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Shadows over Baltimore

Combat Turns

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Combat Turn Sequence

Combat in Shadowrun proceeds in a set sequence known as the Combat Turn. Each Combat Turn is 3 seconds long (so there are 20 Combat Turns per minute). The Combat Turn attempts to mimic real combat, resolving issues such as who acts first, who is faster on the draw, what happens when one character punches another, and so on. During the Combat Turn, each player—starting with the fastest—takes turns describing his character’s action and rolls dice to see how well he performs it. The gamemaster describes the actions and reactions of the nonplayer characters, as well as the final outcome of all actions. Combat Turns may be broken up into a series of Initiative Passes if any characters have the ability to take extra actions in a Combat Turn. The point during each Combat Turn when a specific character can act is called an Action Phase.


1. Roll Initiative

Determine Initiative for all the characters, critters, spirits, intrusion countermeasures, and anything else involved in the fight (see Initiative). The order of Initiative Scores from high to low determines the order in which the action will take place.

Note that wound modifiers affect the Initiative Score (see Initiative and Damage).


2. Begin First Initiative Pass

Characters involved in the combat now take their actions sequentially in the first Initiative Pass, starting with the character who has the highest Initiative Score. This character is the acting character

If more than one character has the same Initiative Score, they go at the same time.


3. Begin Action Phase

The acting character now declares and takes his actions, according to the steps below. If another character has delayed an action  and wishes to act during this Action Phase, he must declare it here. That character chooses whether to act before, after, or at the same time as current acting character.


A. Declare Actions

The acting character declares his actions for the Action Phase. He may take two Simple Actions or one Complex Action. Alternately, the character can choose to delay his action until a later Action Phase in that Combat Turn. The character may also declare one Free Action during either this Action Phase or on any subsequent Action Phases in the Combat Turn. Likewise, any character who has already acted in the Combat Turn prior to this Action Phase and still has his Free Action left may declare it at this point if he chooses.


B. Resolve Actions

Resolve the actions of the acting character.


4. Declare and Resolve Actions of Remaining Characters

Move on to the character with the next highest Initiative Score and repeat Step 3. Continue this cycle until the actions of all characters have been resolved for that Initiative Pass.


5. Begin Next Initiative Pass

Once all of the characters have acted and the all of the actions have been resolved for the first Initiative Pass, Steps 2

through 4 are then repeated for characters who get a second Initiative Pass due to implants, magic, or other abilities. This cycle is repeated in full for characters who get a third pass, and then for those who get a fourth pass (if any). No character can act in more than 4 Initiative Passes in a Combat Turn.

If a character was wounded in a previous Initiative Pass, wound modifiers may affect his Initiative Score on this and any subsequent passes.


6. Begin a New Combat Turn

Begin a new Combat Turn, starting again at Step 1. Continue repeating Steps 1 through 6 until the combat ends.


Initiative determines the order in which characters act, as well as how often they act during a single Combat Turn.

Initiative is based on two factors: Initiative Score and Initiative Passes.


Initiative Score

To determine a character’s Initiative Score, make an Initiative Test using his Initiative attribute. (A character’s

Initiative attribute is the sum of Reaction and Intuition.) Edge may be used on this test. Add the hits to your Initiative attribute—this total is your Initiative Score. The gamemaster records the score for each character, from highest to lowest. The character with the highest score goes first and the others follow

in descending order. If two characters get the same score, then they act simultaneously.

If for some reason it is imperative to determine which one acts first, compare attributes to see who has the highest

Edge, Initiative, or Reaction (resolving ties in that order).


Initiative and Damage

When making the Initiative Test, wound modifiers from damage affect the Initiative Score. In addition, if a character

takes damage that inflicts wound modifiers during a Combat Turn, apply those (additional) modifiers to his Initiative Score immediately. This means that a character’s Initiative Score may be affected in the middle of an Initiative Pass (though if he has already acted in that pass, it won’t matter until the next one).


If damage modifiers reduce a character’s Initiative Score to zero or less, that character does not get any actions during that Combat Turn.


Initiative Passes

Some characters may have magic or implants that allow them to act more than once in a Combat Turn. When this

occurs, the Combat Turn is divided into Initiative Passes. Everyone gets to act during the first Initiative Pass (in order according to their Initiative Score), characters with two actions get to go again during a second Initiative Pass, characters with three actions get a third action during a third Initiative Pass, and so on. No character can act in more than 4 Initiative Passes in a Combat Turn (even if they spend Edge).


