Shadowrun 5th Edition: Coming Soon to a MegaCorp Near You!

A new edition of the game which slams high fantasy and cyberpunk together in one of the most popular role-playing games of all time! The heart of the game setting - a blending of magic and science fiction, cyberpunk and fantasy, the Matrix and Great Dragons – remains intact, and enthralls role-playing aficionados generation after generaton.

Personally as a veteran gamer, Shadowrun was a formative part of my role-playing experiences early on, when the role-playing game industry was just beginning to kick into high gear. While many role-playing games entered the market back then, Shadowrun stuck out among the crowd, thumbing its virtual nose at the concepts of genre purity by offering the best of both worlds to scifi and fantasy gamers.

And now Shadowrun 5th Edition Core Rules is coming out next week, offering yet another edition to fans who might wonder why a new version of the game is coming out so precipitously following Shadowrun 4th Edition and the 20th Anniversary Edition (SR4) released in 2009. So it begs the question:

Is this new edition of Shadowrun a rehash of rules, or is it cutting edge, like the latest trend in cyberware?



Shadowrun 5th Edition

  • Line Developer: Jason M. Hardy
  • Writers: Jennifer Brozek, Raymond Croteau, Mark Dynna, Patrick Goodman, Jason M. Hardy, Robyn “Rat” King, Adam Large, Devon Oratz, Aaron Pavao, Steven “Bull” Ratkovich, Scott Schletz, Malik Toms, Michael Wich, Thomas Willoughby, Russell Zimmerman
  • Illustrations: Michael Komarck (cover); (interior) Gordon Bennetto, Joel Biske, Echo Chernik, Victor Corbella, Brent Evans, Phillip Hilliker, David Hovey, David Kegg, Ian King, Igor Kieryluk, Jeff Laubenstein, Melanie Maier, Daniel Masso, Jeremy McHugh, Raven Mimura, Mark Molnar, Victor Manuel Leza Moreno, Lee Moyer, Alessandra Pisano, Mark Poole, Tony Shasteen, Klaus Scherwinski, Andreas “AAS” Schroth, Christophe Swal, Eric Williams, John Zeleznik
  • Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
  • Year: 2013
  • Media: PDF (489 pages)
  • Price: $20.00 (PDF available July 11th from DTRPG / Hardbound pre-order $36.07 - available from Amazon)

Shadowrun 5th Edition
is the Core Rulebook for the most recent revision of the popular and long-running scifi/fantasy role-playing game series. The new release comes complete with all rules and resources needed for players and game masters to play the game. This includes character generation rules, skill resolution, and combat rules for mundane, magical, and matrix battles. Shadowrun 5th Edition also includes guns and gear, spells and cyberware, as well as a variety of vehicles, all to outfit a ‘runner for action. For game masters, there is extensive information on building a Shadowrun from the inside-out, on managing a game and a campaign, as well as threats from mundane and magical enemies. The hardbound edition also includes codes to get special online gear in the upcoming Shadowrun Online game, coming out later this year!


Production Quality

The production quality of the Shadowrun 5th Edition Core Rulebook is superb, with a beautiful design, and amazing work from a large number of writers. The layout is an easy-to-read, two column format on a white background, with special information and tables appearing in black-bordered red boxes, with white or yellow lettering that jumps out to the reader. The rulebook’s red/black/white motif lends an edgy and dark feel to the reading experience, perfect in this reviewer’s opinion, for a the topics at hand.

The PDF version of Shadowrun 5th Edition has a well-organized set of bookmarks, for easy navigation throughout the book. And this in addition to a massive five page table of contents, and six pages of index – both of which are type-faced in a font which is 2-3 sizes smaller than the rest of the books text! So whether one buys the PDF or hardcover of the book, finding the rule or information needed to play the game is not going to be a chore. There are also four pages of tables useful during the game at the back of the book, which could be copied for use at the gaming table – although I’m sure that those tables will also appear on a Shadowrun 5th Edition GM Screen… perhaps a future release?

Previews of the Shadowrun 5th Edition rulebook can be found here on Drive-Thru RPG.

The artwork in the Shadowrun 5th Edition Core Rulebook is absolutely stunning eye-candy, as the fans of the game would expect from a brand-new release. From the front cover, with its depiction of a team of ‘runners taking on a massive insect spirit, to the many interior illustrations of combat action, gear, and enchanted critters, the Core Rulebook is a pure visual extravaganza. Almost all of the illustrations are in full-color, with a few well-rendered, heavy ink drawings scattered about the pages.

