I'm really confused with the initiative pass system in Shadowrun. For a "normal" combat situation with no augmentations or spells that increase the number of actions you can get, it looks rather easy.

On your turn, you get either a Complex action or 2 Simple Actions.

Where things get confusing is the following paragraph:

Everyone gets to act during the first Initiative Pass (in order according to their Initiative Score), characters with two actions get to go again during a second Initiative Pass, characters with three actions get a third action during a third Initiative Pass, and so on.

So additional actions give additional Initiative Passes?

When I look at the Synaptic Booster augmentation, it says:

The booster confers a bonus of +1 Reaction and + 1 Initiative Pass per point of rating.

So if I get this correctly, an Initiative Pass is "an action"? What action? Complex, Simple, Free, an Action Phase?

I would like to know if a Street Sam with IP 3 get 6 Simple actions or if I'm totally wrong in my understanding.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ An initiative pass allows a complex action. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ichoran
    Aug 24, 2012 at 19:18

1 Answer 1


The paragraph's phrasing is a bit nebulous. When it refers to extra actions, it actually is referring to characters who are granted extra Intiative Passes by gear, magic, etc. Characters with rating 1 Synaptic Booster will have +1 IP, for a total of 2 IPs - two sets of actions within a single Combat Turn.

Imagine that a troll named Solifuge gets into a scrap with the street sam Gonzales and his mundane lawyer pal, Bob. Solifuge rolls an Initiative of 16 and he has 2 IPs - quick on his feet. Gonzales is sporting some wired reflexes and has a total of 3 IPs, but he only nets 15 on the Initiative test. Bob is hopelessly out of league of these two, going last with Initiative 9 and only 1 IP.

This Combat Turn would play out in the following manner:

Pass 1: Solifuge (16), Gonzales (15), Bob (9).

Pass 2: Solifuge (16), Gonzales (15).

Pass 3: Gonzales (15).

Gonzales has more overall passes available to him in the Combat Turn, but he won't be taking them all consecutively. He also has to worry about Solifuge getting in the first blows in this example.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer. I'll also add that initiative passes and combat rounds have different things happening to them. Everyone runs the same amount of distance in a turn, which is broken up between all the initiative passes. So, say Bob runs for cover and it's 30 meters away. He runs 30 meters in a combat turn, but it's broken up between the three passes, because time is taking place for the other runners in a different lapse of time. So in the first pass, Bob is only 10 meters towards cover. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 24, 2012 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would also add that you can take either 1 complex action or 2 simple actions each time you come up. So to answer OP's sub-question: yes, Gonzales in the above example could take 6 simple actions during the turn. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lynn
    Oct 21, 2014 at 1:58

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