GM Rules

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Run Types

A run is __ if ___.


  • Private: the majority of players were pre-selected
  • Public: not private


  • Scheduled: post and picks were made at least a full day in advance of the run, the post accurately informed players when picks will be decided, and the game started within an hour of the scheduled time
  • Impromptu: post and picks were made within just a few hours of the run
  • Overflow: an Impromptu that was made within two hours of another run's game start in response to high player demand
  • Normal: otherwise


  • Long: 7 hours or longer
  • Short: under 3 hours
  • Normal: otherwise


  • Multi-Session: a run that takes place across multiple play sessions
  • Community: a run with small rewards, run by an untagged gm.
  • Mock: a run with zero rewards, consequences, or effect on the canon

Run Rewards

Rewards are primarily based on run threat, as it (usually) represents player risk and GM preparation. However, non-Normal duration and multi-session runs often require an adjustment. Use the following formula as the high end, and feel free to adjust it in favor of lesser rewards at your discretion:

Reward Multiplier: (Total Duration In Hours Across All Sessions) / 6

  • The reward multiplier applies to both the player's RVP reward and the GM's GMP reward at the end of a run.
  • Do not round the multiplier unless to 1 decimal place. Example: 10 hours/6 is 1.6repeating7 in this case you may round up to 1.7
  • You may round up uneven RVP. Example: after mutlipler the run reward is 28.5 rvp, you may round it up to 29
  • You apply the multiplier to the reward caps as well. Example: the reward cap for nuyen on a low is 12k nuyen, say you have a low threat run that goes for 9 hours giving a 1.5 times mod. You would times the nuyen reward cap and all the other reward caps for that threat by the modifier, so you new reward cap for nuyen would be 18k nuyen (12x1.5). You can round up uneven caps just like uneven rvp, if a reward cap would be 21.6 you may round up to 22. Avail is not affected by the multiplier

In general, even if you expect the run to go long, it's best to have the Johnson pay the runners normally and consider any extra allowance from duration to help handle "extra" pay the runners might happen into (like paydata, going out of their way to "get paid twice", fencing loot, etc).

Also, feel free to ask the GM Department and fellow GMs for advice on run rewards.


Player run rewards are measured in RVP (Reward Value Points). They can be converted to

  • 2,000 nuyen
  • 4,000 nuyen worth of gear, if an NPC has the ability to obtain it at severe discount
    • Player funds can not be used with this discount, only RVP run reward.
    • Giving out gear above Availability 16 on a "Standard" or lower run requires approval from a GM Deputy
    • All magical foci rewards above Force 5 must be approved by GM Deputy, and require Semi-Prime or higher tier runs.
  • 1 karma
  • 1 karma of positive qualities adequately roleplayed for (ie. at chargen cost if it's a run reward)
    • The GM has the option of allowing the character to spend their own karma to cover the cost of the Quality vs. run RVP.
  • 4 contact improvement points worth of a contact
    • All contacts must have the "One For All" power.
    • Contacts with the “We Call You” power do not cost RVP to award. Removing the “We Call You” power does, as if the contact were normally being awarded.
    • For contacts above Connection 5, the RVP cost for every point doubles over the previous.
    • Giving out contacts above Connection 6 requires approval of the Contacts staff.

Public Awareness, Street Cred, and Notoriety

  • A GM may give out 1 PA/Noto/SC a run (For example you could give out 1 point of all three if you wanted and had a good reason). More than one point of any of these requires approval from the GM head or a GM deputy. These cost no RVP to give out

Player Rewards

Standard base reward ranges for Normal runs based on threat. Included down below are the caps for each type of reward GMs can give per threat. Remember that things that require approval still require approval regardless of the avail allowed by the run threat:

  • Community: 0 to 2 RVP (does not require a GM tag; does require all paperwork; opposition of milk-run to medium threat)
  • Standard: 6 to 24 RVP (covers opposition of milk-run to hard)
    • Gms may allocate Rvp in the following ways for these threats and may of course ask for approval from a deputy or the gm head to break these caps with good reason:
      • Milk (6 rvp limit): up to 6k nuyen, up to 3 karma, up to 3 karma in positive qualities, up to 12 cup worth of contacts, up to 12k nuyen in gear up to avail 12
      • Low (12 rvp limit): Up to 12k nuyen, up to 6 karma, up to 6 karma in positive qualities, up to 24 cup in contacts, up to 24k in gear up to avail 14
      • Medium (18 rvp limit): up to 18k nuyen, up to 9 karma, up to 9 karma in positive qualities, up to 36 cup in contacts, up to 36k in gear up to avail 16
      • High (24 rvp limit): up to 24k in nuyen, up to 12 karma, up to 12 karma is positive qualities, up to 48 cup in contacts, up to 48k in gear up to avail 18
  • Semiprime: up to 60 RVP (a reasonable average is low 40s)
    • Gms may allocate rvp for semiprime in the following ways or ask for approval to break these caps: up to 60k in nuyen, up to 30 karma, up to 120 cup in contacts, up to 120k in gear up to avail 20 or higher with approval
  • Prime: up to 100 RVP (a reasonable average is low 60s)
    • Gms may allocate rvp for prime in the following ways or ask for approval to break these caps: up to 100k in nuyen, up to 50 karma, up to 200 cup in contacts, up to 200k in gear up to avail 24 or higher with approval
  • Advanced: Anything the GM believes is warranted, good or bad. Advanced does not mean 'more than Prime', and opposition can be anything from milk-run to Prime. Rewards will be based on threat level, character actions and in-play events, and is entirely up to the GM.

Things that Player Rules list as "Run Required" can generally start to appear at the higher end of standard ("High" threat opposition), and certainly by Semi-prime unless otherwise noted in either Player Rules or this document.

If you fail a run as a player you are not entitled to full rewards, if the gm wishes to give you less RVP than listed here on a failed run he is within his right to do so


GMing a run gets you GMP, which can be spent in a few ways:

  • You can redeem 1 GMP for 2000 nuyen, 4 CUP, or 1 karma on a character for your choosing
  • Certain NET events may allow spending GMP

GM Rewards

Base reward for hosting a run:

  • Prime: 30
  • Semiprime: 25
  • Standard: 15
  • Community: 2 (+1 for runs with open character selection for at least one slot, on /r/shadownet)
  • Advanced: +10 (based on threat level in the run)

Additional rewards, which are not affected by the Reward Multiplier:

  • Received Coaching: +1
  • Overflow: +2. Increased to +3 for weekends
  • Scheduled: +1. Increased to +3 if picks were made at least 48 hours in advance
  • Run was recorded and uploaded to ShadowNET Youtube: +1
  • Run audio was recorded with craig bot: +1
  • Submit News Post to Lore Department +4
  • You will receive +1 gmp for every player you pick who has not had a run in at least one week.


Mandatory AAR

For You to receive your GMP for running a game you must create a wiki page. This can be done by going to the front page and clicking Standard AAR or Full AAR depending on the run. A player may fill out your AAR for you, if they do so they recive 2 gmp, we ask that your please check over AARs done for you to make sure they are accurate.

  • A standard AAR is a general record of the run: when it happened, who was on it etc. It is filled out if you do not meet the requirements for a Full AAR
  • A Full AAR is like a standard but goes into more detail than the standard form. A Full AAR is Required when a player burns edge to live, a character dies, it is a Prime run, or it is an Advanced Run.
  • You only need to fill out ONE of these forms. If none of the stuff that requires a full AAR happens on your run then you fill out a Standard, if a requirement did happen you fill out a Full.

Optional AARs

  • Players may write a Narrative AAR to earn 2 GMP. A narrative AAR is a retelling of the runs events in character in a post in the AAR thread on the main shadownet subreddit page. All that is asked is for effort to be put in, there is no minimum word count or any such restriction.
  • GMs may write a Technical AAR to earn 2 GMP. A technical AAR is a post made on the shadowminds subreddit that goes into detail about the behind the scenes mechanics of the run. It talks about the Johnson, the opposition, the run's themes and setting, potential plot hooks for other GMs to use in metaplots or chains, and any other information your willing to give. Again all that is asked is for effort to be put in, you don't have to go into extreme detail if ya don't want to but it is appreciated.

Run Posts

Style Guide

GMs should maintain a document covering their personal GMing style, linked on their run post

  • For now, use whatever structure and information you feel best, but the following questions must be covered
    • Whether you're okay with players applying to jobs their character has a high chance of declining at the meet
    • Whether you're okay with players applying to jobs their character will actively attempt to thwart or derail
    • Views on realism and seriousness of the setting
    • Views on consequences and failure
  • Runs that notably differ from your normal style as described in your document must be noted as such

If you are vehemently opposed to having a style guide, you may choose not to have one but should note this on the run post.

