During character creation, are characters required to purchase multiple licenses for their restricted weapons, or does one license cover them all?

In the provided examples it looks as if one does but, like my related question, the examples aren't very clear, and the text doesn't seem to be clear to me either.

I have already made the GM call that one will cover them all, but I was hoping to get some clarification on what would be considered the "correct approach" if there is one. Thanks!


Unfortunately yes; the RAW position is that you need a separate license for each type of Restricted item despite what the other answers suggest.

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.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Going over the RAW, looks like you're right. \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jun 13 '15 at 12:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ But, does "Each type of item" mean you need one license for pistols, one for rifles, one for cyberdecks, one for drones, or does it mean "one for each spoecific item"? \$\endgroup\$ – Patta Jul 13 '15 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Patta I interpret "type of item" to mean categories like Blades, Clubs, Light Pistols, Heavy Pistols, Machine Pistols, Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Cyberdecks, etc. I would rule there is no license to cover all drones, because drones are broken up into various distinct categories. In general, if two Restricted items are listed on separate tables, then you need separate licenses for them. \$\endgroup\$ – Dyndrilliac Aug 7 '15 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Based on the examples in the chapter on character creation, I'd say this answer is wrong. Those characters have one license and multiple guns (except for James, who has 10 gun licenses, but those are to go with his 10 fake SiNs). \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude May 5 '16 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude The sample characters are notoriously flawed. Also, keep in mind that the example players Kyra and Rob both picked low priorities for nuyen. The lack of licenses, while sub-optimal from a legal perspective, may be intentional as licenses can be acquired later during play and their importance is really up to the GM anyway. Additionally, James and Kyra both waste Karma to register/bind sprites/spirits at character creation even though they can do so for free during play. The examples are clearly not intended to be optimal. \$\endgroup\$ – Dyndrilliac May 6 '16 at 20:49

Only one License is required

You only need one license (like a real life License to Carry Firearms in the USA) to own and carry restricted weapons. If you are using a real SIN and a real License then you should never need another one. That said...

Having multiple licenses is a good idea...

If your character has a fake SIN or a fake license with a real SIN it may be in your best interest to buy/carry multiple licenses because if one license is compromised you'll still have backups. If a SIN or the license attached to it is fake and compromised the the other is compromised as well. So don't have 5 fake licenses tied to 1 fake SIN but do have 5 fake SINS each with their own license.

Related Rules:

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).

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's how I interpreted it also. Unless someone comes around with definitive proof otherwise, I'm going to to agree in this case. \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Mar 6 '14 at 20:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looks like @Dyndrilliac provided the right answer. Your answer is the one I go with in home games (because we don't care for the multiple licenses), but the RAW answer is that you need one for each type and activity. \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula Jun 13 '15 at 12:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Codeacula gotcha, should be called a tax stamp then but leave it game designers to misname things. Glad I could help. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Jul 13 '15 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Codeacula If you look at the examples in the character creation chapter re: purchasing gear, you will see that those characters have only one gun license each (except for the character with 10 licenses, but those are to go with his 10 SiNs, not for 10 different guns). \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude May 5 '16 at 13:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude Right, in my question I specifically mentioned that :) But, the problem is, the examples don't always follow RAW, because Catalyst has a hard time with rules \$\endgroup\$ – Codeacula May 6 '16 at 0:43

It's unfortunate that the book doesn't provide more guidance on this, so "Ask your GM" (or "Make a GM call", as the case may be) is the only good answer. You just have decide how broad each license is. I personally take each individual table as a single license - after all, there are non-weapon restricted items, and it makes zero sense that a single license would cover them all, but likewise the difference between two similar items in the same category it makes very little sense that a single license wouldn't cover them both.

So I break it down into "Heavy Pistols license", "Explosives license", "Electronic Warfare license", etc. I consider the "Concealed Carry license" to cover the Firearm Accessories table, since it includes things like the hidden arm slide, although that one is kind of iffy. Just makes it easier and faster.

It is important to note that the licenses only matter if you get caught with the items - assuming you have them running silent (or have the wireless turned off), it may never matter. If you have a license, though, you don't need to leave them on silent running, and just look like a smart citizen carrying legal protection to a quick look. (Of course, heavily modified or very restricted items could provoke a harder look, that might test the integrity of your fake license - and SIN.)

TL;DR: I use a license for each category of item that can be Restricted, such as one for Heavy Pistols and another for Machine Pistols and another for Explosives. This most closely matches most real-world licensing laws (having a permit to use mining explosives doesn't allow you to carry an Uzi, but having a permit for a 9mm Colt does allow you to carry a .22-pistol S&W), seems to make the most sense, and simplifies play without making the notion of licensing (and fake licenses) obsolete.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm prone to agree... after all, this is Shadowrun. Why charge for a thing once if you can charge for it 5 times instead? Heck, charge to license the person to a specific weapon! I'm sure Knight Errand would love that. Just because an entity is willing to license shock gloves to someone doesn't mean they should or would be willing to license a fully automatic HK-227. \$\endgroup\$ – russellpierce Sep 14 '14 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a perfectly valid answer in the SR world. I would suggest that some nations, states, municipalities or corps (or even corp neighborhoods) may require this level or even more strict licensing. It could come as quite a shock to the runner who thought their Renraku Restriced Weapons permit was sufficient to carry at the corporate ball! (Tsk, no, you need a permit for each weapon! Tied to blood and serial number! Just sign here, here, and pay the nominal five-digit fee.) \$\endgroup\$ – Smithers Apr 20 '15 at 22:53

Looking at the license examples on pg 367 of the sr5, it looks like you have to get one for each item with availability "r": magic, spell weapon, technomancy, and occupation. And the techno and magic ones are just the one license saying you are awakened/resonated. So overall, restricted items look like one license per item same as combat spells in spell weapons and foci, then one license per occupation you have, and one saying if you are awakened/resonated.

Just don't forget the f of forbidden. Those cannot get a license, and if you are found with it your character is headed for jail.


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