Shadowrun, Fourth Edition FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Last Updated: 17 February 2012
- General Shadowrun
- Game Mechanics
- Runners Companion (Advanced Character Options)
You can find information on upcoming books here.
Are you publishing Shadowrun novels?
Yes. The first, all new in-print fiction in years is the anthology, Spells and Chrome. Additionally, Catalyst is starting to re-release the previously published novel line in ebook format.
A full release schedule for print novels has not yet been announced.
Is there anyone producing Shadowrun RPG books in languages other than English?
Yes. Pegasus Spiele GmbH publishes Shadowrun RPG books in German. Most of these are translations of English-language Shadowrun books. Pegasus has released several German-language only books and material; these books will not be translated or published in English.
A French company called Black Book Editions has published Shadowrun, Fourth Edition into French and will continue to publish other Shadowrun books.
A Japanese company named Arclight translated and published Shadowrun books into Japanese (starting with SR4).
Where can I find a complete list of in-print Shadowrun books?
A list of Catalyst-published Shadowrun products can be found found starting on the Books page of this site.
Where can I find a complete list of all published Shadowrun books?
Please see the Wikipedia page: List of Shadowrun Books. Thanks to those who have contributed to this page (and the other Shadowrun resources on Wikipedia!)
Is Catalyst still supporting previous editions of Shadowrun?
Not actively. You can find some old resources and errata here, but we focus our efforts on support for Shadowrun Fourth Edition. If you have rules questions pertaining to previous editions, we suggest you consult the fan knowledge base over at Dumpshock. PDF versions of several old Shadowrun sourcebooks can be found for sale at BattleCorps.
Which sourcebooks from previous editions are still compatible with Shadowrun Fourth Edition?
Since we completely overhauled the rules and core game mechanics, none of the rulebooks from previous editions are compatible with SR4. We did not alter the setting very much, however—other than updating the Matrix and moving the timeline ahead a few years to 2070—so any book that is primarily source material (not rules) is still compatible. You can find notes on which books are and aren’t compatible here.
Which Fourth Edition Shadowrun sourcebooks are compatible with Shadowrun Fourth Edition, Anniversary Edition (SR4A)?
All of them. SR4A does not invalidate any of the already published SR4 rulebooks or sourcebooks. If you purchased Shadowrun, Fourth Edition, the SR4A Changes Document includes all the updates included in SR4A, so you can continue to play using your SR4 rulebook.
Are there any character/Matrix/etc. generators for Shadowrun Fourth Edition?
Lone Wolf is developing a Shadowrun data package for its award-winning character management software, Hero Lab. The new data package will initially cover the core Shadowrun Fourth Edition game system, and will later be expanded with content from Shadowrun’s many great supplements. There is no release date yet for this product.
Additionally, there are several fan-produced freeware generators:
- SR4Chargen.XLS—requires Microsoft Excel (may work in other Excel-compatible Office-like programs)
- CharGen SR4 2.0—Windows only. French site, English program!
There is a Community Projects forum on Dumpshock where many software authors maintain threads about their software, and you can often report bugs, make suggestions, or find out about new versions there.
Is anyone making a Shadowrun movie?
Topps is looking into it, but at this time there is no guarantee that it will happen. There is no other news to impart on the topic at this time.
You can find some fan-created Shadowrun movies at http://del.icio.us/shadowrun.
Does Catalyst/Topps own the rights to the Shadowrun Collectable card game? And if so are there any plans to re-release it?
The Shadowrun CCG is part of the Shadowrun intellectual properties, which are owned by Topps. They have no plans to re-release it. Catalyst is not offering any support for this game.
What is the relationship between Shadowrun and Earthdawn (now licensed to Living Room Games/RedBrick)? Will the storylines still be linked even though the games are now produced by different companies?
We won’t deny that the Shadowrun and Earthdawn storylines have been linked in the past (in the cycle of magic, Earthdawn is the Fourth World and Shadowrun is the Sixth World). While Catalyst will not ignore these links, we have no intention of making them a primary focus of the game. The Catalyst Shadowrun and LRG/RedBrick Earthdawn developers have a good working relationship, and will make every effort not to conflict or contradict each other’s storylines.
Looking at the list of FASA/FanPro/Catalyst Shadowrun books, there are some product numbers/books missing. What happened to 7106, 7111 and 7321?
7106 was the first edition version of the Grimoire. It was replaced by FAS 7903 Grimoire.
7111 was the DMZ boxed set (out of print).
7321 was simply assigned to a book that was later dropped from the schedule.
Note that FAS 7304 Queen Euphoria was originally misprinted with the product number 7205 (which belongs to the Universal Brotherhood sourcebook/adventure).
What does this <abbreviation> mean?
AR = Arsenal
AU = Augmentation
BITB = Blood in the Boardroom
CC = Cannon Companion
CG = Corporate Guide
CE = Corporate Enclaves
CCG = Collectible Card Game
D:AD = Dawn of the Artifacts: Dusk
DSW = Dragons of the Sixth World
EM = Emergence
FASA = Freedonian Air & Space Administration
FC = Feral Cities
FOF = Fields of Fire (out of print)
FPR = FanPro or Fantasy Productions
GC = Ghost Cartels
GM = Gamemaster
LA = Loose Alliances
LOS = Line of sight
M&M = Man & Machine
MITS = Magic in the Shadows (out of print)
MJLBB = Mr. Johnson’s Little Black Book
NAGNA = Neo-Anarchist’s Guide to North America (out of print)
NAGRL = Neo-Anarchist’s Guide to Real Life (out of print)
NAN1 = Native American Nations, Volume 1 (out of print)
NAN2 = Native American Nations, Volume 2 (out of print)
NPC = Non-player character
OR = Object Resistance
OTR = On the Run
PAE = Paranormal Animals of Europe (out of print)
PANA = Paranormal Animals of North America (out of print)
PC = Player character
POAD = Portfolio of a Dragon: Dunkelzahn’s Secrets (out of print)
R3 = Rigger 3 (Sometimes “R3R” for Rigger 3 Revised)
RC = Runner’s Companion
RH = Runner Havens
RPG = Roleplaying Game
RW = Running Wild
SF = System Failure
SM = Street Magic
SOA = Shadows of Asia
SOE = Shadows of Europe
SOLA = Shadows of Latin America
SONA = Shadows of North America
SOTA:2063 = State of the Art: 2063
SOTA:2064 = State of the Art: 2064
SOTF = Survival of the Fittest
SR3 = Shadowrun, Third Edition
SR4 = Shadowrun, Fourth Edition
SR4A = Shadowrun, Fourth Edition, 20th Anniversary Edition
SRComp = Shadowrun Companion
SSG = Sprawl Survival Guide
T:AL = Target: Awakened Lands
T:M = Target: Matrix
TN = Target Number
T:SH = Target: Smuggler Havens
T:UCAS = Target: UCAS
T:W = Target: Wastelands
T2 = Threats 2
UN = Unwired
VI = Vice
W! = War!
WOTC = Wake of the Comet
YOTC = Year of the Comet
What’s up with Holostreets?
Holostreets was a subscription-based website for Shadowrun intended to provide new fiction and the unreleased Shadows of Latin America sourcebook. Unfortunately, problems have delayed getting Holostreets online since it was first announced. When it’s finally up and running, we’ll let you know!
Can you still play metavariants, changelings, ghouls, shapeshifters, and drakes in SR4?
Yes, but the rules for these are in Runner’s Companion.
Can you create full-body cyborgs in Shadowrun?
Cyborgs are an option for characters (p.158, Augmentation).
A dice pool is generally Skill (+ Specialization) + Attribute + anything else that adds directly to the dice pool but is not listed as a dice pool modifier (foci, certain augmentations, etc.). When splitting the pool the player divides these dice however they want, keeping at least one die for each test. Dice pool modifiers (from certain augmentations, darkness, smoke, etc.) are then applied to each test separately.
QUALITIESCan a character with the Exceptional Attribute quality buy an attribute up to 7 (or their maximum + 1) at character creation? If so, does he pay 25 BP each for both the 6th and 7th points, or just 10 BP for the 6th and 25 BP for the 7th?
Yes. Only the final, maximum point costs 25 BP, so in this case that would only be the 7th point.
Can you take Magical Resistance and any of the new magical qualities in Street Magic?
Characters with any quality that grants a Magic rating (Adept, Astral Sight, Latent Awakening, Magician, Mystic Adept, Spell/Spirit Knack) may not take Magic Resistance.
Can you take both the Latent Awakening and Latent Technomancer positive qualities?
No. Neither quality can be taken with any other quality that confers a Magic or Resonance attribute, which includes the Latent qualities.
Can you use Genetic Heritage to take bioware as a transgenic modification?
Yes, with the gamemaster’s approval.
Don’t know what we’re talking about? See here.
If you are using two Combat Skills in the same test, like Full Dodge (melee weapon skill + Dodge + Reaction), which skill limits how many dice you get from Martial Arts qualities?
The advantages for multiple Martial Arts qualities stack, and the maximum number of dice you can add to your pool is limited by your Combat Skill (p.156, Arsenal). In the event you’re using two Combat Skills, such as Full Dodge, use the higher Combat Skill as the limit on dice from Martial Arts advantages.
I’m a real-life expert in martial arts style X, and I don’t agree with advantage Y!
The Martial Arts Styles in Arsenal are highly abstracted, distilled down from a great deal of sometimes contradictory information available on that martial art and related styles; as such they will not always jive with your personal experience. If you feel strongly that the style is being wrongly represented, talk to your gamemaster and see if you can’t swap out the offending advantage for another one. We’re not going to send the Game Police to bust down your door because you gave a +1 dice pool modifier to Blocking instead of Parrying.
SKILLSWhen can you break up a skill group into its component skills? Can you break it up during character creation? Can I break apart a skill group in order to buy a specialization for one of the skills?
At character creation, skill groups may not be broken up into individual skills for further improvement. Specializations may not be taken for skill group skills at character creation.
After character creation, you can break apart a skill group whenever you want. Any time you improve a single skill within a skill group, including taking a specialization for a skill in that group, that skill group is automatically broken up.
Can you regain a skill group if each of the component skills are raised to the same level?
With the gamemaster’s permission if a skill group’s individual skills are raised to the same rating, and there are no specializations in any of those skill, then those skills can be treated as a skill group from that point on.
When does the Martial Arts Specialization apply for Combat Active Skills?
Each Martial Arts Specialization should be a specific style (e.g. Boxing +2, Kung Fu +2, etc.) Suggestions regarding this are covered in Martial Arts Specialization (p.158, Arsenal). In brief, the specialization may not apply to situations outside the scope of the martial arts style(s) the character is specialized in.
