Umbra Rules Draft 1

This is draft 1 of my playtest notes for adapting Agon to Shadowrun, inspired by but differing from John Harper's conversion at

This draft of the rules was used for the 10/18 playtest and is still a work in progress. Feedback on the current Umbra draft is welcome, email comments and suggestions to cdr AT .

Last updated Fri Oct 17 05:49:00 UTC 2008


An important difference from Agon: Advantage dice only impair if they improve your roll. (Creative ability use always impairs the ability, same as Agon.)

Example: I get a 1d10 Advantage die. Later, I add it to one of my rolls. If it's higher than any die I had rolled to that point, it becomes a d8. And so on to d6, d4, and gone.

When the die is reduced below d4, the Advantage is lost. You can remove impairments with an appropriate Interlude Refreshment, but restoring a lost Advantage requires another contest to create a new Advantage.



If Magic Ability die size is more than twice remaining Essence then a failed contest using Magic also inflicts one wound on you. You can voluntarily reduce the size die you roll for Magic to avoid that.


On a break you can restore essence with a sacrifice in one of the following areas. You always restore essence. Roll your Name die plus one of the three abilities shown vs. a single d12 by the GM, success means you get a d12 usable once on this mission in one of the three abilities, failure means the ability you used is impaired.

Aztechnology: Will, Magic, Support
Renraku: Insight, Systems, Defend
Lone Star: Body, Intrusion, Firefight
Docwagon: Body, Medic, Athletics
University: Insight, Info, Systems
Matrix: Info, Systems, Intrusion
Street: Info, Contacts, Close
Tribes: Will, Cunning, Close
Spirits: Will, Magic, Defend
Gangs: Athletics, Cunning, Close
Wild: Grace, Medic, Athletics
Clubs: Grace, Info, Contacts
Elves: Grace, Will, Magic
Dwarves: Insight, Systems, Intrusion
Goblins: Body, Cunning, Intrusion
Trolls: Body, Defend, Close
Dragons: Insight, Magic, Cunning
Sea: Insight, Cunning, Support
Sky: Grace, Contacts, Support
Earth: Body, Medic, Support
Fire: Will, Firefight, Support


The combatant with the highest position roll in battle gets to make two moves instead of one.

(Note when capitalized that Weapon, Gun, and Rifle have the specific meanings above, so the fact that pistols and rifles are both guns and weapons isn't relevant.)

Defense 1d8 (left hand) can be used with Weapon, Gun, or Rifle, but not Heavy. If desired, the Defend ability die can be used in the left hand, instead of using the Close/Firefight/Support ability die in a hand with the weapon.

Here are all the combinations. Note that putting weapon dice in both hands doesn't necessarily mean you're using two weapons, it means you're attacking more or laying down defensive fire. Any dice used for a left-hand attack (at a -2) cannot be used for defense rolls.

Put one ability die into the same hand as a die it's for. Put your name die in either hand.

Dice shown in () are only usable in left-hand attacks, not for defense.

(2d6)1d6+1WeaponRifle(1) 2-4CloseFirearm
(1d6+1)2d6RifleWeapon(2-4) 1FirearmClose

[That seems pretty messy; maybe I should simplify.]

Armor d6/d8/d10 based on number of pieces of armor worn: Helmet (-1 to Firefight), Vest (-1 to Close), Limbs (-1 to positioning). Armor can be added or removed between rounds in Battle.


Cyberware costs Essence. Divine Favor boxes = Essence boxes. Any Runner can do the usual stuff by checking off a box, like re-rolling, opening a die, etc.

For cyberware you have to delete boxes. They're gone forever. In exchange, you get some "always on" advantages, in the form of bonus dice. Remember that Advantage dice only impair if they improve your roll.

Cyberware comes in a variety of levels (some levels have specific names as an example).

The level of the cyberware is also its Essence cost. Multiple levels of the same cyberware don't stack; you take the higher bonus. If you decide to take a higher level later, you only pay the difference in Essence cost (you get more Essence as you complete missions, remember).

So, if you have Wired Reflexes 2, you have +1d8 to Athletics rolls and it costs 2 Essence boxes. If you take Wired Reflexes 3 later, your bonus improves to +1d10 and it costs you 1 more Essence box (3 - 2 = 1).

Wired Reflexes or a Smartgun give you the ability to split your attack dice (before rolling) against multiple targets at the same range.

Smartgun Link
Ability: Firefight

Wired Reflexes
Ability: Athletics (used for positioning, which is "initiative" in Agon)

Combat Computer
Ability: Support

Dermal Plating
Effect: Armor. If worn with external armor, check the external armor first.

Sensory Systems
Ability: Info
Level 1 (Cyber Eyes)
Level 2 (Chemical Analyzer)
Level 3 (Bio Radar)

Muscle Replacement
Ability: Body or Grace

Decker Gear
Ability: Systems
Level 1 (Datajack)
Level 2 (Custom Cyberdeck)
Level 3 (Elite Custom Cyberdeck)

Body Weapons
Ability: Close Combat
Level 1 (Hand Razors)
Level 2 (Spurs)
Level 3 (Monofilament)

Nerve Booster
Ability: Defend

The same principles for cyberware also work for Physical Adepts. Just rename the tech to appropriately badass sounding Adept disciplines (Mystic Armor, Killing Hands, etc). Adept disciplines still cost Essence because an Adept has to commit a certain portion of his life force into perfecting the techniques.