The total effect is a book which is enjoyable to read, with the art definitely enhancing the overall experience.


“Everything has a Price”


Right off, I want to make it known that I am writing this review with respect to players and GMs who are familiar with the Shadowrun game and setting. I am placing particular emphasis on facets of Shadowrun 5th Edition that have changed since the 20th Anniversary Edition (4th) of the game. If you’ve never played Shadowrun before, I apologize for not going into the game in detail, but I could write a review of several thousand words, and still not cover all the aspects of the setting and system.

Before starting writing my review of Shadowrun 5th Edition, I had the chance to pose a few questions to the game’s Line Developer, Jason M. Hardy. And one of the first things I asked him was to tell me what some of the main design goals for this new edition of Shadowrun:

One of the main goals was to reflect the "everything has a price" theme that has been featured in promotional materials. We want Shadowrun characters to [have] the potential to be awesome, but we want that to come with trade-offs. We want players to think about what they're doing, why they're doing it, how they can really make the character they want to have, and whether it will be worth the price. We felt that theme fits very well with Shadowrun, because that's what shadowrunners have to do in the Sixth World all the time.

The theme is expounded upon right from the very first section of the book, Life in the Sixth World, where the price of living in a world where magic, megacorps, ‘ware, and the shadows all can take their toll on a character. Underscoring this theme is the collection of short stories which appear throughout the book – a set of tales penned to remind players of the dystopic theme of the Sixth World, and the consequences of running in the shadows.

As with the SR4 core rules, this section also covers what life is like in 2075, including information on a range of topics. Here the writers discuss politics, nations, and megacorporations; the law enforcers, gangs, and organized crime; night life, entertainment, and sports; and of course, magic, the Matrix, and shadowrunning. It’s all fluff-heavy but succinct, an entertaining read overall, and provides a good primer to the nature of the Sixth World setting.

The next three sections of the Shadowrun 5th Edition rules cover the basic game concepts, character generation rules, and skill descriptions, all used when creating a Sixth World alter-ego to play. As far as game concepts, dice pools, thresholds, and glitches have changed very little in the new edition, and the types of tests remain pretty much the same. However, a new rule called Limits can definitely affect the outcome of a test’s successes, limiting the maximum number of hits. These limits are either based upon a character’s inherent limits (stat based – Physical, Mental, Social) or to a gear limit. For instance, weapons now have an accuracy limit, which limits the number of hits you can count regardless of how big your dice pool from Agility and Pistol skill adds up.

As for character generation, the Build Point system of SR4 has been replaced with a new version of the Priority System (A-E), which players of older SR editions will recognize. Each priority is assigned to generate the character’s metatype and special attribute points, non-special attribute points, magic or resonance use, skills and skill points, and starting financial resources. The standard races are all represented, as are the various types of magic slingers and adepts, and the Technomancers. Positive and Negative Qualities have also remained a part of character generation, and starting characters have 25 Karma which can be used to buy Positive ones, or gain extra Karma from Negative Qualities. Starting Karma can also be used to make modifications to after character generation ends.

There is an excellent step by step guide to take players through the character generation process, and I particularly liked the addition of a table to handle Finishing Calculations, so that a player doesn’t have to thumb through looking for the formulas. Doubtless some Shadowrun veterans (including this reviewer) will be relieved by the change to return the Priority system, given the comments which pop up on forums and blogs referring to overpowered or “munchkin” SR4 characters.

That’s the setup for making standard characters, however, characters need not start at the same power level for a campaign. The writers have included two alternative gameplay styles for creating either Street-Level (“newbie”) ‘runners or highly advanced Prime ‘runners, which would definitely change the dynamic of a Shadowrun campaign. I really liked this idea, and I could see myself running a Street-Level campaign for veteran players who want a greater challenge.

The skills section describes all the skills with details, as well as skill groups, and skill specialization, which are essentially the same as they have previously been in SR4 – except that the Dodge skill has been removed and is sort of one with Gymnastics now. Interspersed in this section are tables showing details about certain skills, such as Climb skill modifiers and a big table of Social modifiers to apply to the various social skills. I should note that characters do get some free points to use on buying Knowledge skills, so the skill points generated by the Priority system can be spent mainly on active skills.