Can I have _______ specialization, even if it’s not listed for the skill?
Yes. The listed specializations with each skill are not all-inclusive, and players are free to come up with other specializations that fit their characters. No specialization should be applicable for all tests undertaken with that skill. Gamemasters have final approval on all characters.
COMBATAre Recoil modifiers cumulative across an entire Combat Turn, or just an Action Phase? Does Recoil Compensation apply to each attack/burst, or does it only apply once in an Action Phase? Can you give a better example of how recoil works?
Recoil modifiers are cumulative, but they only apply for that Action Phase. They do not carry over to additional Action Phases in a Combat Turn. Recoil Compensation counteracts Recoil modifiers as they accumulate during an Action Phase; the Recoil modifiers don’t go away, but for every point of Recoil Compensation 1 point of Recoil modifiers do not apply.
Snowblood is firing a submachine gun in burst fire mode (3 bullets per burst), with 3 points of recoil compensation. With her first Simple Action, she fires one short burst (-2 recoil modifier), but she has 3 points of recoil compensation, so the recoil modifier does not apply to her first roll.
On her second Simple Action, Snowblood fires a second short burst (-3 recoil modifier), which is cumulative with the recoil modifier from her first burst in the Action Phase, for a total recoil modifier of -5. With 3 points of recoil compensation, Snowblood suffers a -2 dice pool modifier due to recoil on her second roll.
If a character is an area covered by suppressive fire, does he need to make a defense test immediately when the shooter starts firing? Or is he safe as long as he doesn’t attempt to move?
If he is in the suppressed area and he is not behind cover or prone—then yes, he must resist the attack as soon as the bullets start flying. Note that any character that moves in, out of, or within a suppressed fire area (other than taking cover/going prone) must resist the attack as normal.
Isn’t tossing a grenade on the ground by someone’s feet (a Success Test) easier than trying to hit them directly with a grenade (an Opposed Test)? Does everyone caught in the blast get a chance to dodge/react?
Yes. The reason it’s easier to aim for a location is because it doesn’t move. If the intent is to catch a mobile target in the blast radius, then it should be an Opposed Test, whether the grenade is actually thrown at the target or thrown a few meters away. Anyone in the blast radius has until the next IP to get out of the way.
If you punch someone with shock gloves, do you inflict standard punching damage (STR/2) in addition to the glove’s 6S DV? If you have gloves on both hands, can you attack with both and do 12S DV?
You can choose to punch/kick/whatever and do regular unarmed damage, or you can choose to touch and zap with the shock gloves, doing only the shock glove damage (not the unarmed damage too). Even with two gloves, the damage is still just 6S DV per glove, but each counts as a separate attack (Two Weapon Melee Combat, p.163, Arsenal).
What exactly is the dice pool used in the Full Defense option Gymnastic Dodge (p. 160, SR4A)?
Against ranged attacks, it would be Reaction + Gymnastics. Against melee attacks, it would be Reaction + Dodge + Gymnastics (if dodging) or Reaction + melee skill + Gymnastics (if parrying).
Is the -2 dice pool modifier for getting hit by Electricity damage (p. 163, SR4A) cumulative if you are hit by multiple electricity attacks?
No, but the duration it lasts would be extended.
Can you stack armor implants (Dermal Armor, Bone Lacing, etc.), the Armor spell, Immunity to Normal Weapons, etc.? If so, what counts for encumbrance?
For worn armor, only the highest value (Ballistic or Impact) applies, and any modifications to armor (from spells, augmentations, natural abilities, etc.) are applied in addition to those values. Any worn armor counts for purposes of the armor encumbrance rules (p.161, SR4A); implants and magical spells or powers do not.
Even if Hardened Armor is not the character’s highest armor value, it still applies for attacks whose DV do not exceed the Hardened Armor.
Tuatura is a troll drake mystic adept with Natural Armor 1 (equivalent to 1/1) and the adept power Mystic Armor 2, which means her armor while naked is 3/3. In her dracoform, Tuatura has the power Hardened Armor 4, which grants her the equivalent of 4/4 armor; with her Natural Armor and Mystic Armor power this grants her the equivalent of 7/7 armor in dracoform, with any attacks of DV4 simply bouncing off due to her Hardened Armor 4. If Tuatura (in troll form) puts on a leather jacket (2/2) and armor clothing (4/0), her base armor would be 4/2, modified to 7/5 with her Natural Armor and Mystic Armor.
How many times can you use an Interrupt Action in a Combat Turn? Could you potentially “borrow” infinite actions this way?
When a character uses an interrupt action, such as Full Defense or Riposte, he uses up his next available action. Characters may even take an interrupt action when they no longer possess an action that pass or Combat Turn, by “buying ahead” their very first action of the next Combat Turn instead, but only the first. They cannot borrow indefinitely (Interrupt Actions, p.148, SR4A).
If an adept loses Essence and thus loses a point of Magic, does he also lose adept powers, and if so, in what order?
Yes, for each point of Magic loss he loses 1 Power point of adept powers. The order is up to the gamemaster—some may want to choose themselves (what we recommend, basing it on what least fits the character’s outlook or what is least used), some may allow the player to choose.
I took Improved Sense (Smell)—how exactly does that work?
Improved Sense works like the Enhanced Sense Critter Power (p. 205, Running Wild), and the relevant rules are reproduced below:
Many enhanced senses provide additional senses that the adept did not have before. These senses are treated as natural, unaugmented senses when determining modifiers for Perception Tests. When an adept has enhanced senses for a sense that it would normally possess, such as Enhanced Hearing, it receives a +2 dice pool modifier to Perception Tests. An enhanced sense may also provide the adept with new uses for skills. Enhanced Scent, for example, allows an adept to track a person or prey by scent alone. Scent tracking uses Tracking + Intuition. Thresholds and dice pool modifiers are provided.
Enhanced senses include a wide spectrum of abilities beyond normal metahuman limits, such as Direction Sense. If the sense has not been described by an existing power, they can also be used to mimic cyberware implants or natural abilities of critters not covered. In these cases, gamemasters should determine the exact abilities and limitations of a specific sense when introducing it to the game.
When an adept buys an Improved Sense on a power that has multiple levels (e.g., vision enhancement or sound filter) are they purchased as levels or does the adept gain the max value for just 0.25 points?
The effective rating of the power is equivalent to the maximum rating of the equivalent cyberware or bioware implant.
Is Mystic Armor cumulative with worn armor? Is it subject to the armor encumbrance rules? What about armor penetration?
Yes, just add the Mystic Armor rating to the rating of any worn armor. Mystic Armor is a magical effect, so it does not count for encumbrance. Armor penetration applies normally to Mystic Armor.
Though mystic adepts must split their Magic between Magic-based skills and adept powers, it says that for all other purposes, including the limits of adept powers, the mystic adept uses his full Magic attribute. Does this mean that a mystic adept with Magic 6 who has allocated 2 points to Magic skills and 4 points to adept powers can cast Force 6 spells without flinching?
The Magic points allocated towards Magic-based skills counts for all aspects of those skills. This includes: Magic-linked skill tests (Summoning, Spellcasting, Enchanting, etc.), maximum spell Force, overcasting, etc.
For a mystic adept’s adept powers, only the points allocated towards adept powers apply. This includes powers that require Magic Tests like Attribute Boost, the maximum rating of leveled adept powers, etc.
For all other purposes—i.e., non-Magic-linked skills—the mystic adept’s full Magic attribute is used: pressing through astral barriers, initiation grade limit, Masking metamagic, being assensed, etc.
So for the example above, a mystic adept with Magic 6 with 2 points devoted to Magic skills and 4 points to adept powers, the maximum Force he can cast at is 4, and anything over Force 2 is Physical Drain. His adept powers are limited to rating 4 or lower.
Since mystic adepts can use power foci, do the bonus dice from power foci also apply to any Magic Tests called for by an adept power?
Yes, they would apply to any test that calls for Magic dice.
If the mystic adept from the previous example had a Force 4 power focus, their dice pool for any Magical Skill Test would be Skill + Magic (2) + Power focus (4), and their dice pool for any Magic Test concerning adept powers would be Skill + Magic (4) + Power Focus (4).
Can you use Stealth Group Skills on the astral?
Yes, but it isn’t easy. All living and magical things in astral space display vibrant auras which make most attempts at stealth useless. Astrally projecting Characters attempting to hide in astral space may use Infilitration + Logic, Palming + Logic, or Shadowing + Intuition as appropriate—the character makes an Opposed Test against the target’s Assensing + Intuition; dual-natured characters may use Logic or Agility when attempting to using Stealth Group Skills against astral observers. Apply any appropriate Astral Visibility modifiers (p.114, Street Magic) to the target.
The Palming Skill has extremely limited use on the astral, but might be used to conceal a blood fetish, small weapon focus, or the like.
How does astral perception work for an astrally-projecting character who is manifesting? Is it psychic, like regular assensing, or since they’re manifesting can they actually read street signs?
Astral perception while manifesting is still a psychic phenomenon. Though physical characters can see and hear the astral form, the astral form perceives only shadows, auras, and emotional content (Astral Visability, p.114, Street Magic).
When manifesting, what can you see and hear?
Manifest characters are still astrally perceiving; manifesting is simply a way to engage in a form of psychic communication with living beings on the physical plane. No actual sound is heard or produced—a blind character would not see the manifesting character, but could feel their presence; a deaf character could not hear the manifesting character, but would understand an effort to communicate with them; cameras and microphones would fail to record the manifesting character; and a manifesting character would not hear anything from a speakerphone or perceive any text on a screen. No translation effect occurs if the characters do not share a language, though the emotional content of the message may be clear. A manifesting character can attempt to “eavesdrop” on nearby characters that are communicating with someone else by keeping their astral form out of sight, but the character may still be able to perceive that someone or something is there—if they are unfamiliar with manifesting or unsuperstitious, they may simply put this down to paranoia.
Can you clarify what skills and attributes are used in astral combat?
|Attacker (dual natured or astral) Rolls:||Willpower + Astral Combat + Weapon Focus|
|Attacker (dual natured critter with Natural Weapon) Rolls:||Agility + Unarmed Combat|
|Defender (dual natured) Rolls:||Reaction + Dodge (dodge)|
|Reaction + Astral Combat(block/parry)|
|Defender (astral) Rolls:||Intuition + Dodge (dodge)|
|Intuition + Astral Combat (parry/block)|
|Defender (dual natured) using Full Defense (Full Dodge):||Reaction + Dodge + Dodge/Astral Combat|
|Defender (dual natured) using Full Defense (Full Parry):||Reaction + Astral Combat + Astral Combat|
|Defender (dual natured) using Full Defense (Gymnastics Dodge):||Reaction + Astral Combat + Dodge + Gymnastics|
|Defender (astral) using Full Defense (Full Dodge):||Intuition + Dodge + Dodge/Astral Combat|
|Defender (astral) using Full Defense (Full Parry):||Intuition + Astral Combat + Astral Combat|
|Damage Resistance (astral or dual natured):||Willpower + Mystic Armor|
Do dual-natured characters/critters (including assensing characters) use their Physical or astral attributes when fighting an astral opponent?
