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Shadows over Baltimore

Vehicle Combat

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Vehicle Combat and Actions

Vehicle Combat

Inevitably, characters will get in a car chase or face combat with a well-armed drone. Combat involving vehicles generally falls into one of two categories: standard tactical character combat, and chase combat. Tactical combat primarily occurs when vehicles (usually drones) are supporting (or opposing) the characters, or in situations

where flesh-and-blood characters outnumber the vehicles involved. (For example, the party is trying to stop the bad guy from boarding a helicopter and getting away.) Chase combat usually occurs predominantly with vehicles

(though this may not always be the case) and is generally a lot more fluid, based more on maneuverability than positioning. Also, chase combat occurs on a much larger scale and timeframe than standard tactical combat.


Vehicle Attributes

Vehicles have a number of attributes that are relevant to vehicle combat.


Vehicle Initiative

Any vehicle that is being physically piloted or remotely controlled operates on the same Initiative as the character who controls it. If the controlling character is using full-immersion virtual reality to control the vehicle (this is called “rigging” the vehicle), the vehicle operates on his Matrix Initiative. Drones that pilot themselves have an Initiative equal to their Pilot + Response attributes. and they get 3 Initiative Passes per turn.


Vehicle Body

Vehicle Body functions much like a character’s Body, and is primarily used for damage resistance tests.


Condition Monitor

Vehicles have a Condition Monitor to track damage and operability, just like characters. Vehicles do not suffer from Stun damage, however, so they simply have one Physical Condition Monitor. Higher Body vehicles have more damage “boxes,” same as with characters. A Body 3 motorcycle or combat drone, for example, has 10 boxes on its

Condition Monitor.


Vehicle Armor

Vehicle armor functions just like character armor, and is used for the vehicle’s damage resistance tests. Vehicle armor is the same rating against both ballistic and impact attacks. Since vehicle armor is often much higher than ordinary character armor, gamemasters should remember to use the trade-in rule for large dice pools (4 dice for 1 hit). If an attack’s modified DV does not exceed a vehicle’s modified Armor rating, then the attack automatically fails.



Pilot is an attribute that measures how sophisticated the vehicle’s dog-brain computer is. In general, Pilot substitutes for character attributes (typically Agility, Reaction, Intuition, and Logic) for any Success Tests that the vehicle makes. (The skill portion is covered by autosoft programs that are loaded into the vehicle’s memory).


Handling Rating

Every vehicle has a Handling rating that indicates how easy it is to pilot and maneuver.



Sensors are the vehicular equivalent of the Intuition attribute. Almost all vehicles in Shadowrun have some kind of sensor array, if only to interact with GridGuide and other traffic network systems. Only retro pre-Crash vehicles lack sensors, and most of them are retrofitted with add-on sensors. When driving a vehicle, a driver may use the Sensor attribute instead of Intuition when making Perception Tests and other Intuition-linked Success Tests. Drones always use the Sensor attribute for Perception Tests.



Vehicles have an Acceleration rating that determine their movement rates. The number to the left of the slash is a vehicle’s Walking rate in meters per turn. The number to the right is its Running rate. A drive or drone can attempt to move a greater distance by making a Vehicle Test (see below). Each hit on the test adds 5 meters to the vehicle’s movement rate.



Speed is the reasonable high-end maximum velocity of the vehicle. Drivers can accelerate past this, but start suffering real difficulties in trying to get their vehicle to go faster and still maintain control. The gamemaster should apply modifiers as she feels appropriate. Speed is expressed in meters per Combat Turn.



Vehicle Tests






Merge, sudden stop, passing



Avoid obstacle, steer through narrow space, pull a wheelie



Hairpin turn, “stoppie” on bike, jackknife truck



180 w/o stopping, jump an obstacle on a bike

Terrain Thresholds

Terrain Type





Highway, flat grassy plain



Main street thoroughfare, rolling hills



Side street, light woods, rocky slopes, light traffic



Back alleys, heavy woods, very steep slopes, high traffic, mud, swamp, sand

Vehicle Tests

Characters don’t need to make a vehicle test every time they operate a vehicle. For normal everyday tasks, like driving to the Stuffer Shack, it’s assumed the character performs this automatically. A vehicle test is called for only when there’s a chance of bad consequences (like crashing), or if time is a crucial factor (like jumpstarting a car while under fire.)