These character generation changes are key to another design goal mentioned by Mr. Hardy:

Another primary goal was emphasizing characters' skills and attributes. As much as possible we want those two things to be the principal drivers of the dice pool. They should be what makes [sic] a character awesome. Their gear certainly will help, but it's what they are, not so much what they have, that will truly set them apart. Mechanics such as limits and the increase of the cap on skills from 6 to 12 are based in this goal.

We also wanted to increase simplicity where we could. Shadowrun still going to have complexity— and that's the way we like it – but there were certain opportunities in the game, like the change in armor ratings and the return of the priority system in character creation, that gave us a chance to make things a little simpler.

I certainly feel the Priority system has some advantages here, over the lump of Build Points in SR4. I’ve just recently worked with some neophyte Shadowrun players, and those 400 BPs can look a mite intimidating to break down and work up into a character.

Combat has had some changes made to it, including how initiative is rolled, how defense rolls are taken, and how armor works. Much of this has indeed been streamlined for easier comprehension and implementation. Initiative, for instance, has been reduced to rolling only a few dice and adding an Initiative Attribute, rather than rolling a pile of dice. Initiative passes are determined by subtracting 10 from the roll, as it was done in a previous edition. Other facets, such as armor penetration, Physical and Stun damage, wound modifiers, and exceeding the Condition Track have remained relatively unchanged.

Accuracy limits, as previously mentioned, are going to be a major factor in how much ramping up damage occurs, but it should also be noted here that weapons do a lot MORE damage in Shadowrun 5th Edition. For example, the Ruger Super Warhawk is limited to only 5 successes per attack because of its Accuracy (ACC) rating. However, it starts out doing 9P damage (compared to the SR4 version at 6P). And sniper rifles have become deadly in SR5, with AP values of -4 to -5, and powerful base damage averaging around 13P.

Did I mention that the Physical and Stun Condition tracks are still about the same size as they were in SR4?

Subsequent sections, after the Combat rules, focus in on The Matrix and both deckers and technomancers, rigging and riggers, and magic along with sorcerers, shaman, and all manner of adepts. Some of the rules in these disciplines have again been streamlined, with another of the major design goals in mind:

Mr. Hardy
: We also wanted to make the three systems of the game— physical, Matrix, and magic— more parallel, so that the same mechanics work across the board.
Sadly, I did not get a chance to playtest how well the rule mechanics and changes make the three types of combat “more parallel”. But from my reading, I can see how several key changes in the rules are going to try and achieve that goal – and I’m all in favor of making combat styles interlock better, and hopefully, faster to resolve.

One section I was very pleased with was the one entitled Gamemaster Advice. I rather felt that in SR4, the aid and advice given to GMs was a bit lacking, and concepts needed to run a scenario or a campaign was actually scattered around the book. Here, in Shadowrun 5th Edition, the writers devote over 50 pages – more than a tenth of the page count – to giving useful information for GMs to use when running a game or a campaign. The sub-section on Designing a Run is beautifully written, as is the advice for handling a full-blown Campaign. And the tables for assigning Cash and Karma Rewards are great tools to have at the ready - especially when you’re running an impromptu session with a randomly generated run (yeah, that’s in there too).

There is another section detailing various enemies ‘runners might face: NPCs and critters. The writers kept the system for Grunts and Lieutenants, as well as the Professional Rating system for their threat level. The sub-section describing critters is a bit sparse in actual creatures, although all the details for critter powers and weaknesses are included here. Personally, I would also have liked to see illustrations of the various critters detailed here in Shadowrun 5th Edition, but no such luck, which I thought was a bit of an oversight if the book is purchased by a Shadowrun neophyte.

When I asked Mr. Hardy what new aspects (rules, features, etc.) of SR5 the fans are going to like best, he replied:

Well of course I hope they will enjoy all of them, but if I had to pick out a few that I'm very fond of, I would include reckless spellcasting, which is the ability to cast spells faster if you're willing to accept more drain, and the revised matrix rules, which make hacking more like the rest of the system and more approachable. I think the priority system will help make character creation a little simpler, and I also like little things like the addition of the seats that [sic] for vehicles.

The final section on Gear is fairly massive, covering everything a Shadowrunner might need on a mission, from firearms to vehicles. Although the game setting has only moved on a few years to 2075, there are some new updates to gear, such as firearms and cyberware, showing how quickly technology advances in the Sixth World.