Dual-natured characters are limited by their physical bodies. In astral combat, they move at meat body speeds (use regular physical Initiative); they deal Charisma ÷ 2 (round up) physical damage, or the damage determined by their weapon focus (if they have one).
Most dual-natured critters are not listed as having the Astral Combat Skill; those with Natural Weapons can use their Unarmed Combat Skill instead (p.296, SR4A), but if for some reason a dual-natured critter is without a Natural Weapon, to keep them from being completely defenseless gamemasters are advised to give them the Astral Combat Skill equal to the critter’s Unarmed Combat Skill.
Can I attack an active focus in Astral Combat? If so, how much damage can it take, and what happens when its damage track is filled up?
This will be answered fully in an upcoming sourcebook. In the meantime, the following is an optional rule gamemasters may choose to implement in their games, based on the Disrupt [Focus] spell:
An active focus is dual-natured and can be attacked using Astral Combat much like a ward or targeted by spells like Disrupt [Focus] (p.16, Digital Grimoire) or other Mana-based spells that deal Physical damage.
From the Disrupt [Focus] spell description: On the astral plane, an active focus has Barrier and Structure ratings equal to its Force. If its Structure rating is reduced to 0, the focus is disrupted and becomes inactive; the magician bonded to the focus cannot gain dice bonuses or any other benefit from the focus until it is reactivated. A focus “heals” a number of boxes of damage equal to its Force every Combat Turn; when all the damage is repaired the owner may spend a Simple Action to reactivate the focus. Disrupting a sustaining focus will also disrupt the spell it is sustaining. Astrally projecting magicians whose foci become disrupted cannot reactivate them until their astral form rejoins their physical body.
If a character has a dual-natured weapon but is not astrally perceiving, can they still attack things on the astral? What about a mundane with a dual-natured weapon, like a sword possessed by a spirit?
Under the current rules, only characters present on the astral (astrally perceiving or projecting) can engage in Astral combat. This question will be answered fully in an upcoming sourcebook.
Can you attack a target on the astral using a dual-natured metahuman or critter as an improvised melee weapon?
Under the current rules, only unarmed attacks, Natural Weapons, and weapon foci deal damage in Astral Combat. This question will be answered fully in an upcoming sourcebook.
Is there a limit to the number of people a magician can protect at one time with his Counterspelling skill?
There’s no limit, but the protected subjects must remain within line of sight. Like many things, this is one of those areas that a gamemaster should exercise some common sense over, so that it’s not out of hand—you can only keep your attention on so many people at once.
If the magician were doing something like trying to watch over an entire football stadium to provide spell defense to the thousands of people within against a magical terrorist attack, then gamemasters may choose to apply a modifier to his spell defense since he’d be spreading himself thin. Even then, only the fans in his line of sight would benefit from the spell defense.
If a magician is using Counterspelling to help protect someone from a spell, can both the magician and the target use their Edge on the Resistance Test? If a magician is using Counterspelling to protect multiple targets and he uses Edge, do all of the targets receive the Edge bonus?
In the normal situation where the magician is providing Counterspelling to protect a character from a spell, only the character making the Resistance Test is allowed to use Edge.
In the case where a magician character is using Spell Defense on multiple people to protect them from the same spell, everyone receives the same amount of protection. The player of the magician providing Spell Defense rolls the Counterspelling dice first, and each character receives that many hits on their Resistance Test. In this case, the magician character may spend Edge while rolling the Counterspelling dice, and each of the characters rolling to defend against the spell may spend Edge on their own tests.
The magician can glitch while rolling the Counterspelling dice (p.185, SR4A for possible effects). The Gamemaster may choose for this to affect all of the characters being protected, or for one or more individuals to be accidentally unprotected. The individual characters may also use Edge or glitch on their Resistance Tests separately, which does not affect the magician providing Spell Defense for them.
Can Physical Drain be healed by magic? What about Regeneration, adept powers, or mystical healing?
Damage from Drain cannot be healed by magical means including Healing spells or the Empathic Healing or Rapid Healing adept powers. Even the mystical healing optional rule (p.123, Augmentation) cannot add dice to Healing Tests to help with injuries including Drain.
Drain is considered magical damage, and is not subject to the Regeneration power.
Can I have _____ as a focus? How much does it cost?
A focus can take any form: a ring, a dagger, a commlink, a cyberlimb, etc. For most foci, it is assumed the cost of the telesma (the physical basis of the focus) is incorporated in the cost of the focus. If the player wants the focus to be anything particularly large or expensive, however, then the cost of the item should be added to the cost of the focus.
Snowblood wants a Force 2 monofilament sword weapon focus; the talismonger tells her it would cost 20,750¥-750¥ for the telesma (monofilament sword) and 20,000¥ for the enchantment (Force 2 weapon focus).
Can you enchant cyberware and bioware? What about nanotech or genetech?
You can enchant cyberware, but this must be done before it is implanted (after it’s implanted, it’s a part of you). Such a focus would be considered Mundane Telesma (pp. 83-84, Street Magic). Bioware is a living material and may not be enchanted.
Nanotech consists of a collection of nanites, and cannot be enchanted as a group; while enchanting a single nanite is theoretically possible, they are extremely fragile and would not last long (at most 1 week inside a metahuman body). Genetech consists of alterations made to the character at a fundamental level, and so do not have a physical basis for enchantment—and even if it did, it would still be living material and not suitable for enchanting.
If your weapon focus requires fuel or power (monofilament chainsaw, vibroblade, laser crescent axe) does it work when you’re astrally projecting?
Yes, but since the technological aspect of the weapon (moving parts, monofilament, laser blade, etc.) doesn’t apply in the astral, the weapon should be treated as its nearest basic equivalent (a chainsaw would simply be a club, a laser crescent axe would just be an axe, and so on).
If you turn a weapon into a focus, but not a weapon focus, can I attack astral forms with it?
Under the current rules, only weapon foci may specifically be used in astral combat. This question will be answered fully in an upcoming sourcebook.
If you turn a weapon into a focus, but not a weapon focus, does it still do damage to creatures with Immunity to Normal Weapons?
No. It is magic, but it is not a magic weapon. Most spirits don’t have Immunity to Normal Weapons unless they’re materialized or possessing a vessel, but the ability to circumvent Immunity to Normal Weapons is one of the advantages of weapon foci.
If my Spellcasting Focus is an armored vest or shield, do I get an armor bonus against attacks from the astral?
No. The telesma of the focus might provide armor, but not mystic armor such as that provided by the Mystic Armor adept power, the Mystic Armor critter power, or the Astral Armor spell.
If you enchant a car as a focus, can you run someone’s astral form over with it?
This question will be answered fully in an upcoming sourcebook.
Can I have magic bullets? Please?
Yes. Any object can be enchanted, even bullets. Most foci cease being active (and thus dual-natured) once they leave contact with their bonded user, which limits their use in the way most players want: to injure astral forms or deliver a magical effect. Prepped anchoring foci (p.84, Street Magic) and possessed object vessels (p.87, Street Magic) do remain dual-natured, and so may (theoretically) be loaded into a firearm and fired at an astral target, however dual-natured bullets do not have the force of the character’s personality behind them and deal no damage to astral forms by themselves. The anchored spell on a prepped bullet anchoring focus can be triggered when it comes into contact with an aura other than the spellcaster’s (Anchoring Trigger Conditions, p.60, Street Magic), which is sufficient to unleash the spell even if the target is on the astral (provided it is a Mana-based spell). Bullet vessels possessed by spirits may be used to deliver an astral attack from the spirit (p. 87, Street Magic), provided the dual-natured bullet can make contact with the astral form; this will require the expenditure of a service from the spirit like any other attack.
Can you cast spells if blind?
Sight is the most common means of establishing a connection with a target (hence the range “Line of Sight”), but by no means the only one. If you physically see, astrally perceive, or touch the target, you can cast the spell.
In situations where the player wishes for their character to use another sense (hearing, smell, echolocation, etc.) to cast a spell, it’s up to the gamemaster to decide if that is possible. At the very least, a Perception Test involving the sense in question is called for, with appropriate modifiers (Using Perception, pp.135-136, SR4A). In the case of enhanced senses, the enhanced sense must be integral to the character (i.e., cyberears with audio enhancement would work, but earplugs with audio enhancement would not). Naturally, this works better for Indirect Combat Spells than others.
Is it possible to use the called shot rule (p. 161, SR4A) with Indirect Combat spells? If so, can you Take Aim (p.148, SR4A)?
Yes, you can make a Called Shot with an Indirect Combat spell. However, since Taking Aim is a Simple Action and casting a spell is a Complex Action, you cannot do both in the same Action Phase; instead you would have to Take Aim before and then cast the spell. Use the character’s Spellcasting Skill when determining how many sequential Take Aim actions may be taken.
When casting an Indirect Combat spell, do you need to see the target? Or can you cast at a target completely behind cover since they use ranged combat rules?
You do need to see the primary target of the spell. However, Indirect Combat spells will affect other targets that are unseen by the caster as long as they are caught within the spell’s area of effect.
Can I cast a spell through an ocular drone, since I have paid Essence for it, when the drone is not in my body?
Magicians cannot normally target spells through electronic imaging devices; they can only target spells through cybereyes because they are paid for with Essence. A magician can cast spells through an ocular drone while it is “docked” in their eye socket, because it is acting like a regular cybereye. Once the drone has left the character’s body, it can no longer be used to target spells.
Do you need to maintain line of sight (or touch, with Touch range spells) to sustain a spell? What about Permanent spells?
A spell requires a magical link (touch, sight, material link, symbolic link, etc.) to cast. There is, however, no requirement for the magician to maintain touch or line-of-sight while maintaining the spell, as the link between caster and spell is already in effect. By the same principle, you do not need to maintain touch or line of sight when casting a Permanent spell; the spell must simply be maintained until the spell’s effects become permanent.
In SR4, can you withhold dice from a Sorcery or Spellcasting Test and use those dice instead to resist Drain, as you could in SR3?
This rule was dropped in SR4—it was a special case rule that didn’t apply to any other mechanics in the game. If you happen to like it, you can of course continue to use it in your own games as a house rule. The entry for the Spellcasting Focus in SR4 had an incorrect reference to this rule that was corrected in SR4A.
