Basic Rules and Concepts

Rolling with the Punches

(These are from pages 44 to 49 CRB.)
Shadowrun uses D6 for everything, so you’re probably going to need to call up a fixer and see about getting some. That D20 sure is pretty to look at, but I’m only going to count rolling 5’s and 6’s as hits. A hit means you’re on your way to getting things done right.
The number of hits you need to actually succeed is called the threshold. As guideline for difficulty associated with a given threshold is shown below.

  • Easy = 1
  • Average = 2
  • Hard = 4
  • Very Hard = 6
  • Extreme = 8-10

Sometimes the threshold is set by the task you’re doing (installing an internal air-tank in your chummer), other times you’ll be trying to score more hits than the other guy (shooting those guards blocking your escape). Whatever sets the threshold, hitting it means success, scoring more means net hits. This might matter, depending on what you’re doing (net hits, for instance, determine the number of services owed you by a summoned spirit, meaning hitting the threshold isn’t really success in this case [pg. 300, CRB]).

Did you ever think that rolling was boring or slowed things down? How about buying your way to success? With GM approval, you can buy hits at the tradeoff of 4 dice for 1 hit. So, if you have a dice pool of 8D6, then you can have two hits. 11D6? Still just 2 hits. It’s also an all-or-nothing proposition. You either trade the entire pool in or roll the entire thing. There might be times when buying just isn’t an option, such as if a glitch or critical glitch might have a significant effect on the course of the game.

Oh, how I love these; they’re quite fun. Whenever you roll, count the 1’s along with the 5’s and 6’s. If more than half of the pool are 1’s, you’ve glitched. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, just that something didn’t quite go as planned. Some examples are dropping your gun, triggering a (silent) alarm, falling over or summoning a surlier than normal spirit. Great, you managed to shoot the goon, but you ejected the clip, too!
Critical glitches are a step up in pain. If you roll a glitch and managed no hits (no 5’s and 6’s), then things got bad. Glitches are annoyances, added difficulties. Critical glitches are life-threatening scenarios. Quickly trying to fix the outboard engine before the Yakuza boats find you? Well, not only is it not fixed, you managed to cause a small fire, burning your hand in the process. Bad news, the Yakuza know where you are; good news, the fire won’t spread because you also accidentally detached the motor and it’s sinking to the bottom of the lake.
You should think before rolling just that 1 die, buddy.

Tests and Limits
Whenever you roll dice, you’re making a test. There are a few kinds.

  • Success Tests
  • Opposed Tests
  • Extended Tests
  • Teamwork Tests

Each has a specific way of being handled in play and a notation when written down. Tests are performed first by determining your dice pool, the associated limit and the threshold. After that you then roll the dice.
The limit sets the maximum number of hits you can count towards success. Inherent limits are based on the character (Physical, Mental and Social) and derived from their attributes. These indicate how far your character can push himself. Gear limits trump inherent limits and represent the quality of your gear. Using a cheap deck can put a serious crimp on your decker’s attempts to disarm that data bomb. Limits can be ignored by using a point of Edge (see Character Traits). Generally speaking, limits only appear on tests involving a skill and attribute. If the test only requires one or two attributes (that is, no skill), then limits are not used.

(This is on pg. 130 CRB) If the test calls for a skill you don’t have, you roll only the associated attribute with a penalty of -1. Shooting a pistol without training means you get to roll your Agility – 1.

Tests and Their Notations
The general notation used is

Skill + Attribute [Limit] (Threshold, Interval) Test

Different tests use different parts of that notation.
Success Tests (or Simple Tests):
Whenever you attempt to do something in a single moment, drive in traffic, jump from one roof to another, find your keys, you perform a success test. So if you really hid your keys well:

Perception + Intuition [Mental] (2) Test

Opposed Tests:
When struggling against another, whether living or digital or astral, you make an opposed test. There is no threshold in opposed tests because you just need to do better than the other guy. Ties typically support the status quo. You may or may not be rolling the same skills or attributes as your opposition. So sneaking would require the first test below, while spotting the sneaker would require the second.

Sneaking + Agility [Physical] Opposed Test
p=. Perception + Intuition [Mental] Opposed Test

Extended Tests:
A lot like Success Tests, but they take awhile. This is where intervals matter. Whether your attaching a cyberlimb, learning a new spell or searching the Matrix for some juicy info on that corp facility, they don’t happen quickly. Instead of rolling once, you instead roll once for every interval of time that passes and add your hits together from each roll. The limit affects each roll separately, but your total hits at the end of the day can exceed it. Additionally, remove 1 die from your dice pool for each successive test; this represents the simple fact that your character can’t go on forever doing the same thing. The test ends when you hit the threshold or run out of dice.

Automotive Mechanic + Logic [Mental] (10, 1 hour) Extended Test

If you glitch while doing an extended test, the GM may roll 1D6 and reduce the net hits accumulated by the result. If it drops to zero or less, the test fails. Some other delays or difficulties might happen instead. Critical glitches mean the test has completely failed, even if you had 20 hits put into it.

Teamwork Tests:
Technically these are the same as other tests, but the group decides to work together. Some actions can’t benefit from teamwork (you don’t all grab the gun to shoot the other guy; this isn’t Power Rangers).
First, pick a leader: this is the gal that makes the final roll to determine success or failure. Then, everyone else participating rolls the relevant skill + attribute. For each hit they get, the leader’s limit AND dice pool increases by 1. The most dice that can be added in this way is equal to the leader’s rating in the relevant skill or the highest attribute if no skill is called for. The limit increase is not affected by this.
If an assistance gets a glitch, then that assistant adds nothing to the pool or limit. If he critical glitches, the leader gets nothing from anybody and now the group has to deal with the results of a critical glitch.

Going Again:
Failed? Well, pick yourself up, wipe yourself off, and get back on that horse, mister. Some tests you can retry. Each attempt nets you a cumulative penalty of -2, unless a sufficient break occurs between the attempts. Note that each attack you perform is considered its own action, not a retry of a previously failed one.

Basic Rules and Concepts

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