  • If you wish to put any table rules in your style guide, they are subject to the following guidelines
    • A GM's table rules may not Contradict or Replace NET Ruilings or RAW Ruilings that we still use
      • For example:
      • Disallowed table rules
        • You can't get multiple marks on hack on the fly at once
        • Milk is just a refreshing drink
        • You can't sneak against the astral
      • allowed table rules
        • Medicine allows you to get bonus dice against diseases
        • Certain levels of clothing/armor mods keeps you from having to roll in certain levels of environment. Such as moderate cold or radiation
        • Gas masks can protect you from pollution environment zones to an extent
        • Spirits won't do things suicidally just because you gave them a not specific order
    • A GM may use rule's team approved optional rules (such as testing the leash) as they see fit at their table and may put them in their table rules
    • A Gm's table rules may not ban, or exlude anything, be it item, called shot, power or otherwise that is considered NET legal.

Optional Rule: Testing The Leash

This optional rule needs it's own section as it is a fair bit more complicated than a simple table rule. GMs can choose to use this rule, if they do they must state they use it and they proably shouldn't have it apply to every possible test a spirit makes, for the sake of fun.

Here is a brief run down of how testing the leash works. The full text for it is on page 182 of Forbidden Arcana

A spirit test the leash when it scores more than 6 - (force/2) hits on a test. When it dose this it makes an opposed test pitting its force x 2 against the mage who summoned it's drain pool. Every net hit the player scores the spirit takes 1 stun, every net hit the spirit scores it erases 1 service. A player may hold the leash tight and take stun damage per net hit instead of losing services, if the spirit's force is greater than the mage's magic the damage is physical. A player chooses whether the leash is loose or tight on their turn as a free action before the testing the leash test, if they hold it tight they take a -2 penalty to all other dice pools except for testing the leash due to the mental effort the mage is putting in to control the spirit. If a spirit erases all it's services it is free and will most of the time go back home, if it was treated poorly or the mage has astral reputation 4 it will attack the mage instead. Spirits with the elemental quality (which only spirits summoned by hermetic elementalist have, page 181 FA) never test the leash.

Run Content

Run Theme

There are three well-defined themes in shadowrun that set the tone for the run and we ask that you choose one of these themes and put it in your run post.

Pink Mowhawk: "Pink Mohawk-style games emphasize style over realism, allowing for things like big, bombastic battles where the lead flies thick in the air and with the right dice rolls runners can perform actions that might not be technically possible in the real world (or even the reality of the Shadowrun world). Characters tend to be long on style, make a lot of wisecracks during combat, and take a lot more risks because they know that the heroes (almost) always survive in the end, even if they don’t win." (SR5 Run Faster P. 18)

Black Trenchcoat: " Black Trenchcoat games focus more on gritty realism. Bullets and magic are much more deadly, the world is less forgiving of mistakes, and teams tend to spend a lot more time planning their runs and carefully infiltrating their targets instead of busting in with guns blazing. You’re much more likely to see intrigue, backstabbing, and double-crossing in a Black Trenchcoat game; player characters are suspicious and bestow their trust rarely, and even their own teammates might be pursuing agendas that put them at odds with each other. Black Trenchcoat games might also get into some of the darker aspects of the world, like torture, extreme violence, and sexual themes." (SR5 Run Faster p. 18)

Mirror Shades: Mirror shades is a combination of Black Trenchcoat and Pink Mowhawk. Runs are typically gritty, take a lot of planning, and can be quite deadly or dark, but are also way more lenient than normal black trench coat, while also allowing for cinematic moments akin to Pink Mowhark.

Reusing Material

Re-using run concepts, ideas, locations, npcs, etc is allowed.

GMs are encouraged to make their games as unique as possible for the benefit of the players, but the GM department recognizes there is value in reducing the burden of creation on GMs. Also, that there is value in establishing interesting locations and people in the setting by their repeated usage.

Chain System

If a run is based on the outcome of a run within the last 8 days, it creates a chain, or connects to an existing one. Once the chain is broken (no connected run for over 8 days or the content is insufficiently linked- ask Lore/GM Dept), every GM involved in the chain gets a bonus reward based on the length of the chain. This way people are incentivized to work with prior GMs to join their chain, and GMs are encouraged to help bring other GMs in to extend their chain.