In addition, you can take Music or Drive in this way, otherwise those are usually done with Systems (either) or Athletics (Unchipped Bikes). You can also take something like Resources, representing access to funds, or a link to some Corporation. Both of those can also be done without spending Essence as advantages on the fly.


I don't like spell lists, and I don't like direct damage from magic. "Technology lets us harness the laws of nature; magic allows us to break them."

Magic appears in the game in several ways. It can be color for ability use, like saying how your Runner uses magic to defeat a security lock. That's simply color for narration, and anyone can do it. All Runners have some ability with magic, as well as the other skills for shadowrunning. (It's also okay to say that your Runner doesn't have any magical skill, and to not use magic as color for your abilities.) You can use add Magic as a creative ability on nearly anything, but you can describe things as magic without doing that.

To cast a spell, declare the target and desired effect (see below) and roll your Name + Magic vs. the target's Name + Will.

If you fail, you take impairment, with the first impairment going to Magic and any further impairments to whichever abilities you wish. If the Magic die is more than twice your remaining Essence you also take one wound if you fail, in addition to the impairment. You can voluntarily reduce the size of the Magic die you roll.

So for instance if you have Magic d10 and 4 essence left, you won't take a wound on failure if you roll a d8 instead, but its impaired to a d8, the next time you roll you still get to roll a d8.

The player selects the exact effect of the advantage (or disadvantage) they are seeking, and should accompany that with plausible and colorful narration of the magic. The Antagonist is within their rights to disallow the magic if the player cannot plausibly describe it. The types of outcomes include:

Any of these outcomes may also be assigned to another Runner, with that Runner's assent.

If the action affects the environment, the Antagonist uses a base 2d6 opposition, which may then be raised as normal using Strife. Strife may also be paid to attach a harmful outcome if the action is failed.

After the Antagonist has set and stated the opposition to the spell, the player has the right to decide not to pursue the action. The player may also involve other abilities by the use of the standard creative ability rules.


Spirits and Elementals may show up as weapons, NPC allies, or Advantage dice. You can ask for a Magic conflict to summon an Elemental, for example, and then get "Summoned Elemental" Advantage dice to use for later rolls. Spirits and Elementals are also good as color for certain abilities like Info, Intrusion, and Athletics.

Remember that advantage dice impair if their roll was higher than your other dice.


Other abilities than Magic can be used for tricks. Tricks are good for creative computer hacking, combat tactics, subterfuge, and a variety of other things, too. A player that knows lots of little details about a game setting can get advantage out of creative Tricks rolls that are tied to those details.)

When it is a player's turn to act within a battle, instead of making a standard attack roll, they may instead describe their character taking some other sort of action designed to temporarily advantage themselves or another runner, or to temporarily disadvantage an opponent. The trick is resolved as an immediate simple contest, with success granting the desired effect and failure carrying the usual penalties (typically impairment).

The Antagonist is responsible for determining the ability being used in the challenge, and the level of opposition. If the action described by the player directly affects the opponent, then the opponent's name and ability dice should be used to resist it. If the action affects the environment, the Antagonist uses a base 2d6 opposition, which may then be raised as normal using Strife. Strife may also be paid to attach a harmful outcome if the action is failed.

After the Antagonist has set and stated the opposition to the trick action, the player always has the right to decide not to pursue the action. The player may also involve other abilities by the use of the standard creative ability rules.

Example Tricks

  • Tactics (-2 to opponent's next roll / Cunning vs. Insight)
  • Intimidate (-2 to opponent's next roll / Will vs Will)
  • Battle-Wise (-2 to opponent's next roll / Info vs. Grace ) (really?)
  • Disarm (disarm opponent within 2 range bands / Body vs. Body)
  • Feint (-2 to opponent's next defense roll versus this runner / Cunning vs Insight)
  • Flank (advantage die to runner's next attack roll against opponent / Athletics vs Insight)
  • Superior Ground (advantage die to runner's next attack / Info vs standard opposition)


    All 16 abilities start at 1d6, and you can reduce an ability one step to increase another ability in the same row/area. After that, you can increase two abilities one step. Steps are 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 1d10. Beginning abilities cannot be below 1d4 or above 1d10, although you can buy them up to 1d12 later.

    Name starts at d6, Edge at 0 boxes used. OR start ON THE EDGE with Name d8 and 8 Edge boxes gone (of 16). When all your Edge is gone, your story is over.

    Essence starts at 7, and you can buy cyberware and reduce it (see above).

    Rep starts at 0 and is earned by winning contests and battles, and dealing and taking wounds.

    Every 10 points of Rep gains a point of Advance. To raise the die size of an ability one step, spend advances equal to half the sides of the current die. (So 5 advances improves a d10 to d12.)

    Achievements: As in Agon, before play begins each Runner has flashbacks to a contest in some Ability with each other Runner, with the loser owing an oath to the winner. (No rep or impairment.)

    Each Runner has one trait, which grants certain bonuses. This is just a sample list, feel free to suggest others, in accordance with

    QUESTION: Instead of being treated as a Trait, should the various metahumans just get a step up in two Abilities? In which case should they lose the two free step-ups, or also have some kind of penalty?