If a character does not get an action that allows him to act during an Initiative Pass, he can do nothing; he must bide his time until the next turn. The character also gets no Free Actions during those extra Initiative Passes; he may, however, still dodge and defend against attacks.


The same Initiative Score is kept for the entire Combat Turn—do not re-roll it for each Initiative Pass. The only way

to affect an Initiative Score during the Combat Turn is with wound modifiers. The number of Initiative Passes in which a character gets to act during a Combat Turn should be noted on his character sheet.


Switching Initiative

In some cases, a character’s Initiative or Initiative Passes may change in the middle of a Combat Turn due to the use of certain gear, spells, or abilities (turning on your wired reflexes, for example, or a magician re-entering his body from astral space). If a character’s Initiative attribute changes, immediately apply the difference as a positive or negative modifier to the character’s Initiative Score. This new Initiative Score applies for any subsequent actions in that Combat Turn. So a character with Initiative 8 and an Initiative Score 11 who activates an implant

that changes his Initiative to 10 (+2) immediately raises his Initiative Score to 13 (11 + 2).


If the number of Initiative Passes available to a character increases, that character does not gain the extra Initiative Passes for that turn. So a magician with 1 IP who takes his first action to astrally project (+2 IP) does not gain any extra actions that turn, but he will have 3 IP for the next turn. If the number of Initiative Passes available to a character decreases, then that character immediately loses any extra Initiative Passes for that turn he might have had. So when that same magician returns to his body, he immediately loses 2 IPs on that turn.


Initiative and Edge

A character can use Edge to affect his Initiative in several ways during a Combat Turn:

• Edge may be used on the Initiative Test, as per normal Edge rules.

• Edge can be spent to go first in an Initiative Pass. The character must declare this at the beginning of the Initiative Pass. He then goes first, regardless of his Initiative Score. If more than one character spends Edge to go first, resolve which of the Edge spending characters go first by their Initiative Scores; non-Edge spending characters go on their Initiative Scores as normal.

• Edge can be spent to get an extra Initiative Pass action. A character who only acts once a turn could, for example,

spend 1 point of Edge to act during a second Initiative Pass as well. The character must declare this at the beginning of the Initiative Pass—it is not possible to buy an action in the middle of a pass. A character may only purchase 1 extra action this way in each Combat Turn.


Initiative Glitches

If a character rolls a glitch on his Initiative Test, he automatically goes after anyone who has the same Initiative Score as him (rather than acting simultaneously). If the gamemaster chooses, she can also inflict a minor dice pool modifier (–1) to the character’s first action, to reflect his stumbling start. If the character rolls a critical glitch, he not only goes last in each Initiative Pass, but he also loses one of his extra actions (if any); this does not affect characters who have only one action per turn.


Delayed Actions

Sometimes players don’t want to go when it’s their turn. They prefer to wait to see what happens and how others act

before they go. This is called a delayed action . A delayed action must be declared during Step 3A of the Combat Turn. A player can declare a delayed action on any of his actions in any pass. A character can delay an action until a later Action Phase. During the Declare Actions part of that Action Phase, the character must declare that he is intervening. Characters who have held an action and intervened in this manner go before anyone who is normally taking his action during that Action Phase. If multiple characters delay their actions until the same Action

Phase, they act at the same time. Note that a delayed character can choose to intentionally act after another in an Action Phase, but only if he would normally have gone before.


The character delaying an action in this manner does not lose his original Initiative Score. Once that Initiative Pass is over, the character’s Initiative Score applies to any additional passes that occur. Players can also decide to go after the last player’s Action Phase in a pass. As long as the character acts before that pass ends and the next one begins, there is no problem. If more than one character decides to act last in a pass, resolve who goes first as if resolving an Initiative tie. A character can also delay his action until the next Initiative Pass. If he had an action in that Initiative Pass, then he automatically loses it (in place of the delayed action—you only get one action per pass).


Timed Items and Initiative

Some items, such as grenades, explosive devices, timed traps, and so on are timed as to exactly when they will explode. In most situations, these items will detonate on the character’s (current) Initiative Score during the next Initiative Pass. If there are no more Combat Turns, the item will detonate as the gamemaster sees fit.