At the end of the Shadowrun 5th Edition Core Rules is the massive index I mentioned earlier, along with a selection of important tables, a random run generator, and a character sheet. The designer also included large prints of the Berlin and Tenochtitlan cityscapes, and a collection of all the covers from SR1 to SR5. There’s a full page plug for the upcoming Shadowrun Online, with mention that the hardbound version of the core rules has an offer for in-game gear, a code that can unlock guns like the Saeder-Krupp Spraydown and the Skua Special, or even Sledge’s Sword mentioned in Shadowrun: Stolen Souls.

When I mentioned the apparent tie-in between the table-top experience and the online experience, Mr. Hardy was a bit cagey in his answer, but had this to say:

We have some very exciting plans for overlap. While each game will of course operate in its own space, there are some significant plot lines that will play out in both the role-playing game and Shadowrun Online. I can't give out too many details of this overlap right now, but I think it will give great opportunities for players of both games to shape the Sixth World.


Overall Score: 4.4 out of 5.0


Final Conclusions


Well, I tried my best to contain myself during the review, but now I can freely admit I am absolutely thrilled by the new Shadowrun 5th Edition Core Rules. The SR5 core rulebook is not only visually stimulating, but is well-organized and a pleasure to read - and most importantly, comprehend. A great many of the changes made to the rules seem not only reasonable, but needed in order to create a more user-friendly game system. And although the lore has not had much time to evolve since SR4 came out, there are some “fluffy” new bits added to the setting information and background.

The tie-in with the anticipated Shadowrun Online is also an exciting detail of the new edition, albeit we don’t have much to go on other than a tantalizing hint from Mr. Hardy.

Making the game available in both hardbound and PDF format is great news indeed, and the price point is well within a range that players and GMs might consider investing in both for use with their games. So Shadowrunners get ready: the PDF is going to be out for sale in just one week! And for only 20 bux you too can be playing the newest, and possibly best, edition of the Shadowrun series!

Author’s Note
: This Reviewer received a complimentary pre-release copy of the product from which the review was written.

A Special Thanks
to Catalyst Game Lab and Managing Developer Randall Bills for granting me the opportunity to write this pre-release review.

Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)

  • Presentation: 4.5
  • - Design: 5.0 (Great layout and superb writing; excellent explanations of game mechanics)
  • - Illustrations: 4.0 (Gorgeous cover and interior art; “Darnit, where are those critter illustrations”)
  • Content: 4.25
  • - Crunch: 4.5 (Great rules revisions, particularly for character generation; “bye bye munchkins”)
  • - Fluff: 4.0 (Rehash of some fluff, but great new stories and additional fluff enhance overall presentation)
  • Value: 4.5 (Excellent price for the hardbound; but a great price on the PDF!)
 
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CAFRedblade

Explorer
In which case you're both right about Stigma/Stigmata, as it's main definition in the West derives from Christian belief in the Mark(s) of Christ from what I've read online. And a Social Stigma is a Social "Mark" ( usually in the negative) against a person/belief/group so forth. Both valid definitions I believe.

Anyways, my only problem is that the book comes out on July 11th, and it's only the 9th...

Really looking forward to it, I've just started playing 4A and am enjoying it, but I'm looking forward to the refinements that have been teased in the previews and reviews of the book.

I just wonder if I can port my Dwarven Adept Sniper over without a little/lot of handwaving. (he's built with some of the accessory books for 4A, for extra gear and Adept powers)
 

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CAFRedblade

Explorer
That was a big article.

Will/ Is character creation still a massive minefield, how clunky is it?

From the reviews I've read the new/old Priority system seems to streamline the creation time, so I'm curious to see how things go.

My first character was built with the help of a Quatro (excel type) sheet with it taking care of the math of 4A.
 

I really liked the simplicity of 4e, but I must admit I had a few scratch-my-head moments regarding some of the gear. Smartlinks only provide 2 extra dice? It just seems like a very small benefit that can easily be obtained in other ways.

I'm wondering how they resolved that in 5e.
 
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JediSoth

Semi-Professional Author
Epic
From what I've heard, it's easier for new players to create characters in SR5. As a GM, I always had trouble wrapping my brain around how The Matrix and hacking worked while the rest of the Runner were doing there thing and it sounds like a lot of that has been addressed, too. My players tend to like to play criminal-types (or at least, they always end up that way), so I'm looking forward to introducing them to a Shadowrun game using this new system. I love that my favorite books from the 4E era (Seattle 2072, 6th World Almanac) can be used with this without me having to convert anything (since I'm planning on pretty much ignoring metaplot and making up my own).
 

