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Shadowrun is a turn-based game where characters take actions in sequential order. At the start of any challenge or combat, all characters must make an initiative test. The total number of hits you score is called your initiative score.

Initiative Roll
Intuition + Reaction

All characters are ordered from highest initiative score to lowest. This is called the initiative order, and characters will take their turns following this order for the entire challenge.

Tied Initiative Scores

Some characters may roll the same initiative score. Use the following steps in order to resolve ties.

  1. A character who glitched on the initiative test goes last among those who have the same initiative score.
  2. Tied characters act in order from largest initiative dice pool to lowest.
  3. Tied characters act in order from highest Edge rating to lowest.
  4. If still tied, characters each roll a d6 and act in order of highest number to lowest (if they still tie, they keep rolling until the tie is broken).

Changing Initiative

You may find it necessary to move your position in the initiative order. You must choose to do this at the start of your turn, after resolving any effects that take place at the start of your turn, but before you take any actions. Choose another character whom you wish to precede or follow and skip your turn. When the chosen character’s turn starts or ends (as appropriate), you take your previously skipped turn and your place in the initiative order changes for the remainder of the encounter (or until you choose to change it again). Changing initiative is a non action, but cannot be done if you are Downed or otherwise incapable of taking Interrupt actions.

Rounds and Initiative Passes

Challenges, especially combat, are resolved in rounds, which represent the passage of roughly 10 seconds in the game setting. Each round is divided into 5 initiative passes, each pass cycling through the entire initiative order once. This means that every character acts once per initiative pass, and 5 times per round.

Action Type IP Cost
Free 1
Simple 2
Complex 4

Initiative Points

A character’s mental alertness and physical swiftness can allow them to accomplish only so much in the span of 10 seconds. All characters have a pool of Initiative Points (IP) they can spend each round to take actions. You cannot spend more than 5 IP per character turn.

  • Starting Points: When a round begins, your available IP are reset to a default starting pool (any unspent IP before the start of the new round are lost). By default, you have 4 starting IP each round.
  • 1 IP per Pass: At the start of your turn every initiative pass, you gain 1 IP. This is in addition to your starting points.
  • Augmentation: Prosthetics, spells, and other effects can give you extra starting IP. Your starting IP pool cannot be higher than 10.
  • Spend Edge: You can spend a point of Edge to instantly gain 4 IP. This does not count toward your 10 starting IP maximum. You can only gain this benefit once per round.

Delaying Actions

You can choose to delay, which lets you take actions outside of your turn. There are two ways you can do this.

  • Standard Delay: During your turn, you declare how many IP you will reserve for use out of turn. You must have the IP available during your turn, but cannot spend them yet. You choose a different character whose turn will trigger use of your delayed IP. You must declare this choice before that character’s turn ends. At the end of the chosen character’s turn, you use the reserved IP for any actions you can afford with them. You are still limited to 5 IP per character turn and these points are considered part of the chosen character’s turn. However, all actions performed by that character must be resolved before you take your delayed actions (you can’t interrupt the other character’s turn).
  • Ready Action: You can wait to use actions when a specific event occurs. During your turn, you must declare a trigger that will allow the use of up to 3 IP worth of actions, which you must also specify. You can declare multiple triggers with different associated actions using the same reserved IP, but you may only respond to one trigger before the start of your next turn. If the specified trigger occurs before the start of your next turn, you take your predefined actions and can resolve them before or after the triggering condition is resolved (your choice). If no specified trigger occurs, you do not lose your reserved IP. Note that specificity counts. If your trigger description is too vague, the GM may not permit it as a viable trigger.
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