GrokSheet: Combat

At it’s core, combat in Shadowrun 4 is easy: Everyone involved takes turns acting in order of initiative. Attacking is a simple Opposed Test between the attacker’s combat skill and the defender’s defense skill. Of course, the devil is in the details.


The Combat Turn

  • Each Turn all participants roll an Initiative Test (Reaction + Intuition + mods) and add the hits rolled to their Initiative Attribute to determine their Initiative Score.
  • The Combat Turn is divided into Initiative Passes. All characters act on the first Initiative Pass.
  • Each Initiative Pass is divided into Action Phases in order of Initiative Score. Characters with the same Initiative Score resolve their actions simultaneously.
  • During their Action Phase a character can declare a Free Action and either one Complex Action or two Simple Actions.
  • A character can delay any of their actions to a later Action Phase. They can then choose to act before, after or simultaneously with other characters on this Phase. Delaying does not change a character’s Initiative Score for further Passes.
  • Once all characters have acted, a new Initiative Pass begins during which only characters who get additional Initiative Passes can act. This repeats until no one has Initiative Passes left. Characters can delay their actions until the next Initiative Pass, but they automatically lose any actions they had for that Pass.

A combat turn represents about 3 seconds of game time.

A Glitch on the Initiative Test means you go after anyone else on the same Initiative Score. A Critical Glitch means you go last in the Initiative Pass.

Basic Combat

  • Declare attack
  • Apply modifiers
  • Opposed Test between the attacker’s Weapon+Agility and defender’s defense.
    • Defending vs. firearms uses Reaction. Vs. melee the target can choose to parry (Weapon+Reaction), block (Unarmed+Reaction) or dodge (Dodge+Reaction).
    • If the defender has a Complex Action available, they can chose to take a Full Defense action to add their Dodge skill as bonus dice to the defense roll (including dodging).
    • Attacker must score more hits than the target to hit. Note the net hits scored.
    • Ties may result in a grazing hit that makes contact but does no damage, in the case of poisons, shock weapons, some combat spells, etc.
  • Compare armor
    • Add net hits to the weapon’s base DV to determine modified DV.
    • Add weapon’s Armor Penetration to the targets applicable armor (ballistic for most firearm attacks, impact against melee and flechette) to determine modified AV.
    • Physical DV that does not exceed the modified AV is converted to Stun.
  • Damage resistance
    • Target rolls appropriate attribute + modified AV. Each hit reduces modified DV by 1. If DV is reduced to 0 or less, the attack deals no damage.
  • Apply damage
    • Each point of remaining DV equals 1 box of damage on the appropriate Condition Monitor.
    • If a character takes boxes of damage equal to or exceeding their Body in a single attack, they are knocked down. A character who takes 10 boxes or more damage is automatically knocked down.
    • Assess wound modifiers.


Free Actions: Simple Actions: Complex Actions:
Call a shot Fire weapon (SS, SA, BF) Fire weapon (FA)
Change linked device mode Change gun mode (SA/BF/FA) Fire mounted/vehicle weapon
Drop an object Insert/remove clip Full defense
Drop Prone Observe in detail Melee or unarmed attack
Eject smartgun clip Pick up/put down object Reload firearm (internal magazines, revolvers, etc)
Gesture Quick Draw Use complex object
Intercept Ready Weapon Use a skill
Run Sprint
Speak or text a phrase (Remember: one turn is about 3 seconds long) Stand up
Take aim
Throw weapon
Use simple object


  • Walking requires no action. At the GM’s discretion not remaining stationary may impose a -1 penalty to ranged attacks.
  • Running requires a Free Action and imposes a -2 penalty to ranged attacks and grants a +2 to defense against ranged attacks
  • Sprinting requires a Simple Action and a Running+Strength test. Each hit adds 2 meters to running speed.
  • Walk/Run Speeds by race (meters): Dwarfs: 8/20; Trolls: 15/35; Others: 10/25
  • Determine movement when declaring actions. Once chosen, remains in effect until next action phase for purposes of targeting modifiers, etc.
  • If a character moves within 1 meter of an enemy and tries to pass by without attacking, the enemy can make a melee attack as a free action with Unarmed or any ready melee weapon. If the moving character takes damage, they are halted.

Devilish Details

Hiting the Target

  • Range modifiers: -1 for Medium, -3 for Long, -6 for Extreme. Extreme range varies from 50m for a light pistol to 1500m for a sniper rifle.
  • Vision Magnification eliminates range penalties, making all shots short range. This only applies so long as you and the target are stationary, though. If either is moving, you just see real good.
  • Laser sights grant a +1 to hit, but are only effective to 50m and are canceled out by mist, smoke, fog and rain. This bonus is not cumulative with smartlinks.
  • Smartlinked weapons grant a +2 bonus to hit. Not cumulative with laser sights.
  • Aiming is a standard action and grants a +1 dice pool modifier to the attack roll, up to 1/2 the base skill rounded down.
  • A Called Shot can be used for several purposes:
    • Target unarmored areas with a dice pool penalty equal to the target’s armor. If the shot hits, the target’s armor is ignored for damage resistance.
    • Target a vital area for extra damage. Take a dice pool penalty equal to the damage bonus, up to -4/+4.
    • Knock something out of the target’s grasp at a -4 penalty. If the modified DV exceeds the target’s Strength they lose their grip.
    • Other effects as allowed by the GM (shooting out tires, knocking off ledges, damaging equipment, etc)
  • Blind fire imposes a -6 penalty, and the target may get cover bonuses if hidden behind a barrier.


