Reading the matrix rules, I'm rather surprised to see that when you use AR, you use physical initiative rather than Matrix initiative. So that means that if I've got wired reflexes (or its magical equivalent) and high Reaction, I might be better off decking with AR (which is suppsedly more distant and less immersive) than with cold-sim VR. And as a bonus, I'm protected against biofeedback. (Hot-sim VR still has the +2 dice pool bonus, so that at least provides some advantage over AR + wired reflexes.)

Is this correct? Isn't this rather odd? And how do other GMs handle this?

Answer: The (hopefully) correct answer is in the comments of the accepted answer: Wired Reflexes and other initiative boosters don't simply boost your physical initiative, they boost your initiative, so you get the bonus even in VR, while rigging, and possibly even in astral space.


2 Answers 2


Yes, it's totally correct.

It seems odd but simply because we don't picture a decker with an expansive augmentation and a deck. Not only you could make a decker with Wired reflexes and be really quick and avoid biofeedback, but why not be an Adept Decker? It is entirely possible and supported by RAW. Remember that wired reflexes add to your initiative. Not specifically to the Matrix Initiative, or Physical Initiative..it adds to all of them. The maximum you can roll is always 5d6 though.

The advantage of what you could call the traditional way is performance for the nuyen is better. Being a good decker requires a powerful (and expansive) cyberdeck and a DNI. Which usually requires having Priority A in resources (at least B). If you add wired reflexes, you're left with just enough to afford an average deck. And then the irony is you haven't pay your life style yet so you are a 400k walking beast with a super computer in his pocket who lives in a box in the street of Seattle.

Yes, the biofeedback can hurt you. Bullets are usually dangerous too. While you are in AR in the middle of the battlefield the GM can add a -2 penalty to every action you do because you're distracted.

In the end, in a cybercombat duel, I'd put money on the VR Decker with a good cyberdeck and skills rather than the guy with wired reflexes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ But in the middle of a battlefield, the VR decker is totally helpless. Meanwhile, it's odd that something that's supposed to boost physical speed, can give such a tremendous boost to something taking place mostly in your head. And even odder that that bonus disappears when you go full VR. \$\endgroup\$
    – mcv
    Apr 7, 2014 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ A decker is not supposed to be in "the middle". He should be hiding and under the protection of a Sammy or at least a combat mage. When you replace your nerves by more efficient fiber optic it will enhanche your brain and reflexes. You think and act faster. It makes perfect sense. \$\endgroup\$
    – user4000
    Apr 7, 2014 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ You think and act faster until you go full VR. Then the effect disappears, and that's odd (though I get that every game system breaks down at some point). Also, aren't deckers supposed to be more more "in the middle" in SR5 than in older editions (<SR3)? Decking in AR is explictly possible, but it should be the slow and weak option, which it isn't in this case. I guess I got my answer, though. Maybe I should have asked for house rules? \$\endgroup\$
    – mcv
    Apr 7, 2014 at 14:01
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes it does. Wired reflexes add to your Initiative. Notice it's not Matrix Initiative or Physical Initiative, it's "Initiative". Even astral initiative is enhanced by wired reflexes (but what mage in his right mind would do that?) \$\endgroup\$
    – user4000
    Apr 7, 2014 at 14:51
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @MrJinPengyou Maybe you should add the upvoted comment to the answer itself, because I think that's the real answer to my question: that wired reflexes don't make AR better than cold-sim VR, because the wired reflexes also add to VR initiative. \$\endgroup\$
    – mcv
    Apr 8, 2014 at 12:10

Page 101 would suggest that 'Initative' and 'Matrix AR Initative' (and all other forms of initative) are clearly distinct things and that only 'Initiative' (what we all call Physical Initiative) is affect by Augmentation Bonuses.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If that's true, then my original question is relevant again, as a wired (or otherwise enhanced) decker would be able to have higher AR initiative than cold-sim initiative. \$\endgroup\$
    – mcv
    May 2, 2014 at 12:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think user12098 has a good point that needs to be expanded on. The book states that it gives +1D6 Initiative dice, and the chart shows separate entries for the Initiative, Astral Initiative, and Matrix AR/VR (Cold)/VR (Hot) Initiative on page 101. On page 455 the book states that wire reflexes offer +1D6 initiative dice. There's another caveat, though. In the exposition it says that the world seems to move in slow motion, which would suggest mental enhancement to me. Ultimately, I would lean to removing the fluff and saying it only affects Initiative, not the others. \$\endgroup\$
    – Codeacula
    May 2, 2014 at 13:15

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