If an item has a timer set by a player character, that character can decide when it goes off, but he must declare this when the item is activated. As a default, it’s best to have such items go off on the character’s Initiative Score during a predetermined pass or at the beginning or end of a Combat Turn.


Note that timed items always go last in the case of tied Initiative Scores.

The Action Phase

When a character’s Action Phase arrives, he must decide what he’s going to do. The character has many options

to choose from: fire a gun, cast a spell, activate a computer program, and so on. Each of these is classified as one of

three types of actions a character can take: Free, Simple, and Complex. A character can take either two Simple Actions or one Complex Action during his Action Phase. In addition, each character may take one Free Action at any point in the Initiative Pass (either during his own Action Phase or at any later time). When it’s your turn to act, you must declare the actions that you will perform during the Action Phase. You may take Free, Simple, and Complex Actions in any order during your Action Phase.


The descriptions that follow list many of the Free, Simple, and Complex Actions a character might take during combat in Shadowrun. Gamemasters must determine on the fly whether other actions that a character wants to take would count as Free, Simple, or Complex, based on those noted and the effort the action would take.



Free Actions are relatively simple, nearly automatic actions that require little or no effort to accomplish. Examples are saying a word, dropping an object, dropping prone, or walking. A character may take a Free Action during his own Action Phase or at some later point in the Initiative Pass. A character may not take a Free Action prior to his first Action Phase in the Initiative Pass.

Free Actions generally require no Success Test, though special circumstances may warrant one.


Call a Shot

A character may “call a shot” (aim for a vulnerable portion of a target) with this Free Action. This action must be immediately followed by a Take Aim, Fire Weapon, Throw Weapon, or Melee Unarmed Attack.


Change Linked Device Mode

A character may use a Free Action to activate, deactivate, or switch the mode on any device that he is linked to either by a direct neural interface or by wireless link. This includes activating cyberware, changing a smartgun’s firing mode, deactivating thermographic vision, switching a commlink to hidden mode, turning a device’s wireless functionality off, and so on. Note that some devices may require longer to interact act with, as noted in individual gear descriptions.


Drop Object

A character may drop a held object as a Free Action. If he is holding objects in both hands, he may drop both objects as a single Free Action.


Drop Prone

A character may kneel or drop prone at any time, as long as he is not surprised. A character who is surprised may not drop prone.


Eject Smartgun Clip

A character linked to and holding a ready smartgun may use a simple cybernetic command to eject the weapon’s clip. It still takes a Simple Action to insert a new, fresh clip.



A character may execute one gesture as a Free Action. (However ludicrous this may sound, it pertains primarily to the use of gestures as silent communication in combat situations.)



A character may spend an available Free Action to intercept an opponent who attempts to move past him or break out of melee combat.



Running uses a Free Action and inflicts Running movement modifiers. Running is considered to be any movement

over the character’s Walking Rate.


Speak/Text Phrase

Speaking one phrase or sentence of verbal communication is a Free Action. If the character wants to speak more,

each additional phrase/sentence requires a Free Action. The gamemaster should be careful to control excessive, unrealistic conversations within the span of a Combat Turn (about 3 seconds.) Some gamemasters and players may, however, prefer elaborate communication. Characters who are equipped to send text messages through a neural connection with their commlink may also send short messages as a Free Action.

Simple Actions

A Simple Action is one step more complicated than a Free Action and requires a bit more concentration to attempt. Only a few Simple Actions, however, require a Success Test to accomplish. Simple Actions can only be taken on a character’s Action Phase. During his Action Phase, a character may take up to two Simple Actions or one Complex Action. An extra Free Action may be taken in place of a Simple Action (so the character would get two Free Actions and one Simple ction, or three Free Actions, instead of one Free and two Simple Actions).


Change Gun Mode

A character holding a ready firearm can change its firing mode via a Simple Action. If the weapon is a properly linked smartgun, it takes only a Free Action to change the mode. This includeschanging a shotgun’s choke if the gun does not have a smartgunlink.


Fire Weapon

A character may fire a ready firearm in single-shot, semi-automatic, or burst-fire mode via a Simple Action. If a character has one weapon in each hand, he may fire once with each weapon by expending one Simple Action. Note that single-shot weapons may be fired only once per Action Phase. Likewise, only one long burst may be fired in each Action Phase.


Insert Clip

A character may insert a fresh clip into a ready firearm by taking a Simple Action, but only if he has first removed the previous clip.


