Shadowrun 4e Rules Primer


In Shadowrun 4th Edition, all dice rolls are encompassed by a d6, and all actions are resolved by making tests. Tests are undertaken whenever an action may reasonably (and/or dramatically) end in failure — e.g., chasing a motorcycle through an alleyway would require a test, whereas driving down a highway would not.

Unlike many other RPGs, modifiers are not added to a roll. Instead, you roll a number of dice equal to your dice pool. Your dice pool is the sum of the skill and it’s linked attribute relevant to the test performed. The skill and it’s attribute are determined by the GM, or by common sense. Additional modifiers (negative or positive) may apply situationally — negotiating these modifiers with the GM is allowed and even encouraged. Still with me? Here’s an example of a test from the core rulebook1:

Netcat is trying to bypass the maglock on a security door. To break open the maglock and mess with its interior, she needs to use her Hardware skill of 3 and its linked attribute Logic, which she has at 5. The gamemaster determines that she additionally has a +2 modifier to the test. That means Netcat’s dice pool for hacking the maglock is 10 dice (3 + 5 + 2), so she ultimately rolls 10d6 for her test.

When you roll and a die surpasses or meets the standard target number of 5, that die is considered a hit. The number of hits in a test determines whether you succeed or fail, and how spectacularly, when compared to that test’s threshold.

In Netcat’s example, let’s say her test of 10d6 resulted in {1, 6, 2, 2, 6, 5, 2, 6, 6, 3}. Of those rolls, she had one 5 and four 6s; altogether a total of five hits. The threshold for this test was 1, so not only did she succeed in her task, but she did so with 4 net hits, meaning she completed it with extreme finesse and expertise. Everyone is very proud of her and she goes home to a big steak dinner.

Failure is also simple: if you don’t make enough hits to meet the threshold, then you fail your test. In addition, if half or more of the dice pool rolled come up as 1s, then a glitch occurs. A glitch is a mistake, error, fumble, or random fluke that causes the action to go wrong in some way. Note that it’s possible to both succeed in a task and get a glitch at the same time. The nature of the glitch can be tempered against the number of hits achieved: 6 hits and a glitch would be a minor setback, while 1 hit and a glitch would be a severe annoyance.

Pistons makes a Climbing Test to get over a chain link fence. Rolling 5 dice, she gets 1, 1, 1, 5, and 6. While she succeeds with two hits, she also glitches since she rolled three 1s. The gamemaster rules that she climbed over the fence, but slipped on the way down and ripped open the bag she was carrying, spilling the contents all over the ground.

A critical glitch occurs when a glitch is rolled alongside zero hits. Critical glitches are far more dramatic than their normal counterparts, and may even cause injury to yourself or others. A character may spend Edge (more on this later) to downgrade a critical glitch into a regular one.

todo: buying hits


todo: defaults, attribute tests, longshots, opposed tests, extended tests, teamwork tests, crit success

1 “Shadowrun Core”, pg. 54

Shadowrun 4e Rules Primer

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