  • For now the reward to each GM is N GMP, where N is the number of runs in the chain. So if a chain lasts 5 games, each GM involved with receive a bonus 5 GMP.
  • Followup sessions of a multi-session run don't increase the reward (N) but will extend the chain.
    • This is intended as a kindness to make scheduling runs easier; please use it sparingly. A 10 part run that extends a chain for a month is not okay and goes against the spirit of bringing in new GMs to help extend the chain, but a multi-session run here or there is fine.
  • Private runs based off of runs in the chain do not count towards the chains reward or extend the chain as private runs are counter to the goal of the chain system, of running more games for more people.

Runs being related and the multi-session rule are very much dependent on the honor system. Don't abuse this.


You need a run proposal (not plan) and approval to have a GM-controlled PC in the game. It is strongly discouraged to have GM PCs in game without good reason.


PVP is always at the GM’s discretion, and should only occur if both players are ok with it. If PVP does happen, don’t let players burn edge to smackdown in PVP, and if edge is burnt for Not Dead Yet, the player who burnt the edge gets to live. Players are not allowed to circumvent Not Dead Yet (“I shoot him in the head just to be sure”, for example) in PVP.


  • Training Time

The ShadowNET operates in real-time. A day in the real world is a day on the NET. However, some games take place over the course of a couple days, a week, maybe even longer. These games are considered to be part of a “pocket universe.”

Character adjustments, purchases, and other time-sensitive cooldowns are unaffected by pocket universe time. As an example, a character who initiates before a run that spans a month in-game will not be able to initiate at the run’s conclusion as though a month has passed in real-time. Similarly, a character who learns a skill or spell, or increases an attribute during a long run only has that skill in the pocket universe of that run: they must pay for the change in training time as normal before they can use it on other runs.

  • Multi-Session Exclusivity

Note, characters in the middle of Multi-Session runs are assumed to be free to go on other runs unless either of the GMs in question elect to not let them. This should be clearly communicated in advance to avoid any issues.


If Lore Head and GM Head agree, they can collectively retcon run elements which damage the canon setting or verisimilitude, up to and including retconning the entire run (mechanical rewards may remain at the GM and Lore Heads' discretion). Either head may bring the issue to council for a formal vote if an agreement cannot be reached or either party refuses to participate in the issue.

Run Elements

Below is a list of specific run elements that have the potential to cause trouble in runs due to there lore significance. Elements on the "Common Pitfalls" list do not require informing the GM or Lore head to use but we ask that you know why you wish to use them and what they are and they me be retconned after the fact like anything else. if you wish to use anything on the "Need to Inform" list you must Inform the GM head and the Lore head that you intended to do so. Everything on the final list is effectively soft banned without extremely good reason and the use of theses elements without permission will result in retconning and sever reprimanding.

  • Common Pitfalls

These run elements can be contentious and should be used with appropriate in-universe reasoning.  Take care when using them and make sure you know how and why they are in the run.

  1. New creatures/spirits (unpublished adversaries vs. reskinned stat blocks) - If in doubt, Lore and the GM chat will help you with both in-universe fluff and statistics.
  2. New Tech (futuretech+, or things that have never been published or are completely homebrew. Example: Tali’s Mecha.  As always, note that players cannot keep any item not approved by Rules out of a published book - that homebrew rocket with a saddle might be cool in your prime Western run, chummer, but it can't leave your table)  - If in doubt, ask in Lore about what technology is around in the Shadowrun universe (and therefore what is in the realm of possibility) or in the GM chat for what kind of stats such a piece of tech might have
  3. Enemies with Tech/Magic/Skill far beyond their means (Low rank/wealth enemies geared with Deltaware, milspec gear, magic 12 or other odd things without a proper explanation as to why but simply rather to boost their stats (or perceived threat))  - If you're unsure of how to represent real combat threats to powerful shadowrunners while justifying the presence of powerful enemies, both Lore (information on powerful enemies) and the GM chat (how to incorporate those foes into your run) will definitely be helpful to you
  4. Significantly different variations of published works (friendly Stabbers, cuddly toxic spirits, benevolent shedim, etc)
  5. Canon: (established by Catalyst) runners, immortal elves, great dragons, or other important characters being indirectly involved in a run (runs a business the PCs shop at, they read a post of theirs on a message board, they see them across a crowded room, they chat with them over coffee at a lunch bar etc)
  • Need to Inform

If you wish to use these elements in your run you must send a DM to the Lore Head and GM Head informing them that you intend to do so - they may ask you clarifying questions, and the use of these elements may be retconned after the run if the GM and Lore Heads agree that they were misused as they are important parts of the setting (the run may still have occurred with different things replacing the retconned elements, or may be retconned entirely).