Observe in Detail

A character may make a detailed observation by taking a Simple Action. This allows a Perception Test.

Note that characters should always be able to observe what is immediately obvious (gamemaster’s discretion, keeping in mind any perception enhancements the character may have) without having to spend a Simple Action and make a Perception Test. For example, a character might automatically be aware that someone is running toward him with a gun in hand; however, the gamemaster may decide that the character cannot tell if it is a friend or foe without taking an Observe in Detail action.


Pick Up/Put Down Object

A character may pick up an object within reach or put down one that he was holding by expending a Simple Action (note that just dropping an object is a Free Action).


Quick Draw

A character may attempt to quick-draw a pistol or pistol-sized weapon and immediately fire it by expending a Quick Draw action. For the character to successfully draw the weapon, the player must make a Pistols + Reaction (3) Test. If the pistol is held in a quick-draw holster, reduce the threshold to 2. If the test is successful, the character draws the pistol and fires as a single Quick Draw Simple Action. If the test fails, he clears the gun but cannot fire with the same Simple Action. If he glitches, the gun is stuck in the holster or dropped. On a critical glitch, it is flung across the room or misfired while still in the holster.

Only weapons that can be fired with a Simple Action can be quick-drawn. Two weapons may be quick-drawn and fired simultaneously, but this raises the threshold on the Pistols + Reaction Test to. A separate Pistols + Reaction (4) Test is required for each pistol (threshold 3 if they are held in quick-draw holsters).


Ready Weapon

A character may ready a weapon by spending a Simple Action. The weapon may be a firearm, melee weapon, throwing weapon, ranged weapon, or mounted or vehicular weapon. Readying entails drawing a firearm from a holster, drawing a throwing or melee weapon from a sheath, picking up any kind of weapon, nocking an arrow in a

bow, or generally preparing any kind of weapon for use. A weapon must be ready before it can be used. A character can ready a number of small throwing weapons, such as throwing knives or shuriken, equal to one-half his Agility (round down) per Ready Weapon action.


Remove Clip

A character may remove a clip from a ready firearm by taking a Simple Action. It takes another Simple Action to grab a fresh clip and slam it into the weapon. The wielder of a linked smartgun may eject the gun’s clip by spending a Free Action to make a simple cybernetic command.



Sprinting allows a character to increase his Running rate by using a Simple Action and making a Running Test.


Stand Up

Using a Simple Action, a character who is lying down or prone may stand up. If the character is wounded and attempting to stand up, he needs to succeed in a Body +Willpower (2) Test to do so (wound modifiers apply to this test).


Take Aim

A character may take aim with a ready ranged weapon (firearm, bow, or throwing weapon) as a Simple Action.

Take Aim actions are cumulative, but the benefits are lost if the character takes any other kind of action—including a Free Action—at any time. Take Aim actions may be extended over multiple Action Phases and Initiative Passes, even from Combat Turn to Combat Turn. The maximum number of sequential Take Aim actions a character may take is equal to one half the character’s skill with that weapon, rounded down.

Each Take Aim action applies a +1 dice pool modifier to the Attack Test. Take Aim may also be used to line up

a shot using an image magnification system; in this case the +1 Take Aim bonus does not apply (but range modifiers

are neutralized).


Throw Weapon

A character may throw a ready throwing weapon by taking a Simple Action.


Use Simple Object

A character may use a simple object by taking a Simple Action. In this case, “simple” is defined as a device

or mechanism that can be operated via a simple activity such as pushing a button, turning a knob (doors

must be unlocked to be opened with a Simple Action), pulling a lever, and so on. The gamemaster must decide

on a case-by-case basis if a device or mechanism is simple or complex. A character can also use objects such as pills, skillsofts, or slap patches by taking a Simple Action.


A Complex Action requires concentration and/or finesse. Only one Complex Action is possible per Action

Phase. A character who wishes to take a Complex Action may also take a Free Action that Action Phase, but no Simple Actions are possible.


Fire Automatic Weapon

A character may fire a ready firearm in full autofire mode by taking a Complex Action.


Fire Mounted or Vehicle Weapon

A character may fire a ready mounted or vehicle weapon by taking a Complex Action.


