d4" output [highest of [explode 1d6] and [explode 1d6]] named "d6" output [highest of [explode 1d8] and [explode 1d6]] named "d8" output [highest of [explode 1d10] and [explode 1d6]] named "d10" output [highest of [explode 1d12] and [explode 1d6]] named "d12"