Do spells cast in the astral have an astral form? What about spells cast in the physical plane?
Spells never have an astral form, though some of them (like Mana Barrier) create astral constructs. Spells have auras, as all living and magical things do, but spells never have an actual astral form that is tangible to other astral forms. That’s why you can’t attack a spell in astral combat, for example (as you could in SR2).
Does the penalty for low Essence (noted in Healing Characters with Implants, p.207, SR4A) apply to all Health spells or simply those that heal damage?
It applies only to Health spells that repair damage.
What kind of information—and how much—can be transferred between subjects of a Mindlink or similar spell? Can sensory data such as hearing and smell be communicated? How about enhanced senses like thermographic vision?
Since the Mindlink spell involves direct mental telepathy, we recommend allowing all sorts of information to be transferred, including thoughts, mental images, feelings, and any sensory input the characters are receiving (including natural senses, magical senses/assensing, implant senses paid for with Essence, and even non-implant tech sensors—the spell is directly accessing the brain after all). In some cases the “receiver” might not immediately understand what they are perceiving if the sense is particularly alien, and language can still be a barrier to communication.
Can a character use simsense to record an image received via a Mindlink spell or obtained via Mind probe, or an astral signature viewed assensing? Can data from magical senses be transmitted via commlink or recorded via headware onto a memory chip?
Technology and magic do not always mesh well. One major hurdle scientists have not yet overcome is a way to technologically record magical sensory input—whether assensed, received by telepathy, or obtained with some other magical sense such as Magic Sense. Even simsense fails to capture the information, recording only unintelligible static.
Some Detection spells like Clairvoyance have a listed Range of “Touch,” but the range of the spell is clearly further than that. What’s the spell range?
Detection spells have a “subject” and a “target.” The subject is the person on whom the spell is cast—they receive the new sense provided by the spell. The subject must be touched. The target is anyone or thing that might be detected by the spell. The target merely needs to be within LOS or in the area of effect. The standard sensory range for a Detection spell is Force x Magic meters (p. 206, SR4A).
The Antidote spell is supposed to be cast prior to exposure to a toxin, but the Drain is based on the Power of the toxin. Since the spell is to be cast before exposure, how does the caster know what toxin he is setting the spell to be guarding against?
The spell is designed to be cast after exposure to the toxin, but before it deals damage. Casting an Antidote spell before the character is poisoned would do nothing, as there is no poison in the target’s system!
What is the minimum Force of an Increase [Attribute] spell?
The minimum Force is the current rating (including any increases from drugs, magic, or augmentations) of the target’s attribute (p. 208, SR4A).
How do Decrease [Attribute] and Increase [Attribute] spells work on a character with a cyberlimb?
Cyberlimbs attributes can only be modified by cyberlimb enhancements (p.343, SR4A) or the redlining optional rule (p. 44, Augmentation). When casting a Decrease [Attribute] or Increase [Attribute] spell on a character with one or more cyberlimbs, the spell’s minimum Force is based on the character’s natural attribute, and only their natural limbs are affected by the spell.Can Resist Pain be cast on someone before they are injured?
No, as there is no pain to resist.
Can you take Human Form as a version of the (Critter) Form spell? What about Troll Form?
Yes, since humans are, strictly speaking, non-paranormal animals. Metahumans and metavariants are paranormal, so Troll Form, Nartaki Form, etc. are not viable versions of the (Critter) Form spell.
Does the Shapechange/(Critter Form) spell grant the target character the critter’s powers?
Yes. While in critter form the character loses access to any abilities and powers particular to their normal physical form (e.g., natural low-light vision, natural armor, cyberware, etc.) and gains any of the critter’s Powers (Enhanced Senses, Natural Weapon, etc.) while they are in that form.
Can an adept or mystic adept use their adept powers while under the effects of the Shapechange/(Critter) Form spell? How does Killing Hands work with the Natural Weapon power?
Yes, an adept or mystic adept retains the use of their adept powers while in critter form. Natural Weapon is an Unarmed Combat attack, so powers that enhance such attacks (e.g., Killing Hands, Critical Strike, Distance Strike, Elemental Strike, etc.) work normal.
Can you change your gender with the Shapechange/(Critter) Form spell?
The Shapechange spell doesn’t generally specify the sex or other physical aspects of the subject beyond the change in species. In the past some Shadowrun material has suggested such changes are possible, and players and gamemasters are welcome to include that as an option in their games if they so choose.
Does a Mana Barrier spell cast on the physical plane affect astral forms?
No, it only affects mana on the physical plane—spells, dual-natured characters/critters, and so on. Mana barriers are not automatically dual natured. Mana exists on both planes, not just the astral. By the same token, a Mana Barrier cast on the astral will not impede spells or anything else on the physical, unless they are dual-natured.
In areas with aspected background count, if the background count is increased by the Mana Static spell does the additional background count retain the aspect of the area?
No. If Mana Static is cast on an area with an already existing background count, the background count generated by the spell will only apply if stronger than the absolute rating of the existing background count. Background count created artificially using Mana Static is not aspected.
Is there a range limit to the mental link between a spirit and its summoner? Is the link maintained if a spirit is performing a final remote service? Can you use the spirit as a communications relay by sending it to someone and holding a full conversation with them?
There is no range limit given for the mental link. The mental link remains until the spirit is dimissed or its services are completed. Spirits may certainly be sent to mediate conversations or serve as remote spies; this requires the expenditure of a service as normal.
Do the bound spirit services Aid Sorcery or Spell Sustaining take an action to use, or do they happen instantly?
In both cases, the magician must take the appropriate Complex Action to cast the spell, but taking aid from the spirit or passing on the task of sustaining requires no action be spent by either the magician or the spirit; the aid is simply funneled from the spirit through the magician’s link to it.
Can you use Control Thoughts or other mental manipuation spells on a spirit? Would this get you free services?
Yes, spirits are valid targets for mental manipulations. Any actions rendered under the effects of mental manipulations are “free” insofar as they do not subtract from the number of services owed to the conjurer from the act of summoning or binding.
Abusing spirits by using mental manipulations like Control Thoughts sours the relationship between the magician and spirit; at the gamemaster’s discretion the spirit may complain or become insulting; unstrenuous tasks that would not normally require a service (fetching something off a high shelf, holding something for a minute, etc.) may now cost a service; and the spirit may spend Edge in the future to resist summoning (Spirits and Edge, p.95, Street Magic).
Is there a maximum period of time a spirit power may be used continuously at the cost of a single service?
Unbound spirits will only perform this service until the next sunrise or sunset, at which time it will depart, no matter how many services it has remaining. Bound spirits will continue to use their power continuously while the magician is alive, until disrupted, or until the magician orders them to use another service. A spirit subject to long-term binding (p.94, Street Magic) will continue for a year and a day, whether the magician dies or not.
Can materialized spirits use weapons, armor, or other equipment if provided?
Many spirits’ forms are not suited for wearing armor or using weapons, but if their form is suitable and the gear provided they can make use of them. Spirits possessing metahuman hosts have a slight advantage here in being able to use most of their host vessel’s equipment. Most spirits do not have the proper skills to make use of weapons; if they do not, then they must default when using them.
How much do Knowledge skills cost for ally spirits?
Knowledge Skills have the default cost for any skill (5 Karma at ally creation).
Ally spirit powers can be chosen from any powers available to spirits the initiate’s tradition may conjure. If the initiate knows Invoking metamagic, are the powers available to great form spirits available as ally spirit powers?
No. The powers must come from those available to the initiate’s tradition; Invoking is not inherent to a tradition.
If a spirit used Inhabitation on a technomancer, and the merge was good, resulting in a flesh form, are the technomancer abilities retained?
No. The spirit’s Mental and Special Attributes dominate the hybrid or flesh form, meaning Resonance is lost.
When a spirit uses Possession or Inhabitation on a character, are the dual entity’s attributes limited by the character’s maximum augmented attribute values?
Yes. The dual entity’s Physical attribute + Force of the spirit cannot be greater than the vessel’s maximum augmented attribute. Inanimate vessels have no maximum limits.
Can a spirit with Endowment use it to grant a character Materialization?
A spirit with Endowment can share any power it possesses. When using the power the character uses the spirit’s attributes for any tests necessary for the power, as the power originates from the spirit.
Can a ward be placed inside a moving van?
Yes. “A physical anchor cannot move more than a few centimeters relative to the ward enclosure when the ward was created” (p.123, Street Magic). The physical anchors for the ward (in this case, the walls, ceiling, and floor of the van) can all be moved at the same time and in the same position relative to when the ward was originally created, so the ward remains. If any of the physical anchors move more than a few centimeters out of configuration (i.e., one of the walls is severely dented, or the roof is blown off), then the ward collapses.
Can a Dual-Natured character stand on a mana barrier?
A mana barrier provides no physical support for the character’s physical weight, so if a dual-natured character tried to stand on it gravity would cause them to fall through the empty physical space; the astral form is put in a position where either it or the ward has to give (p.194, SR4A).
- General Matrix
- Matrix Actions
- Matrix Attributes
- Matrix Combat
- Matrix Security
Why buy Hacking when you can default to Logic?
For tests in the Matrix, a program or Matrix attribute is substituted for your regular attributes (Attributes in the Matrix, p.226, SR4A); when defaulting on Hacking, Computer, or most other skills in the Matrix, you default to (program rating – 1), not the normal linked attribute.
Grandma Moses has Computer 0 and Edit 6, and wants to touch up an old hologram of her late husband and the slitch he was banging. This is normally a Computer + Edit (2) Test, but since Grandma doesn’t have Computer her Skill defaults to Edit – 1, so she rolls 5 dice on the test.
If a character can buy high-rating agents and programs for less than it costs them to buy skills and the same programs, what’s the point of playing a hacker at all?
An agent is just a tool in a character’s arsenal, whether that character identifies themselves as a hacker or anything else. While they are versatile and powerful tools (especially if you’re willing to pay top nuyen), agents can’t do everything. This is a point addressed in several places, especially To Mook Or Not To Mook (p.101, Unwired). A hacker is still defined by their skill and familiarity with how the Matrix works, and it is that knowledge and ability that separates them from the script kiddy that buys themselves a tricked-out commlink and a dozen high-end agents.
Just for reference, here’s a quick reminder of the limitations inherent on agents:
- Off-the-shelf agents won’t perform any action that requires the Hacking Skill, even if loaded with the correct program (p.101, Unwired).
- Agents do not have a Software Skill (p.234, SR4A).
- Once running, an agent’s access ID may not be changed (p.110, Unwired).