Greed Barabore

First Post
Raunalyn, do you really feel that way? Any extra dice can help. Skills only normally go from 1 to 6, so an additional 2 benefit is very significant. Besides, it only provides a probably target location to aim at; it does not physically move and shoot the weapon for you.
 

Greed Barabore

First Post
JediSoth, could you help explain how it is easier? In 4th, you get a total BP count for everything, and then you choose where the points go. In 5th, it sounds like you choose priorities, which then give you a set BP per selection, and then you choose where the points go. It sounds the same to me, with an extra step thrown in to try and prevent min-maxing.
 

Abstruse

Legend
For the record, I've actually played the new system (I write the Tabletop column for Ain't It Cool News, my review went up Saturday). So I'll try to answer your questions that I can see.

First, character creation. It's back to Priority (with other options coming via a Companion book in a year or two according to Jason Hardy). The method is the same as 1st-3rd with some tweaks. You have Priority A - B - C - D - E that you assign one each to Race, Attributes, Skills, Magic/Resonance, and Resources. With your Race, you get a bonus that can be added to your Special Attributes (Edge, Magic, and Resonance), so if you take Priority A as Human, you get a bigger bonus to those attributes. With the Magic priority, you pick what type of magic user you are AND you get a set number of magic skills and spells. Same goes with Resonance, related skills, and Complex Forms for technomancers. Your Skills priority gives you points for individual skills and a separate number for skill groups.

Now, you ALSO get a certain number of Karma that you can spend at character generation (default is 25). You use these to tweak your skills/attributes, bond foci, Initiate, and buy Qualities. Qualities come in both Positive and Negative flavors (similar to Edges and Flaws from 2nd/3rd Ed). Positive Qualities give you a game bonus but cost Karma, while Negative Qualities give you some game penalty but give you more Karma to spend.

So yes, character creation is a LOT faster in this edition than any other. I've only made five characters and I'm already down to about 45 minutes each (my time in 4A is about the same using a character generator, but there's a lot more options to go through since there's more books at this point). My guess is with some knowledge of the rules and a decent character generator (I saw at least one Excel spreadsheet's already been made by a fan), most people can make a character in about 90 minutes and anyone with experience with Shadowrun's previous editions can probably get it under an hour easily.
 

Abstruse

Legend
As far as Smartlinks go, there's a new mechanic in the game called Limits. No matter how many hits you get on a test, you can never use more than the relevant Limit. Some of them are based on your attributes (which, not surprisingly, give weight to attributes everyone tended to dump if not required for the build like Charisma, Logic, and Willpower) while others are based on your equipment. Specifically, every gun in the game has an Accuracy rating which acts as a Limit on any attempt to use it.

What Smartlinks do is increase the Accuracy of your gun by 2. So your Ares Predator V used to have Accuracy 5 (limiting you to 5 hits on any given test) but now has Accuracy 7. On top of that, if you enable the wireless in your smartlink, you get an additional +2 dice to your combat tests with the gun.

Why would you even think of not enabling wireless? Because hackers have a nasty new trick called Bricking, meaning they can turn your pretty gun into a paperweight in the middle of a firefight. And yes, the mechanic is balanced (they have as much chance to get brainfried by your gun's firewall as they do bricking your gun if they're not careful).
 

Abstruse

Legend
JediSoth, could you help explain how it is easier? In 4th, you get a total BP count for everything, and then you choose where the points go. In 5th, it sounds like you choose priorities, which then give you a set BP per selection, and then you choose where the points go. It sounds the same to me, with an extra step thrown in to try and prevent min-maxing.
Priority is a LOT faster because there's not nearly as much fiddling with the numbers as there is in BP. Almost all my time in chargen now is spent buying stuff rather than sitting there massaging numbers to make sure I actually spend all my BP or trying to boost that Agility attribute one more point. It also takes out a LOT of calculations as you don't have to figure out whether you're better off spending those BP on Attributes or Skills or some Quality.
 

Thanee

First Post
The Priority system isn't new, BTW, it has been around since 1st edition.

The main thing is, you do not get BP, you get Ranks, which translate 1:1 into game values.

There is very little "fiddliness" and because of the packages you buy with each priority you select, characters get reasonably balanced.

It is also about trade-offs, since you cannot combine everything in any way you like.