Impromptu Exception: If you are an improvisational GM, running an Impromptu run, or if these elements occur naturally as part of the run (as opposed to being part of your planning) you must inform the GM and Lore Head of your use of them AFTER the run (via a DM).  They may still be retconned as normal, clarifying questions may be asked, and so on.

  1. Bug Queens
  2. Master Shedim
  3. Crystalline Entity
  4. Yama Kings
  5. Horrors
  6. Elder Gods
  7. Great Dragons that are not named in canon
  8. (unnamed by Catalyst) Immortal Elves
  9. Potential “end of Seattle” scenarios, such as the Shiawase nuclear reactor in Redmond being sabotaged to decimate the city. The Runners of course *must* prevent it, or a different thing happens to prevent it in case of Run Fail State. These are not limited to Seattle. (Smithsonian Rift was passed through Lore for example. So was the Meteor Tomb and the crystalline focus zombies, though that hasn’t actually even come up much yet.)
  10. Plots that (do or stand a chance to) alter/kill/remove Net Contacts
  11. Plots that involve raids on RP areas (just to confirm handling) such as the Blackout Lounge.
  12. Canon: (established by Catalyst) runners, immortal elves, great dragons, or other important characters being directly involved in a run. (they hire the PCs/go on a mission with the PCs/oppose the PCs/tell the PCs critical information in exchange for something etc)
  13. Street Lethal Future Tech (due to it technically not being invented yet)
  • Soft Banned

These are things that can be asked for, but will almost certainly get a no. If they’re used without approval, the run will get retconned, and Significant Consequences will come to the GM who did it

  1. Canon (established by Catalyst) runners, immortal elves, great dragons, or other important characters in a run being damaged or changed from their canon lore (canon character is killed/injured/has mental damage/gains a new enemy/loses something they canonically have/or in any other way has their canon meaningfully changed by the interaction)
  2. WMDs successfully going off inside of Seattle or any other metroplex area. You can nuke the antarctic. And may have a run to disarm a potential one inside seattle/metroplex area, but the runners must succeed/something else must take it out.
  3. Harlequin


GM Types

GMs are either Probational, Standard, or Advanced.

  • Advanced can run any sort of run they'd like and have no plan or proposal requirements.
  • Standard can run up to Prime.
    • Standard GMs who have not run three complete Primes are required to give at least a verbal Run Proposal or summary (or Run Plan + Sit-in GM Deputy) prior to running a Prime.
    • Standard GMs may run Semi-Prime without pre-approval, but if they have elements they are unsure of should contact a Deputy or sit-in GM for assistance.
  • Probational are the same as Standard, except their runs must be tagged [PROBIE] and they cannot run Semiprimes without pre-approval (they cannot run Primes at all). For run pre-approval, please use the Run Proposal form. In general, after three "[PROBIE]" runs (one of which being a high threat corp run), this tier should be considered for promotion if all (GM leadership and the GM themselves) agree there are no issues to work on.

There are now Community runs. They are posted to /r/shadownet as normal, but the GM does not require a tag. Intent: Have a run idea itching to get shared? Have some players who want to do story development or take a wild ride on your idea? Want to GM, but maybe just for the one run you've wanted to do? This tier is for you. Non-GM tagged people can ping the GM team, post the run on Shadownet with pre-selected characters, or open one or more slots to the community. Set the date, time, coordinate like everyone, and then do the run! The posting IS required however, as is the GM's AAR on the wiki. The opposition should be no stronger than the legacy middle tier (so less than the old "Hard" numbers) as a general rule of thumb, but if you have something complex you may want to discuss with the GM Lead or Deputies and see what can be approved.

Anyone (GM or not) can run a Mock run of any difficulty, with no requirements whatsoever, for zero pressure practice or just to have fun, so long as it clearly noted as such by tagging the run post title with [MOCK]. It doesn't even need to use ShadowNET characters.

Note: additional paperwork may be requested by the GM, Lore, or Rules Department when approving non-standard elements or rewards.