- Copies of an agent will have the original’s access ID; a copy cannot access a node on which an agent with the same access ID is already running (p.110, Unwired).
- Agents are limited to 3 Matrix IPs (p.236, SR4A).
Why does anyone go VR when they can interact with AR at the same Matrix initiative (or better) without risking dumpshock or getting their brain fried by Black IC?
Like many aspects of Shadowrun, when it comes to accessing the Matrix you have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages against your character’s options and abilities.
If you pay enough for it, either in Essence and nuyen or power points and Magic, characters can get up to 4 Initiative Passes when using Augmented Reality (which uses a character’s meat body Initiative). With a Simsense Booster (p.39, Augmentation), characters gets 3 Matrix IPs in Cold Sim VR; with a Simsense Booster and a Simsense Accelerator (p.198, Unwired) a character in Hot Sim VR has 5 Matrix IPs. So with the right choice of equipment, characters hacking in VR are as fast or faster than any character, agent, or sprite in AR.
The main reason to use AR is to avoid the damaging effects of Black IC and Dumpshock; the worst that can happen to a user in AR is their icon crashes or a hostile hacker/IC gains control of their commlink. AR users also cannot experience simsense and can be distracted by events on the physical. Cold Sim can represent a compromise for characters that want (or need) to use simsense but don’t want to open their brain up to permanent damage, or who don’t want to pay the cost for the most expensive Initiative boosters. Hot Sim offers the immediate advantage of a +2 dice pool modifier to all Matrix actions (p.226, SR4A) and more IPs than any other character in the game; at the risk of serious damage to the character, particularly from Black IC.
Can a character have multiple commlinks running at the same time?
Yes, as nothing in the rules prevents this. Each persona has a separate access ID, icon(s), and set of loaded programs. You may only control one icon at a time (p.225, SR4A). Running more than one persona at once can be distracting; gamemasters may decide to apply a -1 to -3 dice pool modifier to the character’s actions depending on how many commlinks they are currently using.
Alternately, a character may slave additional commlinks to their own (p.55, Unwired). In this setup, the character is only running a single persona—on the master commlink—and can use the Issue Command action to control agents on the slaved commlinks.
If hackers can have any number of commlinks loaded with agents trying to hack a single node, and corporations can have IC from all their nodes descend on a single node, then where does it end? How does anyone win?
Some players work to get an advantage by having multiple commlinks with agents running on each one, often operating out of the relative safety of AR; the loss of a single agent or commlink is fairly inconsequential to them. It should come as no surprise that many nodes can use the exact same tactics to defend themselves with, either by calling for IC from other nodes in the same network or having several commlinks hooked up whose sole purpose is to have IC and/or security hackers on standby. A few guidelines for dealing with large numbers of agents are given in Army of Codezombies! (p.102, Unwired), but that doesn’t cover the IC side of things, so here are a few suggestions and guidelines:
- Unless you have something specific in mind, assume that any help that arrives will all be examples of options 1-4 on the Random Alert Response Table (p.238, SR4A). This will save a bit of time and aggravation.
- IC and security hackers will only start to flood into a node when an alert is triggered. If the node has several commlinks with IC on standby, they can be available immediately; otherwise it takes some minimal amount of time (perhaps 1 Combat Turn) for other nodes to receive the alert, process it, activate their IC, and for the IC to Log On to the node with the alert. If the node is behind one or more gateways, it can take slightly longer.
- Help can only come from commlinks and nodes connected to the node that triggered an alert. In the Matrix, this means that potentially every node the corp/syndicate/agency owns can send an IC construct; for smaller networks not connected to the Matrix at large, help is restricted to what nodes are available. Since hundreds or thousands of agents cramming into a node would be impractical from every standpoint, it can be practical to treat excessive “help” as a DDOS (p.101, Unwired) and most corps limit the number of “help” (IC or security hackers) to (System x 4), which would reduce the Response of the node by 1.
- Always go for a proportional response. This doesn’t mean that for every agent a hacker brings another IC construct should enter the node too, it means that the number of IC that come in response to an alert are proportional to the importance of the node and the capabilities of the megacorp/syndicate/agency that owns it. If a single icon triggered an alert in a relatively unsecure node, help might not arrive for a 2-3 Combat Turns as the other nodes wait to see if the local security can handle the threat. If a group of icons trigger an alert in a secure node, backup will be immediate and up to (System x 4), with the possibility of a like number of reinforcements every turn.
- Large Matrix battles quickly get horribly unwieldy and time consuming; in the interests of keeping the game moving, the gamemaster could try making an Opposed Test between the hacker’s (average agent Pilot rating, rounded down) + Cybercombat vs. (average IC Pilot rating, rounded down) + System; each side adds the number of agents/IC/hackers on their side as a positive dice modifier to their roll. The side that scores the most hits has achieved temporary dominance of the system.
How do you crack copy protection on programs?
Cracking copy protection is a Software + Logic (1 hour) Extended Test, with a threshold set by the gamemaster.
As a rule of thumb minimal copy protection should be a threshold of 1-3, regular commercial programs might have a threshold of 10, and professional software would have a threshold of 20 or higher.
Why did you get rid of deckers?
Because William Gibson hates Shadowrun we eliminated cyberdecks when we upgraded the Matrix and without cyberdecks it’s odd to call them deckers. Plus, it was a dated term.
When exactly does an agent’s access ID change?
Agents loaded into a persona have that persona’s access ID; if you load the same agent into a different persona, the access ID will be that of the new persona. If an agent is loaded into another node to act independently, the agent will have a unique access ID, and any other copies of that agent running independently will have the same ID. When an agent is not running, a hacker may patch the code to change this unique access ID (p.234, SR4A).
The hacker Bibliofile has a Pilot 3 agent called Tex. When Tex is loaded into Bibliofile’s persona and running on his commlink, Tex uses the persona’s access ID. Bibliofile goes to a Mitsuhama node and loads a copy of Tex with a Stealth program to run independently on that node; he calls this Tex-A, and Tex-A has a unique access ID. Later on, Bibliofile stops by a local Shadowland database and wants to leave an agent there too, so once again he copies Tex and loads the agent onto the node to run independently, this time with a Browse program; he calls this Tex-B, and Tex-B’s access ID is identical to Tex-A’s. If Bibliofile wanted to load a new copy of Tex onto a node with Tex-A or Tex-B, the node would refuse to allow it because an agent with that access ID already exists. Bibliofile would have to stop running Tex and make a Software + Logic (9, 1 week) Extended Test to change Tex’s access ID; after that any further copies of Tex made will have different access IDs from Tex-A and Tex-B.
Do the programs loaded into an agent affect the Response of your commlink if the commlink is running the agent?
If the agent is running on your commlink, any programs it has running count against the processor limit and may affect Response (Payload, p. 234, SR4A), but loaded programs that are not running never count against the processor limit.
Can agents load and unload new programs by themselves?
Yes, if their orders call for it. Loading a new program requires the program must be available for them to copy and load into their payload, using the Transfer Data action. Unloading a program is a free action.
Can agents load agents and thus spawn overwhelming hordes of agents?
Yes, you can load an inactive agent (or agents) into another agent’s payload. Some hackers do this specifically with the intention of overloading a node. Once the “carrier” agent is loaded onto the node and running independently, it can run the inactive agent “passenger(s)” in its payload by using the Run Program action. An agent carried into a node this way starts with any programs in its payload loaded but not running. Note that the rating of any program in an agent’s payload is limited by its Pilot rating. Since the “carrier” agent is running the “passenger” agents, deactivating the “carrier” agent will also stop all of the programs it is running—including the “passenger” agents. The Area option (p.116, Unwired) can be an effective way to deal with spawning agents of this sort.
If the agent does not have Copy Protection (p.115, Unwired), it can make a copy of itself by making a Transfer Data action (copying its code into the node), any programs or agents carried in the original’s payload without Copy Protection will also be copied during this action. The new agent will have a hardcoded access ID (p. 234, SR4A) and cannot be run if another agent with the same access ID is already accessing the node; otherwise the agent copied into the node can be run using the Run Program action.
Does an agent loaded into a node and running independently count as a program running on that node for purposes of Response reduction?
Do all the programs loaded into an agent affect the Response of your commlink if the commlink is running the agent?
No, only the programs the agent is running and the agent itself count against the processor limit.
How many “pre-set” commands can I give to an agent or drone?
A set of commands is called a script, and the only limit is what you and your gamemaster can handle practically (Scripting, p.69, Unwired).
As a rule of thumb, we suggest that when using the Issue Command action (p.229, SR4A), commands should be no more than a tweet’s worth (140 characters).
If a device is slaved to someone else’s commlink, can you hack/spoof that device directly, or do you need to hack the commlink first?
You can attempt to hack the slaved device if you have a direct (physical) connection to it, or you can spoof the access ID of the commlink, you can then spoof commands to the slaved device. If neither of those options is available, you have to hack the commlink to gain access to the slaved device.
Can all cyberware implants be hacked? How do you hack a cyberlimb? What can you do with hacked cyberware?
The short answer is yes. Most cyberware implants are effectively peripheral devices slaved to the user’s commlink; hacking cyberware is generally no different than hacking any other slaved device. Device ratings for standard types of cyberware are given on p. 222, SR4A, and a more in-depth discussion of hacking cyberware is given on pp. 102-103, Unwired.
Once hacked, an implant can be manipulated within the limits of its programming and functionality. To a large degree, this is up to the hacker’s ingenuity and the gamemaster’s leeway.
How can a character protect his cyberware from hacking?
1) Turn off or remove any wireless links (p. 31, Augmentation).
2) Use a direct physical connection rather than wireless (externally-accessible implants only).
3) Keep the Signal rating low so a hacker would have to be within close range.
4) Use a good Firewall program.
5) Use a good Encryption program.
6) Stay in hidden mode.
7) Slave the implant to your secure commlink (Slaving, p. 55, Unwired).
8) Install Data Bomb, ECCM, or IC programs.
Could you limit what kinds of commands an agent or device is allowed to receive, what language they have to be in for example?
Yes, using the Issue Command action (p.230, SR4A). Admin and security access rights are generally required to impose these kinds of restrictions (p.52-53, Unwired).
If you try to hack into a node, fail, and set off an alert, does the node still get the Firewall bonus if the hacker tries again?
Yes, unless you wait until the alert is shut off, or change your access ID.
When an agent/sprite/hacker hacks into a node, do they obtain a passcode for that node? Can they give that passcode to others to log in or use it to log in later without having to hack in again?
No. Hacking into a node via Hack on the Fly (p. 235, SR4A) does not yield a “legitimate” account on the node, and thus cannot transfer to another icon in any way. Hacking into a node by Probing the Target (p. 236, SR4A) may yield a reusable or transferable account at the gamemaster’s discretion.