To make a vehicle test, the character rolls Reaction + the appropriate vehicle skill +/– the vehicle’s Handling. The threshold depends on the difficulty of the task being performed—see the Vehicle Test Threshold Table. A simple task (avoiding a large boulder in the middle of open terrain) may only have a threshold of 1 hit, while a more difficult task (making a hairpin turn to dive into a narrow opening) may require as many as 3 or 4 hits.


Depending on the circumstances, failure to achieve threshold doesn’t necessarily mean that the vehicle crashes—

it just means the driver failed to perform the maneuver he intended. Unless the purpose of the vehicle test was to avoid crashing, the driver manages to pull away in time and make another attempt.


Driving with Augmented or Virtual Reality

Characters who are physically driving/piloting with the aid of augmented reality (they have subscribed to the vehicle

as a service) receive a +1 dice pool modifier on all Vehicle Tests. If they are remotely controlling the vehicle, they receive no bonus.


Characters who are driving a vehicle through virtual reality (whether they are directly jacked in to the vehicle or

piloting it remotely), receive a –1 threshold modifier to all Vehicle Tests.


Vehicle Test Glitches

A glitch on a vehicle test causes something to go wrong with the vehicle. This can be anything from accidentally turning on the wipers to getting a flat, at the gamemaster’s discretion. At its most severe, a glitch might cause a temporary loss of control; apply a –2 modifier to tests made by any characters within the vehicle. The driver must succeed in a Vehicle Test within one turn or the vehicle crashes. If the driver gets a critical glitch on the vehicle test, then the vehicle crashes.



The terrain a vehicle is moving through serves as a threshold modifier to the vehicle test, as noted on the

Terrain Table. The terrain type depends on the number of obstacles that either must be dodged or that block line of

sight. Weather and visibility are not included in terrain and should be treated as standard dice pool modifiers.

Drones and Rigger Combat

Tactical Combat

In standard tactical combat, a vehicle is treated as an extension of the driver. Initiative is resolved as normal.



Drivers must spend at least one Complex Action each turn driving their vehicle, or the vehicle goes out of control at the end of the Combat Turn. Apply a –2 dice pool modifier to all actions by characters in an uncontrolled vehicle. If the driver does not make a Vehicle Test to regain control of the vehicle in one Combat Turn, it crashes.

In most cases using any onboard vehicle accessories (sensors, vehicle weapons, etc.) requires spending a Complex Action. (However, there may be some cases where only a Free or Simple Action is necessary, such as turning on/off Sensors or ECM, arming missiles, and so on.)

Listed below is a sample list of vehicle-specific actions:


Free Actions

Change Linked Device Mode: A driver who is rigging the vehicle or has a direct neural link to it may activate or deactivate various systems such as sensors, ECM, weapons, and so on as a Free Action. The driver may also call up a status report to monitor the position, heading and speed, damage report, and/or current orders of the vehicle. Note that activated sensors, ECM, and ECCM systems come online at the start of the next Combat Turn.


Simple Actions

Use Sensors: A driver or passenger may use sensors to detect or lock onto targets.

Use Simple Object: This action can be used to manually activate/deactivate sensors, ECM/ECCM, weapon systems, and other onboard vehicle systems.


Complex Actions

Fire a Vehicle Weapon: A driver or passenger may fire a vehicle weapon.

Make Vehicle Test: A driver spends a Complex Action when executing a maneuver that requires a Vehicle Test. (It doesn’t cost an action if the driver is making a Vehicle Test to avoid a crash.)

Ram: The driver may attempt to ram another vehicle (see Ramming, below).



If a driver wants to ram something (or someone) with the vehicle, treat it as a melee attack. The target must be within the vehicle’s Walking or Running Range (a –3 dice modifier applies if the driver has to resort to running). The driver rolls Reaction + Vehicle skill +/– Handling to attack. The target rolls Reaction + Dodge if a pedestrian, or Reaction +Vehicle skill +/– Handling if driving another vehicle. If the driver gets more hits, he hits the target. Make the damage resistance test as normal. The base Damage Value of the attack is determined by the ramming vehicle’s Body and speed, as noted on the Ramming Damage Table. The ramming vehicle must resist only half that amount (round down). Characters resist ramming damage with half their Impact armor (round up).


If the ram succeeds, each driver must make an additional Vehicle Test to avoid crashing. The threshold for the ramming driver is 2; the threshold for the rammed driver is 3.

