Posted by on October 28, 2016  Filed as: Better Gameplay?  Add comments  Topic(s):
Oct 282016


“This ever happen to you, chummer?  It’s 4 a.m. and you find yourself in front of the SoyFroYoGo machine (again), choosing between pink-blue and orange-yellow (tan? really?).  It must be the Stuffer Shack.  Suddenly, the door’s AR chimes, and behind you enters a trio of Halloweeners, armed with all manner of ballistic beat-down.  Your finger finds the trigger of the sawed-off shotgun beneath your coat.

Your duster flies open as you dive, majestically, for cover and fire a single shot at the group of them.  One ganger chucks a frag at you, one opens up with his HK-227, and the last one draws a pair of Predators.  The next three seconds feel like an eternity…mostly because they take 25 minutes to resolve as you dig through the Core Rule Book.  Did you say your rigger/decker buddy was waiting in the car for you?  That’s another 15 minutes.”

Shadowrun, a unique setting with a rich history, a compelling narrative, deep potential character development, and a wide variety of playstyles, has always had a steep barrier to entry: its daunting mechanics.  Players come for of the potential of the Sixth World and leave because of the heavy calculus—so much so that there are:

  • Dungeon World Hacks of Shadowrun
  • Savage Worlds Hacks of Shadowrun
  • FATE Hacks of Shadowrun
  • Apocalypse World Hacks of Shadowrun
  • D&D 4e Hacks of Shadowrun

The publishers have caught onto this and have come up with Shadowrun: Anarchy, a narrative, rules-light, shared-storytelling version of the same setting.  I am really looking forward to it.  But there are those GMs that are uncomfortable with losing control of the plot of their story arcs.  There are those players that are uncomfortable with the burden of narrative, the roleplay-heavy playstyle, and losing access to their extensive catalog of equipment, options, and spells.

Somewhere between the number-crunchy mechanics of Shadowrun 5th Edition and the narrative-fluffy mechanics of the upcoming Shadowrun: Anarchy lays a middle ground:  The time-honored tradition of House Rules.  What follows is a comprehensive set of House Rules for Shadowrun 5th Edition that have been put together and tested over the last several years.

These House Rules (PDF) focus solely on game-play mechanics, not character creation, street gear, or player options.  The aim is to make encounters flow with much less reference needed during gameplay by making success tests intuitive and meaningful, keeping modifiers simple and spare, and by minimizing NPC bookkeeping.

Catalyst Game Labs makes no representation or warranty as to their suitability.  Enjoy!

In the documents you will find House Rules for:


  • Includes a summation of Initiative.
  • Introduces the concept of Surprise as a forced Interrupt Action.
  • Reference Table of various Initiative Attributes and Initiative Dice.


  • Introduces a Movement Point (MP) based movement system.
  • Introduces Speed for Metahumans: [AGI/2] +2, rounded up. “Clumsy” characters no longer walk slower than sloths.
  • Reference Table of various Movement Types and


  • Includes a comprehensive list of Free, Simple, and Complex Actions that can be taken in combat. Like, ALL of them.
  • Modifies Alchemy to make it more accessible, and Buying and Selling Swag.
  • Separates Fire Weapon into Fire Weapon (Quick) and Fire Weapon (Long). This helps understand how Multiple Attacks affects each type of weapon.
  • Reference Table of all Actions (Free, Simple, Complex, Interrupt, Extended; non-Matrix, and Matrix)


  • Includes a comprehensive list of non-Matrix Interrupt Actions that can be taken in combat (even the hidden ones buried in the book).
  • Introduces Surprised and Hit the Deck Interrupt Actions. Simplifies Intercept.


  • Rebalances Matrix Actions. If a “meatspace” action is a Simple Action, then its Matrix equivalent action is also a Simple Action.
  • Normalizes Matrix Tests. Active or offensive tests use Logic + Skill [Matrix Attribute]; reactive or defensive tests use Intuition + Matrix Attribute.
  • Modifies how Control Device, Crash Program, Invite Mark, Jam Signal, and Trace Icon
  • Introduces Debug Code (the Take Aim of hacking).


  • Includes a comprehensive but simplified list of all Universal, Ranged, Melee, and Defense
  • Simplifies Called Shot
  • Reference Table of all Combat Modifiers (Ranged, Melee, Environmental, Recoil, and Defense).
  • Reference Table of Edge Effects.


  • Includes a comprehensive but simplified list of all Matrix Action
  • Modifies Noise (introduces Public Grid as a Noise modifier, rather than its own separate grid).
  • Reference Table of Matrix Modifiers (plus Noise).
  • Reference Table of Device Ratings and a Matrix Search


  • Includes a comprehensive but simplified list of all Vehicle Skill and Vehicle Limit
  • Offers a modified version of the Gearhead Positive Quality.
  • Reference Table of Vehicle Test Modifiers and Terrain Modifiers.
  • Reference Table of Drone Pilot Tests and Build/Repair Table.


  • Includes a more in depth look at firearm modes.
  • Includes a simplified version of how shotguns work with spread settings.
  • Includes a simplified version of how blast weapons work (test, scatter, effect, and chunky salsa).
  • Reference Table of Host Ratings, Convergence, and Intrusion Countermeasures (modified).
  • Reference Table of Spell Resistance, Object Resistance, and Assensing


  • Offers a simplified version of how Grunts work in combat.
    • Keeps Grunts on the same Initiative Score throughout the Combat Turn.
    • Makes tracking wound effects on Grunts easier.
    • Reduces the number of tests needed to take out Grunts in large combats.
  • Offers an alternate method of using Contacts for various favors that relies more on the player’s relationship with the contact than with the contact itself.


  • Modifies a few Qualities and how ammunition is acquired.

Reader Supported

Kevin Duncan

Kevin Duncan has been a gamer for three decades now and runs on most forums (including under the name "Gingivitis." Strangely enough, it's hardly ever taken...

  One Response to “SHADOWRUN HACK OF SHADOWRUN (Downloads!)”

  1. Updated (and printer friendly) versions of the fan-created content:

    Adds changes in skills and skill groups, using social skills, altered IC, and handy tables.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>