After hacking a drone, does the hacker need to subscribe the drone to his commlink before he issues commands or “jumps in”?
No, subscribing to the drone is accomplished by hacking it.
Can you subscribe to a slaved node or device?
A slaved node will not accept any subscriptions except from its master node; any attempt to use the Log On action to access the slave node will cause the user to Log On to the master node (provided they have a valid account and/or passcode). A hacker can attempt to subscribe directly to the slaved node if they have a physical connection (Slaving, p.55, Unwired).
If a group of devices were daisy-chained together, one slaved to the next, could you hack the last device directly, or would you need to hack them all in successive order?
You can hack the last device directly (previous question), but at no point would you have to hack each device sequentially. The master node gives access to all slaved nodes and devices in that network. Some systems are set up so that you must hack a particular node before you can access a different node, these are called gateways.
Does the admin account have any restrictions?
Only within the limitations of the device.
Does a reduction in Response from running more programs then the System rating also result in a reduction in System?
No. The System is limited by the base Response rating; if the processor limit (p.222, SR4A) is reached, the Response is temporarily reduced but the System rating is unaffected.
What happens if Response is reduced to 0?
If Response reaches 0, your commlink is overloaded, and slows to a snail’s crawl. Think Windows 98. The commlink does not crash, and your icons are still able to act, albeit slowly.
Does the maximum program rating limited by the System rating apply to Firewall?
No; System does not limit the ratings of Firewall since it is a Matrix Attribute. Agents, Common Use, Hacking, and all other types of programs running on the device are limited by the System rating.
Do Initiative Pass augmentations affect augmented reality actions?
Yes. AR Matrix activity should not be considered separate from physical activity—they are integrated and take place within the same Combat Turn. When you access the Matrix via AR, you operate at meat-body speeds.
Can IC and security hackers from other nodes Log On to a node to gang up on an intruder?
Can IC follow a hacker to another node if they Log Off?
Yes, by using the Trace User action and the access log (p.65, Unwired).
Once you’ve hacked into a system, is there any way an alert can be triggered other than by rolling a glitch?
If a security hacker or IC successfully analyzes you as an intruder, they will trigger a restricted alert.
How does patrolling IC work? How does it identify intruders?
Gamemasters should treat patrolling IC exactly as they would a physical guard patrolling a secure facility—in other words, the IC is probably keeping a watch (i.e., making periodic Matrix Perception Tests) on sensitive areas (secret files, surveillance cameras, etc.). To determine if the IC detects an intruder, roll its Pilot rating + Analyze against the hacker’s Hacking + Stealth. The IC may also hide itself, using a Stealth program, so it may be sneaky enough to Analyze the hacker and Track him back before the hacker realizes.
When you trigger an alert, will security automatically spot you, or do IC and security hackers still need to succeed in an Opposed Matrix Perception Test?
IC or security hackers will need to spot the intruder as normal, unless a Restricted Alert was issued. If a Restricted Alert has been issued against the Hacker, IC and Spiders (users with a legitimate account) do not need to make a Matrix Perception Test in order to know of the presence of the intruding Hacker because the Node has already identified them. These icons may attack the hacker or take other actions that target the intruder. They do not, however, know any further information about the intruder beyond the fact of their presence. If defending icons want to know more information (access ID, what programs are running) they must succeed in a standard Matrix Perception Test.
Are programs optional?
Not really. Without programs, a character’s Matrix actions are severely limited. If you do not have the necessary program for a Matrix action, you cannot perform that action (p.228, SR4A) unless you have the Intuitive Hacking positive quality (p.37, Unwired). Any other time a test calls for a program you do not have, treat the program rating as zero.
Do “flavor” programs like Wallspace, Virtual Person, etc., affect Response?
No. Programs that aren’t given a rating take up no appreciable space and little to no memory to operate, and thus do not impact your Response rating.
Can System or Firewall be encrypted?
As programs, they may be encrypted when stored. They may not be encrypted while they are running.
When using Edit to manipulate data in real time (video feeds from cameras or cybereyes, etc.) are there any guidelines for what the program is and isn’t capable of?
Unless your icon is inside the receiving device, you first need to intercept the traffic (p.230, SR4A).
Editing a datastream in real time is (just) possible by analyzing and changing the data faster than the device or metahumans brain can process it; the difficulty depends on the complexity of the information being transmitted/received.
Threshold 1 for text
Threshold 2 for audio
Threshold 3 for video/AR
Threshold 5 for simsense/VR
Can one use an Edit program to edit the wireless signal between a rigger and his drones to input completely different commands?
You can insert fake traffic using the Intercept Traffic action (p.230, SR4A), but to input different commands requires the Spoof Command action (p.232, SR4A) rather than an Edit action.
When exactly is the Data Bomb program considered to be running?
The Data Bomb program is like any other Hacking program, and is running when the user decides to run it. The Data Bomb program is used to modify files or nodes by incorporating a data bomb executable using the Set Data Bomb (p.231, SR4A) Matrix action. The data bomb executable is not a program and is never considered to be “running,” so it does not count toward the processor limit.
Isn’t encryption in SR4A too weak? Even the strongest encryption doesn’t take a hacker with a decent Decrypt program very long to break.
Real-world encryption comes in basic two varieties: unbreakable encryption that is somewhat time-consuming to create and implement (one-time pads) and pseudorandom ciphers and encryption schemes that aren’t completely unbreakable but can implemented really fast with computers. One-time pads still exist in Shadowrun but the relative difficulty of generating and using them correctly precludes their general use, so the opposing forces of encryption and decryption focus on developing more sophisticated algorithms and analysis techniques. Currently in SR4A, decryption is winning.
A further analysis of encryption and some optional rules for harder encryption can be found on pp. 65-67, Unwired.
Is it possible to insert a Pilot as the OS of a commlink and/or device?
Yes. Installing a Pilot replaces the exisitng OS. In the case of commlinks, this means that the device can no longer provide a persona, and the user must use the Issue Command action (p.229, SR4A) to use the device. Replacing a peripheral device’s OS with a Pilot can impact functionality if the Pilot isn’t designed for the same purpose as the old OS.
What can you Spoof?
Spoof Command is an action that may be used on any peripheral device or device with a Pilot rating (p.236, SR4A). Any single command can be spoofed each time the Spoof Command action is used, provided you have an authorized access ID. Commands that fall outside the capabilities of the device, drone, or agent in question will be ignored.
Can I change a node’s system settings (accounts, subscription lists, etc.) by using Spoof?
No. Nodes cannot be spoofed. Peripheral devices have nodes (usually slaved to a master node in the network), but the Spoof Command action bypasses the node to communicate directly with the device. The Intercept Traffic (p.230, SR4A) action may be used to insert false traffic into a node.
Can an agent or device with a Pilot doublecheck commands to help prevent spoofing?
Yes. This is a horribly inefficient way to do things, but it can be done. A hacker can also spoof the verification command, of course, if they know to do so.
Do technomancers still need a commlink for everyday stuff?
No, though it can be useful as they have no natural, internal data storage. At the very least, commlinks are handy for ID and credit information, but they are not an absolute necessity.
Do technomancers need contact lenses or cybereyes to use smartlinked guns?
Technomancers need either a smartlink implant, smartlink-equipped visual accessory (contacts, glasses, goggles, etc.), or a special complex form (p.136, Unwired) to utilize a smartgun.
Do technomancers need a sim module or simrig to play or record simsense?
Technomancers can experience simsense normally through their living persona without the need for a sim module, and they are always considered to be in Hot Sim mode (p.226, SR4A). To record a simsense feed, the technomancer either needs a simrig or a special complex form (p.136, Unwired).
How do technomancers perceive AR and VR? Inner eye? Intuition? Like Neo in the Matrix movies? Is it always on?
Technomancers see AR exactly as everyone else does—as additional info overlaid on top of their real world senses. When they switch to VR, they experience the Matrix the same as any other user. The AR overlay is “always on” and does not require image displays, speakers, AR gloves or other peripherals.
Can a technomancer’s natural abilities be jammed like any wireless device? If so, can they touch a device to access it if they are jammed, as if they had a commlink with a skinlink? If not, can they equip themselves with something that allows this?
Yes, a technomancer’s natural wireless ability can be jammed—and they don’t like it very much. Technomancers do not have a natural skinlink unless they learn the Skinlink echo (p.147, Unwired). To access a device with their technomancer abilities when jammed, the technomancer would have to connect to the device another way, such as by using a datajack or trode net and optical cord.
Can a technomancer use Jamming on the Fly (p.105, Unwired)?
Yes. The technomancer cannot wirelessly connect to anything while attempting this, however, including sending orders to any sprites not in their biological node.
Can complex forms be crashed, just like any other program?
No. Complex Forms cannot be targeted by effects that only affect programs (p.239, SR4A). This is a change from what is presented on p.136 of Unwired.
Can technomancers thread or learn Complex Forms of the Sensor software (p.60, Arsenal) or TacSofts (p.125, Unwired)?
Yes, if the gamemaster allows it. In practice, these specialized software sometimes require additional sensors and databases to be used, but for most of the Sensor software at least the cybereyes and cyberears may be used as general substitutes for cameras and microphones.
Can a technomancer boost a normal program (i.e., one that he or an ally has running on a commlink) with threading?
No, only Complex Forms can be threaded.
Does threading require an action? Does the -2 modifier from sustaining a threading affect all actions, including use of that Complex Form?
Threading requires a free action; any Fading damage taken applies before the technomancer’s next action (or before they thread anything else). Threaded Complex Forms must be sustained, and the -2 dice pool modifier applies to all actions except those using the threaded complex form.
Can you thread a Complex Form, then use threading to increase its rating?
No. Threading can be used to create a Complex Form you do not know or to increase the rating of a Complex Form you do know (p.240, SR4A).
So, if you thread a smartlink Complex Form, can you fire any smartgun without incurring the -2 dice pool modifier for sustained the threaded smartlink Complex Form?
Yes, since the process of firing the smartgun involves using the smartlink Complex Form.
Can technomancers with Biowires learn Complex Forms emulations of skillsofts whose ratings are higher than the technomancer’s Submersion grade?
Yes, but it will function at the rating of their Submersion Grade. Technomancers can emulate (p.149, Unwired) skillsofts that they have access to as Complex Forms, and the rating of Complex Forms is limited by their Resonance. However, Biowires acts as a skillwire system at a rating equal to the character’s Submersion grade (p.145, Unwired); this limits the rating that an emulated skillsoft can be run at, just as a regular activesoft cannot be run at a rating higher than that of the skillwire system.