BTW, if you are interested, you can get the complete previews here (including all the details about the Priority system):

http://www.battlecorps.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=28&products_id=3182

And here are the Quick Start Rules:

http://cdn.shadowruntabletop.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/E-CAT27QSR_SR5-Quick-Start-Rules.pdf

Bye
Thanee
 

Falling Icicle

Adventurer
So let me see if I am understanding this correctly. Skills can now go up to 12 instead of being capped at 6. I can't say I'm very fond of that idea, as IMO the game is already plagued with a "roll buckets of dice" problem. They say they want skills to matter more, but then they put in this limit on how many hits you can roll, based on your gear. That seems to be counterproductive to me. Yeah, you can have better skills, but it won't matter much because you can't roll any more hits on your tests, which is what actually matters. Maybe I'm not understanding it correctly. Perhaps someone who knows more could clarify that for me.
 

Herobizkit

Adventurer
What incentives, if any, are available for players to not take the most damage resistant armor in all cases?

When playing Serenity RPG, fr'ex, there's a Flak jacket that gives one DR4 and immunity to Stun damage or some such, and it's available on all standard worlds as a "common" item. If the DM says it's available, I never see a reason NOT to take it other than "realism", but in reality, wouldn't a world full of guns warrant owning a Flak jacket if they're readily available?

On a positive note, the A-E Character resource option has always been and will always be my favorite character building option ever for Modern/Futuristic gaming. You wanna be a Mage and Rich? Cool, but you're gonna be Human and a pushover, and as well all know, most 'Ware interferes with Magic...

Also Street Shamans. Love their flavour.
 
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Abstruse

Legend
What incentives, if any, are available for players to not take the most damage resistant armor in all cases?

When playing Serenity RPG, fr'ex, there's a Flak jacket that gives one DR4 and immunity to Stun damage or some such, and it's available on all standard worlds as a "common" item. If the DM says it's available, I never see a reason NOT to take it other than "realism", but in reality, wouldn't a world full of guns warrant owning a Flak jacket if they're readily available?

On a positive note, the A-E Character resource option has always been and will always be my favorite character building option ever for Modern/Futuristic gaming. You wanna be a Mage and Rich? Cool, but you're gonna be Human and a pushover, and as well all know, most 'Ware interferes with Magic...

Also Street Shamans. Love their flavour.

In all honesty, there are only two real choices at this point for armor: Armor Jacket and Lined Coat. The balancing factor between the various pieces of armor are their prices and availability, but under chargen rules, availability only matters if it's 13 or higher (you can't get it) and the prices are only a few hundred nuyen apart (which is nothing in chargen unless you're playing street-level rules). The only reason to go for the Lined Coat over Armored Jacket honestly is the built-in concealable holster and that it gives a bonus to small items concealed under it.

If your GM is strict with the social interaction, then you'll want an Actioneer suit as well (basically a business suit made out of disguised kevlar). Otherwise, armor is a non-choice until this edition's Canon Companion equivalent comes out. It's a flaw that's been with Shadowrun since day 1 - there are a LOT of rules to cover, so a lot of stuff that probably should be core rules get shoved off to supplemental books. And the armor thing's been a problem too.
 

Abstruse

Legend
So let me see if I am understanding this correctly. Skills can now go up to 12 instead of being capped at 6. I can't say I'm very fond of that idea, as IMO the game is already plagued with a "roll buckets of dice" problem. They say they want skills to matter more, but then they put in this limit on how many hits you can roll, based on your gear. That seems to be counterproductive to me. Yeah, you can have better skills, but it won't matter much because you can't roll any more hits on your tests, which is what actually matters. Maybe I'm not understanding it correctly. Perhaps someone who knows more could clarify that for me.

It's a trade-off. And the limits are NOT based off your gear as they are also based off your attributes. Sure, you can raise your skill to 12 in something (after chargen, you can only go up to 6 with a new character) and end up rolling 30 dice...but what difference does it make if your Inherent Limit (which is based off your attributes and weighted toward traditional dump stats) is 3? So you HAVE to pay attention to how you're raising what as you go.

Also, it takes a DREKLOAD of karma to raise a skill to 12. The rule is meant to give incredibly long-term epic campaigns a chance as well as to give a better idea of the separation from your run-of-the-mill shadowrunners like starting PCs and the elite best-of-the-best Prime Runners like Fastjack or Smiling Bandit.
 

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