Becoming a GM

If you'd like to become a GM, all you need is to interview with a GM Deputy. This is less of an approval process and more of an initial measurement of your strengths and weaknesses so we can assist your improvement- essentially anyone that wants to GM can GM.

That said, we want new GMs to have a feel for the Shadowrun game and ShadowNET culture. Try to learn this through playing in runs, watching runs (recorded or live), RPing, and interacting on discord. Apply for an interview once you feel comfortable.

Staying a GM

We all have lives, and we understand the amount of time and effort that goes into being a GM. In general, we ask that all tagged GMs schedule a run at least once every 90 days (at any tier). If your life is dumping on you and you simply can't, contact the team and discuss your situation with them. We're good people, something can be worked out. If you should lose or give up your tag, and you later decide you're ready to run again, rejoining is usually a simple process. Contact a Deputy or Lead much like with a fresh application. Let them know when and how long you were a GM, and depending on how long it's been a rough idea of what your last few runs were (and when). We do ask that returning GMs don't take it personally if they get requested to do a refresher run or two to make sure things haven't changed too much on the game-running front while they were untagged.

If your reapplication is denied, you are always welcome to ask the GM Lead why. In most cases you should expect to receive a clear answer, but we also ask that you respect the answer.


Advancement occurs at the discretion of the GM staff, based on input from Coaches. There are no requirements on quantity of runs or how long you've been doing it- just feedback from Coaches.

Generally, going from Probational to Standard requires at least one High Threat Corporate run and demonstration of basic competence in all major aspects of the game.

Going from Standard to Advanced will have no firm criteria, and should be understood to be an odd category, not necessarily a mark of excellent of GM quality. What it requires that the GM have the absolute trust of the GM lead and Deputies, as there are no safety rails or curbs on Advanced storytelling. This may mean that as the GM leadership changes, who is considered Advanced may also change. This will always be clearly communicated and should not be considered a black mark on any GM at any time; each lead will have their own priorities and metrics for what makes an unfettered GM.

It is highly recommend to receive coaching from multiple people per run if you want to get promoted quickly.

GM Guidelines

Note the following are not rules, merely guidelines. The GM Lead will explain when and how specific situations vary if a decision is handed down.


When possible, it is often better to give less immediate reward and instead create the promise of future reward (ie. "delayed" rewards, if you will). For example, instead of giving the players a discount on an expensive or rare item, give them a business card for a contact who will help them obtain it later...after doing just one more favor for them.

Not only does this reduce reward inflation, but it makes the obtainment of those rewards more memorable.


  • Players should have fun. We’re fundamentally here to play games together and have fun, and as the GM you have a lot of control over how the game goes; with that great power comes great responsibility, and the responsibility is to try to make sure people have a good time.
  • If you have a major obstacle, know the rules related to that obstacle. If a big part of the run involves a car chase or a host dive, you should have a good grasp of the rules related to car chases or host dives (or whatever the obstacle is).
  • Players (and GMs) can play the kind of Shadowrun they want to play. If you have a specific view of how shadowrun should be, you’re entirely free to pick people who conform to that philosophy, but it’s not okay to tell other people how to have fun, or their kind of fun is wrong. As the GM, it's your responsibility to communicate your particular style to your players - through a Style Guide as well as pre-game discussion.
  • Try to limit railroads and definitely try to avoid "Rocks Fall" scenarios. Generally goes without saying, but Shadowrun can be amply dark without succumbing to the temptation of Deus ex Machina unavoidable situations.
  • Stay within reasonable expectations. It may be fun for a character to get milspec armor from a ganger in the barrens on a low-threat run, but it really cheapens the experience of the player who slogged through the amazon to pry that same armor off a super-soldier during a prime run.
  • Play with the players, not against them. Challenge and risk can make for a great and memorable experience -- but don’t make the game you vs. the players. Assume competence, and don’t try to catch players in “gotchas” -- competent runners might make a mistake or forget something if they’re pressured for time or under fire, but it’s good practice to give them the benefit of the doubt when they aren’t.
  • Balance that with risks and challenges. Players are allowed to fail, make mistakes, make their situation work, or trigger escalation. If particularly dire consequences are about to drop, make sure that you have foreshadowed them and given players ample opportunity to discover and avoid the upcoming problems where feasible. This particularly applies to Prime class runs, which are generally unforgiving of character (or player) mistakes, but should be kept in mind at all tiers of difficulty. Even in the most grim of scenarios, players should have a way out (and it shouldn't take Moriarity to figure out that its possible), but there is no onus to hand them answers unless it fits your story.