Mr. Achtung! is a technomancer with Submersion Grade 3 and the Biowires echo. He wants to emulate a Pistols 4 activesoft and learn it as a Complex Form. Mr. Achtung! makes a Software + Resonance (4) Test, and spends a point of Edge to get enough dice for the 4 hits he needs. Then he spends 4 Karma to learn the threaded activesoft as a Complex Form. However, because his Submersion Grade is only 3, the threaded Complex Form can only run at rating 3. Until he raises his Submersion grade, Mr. Achtung! effectively has Pistols 3.
Can technomancers with Biowires use threading to increase the rating of a Complex Form emulation of an activesoft, or to add program options?
No. Memorized Complex Forms emulating skillsofts are limited to the rating of the original skillsoft and cannot be improved either by threading or Karma-expenditure. This is clarified in the errata for Unwired.
If a technomancer threads a Complex Form for a smartlink, and emulates a Complex Form for a Pistols activesoft, can he use both Complex Forms at once when firing his Ares Predator IV without penalty?
Yes, since he is using both threaded Complex Forms at once.
Do a technomancer’s System (i.e., Logic) and Response (i.e., Intuition, +1 in full VR) limit each other and his complex forms like a commlink’s System and Response do?
No. A technomancer can have a System higher than her Response, and Complex Forms higher than her System. The only restriction is that none of her Matrix attributes or Complex Forms may have a higher rating than her Resonance attribute.
Can augmentations that improve a technomancer’s Mental attributes improve their Living Persona ratings?
Yes. Augmentations like the Cerebral Booster implant, Braveheart genetic infusion, Betameth drug, or the Improve Charisma spell can directly improve their Biofeedback Filter, Firewall, Response, and System ratings. Living Persona ratings are still restricted by the technomancer’s Resonance (p.239, SR4A).
Does a sprite need to be in the same node as the technomancer to aid him with tasks such as Assist Operation, Sustain Complex Form, or Aid Study?
Yes. Sprites must remain with the technomancer unless on remote tasks (p.241, SR4A).
If a technomancer is completely cut off from the worldwide Matrix but still accessing a node, can they communicate with their sprites on remote tasks?
No. There must be a connection between the node the technomancer is on and the node the sprite is on for them to be online and communicate.
If a sprite is on a remote task in a node and it suddenly becomes cut off from the Matrix, but the node does not go offline, what happens?
The sprite will remain in that node working on the remote task until it fades away or security removes it; registered sprites can remain on a node indefinitely in this way, and it is suggested that the registered sprite be detected and removed after a week.
Can a technomancer “carry” sprites around in their biological node?
- For drones operating via their Pilot alone (i.e., no metahuman or outside control), Initiative is Pilot + Response, and the drone gets 3 IPs (Drone Initiative, p.245, SR4A).
- When a rigger is remotely controlling a drone, either via AR or VR, it acts only at the rigger’s command and uses the rigger’s Matrix Initiative and has a number of IPs equal to the rigger (Remote Control, p.245, SR4A). The rigger must spend a Complex Action to command the drone; if a rigger does not use an action to control the drone during one of their Action Phases, the drone does nothing.
- When “jumped in” the rigger has direct control over the drone; the drone uses the rigger’s Matrix Initiative and has the same number of IPs as the rigger (Jumping In, p.245, SR4A).
Can a rigger control a drone via Remote Control or by Jumping In after the drone has already acted on its own that Initiative Pass?
No, a drone may only act once in a single pass in any control mode. After a drone has acted on its own in an Initiative Pass, all a rigger can do is perform a Change Link Device Mode (p. 228, SR4A) simple action on it to switch the drone out of autonomous mode. The drone will then wait for instructions from the rigger in the next Initiative Pass.
If a drone has already spent an Action Phase operating autonomously, and a rigger jumps into it, what is its Initiative? What if the rigger jumps out again?
When a rigger jumps into a device using the Jump Into Drone/Vehicle/Device Simple Action (p.229, SR4A); the drone’s Initiative is changed to the rigger’s Initiative Score and Initiative Passes for any subsequent actions in that Combat Turn (Switching Initiative, p.145, SR4A). If the rigger jumps out again, the drone keeps the rigger’s Initiative Score and remaining Initiative Passes for the rest of the Combat Turn (Drone Initiative, p.245, SR4A).
A Hot Sim VR user gets +2 to all Matrix actions (p.226, SR4A). Does that mean a rigger using hot sim VR gets that bonus to tests for controlling a vehicle, piloting, gunnery, etc? Is this bonus cumulative with the +2 bonus for using a control rig?
Yes and yes.
Do you need the Command program to control drones (or agents)?
You can either “jump into” a rigger-adapted drone, vehicle, or device and control it directly without the Command program; otherwise you need the Command program either to control a device remotely (p.245, SR4A) or to use the Issue Command action (p.229, SR4A).
Does a rigger who has jumped-into a drone use his own Agility for Gunnery Tests?
No. Since the rigger is viewing the action through the drone’s sensors, he must use sensor targeting (p. 247, SR4A), so the rigger will roll Gunnery + Sensor for attack tests.
Can vehicles/drones perform jamming with their Electronic Warfare autosoft alone or do they need some kind of hardware?
A vehicle/drone can attempt to use Jamming on the Fly (p.105, Unwired) if they do not have a jammer, but it cannot communicate wirelessly with the rigger or anyone else while doing so.
Do all drones come equipped with an average Device rating of 3 (as per the Sample Devices table on p. 222, SR4A) or does the Steel Lynx (for example) classify as a “security vehicle” and have a Device rating of 4?
Any drone that comes equipped with weapon mounts should be considered a security device, and given a Device rating of 4. These built-in Device ratings are meant to serve as a guideline, however, so the gamemaster should feel free to modify them as appropriate. Likewise, a drone’s Firewall, Response, Signal, and System ratings may be individually be modified, improved (or reduced) at the discretion of the gamemaster or the character that owns the device. Drones begin with the Pilot rating listed in their entry, no matter their device rating.
Do drones need to remain within Signal range of their rigger, or can they be remotely rigged via wireless Matrix coverage?
They can be rigged via the Matrix as well.
CYBERWARE/BIOWARE/NANOTECH/GENETECHThe book seems to indicate you can buy different grades of bioware just like you would cyberware. Can you buy alpha (or beta- or delta-) grade bioware (cultured or standard)?
Yes. The distinction in previous editions has been revised so that all cyberware and bioware is available in four grades (standard, alpha, beta, delta); standard and alphaware may also be available used or secondhand (p.34, Augmentation).
What’s the point of a datajack when a trode net can also give you a Direct Neural Interface?
The fundamental difference between a datajack and trodes is that datajacks are implants intregral to a character, and trodes are external equipment. As such, datajacks are marginally more difficult to remove (at least, without surgery) or alter (since you never have to take it off). One definite advantage datajacks have over trodes is that they can be placed practically anywhere on the body, since the connections to the brain are internal.
If you install a cyberlimb enhancement or an implant that takes up Capacity instead of Essence, does the grade of the implant reduce the Capacity cost as it would reduce the Essence cost?
Do cyberhands and cyberfeet grant extra damage boxes to your character’s Physical Condition Monitor?
Yes. Cyberhands and cyberfeet and other partial cyberlimbs are classified as cyberlimbs, and have all the benefits of such including extra damage boxes, an Unarmed Damage Value of (STR/2), customized cyberhands and cyberfeet, and the ability to take cyberlimb enhancements (p.344, SR4A). If you are using Augmentation, cyberhands and feet may also be redlined, and bulk modified, optimized, and modular versions.
Does cyberlimb armor for cyber half-limbs add its entire Rating to the character’s Armor Rating in SR4A?
Yes. Armor enhancements to lower arm/lower leg cyberlimbs (and cyberhands/cyberfeet) apply their full Rating to the character’s Armor Rating. Gamemasters may choose to only apply the partial cyberlimb’s attributes, including armor, to tests directly involving said cyberlimb (p.343, SR4A).
The SR4A Changes Document erronously states that this was changed in SR4A, when in fact no such change was made.
Do technomancers benefit from the Encephalon or Simsense Booster cyberware?
Yes. In the case of the Encephalon, the bonus to Active Skills linked to Logic also applies to the Technomancer-only versions of these skills (Technomancer Skills, p.239, SR4A); this also applies to similar bonuses from the PuSHeD genetech or the Neocortical Neural Amplifiers nanotech. The Simsense Booster grants the technomancer an additional Intiative Pass (since they are in Hot Sim VR), but still limits them to 4 Matrix IPs; in other words a technomancer cannot take a Simsense Booster and the Overclock echo to gain 5 IPs in the Matrix.
Sort of. Most of the functional changes available through bioware are available through the Animal Features transgenic alteration genetech for comparable Essence and nuyen costs (p.93, Augmentation); i.e., a transgenic digestive expansion would cost 0.5 Essence and 20,000¥.
The exact limitations of what is and what is not available are up to the gamemaster; as a rule of thumb for gamemasters out there: if it’s in the animal kingdom already (echolocation, gecko thumbs, gills, etc.) it’s probably fair game. More exotic implants like chemical glands for synthetic drugs, false front, and symbionts are a little more iffy; though anyone who’s had children could at least make an argument for little parasites growing inside of you being completely natural.
Unlike bioware, however, genetech is not available in grades; therefore any transgenic alterations of this type will be based on the base Essence and nuyen cost of the bioware.
Yes, this does mean that a character with the Genetic Heritage quality can get a piece of bioware as a transgenic modification for “free” (i.e., no nuyen cost) with the gamemaster’s approval; the character still has to pay BP for the quality and Essence for the bioware/transgenic modification.
Because while encumbrance is a factor that a gamemaster occasionally has to take into consideration once in a while (usually only when a character is really overloaded), it seemed to be an exercise in unnecessary bookkeeping to force players and gamemasters to keep track of every item’s weight (not to mention a hassle to invent and track the “canon” weights for every minor item). It’s much, much easier for a gamemaster to simply benchmark the weight of a given load or set of objects as necessary, or simply look up some weights online if needed. There’s no need to make players itemize weights for all of their gear—it’s boring, time-consuming, and distracts from the game.
How does vehicle Speed and Acceleration work?
Speed represents the reasonable high-end maximum velocity of the vehicle in meters per Combat Turn (m/CT) without suffering real difficulties (p. 168, SR4A). Acceleration determines the vehicle’s movement rate (see Movement Rate. p. 149, SR4A); the first number is the “Walking” rate and the second number is the “Running” rate (p. 168-169, SR4A). Divide the vehicle’s Movement rate by the number of Initiative Passes in that turn to see how far it travels in each pass.
