[Let’s Study: Shadowrun 4th] Systems: Basic Task Resolution

Well, as an old hand at the World of Darkness Storyteller system, I was pleasantly surprised to see the similarities to Shadowrun’s own task resolution system.  This is a definite plus for me since it feels like sitting in an old favorite chair, in a way.

Shadowrun relies on a dicepool system involving d6’s.  Much like in the World of Darkness, Shadowrun’s system calls on assembling a pool of dice equal to a character’s attribute + skill + modifiers against a set target number of 5.  Any dice that turn up 5 or 6 are called Hits, and the number of Hits are compared towards a Threshold which determines whether or not the action was successful.  Thankfully most actions have a Threshold value of 1 (something I think I might stick with, relying instead on negative modifiers to denote the complexity of a given action.)

If the negative modifiers somehow outnumber the attribute + skill dice pool, then the action automatically fails unless the player decides to spend Edge dice.  Edge is an attribute that works in a similar fashion to Action Dice or Willpower systems of other games.  It represents the little something extra that the Player Characters have to push luck their way.  Edge can be used in a variety of ways, but most commonly it can add dice to a given dicepool as well as activate something that Shadowrun calls the “Rule of Six.”

The Rule of Six applies to a dicepool whenever it is modified by adding Edge dice.  This rule basically allows sixes to count as a Hit, and be rerolled, giving another opportunity for that die to score another Hit.  What I’m not certain of is if Edge dice rerolled by the Rule of Six can trigger a Glitch.

Glitches are a two-step hybrid of Complications and Critical Failures.  If half or more dice of a dicepool end up as 1’s, then it’s a Glitch, wherein not only does a character fail, but they also suffer an additional misfortune that makes life just a little more complicated, but not necessarily more life-threatening.   However, if a dicepool ends up with a Glitch and no Hits, then it’s considered a Critical Glitch, which is definitely disastrous.  Anything from a misfire, to accidentally shooting someone on your own team, or some other FUBAR situation.

Critical Successes are also present in this game, with characters who roll 4 or more Hits above the threshold rewarded with additional benefits, the chance to narrate their own badassery or occasionally earning Edge back at the GM’s discretion.

One of the neater optional rules that I saw here is the fact that you can actually buy Hits for non-stressful rolls, a quick and streamlined way to keep the story moving.  The exchange rate is a little bit on the expensive side: 4 dice per Hit bought, but the elimination of uncertainty is a nice thing to have now and then.

So far, so good.  Task Resolution again passes with flying colors, it’s easy enough to understand, has a few neat tricks that makes life easier, while still retaining the “fun” of Critical Failures.  The Glitches should keep a game like Shadowrun interesting, since it’s the unexpected that keep runners on their toes.

Tomorrow, we’ll move on to the more specialized sections, starting with Magic and then Technology.  Shadowrun is looking pretty stable so far, and I’m hoping that there aren’t any unpleasant surprises waiting for me.

2 thoughts on “[Let’s Study: Shadowrun 4th] Systems: Basic Task Resolution

  1. I’d like to correct you on the Glitches.

    A regular glitch means that you do pass the test, but something extra happens.
    Example: Character trying to climb over a fence. They do succeed and get to jump over, but the glitch would mean that while hopping down the character’s backpack snags on a barb of the fence and rips open, spilling the contents on the ground.

    The critical glitch is disastrous. In the above example, a critical glitch would mean that the character’s leg is STUCK on the fence and needs help getting down.

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