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Anarchy House Rule: Shadow Amps

House Rules and Philosophies for Shadow Amps and a Catalog of Amps converted from the 5th Ed Core Rulebook.

In Shadowrun: Anarchy, Shadow Amps are what makes a ‘runner a ‘runner. Shadow Amps are the heart of the Shadowrun character, more so than Attributes, Skills, or Gear. Despite how fundamentally simple they can appear, they do double-duty in differentiating your character from others: both affecting the mechanics of the game and driving the character concept (and thus the narrative of the game).

Below are some house rules and philosophies that I use in my Shadowrun: Anarchy campaigns. They were used to design the Shadow Amps in the extended Shadow Amp Catalog that I put together for my players.

Look at all those Shadow Amps!



Shadow Amps, in their basic form, do one of five things:

  • Increase/Decrease dice pools

  • Allow/Force rerolls

  • Increase/Decrease damage

  • Manipulate Plot Points

  • Act upon the narrative

Each Shadow Amp is limited to three of any one effect. In addition, any given Skill Test or Attribute-only Test may be affected by as many Shadow Amps as you like, but each individual effect is still limited to three.

<<For instance, you might have an Amp that adds 3 dice to Firearms, and another Amp that adds 3 dice to Agility-related Tests. In this case, despite being both a Firearms Test and an Agility-related Test, you may add a total of 3 dice (not 6) when attacking with your pistol. In another instance, you might have an Amp that adds 3 dice to Firearms, and another Amp that allows 3 rerolls to Agility-related Tests. In this case, both effects apply in full.>>

Other modifiers, such as Qualities (Positive or Negative), Environment (darkness, cover), Assistance (Teamwork Tests), Range, Injury, etc., will stack with Shadow Amp effects.

<<If you have an Amp that grants Damage Reduction 3, and you have a Positive Quality that grants Damage Reduction 1, you may decrease incoming damage by 4.>>




At creation, characters are limited to six Shadow Amps. During character advancement, new Shadow Amps “slots” may be opened by paying 5 Karma.




Shadow Amps may have multiple (thematically appropriate but mechanically distinct) Shadow Amp effects. The base cost is paid once (including any Karma or Essence cost). Each additional Shadow Amp effect increases the Karma cost of advancing such an Amp normally.

Suite Cyberarms, omae!

<<If you have a set of cyberarms that grant +3 to Agility-related attacks (Amp Level 4), you may add 1 reroll to Close Combat Tests by paying 5 Karma and increasing the Amp Level (to Amp Level 5). The Shadow Amp “slot” efficiency is balanced by the ever-increasing Karma cost of such an Amp.

The Essence cost does not increase. You paid your price; your real arms are already in a dumpster somewhere in the Redmond Barrens,..get over it.>>




Initiation is a way to get a deeper understanding of Magic for the Awakened. Submersion is a way to get a deeper understanding of Resonance for the Emerged. Initiation grants access to metamagic and Submersion grants access to echoes, which are simply added benefits (but they are not free).

Initiation has a base Amp cost of 2. Each additional Amp Level grants your choice of 1 reroll on Sorcery or Conjuring Tests (to a max of 3 each). You may also increase the Amp level to add metamagic effects, such as spell sustaining (quickening) or spell damage reduction (shielding). These work just like other Shadow Amps, but you may avoid using another Amp slot or paying the base cost again. Unlike spells, these Amps are always active. You must be Awakened to take Initiation.

Submersion works the same way for Hacking or Tasking Tests, and echoes instead of metamagic. You must be Emerged to take Submersion.

<<Initiation (or Submersion) is just an application of Combining Shadow Amps. They have a higher base cost because they are always active.>>




Shadow Amps that affect Attribute-related Tests are more powerful than those that affect Skill Tests. Shadow Amps that affect multiple targets are more powerful than single-target amps. Rather than alter the Karma cost of these Amps (which would alter the fundamental simplicity of the Karma/Shadow Amp system), I have opted to add a Cost, Restriction, or Cooldown to these powerful Amps. Examples include:

Cost: Every time this Amp is used, it exacts a toll. It might cause Drain or Fading (Stun damage to the user), it might cause Distraction (-2 to other Tests). Other costs, such as Street Cred might also work if you are using those house rules.

Chaotic Mind (Amp Level 2/3/4):

Effect. Target forced reroll 1/2/3 on all Tests.

Drain 1.

<<This Amp causes 1 Stun damage to the user.>>


Mass Invisibility (Amp Level 3/4/5):

Effect. Targets reroll 1/2/3 on Stealth.

Distraction (-2 to other Tests)

<<This Amp is the Invisibility Amp with “Multiple Targets” added.>>

Restriction: This Amp affects only a subset of Attribute-related Tests or affects an Attribute-related Test only in certain circumstances (such as Matrix only, Astral only, Close only, etc.).

Cyberarms (Amp Level 2/3/4):

Cyberware. -1 Essence.

Reroll 1/2/3 on Agility-based attacks.

<<This Amp does not work on Stealth, nor in Defense Tests, etc.>>


Tailored Pheromones (Amp Level 3/4/5):

Bioware. -0.5 Essence.

Reroll 1/2/3 on in-person Charisma Skills.

<<This Amp does not work over commlinks or in the Matrix.>>

Cooldown: Once used, this Amp cannot be used for 1 Narration unless a Plot Point is spent (see Encouraging Player Options, p. 57).

Fireball incoming...

Fire Ball

(Amp Level 3):

Combat. Damage 6P. Defense A + L.

Fire effects. Cooldown 1

<<Fireball is the Fire Bolt Amp with “Multiple Targets” added.>>




Some Shadow Amps in the Catalog refer to rolling Overwatch.


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