Assumed Competence

There are a lot of trivial decisions -- that is, decisions with a clear best choice and no downside -- that shadowrunners routinely make. These are things like wiping an astral signature, infiltrating in disguise, wearing a mask in a firefight, setting up a DNI before the meet, running silent while hacking, and turning off SINs before committing crimes. In general it’s best to assume that players do these things unless they say otherwise (or some kind of constraint -- like time -- prevents them). Exactly what assumed competence covers is a matter for debate and should be discussed with the players at your table in the event it comes up. When in doubt, rule in the player’s favour; try to avoid “gotcha” moments. Generally for the sake of tidiness and expedient gameplay most GMs choose to assume competence, but each GM table is unique.

The standard is to assume competence. The onus is on the GM to explain what they mean when they say they won’t assume competence, and it something they need to ensure players are aware of before a game begins, whether through the application thread, their style guide, or before the game begins.

Keep in mind that a lack of assumed competence doesn’t mean assumed incompetence. The nature of a community means that players will need to adjust to different GMing styles. Consider giving your players the benefit of the doubt in case they forget something obvious, or making use of the Common Sense quality to prevent potentially derailing situations.


The following are rough guidelines on threat. Ultimately context and situational modifiers can change things drastically.

Threat Descriptions

  • Milk Run (Standard)

Milk Runs are extremely low threat games, intended as a way to introduce a player or GM to a new mechanic they may not be familiar with at minimal risk. Failure states are exceptionally rare, and opposition, if there is any at all, usually consists of Professional Rating 0 or 1 grunts that the PCs may even outnumber. A typical Milk Run could be anything from binding a mischievous but harmless spirit, graffiting a Stuffer Shack Host, or beating up a stalker. Rewards should consist of little more than bragging rights but in some cases a few RVP is acceptable (certainly never more than 5).

  • Low Threat (Standard)

Low threat runs have rewards between 6-9 RVP (an example payout would be 6,000nY and 4 Karma). Opposition is fairly light, consisting of Professional Rating 1 or 2 grunts that may minorly outnumber the PCs, low Force spirits with limited powers, or low rating IC. Generally, opposition will be rolling between 8-12 dice in their primary skills, and 5-6 in secondary skills. Static defenses and obstacles, such as mana barriers, can go a bit higher in dicepools, since runners can generally circumvent them. Opposition will be disorganized and unlikely to do much other than point and shoot.

A Low Threat run typically involves people or organizations incapable of maintaining long-term consequences on a PC.

  • Medium Threat (Standard)

Medium threat runs reward between 10-13 RVP (an example reward would be 12,000nY and 5 Karma). Opposition gets much more serious at this level and consists of PR 3 or 4 grunts who outnumber the PCs in most encounters, medium Force Spirits with the occasional disruptive power, or strong IC with the possibility of Black IC if the players aren’t careful. Opposing NPCs will usually roll between 12-16 dice for their primary roles, and 8-12 for secondary. Static defenses and obstacles, such as mana barriers, can go higher, and circumventing them might be important. Opposition will use low-level tactics like suppression, drugs, alchemical preps, and flanking attempts.

A player is expected to do their legwork to avoid failures, and be comfortable with their role in a team. At this level, weak “landmine” effects begin to show up; an opposing mage might Turn to Goo the Street Sam, gas may flood out of vents, etc. These effects often come up easily in legwork, and can be defended against by a prepared team.

  • High Threat (Standard)

High threat runs reward up to 20 RVP (an example reward is 28,000nY and 6 karma). Opposition generally consists of PR 5 grunts, with elements of PR 6 opponents. Opposing dice pools can approach 14-18 in all roles, with the strongest being no higher than 20. They will use clever tactics like focused fire, hacking unsecured ‘ware, illusion and manipulation spells, and attempts to lure PCs into traps. Often, opposing forces have the means to discover if Runners are working against them and the resources to counter the team. Static factors and obstacles, such as mana barriers, might be prohibitively difficult to overcome directly. This tier is available for high availability items and delta ware, but should not be used for prototype materials.