Ramming Damage Tables

Vehicle Speed

Damage Value






Body x2


Body x3

Chase Combat

Chase combat involves multiple vehicles moving at high speed over a distance. This covers everything from car and

motorcycle chases to aerial dogfights to armored vehicles in mounted battle. Chase combat is radically different from ordinary tactical combat. Because everyone is moving around quickly, it’s nearly impossible and practically pointless to keep track of everyone’s position. Instead, chase combat is handled in abstract terms, where

each driver tries to maneuver his vehicle to gain an advantage over his opponent(s).


Chase Combat Turn Sequence

Chase Combat is similar to regular combat. Here is the sequence for resolving Chase Combat:

1. Opposed Vehicle Test.

2. Roll Initiative. Roll Initiative as usual. All the normal rules for Initiative apply.

3. Begin Chase Combat Turn.

4. Declare Action/Stunts. Instead of actions, vehicles execute stunts. Like regular combat, stunts may be Free,

Simple, or Complex. See Chase Stunts.

5. Resolve Actions/Stunts by Initiative Order. Resolve as normal, from highest Initiative Score to lowest.

6. Resolve Actions/Stunts in subsequent passes.

7. End of Chase Turn. The Chase Turn ends. Go back to step 1. Continue resolving chase combat until all opposing vehicles involved have crashed, broken off, or been destroyed.


Chase Turns

Time during chase combat is measured by Chase Turns. One Chase Turn is one minute long (20 Combat Turns). As

with standard combat, Chase Turns are further subdivided by Initiative Passes.


Opposed Vehicle Test

At the beginning of each Chase Combat Turn, each driver makes a Vehicle Test. The winner chooses the Engagement Range he will have against all vehicles that scored fewer hits than he did. Ties are broken first by Edge, then Reaction, then Handling. The rules for glitches and critical glitches on Vehicle Tests apply here.


Engagement Range

There are 3 Ranges of Engagement in Chase Combat: Close, Short, and Long. Close Range is very close—the vehicles are side by side or otherwise in near proximity, and may attempt to ram each other or cut each other off. This is close enough that a character could attempt to jump from one vehicle to another. This is Short range

for most ranged weapon attacks. Short Range is near to each other, but not close enough to directly engage the other vehicle. This is Medium Range for most ranged weapon attacks. Long Range is within sight of the other vehicle, but trailing a distance away. This is Long Range for most ranged weapon attacks.


Driver Complex Actions and Chase Stunts

Drivers must spend one Complex Action each Chase Turn controlling their vehicle. If they choose, they may spend this Complex Action performing one of the following Chase Stunts. A driver may only perform one Chase Stunt per Turn. If the driver fails to spend a Complex Action controlling the vehicle, it becomes uncontrolled: apply a –2 dice modifier to the actions of all characters in the vehicle next turn. The driver must succeed in a Vehicle Test to regain control of the vehicle next turn or it will crash.


Break Off (Long Range Only): The driver tries to break contact with all other opponents and flee the scene. To do this, the driver must succeed in a Vehicle Test with a threshold modifier of +1 per pursuing vehicle after the first. The driver must succeed in this test 3 turns in a row—only then has he escaped. If at any point he fails a test, or fails to maintain Long Range, he must start to Break Off all over again.


Cut Off (Close Range Only): The driver tries to cut off another vehicle in Close Range, forcing it to crash. Make an

Opposed Vehicle Test. The loser must make a Vehicle Test to avoid crashing, with the net hits generated from this test serving as a negative modifier.


Maneuver (Any Range): The driver attempts to maneuver for a better position. For each net hit he scores on a Vehicle Test (over the threshold), he adds +1 die to his Opposed Vehicle Test at the beginning of the next Chase Combat Turn.


Ram (Close Range Only): The driver attempts to collide with another vehicle in Close Range.


Passenger Actions

Passenger actions take place as normal, in Initiative order.

Attacks Against Vehicles

When a vehicle is attacked in ranged combat, the driver rolls his Reaction +/– Handling as the defense part of the Opposed Test. Drones roll their Pilot +/– Handling.


Evasive Driving

Vehicles that are under attack can take a Complex Action and undertake evasive driving—the vehicle equivalent of full defense. This means the driver of the vehicle can add his Vehicle skill dice to the defense dice pool to dodge ranged attacks (drones add their Defense autosoft rating). Evasive driving cannot be used against ramming attacks.


