Since there are no rules for True Drakes in the fifth edition of Shadowrun, and based on comments it seems likely there won't be in the near future, I've decided to add them as a house-rule. Since I'm quite new to Shadowrun, I would like to know if the following implementation would be unbalanced in any way when compared to similar options found in the sourcebooks, and suggestions for improving it. The rules provided are an adaptation of 4th edition's The Clutch of Dragons rules for True Drakes.

Note: For simplicity sake, instead of employing the "two forms two sets of attributes" we see in Shapeshifter, I've decided to employ the "dracoform is metahuman plus bonuses" as Drakes do. While this may seem odd since their metahuman form is "secondary", I think it simplifies things and makes attribute improvement worthwhile. The cost for the form is the cost of being a Drake plus the cost of Dracoform Mastery, since besides that I think advantages and disadvantages even out. Having a higher reward on the "Wanted" negative quality all drakes get might further balance both.

Also, unlike Drakes, True Drakes need to pay the full cost, there's not a possibility to have it latent or "inactive until fully paid". Which means that only with point-buy could a True Drake be created.

Fluff: True Drakes are beings created as a human-sized dracoform by Great Dragons, in an extenuating and costly ritual. They are able to shift to metahuman form at will. They are extremely rare, since few beings can create them and even then it's hard.

True Drake (125 Karma):

Since Dracoform is their natural form, all True Drakes are considered to have the drake power "Dracoform mastery" from the get-go.

True Drakes get the following optional drake powers for their dracoform: Magical Guard (9 Karma), Regeneration (19 Karma) and their limit for "Improved Natural Armor" is their Magic +2 instead of just their Magic.

True Drakes cannot receive any Augmentations that reduce their essence. They also cannot be infected or carriers of the HMHVV.

True Drakes' starting Essence is 8. True Drakes maximum Edge becomes 8 and they cannot take the Lucky quality.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you trying to make balanced homebrew for players to use, or as something that players will encounter? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 13, 2018 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would like it to be avaliable for players \$\endgroup\$
    – LordHieros
    Mar 16, 2018 at 12:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Then I have to ask what... balancing factors you want to give them to make up for the fact that True Drakes would need to be more powerful than Drakes, which are already so powerful the only way to start with it is to go into Karma debt? You don't want to introduce something that becomes the One True Build for any of the runner roles, because that disrupts the narrative and limiting True Drake to players you choose might feel like favoritism. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 16, 2018 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's basically my question, what should be the drawback for true drakes to not be the ultimate choice. Right now the karma tax is higher, and since they'd only be allowed in point buy the karma would be a cost paid up-front, not a debt. They would, obviously, be weaker than other characters when not using their dracoform. \$\endgroup\$
    – LordHieros
    Mar 16, 2018 at 14:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not really. Given this Karma cost, I could still build a Adept capable of kicking a chara-gen Sammy in two. Especially because the benefits give enough defense that you can justify spending only on offense besides... Let me crack open my books over the weekend, and I might be able to give you something closer towards balance. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 16, 2018 at 14:07

1 Answer 1


This is GREATLY unbalanced, especially at the beginning of the game before the Karma is payed of:

True Drakes maximum Edge becomes 8.

This is the equivalent for being human and having the positive quality Lucky, but it works for other Metatypes too exeeding their usual limits by 2. It's not a major issue, but still it's a benefit that is not available to any other character and combined with Lucky you can get to 9 Edge...

Since Dracoform is their natural form, all True Drakes are considered to have the drake power "Dracoform mastery" from the get-go.

This is an major issue.
In contrast to conventional Drakes they do not need to pay of the Karma before accessing the Drake powers. Effectively you lend the player 75 to 125 Karma that can be payed of later. You do not need to pay all the Karma at character generation and there is no minimum you need to pay at that time so depending on the GM you only need to pay 1 Karma or no Karma at all to get all the (non-optional) benefits of a Drake with Drakoform Mastery.

True Drakes get the following optional drake powers for their dracoform: Magical Guard (9 Karma), Regeneration (19 Karma) and their limit for "Improved Natural Armor" is their Magic +2 instead of just their Magic.

Adding more options that are usually only available to infected (they are unavailable even to shapeshifters) and improving on limits for drakes does not make your house rule more balanced.
Infected "pay" for their abilities by being constantly forced to hide what they are and getting a allergy that can be truely troublesome. A True Drake only needs to hide from bounty hunters and people with astral perception as long as it does not choose to reveal it's true form.
Especially Regeneration is a incredibly powerful Critter power and there is no Allergy to prevent regeneration.