Comprehensive legwork is essential to discovering the full extent of the opposition players will face, with the occasional unexpected wrench thrown in to derail their plan. Proper planning is necessary to avoid failure, and contingencies are an asset. Players are expected to be fully capable in their given role, with a strong understanding of mechanics attached to it. High threat runs include people and organizations that punish failure severely, and are capable of being major detriments to PCs.

  • Semi-prime

Semi-prime runs reward up to 60 RVP. At this point, rewards typically come in the form of rare equipment or powerful contacts, in addition to money and karma. This tier is available for Prototype Materials, Deltaware grade augments, and Availability 18+ items.

Opposing forces consist of PR6 units, often matching or slightly outnumbering the PCs. Dice pools start at 18 and have no real limit; much of the difficulty from semi-prime runs comes from how opposition behaves. Landmines are hidden behind difficult legwork, and failure comes from PCs being unable to handle rapidly shifting mission parameters. Semi-prime runs involve people, things, and organizations that have the means and the will to invest significant resources towards thwarting attacks by Runner teams.

Semi-prime time frames can be a session or two most commonly. GMs should work with the players for scheduling additional sessions if they were not pre-planned for but become necessary.

  • Prime

Prime runs are the height of a Shadowrunner’s career. Reward can be upwards of 100 RVP depending on threat and consist of extremely rare and powerful gear, along with elite contacts and sizable cash and karma payouts. A reminder that this tier can have remarkable rewards at remarkable risk, including delta grade augments (and even potentially gamma grade augments; requires GM Lead approval AND the GM running the Prime to discuss this with the lead prior to awarding), prototype materials, even ruthlessly controlled items that ShadowNet allows in play (Bugstomper that may not also result in Ares wanting your head, for example).

Opposing forces in Prime runs have no listed PR or dice pools. As a GM hosting a Prime run you are expected to have full working knowledge of all the game’s systems, as well as the ability to provide a challenging experience that will push your player’s abilities to their limits. Prime runs are not to be taken lightly, and contain serious risk of PC death or retirement. Retirement can be forced at this tier; if involuntary retirement of a PC is unacceptable, please do not apply to Prime runs.

Prime run time frames should be a minimum of two sessions. There is no maximum, and players should understand that a Prime run is also a significant time commitment. GMs should keep this in mind when scheduling Prime runs, and work with players prior to starting for how multiple sessions will be handled.

  • Advanced

Advanced runs are more of a change of the normal GM rules of engagement, than a difficulty tier. You can have advanced milk-runs. You can have advanced semi-Primes. You should be very, very wary of advanced Prime runs. Advanced means the GM is functionally running a table game. Yes, the rules of the ShadowNet apply, and they should generally conform to all Shadowrun 5e rulesets. But Advanced GMs have the latitude to significantly extend setting, scope, and other aspects of normal runs. As the peak of trusted agents in the GM team, they are allowed to assign character rewards and penalties without the safety net of RVP tiers and similar criteria. They should feel free to use those as guidelines, and always weigh reasonable risk/reward balances, and never be punitive to characters (don't equate 'being realistic means being adversarial'). It is possible looting, and other generally disallowed in-character practices (organlegging, augment harvesting, etc) may be allowed in an Advanced game, and players should communicate with the GM to lessen the chance of misunderstandings. Some examples of this could include runs allowing players who do all the right things, in all the right ways, to walk away with a Fairlight Excalibur. Or a GMC Banshee. Or a fully kitted out military Riverine. Maybe even a spaceship.

    • Due to this being a very new thing, and fraught with risk, all Advanced runs must be clearly marked. They must include the option for players to completely retcon their participation (with a decision window before their next run). The GM staff does not support partial retcons however (Saying a specific event on a run didn't happen is not ok. Saying you didn't even go on the run, and that someone who looked/acted/made decisions eerily similar to the ones your character would have made, is fine and should be accepted by all parties). One should also be highly aware that due to the nature of GM agency in this class of runs, characters participating may end up dramatically altered (and end up less desirable for choosing by other GMs in future runs, due to power levels, material possessions, or unusual mechanics other GMs do not want to deal with).


Generally, the threat of escalation is often enough to encourage players to carry on with their mission. However, occasionally the players might trip an alarm, anger a mob boss, or make enough Matrix noise that GOD converges on the team. In the event that players escalate a situation to the point where the realistic response exceeds the GM’s intended threat level, the GM is free to use their best discretion to resolve the issue.