Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

One of the things that has come up during character creation and item purchasing for my group is if you need separate licenses for carrying guns and melee weapons, or if melee weapons are handled differently.

I looked through the book and couldn't find anything other than the book essentially saying "restricted items require licenses." I looked over the provided example character sheets in the character creation section and didn't see where a license was purchase for the katana the troll had, only for the guns. If there is a way the book tells us to handle it, what is it?

  • There is no need for a license
  • The license is covered with the gun permit
  • The katana will need a separate license on top of the gun permits

I've already made a GM call and told everyone that you buy a "weapons permit" which allows you to carry any restricted weapon, but I was hoping to get some clarification on what would be considered the "correct approach" if there is one. Thanks!

Edit: This question may also be related to my other question about amounts of licenses to purchase, for anyone who has the same question as I do.

share|improve this question
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Unfortunately yes; the RAW position is that you need a separate license for each type of Restricted item despite what the other answers suggest. This includes melee weapons (such as the Katana and Shock Gloves).

Core Rulebook, page 419

A restricted item can be purchased, owned, and transported only under special circumstances. You are allowed to purchase and own a gun with the requisite firearms permit, and you can carry it with you with a special concealed carry permit.

Core Rulebook, page 443

Each type of item/activity permission requires a separate license. Things that require licenses include hunting (bow and rifle), possession of a firearm, concealed carry of a firearm (separate license), spellcasting, and any Restricted gear or augmentations, etc.

Note that the second citation clearly indicates that the licenses for Restricted gear are separate from both your Concealed-Carry license AND your Firearm Possession license.

Also, this is a somewhat relevant point regarding jurisdiction. The above ruling, while explicitly spelled out in the book, might only apply to Seattle and/or UCAS:

Core Rulebook, page 419

The legality restrictions in the book use the basic Seattle, UCAS, guideline as their point of reference. Gamemasters should feel free to adjust legality and availability of certain items in other regions of the world as they see fit, and future Shadowrun products may contain alternate availability and legality ratings for different jurisdictions around the Sixth World.

share|improve this answer
I marked this correct after reviewing the corrected rules. After GMing for a while, I realized I was wrong and never came back to update, so thank you @Dyndrilliac for coming in to do so :) – Codeacula Jun 13 '15 at 12:31

The handbook doesn't make a distinction between melee and ranged weapons when it comes to legality.

See my related answer to your other question.

Since one license seems to cover all restricted firearms it would also follow that it covers the ownership of other restricted weapons.

A restricted item can be purchased, owned, and transported only under special circumstances. You are allowed to purchase and own a gun with the requisite firearms permit, and you can carry it with you with a special concealed carry permit. Of course, if you threaten someone or—heavens forefend—shoot someone with your gun, permit or not, you can expect to spend a long time in jail before or after having your permit revoked. Licenses and permits can be obtained through legal channels, as long as you’re a solid citizen with a legal SIN—of course, that goes for shadowrunners with fake SINs acquiring fake licenses, too. A fake license is connected to a fake SIN, and if one of them is exposed, the other becomes worthless (see Fake SINs, p. 367).

share|improve this answer
Ah, the key part there (that I skipped over looking for more meat) was it mentions "A restricted item". Although it does mention needing two permits for ownership and carrying, but that's not for this question. – Codeacula Mar 6 '14 at 20:05

I found the inclusion of licenses in SR5 to be a bit baffling, given the setting.

Remember that bit about extra-territoriality that Megacorps have (which is a core to the setting)? That means that when you're on SK grounds, you're working under their laws. In all likelihood, your average runner doesn't really care about SK's laws, unless their job actually requires them to work within their target's jurisdiction as a legally-represented individual.

Similarly, when you're in Denver, what permit do you use? Do the various states represented in Denver have mutual agreements to recognize a license issued by Aztlan in UCAS territory?

I think what makes sense depends on how much paperwork and tracking you like to foist on your players. If you're really into the number-crunching and keeping track of everything like that, then that means you have to read the rules as given and apply them in the extreme literal. Given that, and that there are no licensing rules for melee weapons vs firearms, you can just assume you have to have a license for Restricted weapons, no matter the type.

If you're just throwing it in as flavor, or as a key part of a particular run, have the Johnson provide IDs, or require the PCs to get licenses for that run. Record them, use them, toss them into the pile of "stuff my guy's picked up in the past." Note that if you get a burner-license, after a job, depending on how stealthy the run was, it may no longer be usable, and using the license in many separate jobs may help someone else track the runner down.

Another thing you could do is, during char-gen, if PCs want to buy a set number of licenses to be used in the future, have them spend the cred, note down "x blank licenses" on their sheet, and if they run into a situation where they need to get a license fast, convert one of them into a specific license at that time.

I kind of like the idea of applying a FATE style player-bump, here... if they're on a run, and they realize after the fact that they should have gotten a license to get through a particular point, have them spend an Edge to say, "Oh yeah, of course I put that in my other pocket!" It shouldn't be used to defuse critical parts of your run (you might want to add in an opposed Con or Etiquette skill check if their license is a fake, to keep them on their toes), but if the goal is to add flavor and keep the game moving, this might be one way to accomplish that.

share|improve this answer
Short of asking the folks at Catalyst to clarify which weapons require a license, you're really stuck with the definitions of Availability (SR5 p.417), (Il)legality (SR5 p.419) and the Availability rating of the weapon (in the case of aforementioned katana, 9R, Restricted, which means it requires some sort of special use permit depending on jurisdiction). I don't know how it gets clearer than that. – Jason M. Batchelor Mar 6 '14 at 19:46
This is an excellent answer, and I will definitely consider the options here, thank you. I like the idea of saying "You know what? Frag the licenses." and just going on our way. I think there's a bit of a flaw in the argument about who would accept what license. The only reason is because supposedly all entities use/recognize the SIN database. Couldn't the licensing argument be applied to that SIN database? – Codeacula Mar 6 '14 at 20:07
Presumably, yes. ( However, how much of that is still in use (Did the GSR get fragged during Crash 2.0?) or even reliable is, I believe, up to you as a GM. – Jason M. Batchelor Mar 6 '14 at 20:13
Also, after some thought: Assuming you aren't doing a campaign where the runners are world-travelling folk, wouldn't the argument of other nations not recognizing it be moot? If we stay in Seattle, we only have to worry about getting a UCAS one. If they're found in a corp, they're going to be in trouble anyway, more than likely. I love the thought and discussion, though. – Codeacula Mar 6 '14 at 20:14
Without knowing the specifics of your campaign, I couldn't say. Essentially, in the end, how much focus you put on the legal side of the equation is up to you. Remember that you don't have to be in a building to be on Corp property, and the name of the game /is/ danger and willful disturbance of the peace (or just reducing stuff to pieces), so the bits of paper mean about as much in that world add they do in ours: people who want to use illegal force are going to, whether they have a permit or not. – Jason M. Batchelor Mar 6 '14 at 20:21

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.