  • Single Shot (SS) weapons take a simple action to fire, but can only be fired once per Action Phase.
  • Semi-auto (SA) weapons can fire twice in an Action Phase, but the second shot suffers a -1 penalty to the dice pool unless it has recoil compensation.
  • Burst Fire (BF) has two modes: narrow bursts to increase damage, and wide bursts for a better chance to hit. Both use up 3 bullets per burst.
    • Burst Fire is a Simple Action and can be taken twice in a single Action Phase.
    • The first burst suffers a -2 penalty to the dice pool, -3 on the second. Recoil compensation applies.
    • Narrow bursts increase the DV by 2 after armor penetration has been determined.
    • Wide bursts apply a -2 penalty to the target’s defense test for that attack.
    • Using burst fire against a second target in a single Action Phase suffers an additional -2 penalty in addition to the normal multiple targets penalty.
  • Full Auto (FA) has three modes: long burst, full burst and suppressive fire.
    • A long burst is a Simple Action, but only one can be fired per Action Phase. It uses 6 bullets.
    • Long bursts can be narrow or wide, but the bonus/penalty is 5 rather than 2.
    • Long bursts suffer a recoil penalty of -5 if they are the first burst that Action Phase, -6 if they are the second (if combined with normal burst fire).
    • The bonus/penalty is reduced to 4 if there are only 5 bullets left, or 3 if only 4. Less than that, and it’s treated as a regular burst instead.
    • A full burst is a Complex Action, and uses 10 bullets.
    • Full bursts suffer a -9 recoil penalty.
    • Full bursts can be narrow or wide, but the bonus/penalty is 9.
    • Full bursts can attack up to 3 targets within a meter of each other without additional penalty, but are treated as regular bursts (one short, one long, or 3 short)
    • Suppressive fire is a Complex Action, and consumes 20 bullets.
    • Suppressive fire covers a triangular area between the shooter and a line 10 meters wide anywhere the shooter desires within range.
    • Roll a test for the appropriate firearms skill and not the hits.
    • Anyone within the area who does not remain in cover or prone must make a Reaction + Edge test (+ Dodge if in full defense) with a threshold of the shooter’s hits.
    • If the test fails the target suffers damage at the weapons’ base DV.

BLAM! Shotguns and Flechettes

  • Most shotguns are assumed to use solid slugs when firing, but can be loaded with shot. Shot is treated as flechette ammo.
  • Flechette ammunition adds +2 to the weapon’s DV, but the shot is resisted with Impact armor rather than Ballistic, and have an AP of +5.
  • A shotgun’s choke can be set for a narrow, medium or wide spread.
    • Narrow spread hits just one target and uses the gun’s normal damage as modified for flechette ammo.
    • Medium spread can hit up to two targets within a meter of each other, one test against all targets. Targets take a -2 penalty to their defense test, but the shot power is reduced, for a total of +0 DV and +7 AP.
    • Wide spread can hit up to three targets within a meter of each other, one test against all targets. Targets take a -4 penalty to their defense test but the shot inflicts a total of -2 DV and +9 AP.

THWACK! Melee Combat

  • Reach acts as a bonus that can be used for defense or offense. The character with the higher net reach can apply it as a dice pool bonus to their test or a penalty to their opponent’s.
  • Ganging up: If multiple characters are involved in melee within a few meters of each other, the group with more members gets a +1 to their melee tests for each extra ally they have over their opponents up to +4.
  • Knockdown: A character can declare a knockdown attempt before rolling the attack. If the attack succeeds and the attacker’s Strength + net hits is greater than the defender’s body they are knocked down. On a Glitch the attacker is knocked down as well. On a Critical Glitch they are knocked down instead.
  • Subdual: Resolve subdual attacks as a Knockdown attack, but instead of knocking the target down they are immobilized and can take no actions requiring physical movement except attempting to break free.
    • The attacker can maintain the hold by taking a Complex Action each Action Phase.
    • The attacker can choose to inflict additional effects as part of the Complex Action to maintain the hold:
      • They can inflict Stun damage equal to their Strength, resisted as normal.
      • They can make a melee attack to knock the target prone, with a +2 bonus for superior position.
      • They can attempt to improve their grip by making a melee attack with a +2 bonus for superior position, resisted as normal. Net hits are added to or subtracted from the net hits used to establish the hold depending on the winner.
    • The target can attempt to break free by spending a Complex Action to make a Strength + Unarmed test with a threshold equal to the net hits to maintain the hold.

Stupid Runner Tricks: Indirect Fire

Shooting at a target you can’t see is normally a -6 penalty, plus cover bonuses for the target if they’re hidden behind a physical barrier. However, drones or characters with smartlinks can be used to get an indirect lock on the target and allow more accurate firing. Drones must succeed at a Sensor Test to lock on to the target. Characters with smartguns must succeed at a ranged combat attack test with all the normal modifiers. Net hits on the test are applied to the indirect fire test. Lock can be maintained as a Free Action on each of the spotter’s Initiative Passes, but adds a -2 modifier to any other tests made while the lock is maintained. If the spotter loses contact with the target before the attack is made, it automatically misses.

The attacker rolls a ranged attack using only a -4 modifier for information-guided indirect fire. Net hits from the spotter’s sensor/combat test are applied as extra dice for the attack. If there is a physical barrier blocking line of sight, the attack has to be able to penetrate it (modified DV higher than the barrier’s modified armor rating) or the attack fails. The barrier’s armor is added to any the target is wearing.


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