Anarchy House Rule: Skill Tests
House rules for alternate Skill Tests and Dice Pools in Shadowrun: Anarchy.
Over the last year and a half of playing Shadowrun: Anarchy, I have had to develop house rules to help with two small issues that we have uncovered regarding Skill Tests. The first is how boring it is for the players to watch NPCs interact with other NPCs or the environment. The second is how, in the end-game, offensive dice pools can out-perform defensive dice pools. Here are some house rules to alleviate both of these issues:
SIMPLE HITS (NPC ONLY)
Nobody wants to watch the GM play with themselves. And by that I mean: players around the table get little out of watching a GM calculate a dice pool for an NPC, and then calculate an opposing dice pool for the test, and then roll one handful of dice, and then roll the other, and then determine the outcome.
When NPCs are interacting with other NPCs or with the environment (like making a jump, summoning a spirit, or casting a spell on themselves), skip the opposing dice pool altogether. Instead of counting net hits, count total hits and use the chart below:
Difficulty Steps (Simple Hits)
Very Easy (1 hit)
Easy (2 hits)
Average (3 hits)
Hard (4 hits)
Very Hard (5 hits)
This will save you time at the table and save the attention spans of all of your players. For those of you that are mathematically inclined, I understand that this skews a little easier at the top of the chart and a little harder than normal at the bottom. This is intentional: NPCs are not heroes, they have access to Teamwork Tests and Edge too, and nothing really interesting comes from watching an NPC fail at something easy.
SKILLED DEFENSE TESTS
Offensive dice pools like Firearms and Sorcery cap at about 18 (12 for the Skill and 6 for the associated Attribute). Other factors like Metatype, Positive Qualities, and Shadow Amps can affect this, but you get the idea.
Defensive dice pools like Agility + Logic or Strength + Willpower cap at about 12 (6 for each Attribute). Again, other factors affect this, but the disparity becomes clear.
To alleviate the disparity, when making a defensive test in certain circumstances, you may replace one Attribute with a related and relevant Skill before calculating your dice pool. There is a cost in doing so: you narrate last on your next Turn (similar to SR5 Interrupt Actions that decrease Initiative Score).
For example, you may substitute Agility with:
Close Combat (vs. melee attacks).
Acrobatics (vs. melee attacks).
Astral Combat (vs. attacks from spirits).
Athletics (vs. ranged attacks while running).
Stealth (vs. ranged attacks while concealed).
Pilot Skill (vs. ranged attacks while piloting a vehicle).
You could substitute Logic with:
Hacking (vs. cybercombat while in VR).
Obviously, this would only be effective if your Skill is higher than your Attribute. This can happen in the end-game after plenty of Karma has been spent OR it could happen earlier if your character was designed, for example, to be specifically very stealthy (as opposed to being generally agile) or you could have Shadow Amps that affect your Skill Tests.