Summing up you provide an option that is better than a conventional Drake and better than any non-Drake with small exceptions regarding Bodyware, something that is pretty unattractive to conventional Drakes anyway.

Consider a Western True Form Drake Unarmed Combat Adept. You could build the same character as a normal adept an and then add the True Form Drake without paying a single Karma point at character creation as long as you do not use Bodyware.

Just calculate the equivalent in power points for the "free" powers the True Drake gets:

  • KON+2, STR+2: 4 PP
  • (Mystic) Hardened Armor 2:
    This is equivalent to rating 5 Mystic Armor (1 Auto-Success = 3 dice) = 2.5 PP
  • Elemental Attack: Since this allows for ranged attacks and has a higher AP I'd consider this equivalent to Elemental Body: 1 PP
  • Dual Natured: Free Astral Perception: 1 PP
  • Vestigal Wings: Light Body 2: 0.5 PP

Summing up: 9 PP with the limitation that those points are only available in your true form...

After paying of your Karma debt you've got the option of becomming an unkillable tank by buying Regeneration and maxing out the hardened armor. At worst you become a 13 KON/12 Hardened Armor Troll-Drake by the time you reach ~250 Karma. Add Mystic Armor 6 and conventional 14 Armor (even as Critter armor this would be allowed) to complete the desaster:

Soak: 45 + 6 auto-successes
Healed Damage/Combat turn (Stun/Physical or overflow): 13 + successes with a pool of 19 dice
Physical Monitor: 15
Overflow: 13

Try killing that thing with anything but huge amounts of explosives or a Manipulation spell... You could certainly achieve such a soak pool with conventional drakes, but those usually keep the damage during a fight...

With point buy it would be more balanced especially since meta types with extreme Attributes tend to be expensive. However Regeneration should still be of the table. Regeneration is too strong without a Allergy that opponents could exploit and it was removed from shapeshifters too. Dragons don't have this power either so there's little that justifies allowing it.

Improved essence without the possibility of implanting bodyware seems to make little difference however there are some rules this interacts with. But I'm not aware of any game-breaking combos. With Uncanny Healer (Chrome Flesh) you get additional +2 for natural healing but this isn't really a game-breaker. Blood Crystals (Frobidden Arcana) also use Essence but playing a Blood Mage requires permission of the GM anyways...

There's one thing you need to establish a rule for though: What happens if the True Drake's MAG attribute is reduced to 0? Conventional drakes simply cannot use their drake powers anymore but what happens to a True Drake?

However if you spend 125 of 800 Karma on buying True Dracoform you probably get a less versatile character. If Karma-Buy and Sum-To-Ten/Priorities are options at your table, expect your values in human form to be worse than those of any comparable build in Sum-To-Ten.

  • \$\begingroup\$ maybe I wasn't too clear, the cost of being a True Drake would be 125 karma, 50 more than regular drakes, and would have to be paid in full. \$\endgroup\$
    – LordHieros
    Feb 26, 2018 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Both powers added to the optional are there since they're the extra powers avaliable in previous editions. Do you think the extra edge maximum (not initial) would need to be counterbalanced by increasing the karma cost even more? \$\endgroup\$
    – LordHieros
    Feb 26, 2018 at 14:50
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The major issue is that you get the benefits up front. Adding more options/benefits is just the tip of the iceberg. Additionally Regeneration is one of the strongest powers in the game in most cases it takes at most 4 Combat Rounds to fully recover completely. This power was removed from Shapeshifters and for other other options there are either restrictions on activating the power or a allergy+other drawbacks, like essence loss. \$\endgroup\$
    – fabian
    Feb 26, 2018 at 16:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You probably cannot balance the house rule if you insist on giving away the benefits up front. You could of course start at 125 Karma (i.e. everyone starts as a runner with some experience), but then you should simply play a conventional drake with dracoform mastery and call it by a different name. (Maybe adding some Karma for not being able to install Cyberware and larger reward...) \$\endgroup\$
    – fabian
    Feb 26, 2018 at 16:00
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ A conventional drake pays 25 to 75 Karma until (s)he can unlock the benefits and after at least 3 in-game months can pay 50 more Karma to unlock the mastery. You only get the benefits after paying.Would you consider it balanced to allow your streetsam to implant more expensive and better bodyware (s)he'd usually buy later in game, provided he gets no money until it's payed just for the the drawback of being wanted for no karma and <add other minor drawback here> compared to a streetsam without that option?This is similar to what you're offering however. (just with karma instead of money) \$\endgroup\$
    – fabian
    Feb 26, 2018 at 16:45

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