Full Defense

A character may choose to dedicate his attention to avoiding incoming attacks as a Complex Action. Note that full defense actions may be taken at any time, even before the character’s Action Phase, as long as the character

is not surprised—but it uses up the character’s next available action. Characters may goon full defense even if they don’t have an action that pass, sacrificing their first action of the next Combat Turn instead.


Melee/Unarmed Attack

A character may make a melee or unarmed attack by taking a Complex Action . A character may also attack multiple targets within melee range with a single Complex Action.


Reload Firearm

Weapons that do not use clips must be reloaded using a Complex Action.


Use Complex Object

A character may operate a complex object, such as a computer, vehicle, mechanical tool, and so on by taking a Complex Action. “Use” entails activating a program, issuing detailed instructions, conducting an internal operation (such as copying files), driving the vehicle, and so on.


Use Skill

A character may use an appropriate skill by taking a Complex Action



There are two types of movement: walking and running. Characters may move at one of these two rates during each

Initiative Pass, or they may choose to remain stationary. To walk or run, the character must declare it during the Declare Actions part of his Action Phase. Walking does not take up any action, but running requires a Free Action.

Once a mode of movement has been declared, the character moves in that mode until his next Action Phase. A character continues to move in the last mode he chose during passes in which he does not have an action. This means a character with only one action, for example, who chooses to walk or run in the first Initiative Pass will be walking or running the same throughout subsequent Initiative Passes. The movement mode can only be changed when the character acts again.


Movement Rate

The movement rates for each metatype are noted on the Movement Table. This rate is the distance the character moves by that method per Combat Turn (not per Initiative Pass). If a character mixed his modes of movement during a Combat Turn and it becomes important to know exactly how far the character moved in a particular pass, simply divide his Movement Rate by the number of passes in that turn.



Characters may attempt to increase their running distance by spending a Simple Action (rather than just a Free Action to run) and making a Running + Strength Test. Each hit adds 2 meters to their Running Rate.


Running Modifiers

Characters who are running take a –2 dice pool modifier to any tests attempted while running, with the exception of

charging attacks and defending against attacks.

Resolving Combat

Shadowrun includes four types of combat: ranged combat, melee (also known as hand-to-hand), astral combat, and cybercombat.  All combat, whether it involves firearms, knives, astral attacks, or attack programs, is resolved in the same manner.


Opposed Combat Test

Combat is handled as an Opposed Test between the attacker and defender. The exact skills and attributes used depend on the type of combat, method of attack, and style of defense, as described in each section. Various modifiers may also apply. If the attacker scores more hits than the defender (the defender wins on ties), the attack hits the target. Otherwise, the attack misses.


The Combat Sequence

Use the procedure outlined below to resolve combat.

1. Declare Attack

The attacker declares an attack as part of the Declare Actions part of his Action Phase  and spends an appropriate action depending on the type of attack. The defender also declares what method he is using to defend. The defender can choose to go on full defense if he chooses.

2. Apply Situational Modifiers

Apply appropriate situation dice pool modifiers to the attacker according to the specific attack. Modifiers may also apply to the defender’s dice pool depending on his method of defense.

3. Make the Opposed Test

The attacker rolls attack skill + attribute +/– modifiers. The defender rolls defending skill + attribute +/– modifiers.

If the attacker scores more hits than the defender (the defender wins on ties), the attack hits the target. Otherwise, the attack misses. Note the net hits (the number of hits that exceed the defender’s hits). If the result of the Opposed Test is a tie, the gamemaster may choose to rule it as a grazing hit. A grazing hit does not do any damage, but the character nevertheless makes contact.

This allows certain contact-only attacks (poisons, shock gloves, touch-only combat spells, etc.) to still do damage.

4. Compare Armor

Add the net hits scored to the base Damage Value of the attack; this is the modified Damage Value.

Determine the type of armor used to defend against the specific attack, and apply the attack’s Armor Penetration modifier; this is the modified Armor Value. If the attack causes Physical damage, compare the modified Damage Value to the modified Armor Value. If the DV does not exceed the Armor, then the attack inflicts Stun rather than Physical damage.

5. Damage Resistance Test

The defender rolls attribute + modified Armor Value to resist damage. Each hit scored reduces the modified Damage Value by 1. If the DV is reduce to 0 or less, no damage is inflicted.

6. Apply Damage

Apply the remaining Damage Value to the target’s Condition Monitor. Each point of DV equals 1 box of damage.

Wound modifiers may apply as a result of damage. Characters may also need to check for knockdown

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