Vehicle Damage

Whenever a vehicle is hit by an attack, it resists damage as normal, rolling Body + Armor. If the attack’s modified DV does not exceed the vehicle’s modified Armor, no damage is applied. Note that since many vehicles will have large Body dice pools, gamemasters are encouraged to use the trade-in-dice-for-hits rule (4 dice = 1 hit) to simplify tests. Your average tank, for example, will automatically get 4 hits on a Body Test by trade in, so there is

no point in rolling unless the hits needed are higher than 4.



Just like Knockdown, if a vehicle takes more damage from a single attack than it has Body, then the driver must make an immediate Vehicle skill + Reaction (3) Test to avoid crashing.


Called Shots on Vehicles

Called shots against vehicles follow the same rules as for Called Shot. A third option, however, is available to the

attacker if the called shot succeeds. The attacker can choose to target and destroy any specific component of the vehicle: window, sensor, tire, etc. The gamemaster determines the exact effect of this called shot, based on the DV inflicted. In most cases, the component will simply be destroyed. Shot-out tires inflict a –2 dice pool modifier per flat tire to Vehicle Tests.


Damage and Passengers

Attacks must specifically target either the passengers (in which case, the vehicle is unaffected) or the vehicle itself

(in which case, the passengers are not affected). The exceptions to this rule are ramming, full-automatic bursts and

area-effect weapon attacks like grenades and rockets—these attacks affect both passengers and vehicles. If an attack is made against passengers, make a normal Attack Test, but the passengers are always considered to be under

cover (partial cover at the least, though full cover/blind fire may apply as the situation dictates). Passengers attempting to defend an attack inside a vehicle suffer a –2 dodge dice pool modifier, since they are somewhat limited in movement. Additionally, the passengers gain protection from the vehicle’s chassis, adding the

Armor of the vehicle to any personal armor the characters are wearing. In the case of ramming, full-auto and area-effect attacks, both passengers and vehicles resist the damage equally.


The rules for ranged combat apply to vehicle-mounted weapons. The action required for shooting weapons depends on the mode fired, same as with normal firearms, but in almost all cases vehicle weapons require a Complex Action to fire. The Gunnery skill is used for vehicle-mounted weapons. Ordinary characters shooting handheld weapons (for example, sammies leaning out a car window firing handguns) follow the normal rules for ranged combat, except that they suffer a –3 dice pool modifier due to the motion of the vehicle. Firearms mounted on a weapon mount (a pintle mount or a ring mount) ignore this penalty.


Drones and Gunnery

Drones attack using their Pilot + Targeting autosoft rating. Drones must have an autosoft appropriate to the

weapon they are wielding in order to attack.


Sensor Tests

To detect a person, critter, or vehicle with sensors, the character/vehicle must make a successful Sensor + Perception

Test (Sensor + Pilot in the case of drones). If the target is trying to evade detection, make this an opposed Test versus the target’s Infiltration + Agility (metahumans, critters) or Infiltration (Vehicle) + Reaction +/– Handling in the case of vehicles. Since vehicle stealth is limited by the driver’s ability, the dice applied for Infiltration skill should not exceed the driver’s appropriate Vehicle skill.


Sensors are designed to detect the “signature” (emissions, composition, sound, etc) of other vehicles, so modifiers from the Signature Table apply to the detecting vehicle’s dice pool.


Sensor Targeting

Characters can use the vehicle’s Sensor Attribute to help with Gunnery. They can do this by two means: passive targeting and active targeting.


Passive Targeting

In passive targeting, the vehicle’s Sensor attribute substitutes for Agility (or Pilot) as the linked Attribute, so the attacker rolls Gunnery + Sensor. The target’s Signature modifiers are also applied as a dice pool modifier.


Active Targeting

Active targeting uses a vehicle’s Sensors to lock onto a target. To use active targeting, the character/vehicle must first make a Sensor Test to lock onto a target. This requires a Simple Action. If the character/vehicle wins

the test, the net hits are added as a dice pool modifier to the subsequent Gunnery Test. If no hits are achieved, the sensors fail to lock onto the target and an active targeting attack cannot be made. Once a target has been locked onto, active targeting can be used against it without requiring additional Sensor Tests. If the target vehicle somehow breaks sensor contact, a new target lock must be acquired.

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