Billy’s character Shadrach the Sasquatch is driving a GMC Bulldog Step-Van, which has Speed 90 and Acceleration 5/10. Moving along at 30 m/CT along I-4, Shadrach suddenly drives into a Yakuza/Mafia gunfight! The combat has 2 Initiative Passes; at its current movement rate (30 m/CT) the van will cover 15 meters every Action Phase.
Driving a vehicle manually requires a Use Complex Object Complex Action (p. 148, SR4A), driving one remotely over the Matrix requires a Control Device Complex Action (p. 229, SR4A), and issuing a command to the vehicle’s Pilot while it drives itself requires an Issue Command Simple Action (p. 229, SR4A).
Each Initiative Pass the driver chooses whether the vehicle is moving in its “Walking” or “Running” rate (or stops altogether). Once a rate of movement has been declared, the vehicle moves at that rate until the driver’s next Action Phase; the vehicle continues to move at the last rate it was in during passes in which the driver does not have an action. The rate can only be changed when the driver acts again (Movement, p.148, SR4A), or if the vehicle crashes (Crashing, p. 170, SR4A. The driver can attempt to increase the vehicle’s movement rate by making a Vehicle Test (p.168, SR4A); each test adds 5 meters to the vehicle’s movement rate. A vehicle moving at or greater than its Running rate is considered to be running. A vehicle can move up to its Speed rating without trouble; gamemasters should apply modifiers as they feel appropriate for characters that push the vehicle past the Speed rating (p.168, SR4A).
Shadrach started out driving over his “Running” rate, so the GMC Step-Van is officially considered to be “Running” during his first Action Phase, and will cover 15 meters this Action Phase. However, Shadrach doesn’t feel like catching a Yak shuriken and floors the gas pedal. The GM calls for a Reaction + Pilot Ground Vehicle (2) Test, and Billy rolls four hits. Two is enough to continue moving without incident, and the other one Billy uses to improve the GMC Step-Van’s movement rate to 40; the vehicle has progressed 20 meters by the end of the pass.
These rates abstract the process of acceleration a normal vehicle goes through; a vehicle with an Acceleration of 5/10 that is moving at a “Walking” rate will cover 5 meters that Combat Turn – that does not mean that it is [i]moving[/i] at 5 m/CT, but that it is accelerating, decelerating, swerving to avoid traffic and objects, and will move 5 meters by the end of the Combat Turn. When the driver decides to move up to a “Running” rate or come to a stop, the driver is causing the vehicle to accelerate or decelerate, accordingly.
Gamemasters should remember that vehicles cannot start or stop on a dime; a GMC Step-van that was moving at 30 m/CT in one Action Phase would be hard pressed to come to a “Walking” rate of 5 m/CT (much less a complete stop!) in the next Action Phase. As a rule of thumb, a vehicle can go from its standard “Running” rate to “Walking” rate, or from it’s “Walking” rate to stationary without difficulty; add 1 to the threshold of the Vehicle Test for every 10 m/CT over these limits if the driver attempts to slow down or stop too quickly. Failure indicates the vehicle has not slowed down sufficiently.
In his second Action Phase, the GMC Step-Van continues to barrel down the road at a “Running” rate of 40 m/CT, and will cover 20 meters this Action Phase. However, Shadrach sees a baby sasquatch crawling across the road twenty meters right in front of him! Instead of swerving, he slams on the brakes, attempting to go from a “Running” movement rate of 30 m/CT to a “Running” rate of 10 m/CT. The GM calls for a Reaction + Pilot Ground Vehicle (3) Test – threshold 1 for the sudden slowdown, and threshold +2 for how fast he’s moving. Billy had better spend a point of Edge if he wants the GMC Step-Van to avoid running over the baby this Action Phase!
Can simrigs use Hot Sim?
Simrigs include a sim module, so they can run in Hot Sim as long as they have been modified for Hot Sim (p.328, SR4A).
Is it possible to modify a sim module to disable the emotive tracks of simsense, or is feeding your AR/VR through the various link implants (image link, sound link, touch link) the only way to avoid simsense-induced emotion?
In most cases, you can turn off any of the tracks in a sim module if you like—sight, hearing, emotive, etc., just as today you can adjust the volume on a movie and turn the subtitles on and off. Some low-budget sims and BTLs, however may not give the user the option to turn the individual tracks off.
Do the Doberman and the Steel Lynx come equipped with a weapon?
No. Weapons must be purchased separately for any drone or vehicle that has a weapon mount.
Do drones (and rigged vehicles) come with any sort of sensors (e.g., cameras, microphones)? If they do, what are they?
Each vehicle and drone has a Sensor attribute (p.167, SR4A) representing its inherent sensor array (Vehicle Sensors, p.105, Arsenal). If you want to purchase specific sensors for a drone or vehicle, see the Sensor Packages table (p.334, SR4A); additional sensors are listed on p.59-61 of Arsenal.
Most dual-natured critters have the Natural Weapon power, which allows them to use their Unarmed Combat Skill to attack things on the astral (p.296, SR4A).
Can spirits and critters (i.e., dragons, centaur, sasquatch, etc.) use AR or VR?
Most Matrix technology—especially simsense—is designed for the metahuman nervous system, and so will not normally work on critters. Matrix accessories that allow interaction with AR and are not neuro-interactive—such as AR gloves, goggles, feedback clothing, etc.—may be used by critters, assuming they understand how it works. VR, however, is usually out of the question, as it requires simsense. Many megacorps have working models of simsense units that work for non-metahuman sapients, as well as rats, dogs, chimpanzees and other experimental animals, but research on models for most non-sapient critters lags behind.
Spirits cannot normally perceive or interact with AR or VR; they lack the sensory apparatus. Hybrid Form and Flesh Form inhabitation spirits (p.100, Street Magic) are an exception to this.
What attribute do critters use for Drain since they don’t possess a tradition?
Critters default to Intuition or Charisma when resisting Drain from power or spell use, generally whichever is higher; once an attribute it chosen it is suggested it be used consistently from that point on.
Not all critter powers require a Success Test or an Opposed Test, so how do you determine their effect against nonliving objects like drones? For example, does the Movement power only affect living beings, or does it also affect vehicles?
If the power doesn’t call for an attribute that the object has, no test is needed.
Do critters with Innate Spell benefit from the category specializations of the Spellcasting Skill? What about Mentor Spirits and Spellcasting Foci?
Since the Spellcasting Skill is used to cast the Innate Spell, any relevant specialization counts. Benefits from Mentor Spirits also apply. The critter cannot bond a Spellcasting Focus unless they possess a quality (such as Adept or Magician) that allows them to do so; if they do have a Spellcasting Focus of the appropriate category, it also applies when casting the Innate Spell.
Mortality studies on drakes and non-metahuman sapients haven’t yet been completed, as few such critters have yet had the opportunity to die completely natural deaths of old age; in any event the advantages of modern medicine and diet may improve their lifespans as much as they have metahumans. Sasquatch at least appear to be able to live as long as humans (70+ years); pixies appear to have lifespans comparable to dwarfs (100+ years); and centaurs, naga, and shapeshifters appear to live at least as long as orks and trolls (30+ years). Drakes probably possess lifespans comparable to their normal metahuman equivalents, though some speculation suggests they may live longer.
Can pixies really wield guns and stuff as big as they are?
Due to their size and low Strength scores, pixies are not able to easily use most metahuman-sized weapons. As stated on p.84 of Runner’s Companion, many items of normal equipment may need to be modified for non-metahuman sapient critters, which includes any weapon or item that common sense suggests would be too large for the pixie to wield; a little bit of practical research with a similarly sized doll suggests that anything bigger than a knife or hold-out pistol is unwieldy.
As further guidelines, gamemasters may choose to apply the Small Target, Misfit Weapon Size, and Dwarfs and Large Melee Weapons rules (p.161, Arsenal) to pixie characters.
What happens to their clothing and armor when a drake or shapeshifter uses their Shift power?
Clothing is generally shredded or burst through; armor may also be ruined at the gamemaster’s discretion. Shapeshifters or drakes in power armor may find themselves trapped.
What is the effect of the Vulnerability Weakness that shapeshifters have?
The write-up for Vulnerability was accidentally left out of Runner’s Companion, and is included in Running Wild. For those who do not have that book, the text is reproduced below:
Creatures with a vulnerability to a specific substance take additional damage from weapons made of the substance. Increase the Damage Value of all attacks with the substance by 2. Weapons made of a substance to which the creature is vulnerable bypass any Immunities that it may have. Damage taken from a substance to which the creature is vulnerable cannot be healed by Regeneration or magic.
If you are using the Not Always Quite Human Optional Rule (p.87, RC), does that change the shapeshifter’s attributes?
No, unless the metavariant possesses the Metagenetic Improvement Quality. Shapeshifter characters under the Not Always Quite Human Optional Rule gain the Metatype Abilities (p.81, SR4A), including any Metagenetic Qualities if they choose a metavariant (pp.71-72, Ars) when shifted into that form.
Cecilia wishes to make a bear shapeshifter character and use the Not Always Quite Human option so that his other form is that of a troll. The additional cost of this option is 40 BP (troll metatype cost) – 10 BP, for a total of 30 BP. On her character sheet, Cecilia writes down the Shift(Troll) Critter Power. In bear form, Cecilia’s character has the bear shapeshifter’s normal shifter abilities (+1 Reach, +1 natural armor, Enhanced Sense (Smell)); in troll form her character adds a troll’s metatype abilities (for a total of +2 Reach, +1 natural armor, Enhanced Senses (Smell, Thermographic Vision).
What happens to a character’s cyberware, bioware, and other augmentations when they become Infected?
The character retains any implants they had before Infection except for geneware, which is removed; no Essence is restored for geneware negated in this fashion. If a character’s maximum Essence is less than 1 due to augmentations the character dies during the transformation.
Can cellular repair (p.88, Augmentation) regain Essence lost due to infection with HMHVV?
Can non-metahuman sapients become technomancers by taking the Latent Technomancer quality and burning out their Magic attribute?
No. A character that had a Magic attribute can never gain Resonance, even if its Magic is reduced to 0 (Magic and Resonance, p.205, Running Wild).
This FAQ was created by Rob Boyle and Bobby Derie. If you have suggested additions or changes, send them to email@example.com.Thanks to Bull, Elissa Carey, Claw, Adam Jury, Robyn King-Nitschke, Christian Lonsing, Michelle Lyons, David Lyons, Jon Szeto, Peter Taylor, Masaaki Mutsuki, Jennifer Harding, Stephen McQuillian, Mark Dynna, Marc Tassin, Aaron Pavao, and Frank Trollman for feedback, answers, and assistance.
Thanks also to all of our fans and freelancers who send in questions, comments, and errata.