In Shadowrun 5th Edition, how is programming handled for deckers? For example, in 4th anniversary rulebook, it clearly outlines how extended rolls for programming are handled. In 5th we see one mention of creating your own programs in Software’s (helpful) description:

"It’s good for writing your own programs and analyzing strange code"

Shadowrun 5th Edition Core Rulebook, Pg. 266 (“Software”)

As in previous editions, I know the roll will be a Software + Logic extended test. But unless I’m missing something, 5th edition doesn't clarify how limits apply to the tests. This makes rolling for programming tests impossible (unless the GM makes up some ruling on the spot).

In 4th Edition – specifically in Unwired – the Advanced Programming Table on pg. 119 goes into depth, highlighting each program type and the threshold needed as well as the interval for how long the job takes. But those intervals conflict with 5th’s limits in a critical way: if my mental limit is 7 and I hit it on the very first test, what do I do for the rest of the time period?

Is this just one of those things where we’d need to wait for a 5th Edition Unwired/Matrix book or am I overlooking something?


1 Answer 1


You basically answered your own question at the end there.

Shadowrun has always been a beast that requires it's builder books to really get going . The core book is fine, but people are always wanting the Arsenal Book for building weapons, the Companion Book for building characters a different way, and the Magic Book for getting a broader depth of magical ability.

For this answer, you'll have to wait to see if Catalyst comes out with the Matrix Book next and, if they do, what the rules on building your own programs will be. But, understand one thing.

Programs are no longer what they used to be in the previous version. Before, a program was how you interacted with the matrix in both a hacking and common use way. They were the actual tools (like a gun) you used to solve matrix problems with. But now, most of that comes from your raw abilities and the deck's base-line stats. You don't used programs anymore to interact with the matrix. Well, not really. I'm sure each of the actions (like putting marks on something or overriding control) uses a 'program' in the literal sense. But the rule abstraction no longer relies on a program to be called for in that particular vein. Now, it's an opposed test or something like that.

Programs are now your added upgrades and augments that you add onto a deck to do extra things. BabyMonitor lets you keep track of your OS, Scrubber keeps your wireless clear of interference, and so on. It's hard to 'build' a new program by rule standards, because each of those programs are unique in what they do. However, I'm sure there will be rules to help budding programmers to build new program augments into their decks. You'll just have to wait.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That’s a great way of looking at the new system I hadn’t considered. The old does emphasize programs as the meat and potatoes of a hacker’s job as opposed to the newer Matrix Actions system (the deck program capacity is very limited). It will be interesting what the developers have planned for the new Matrix book. Thank you very much for your help! :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Interrupt
    Jun 16, 2014 at 21:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .