A Character Comparison (SR5 vs SR Anarchy)

After my most recent convention at the end of March, I spoke to several people who had either recently tried Anarchy, or their only exposure to Shadowrun was through Anarchy.  For those who may not have heard of Shadowrun Anarchy, it is a recent sourcebook published by Catalyst, that allows people to play Shadowrun in a much more narrative style of play.  Some have nicknamed it “Shadowrun Lite” and having read the core book, it certainly qualifies for the title.

While I will likely post a review of Shadowrun Anarchy at some point, I’ve only recently read the rules and have yet to try it in practice.  Once I’ve had the opportunity to see how the system works first hand, I might be able to weigh in on the system as whole.  I can tell that my regular group as a whole, may not appreciate the system as many of the mechanics from the full game have been abstracted.

With the vast removal of the mechanics of the full game, my first experiment with Anarchy was with the character creation system.  With the reduction from 8 Attributes to 5, the limit of skills to six, the abstraction of qualities, magic and augmentation… I questioned just how an SRA character would compare to an SR5 one.

Using the SR5 to Anarchy Conversion rules, I took one of my pre-made Convention characters and attempted to convert it to Anarchy.  I went for a character that pretty much sees play at every convention I go to, but also features an extreme case that I felt Anarchy would be hard-pressed to replicate.

So, here is my cybered-up Merc Viper in his current Fifth Edition incarnation (Standard Build + 25 Karma post-build):

Jorge Domenico aka “Viper”

Bio – Jorge is a Latino ork and a veteran of the Aztlan-Amazonian conflict, who has seen far too much.  He feels his only viable trade is in dealing death, but he battles with PTSD on a regular basis.  Rather than seek therapy, he has taken to medicating himself using Bliss, which is an imperfect solution that is starting to take its toll.


Body 6(8), Agility 5, Reaction 4(6), Strength 5, Willpower 3, Logic 3, Intuition 4, Charisma 3
Edge 2, Essence 0.02


Natural Athlete, Resistance to Pathogens, Moderate Addiction (Bliss), SINner (Aztlan)

Active Skills

Automatics 5, Heavy Weapons 5, Blades 4, Running 3, Gymnastics 3, Perception 3, Sneaking 3, Survival 2, Unarmed Combat 2

Knowledge Skills

Tactics 4, Yucatan War 4, Spirits 3, English 3, Aztlan Spanish N


Judge – Fixer – C4 L1
Dr. Hook – Drug Dealer – C2 L2



Ares Crusader II – Machine Pistol – Concealed Holster, Smartlink, Gas Vent II
HK 227 – Submachinegun – Retractible Stock, Smartlink, Sound Suppressor
AK 97 – Assault Rifle – Imaging Scope w/ Flare Compensation, Low-Light and Vision Magnification, Gas Vent III, Smartlink
Ingram Valiant – LMG – Shock Pad, Smartlink, Gas Vent II


Armor Jacket w/ Chemical Protection 4, Thermal Damping, Nonconductivity 4


Datajack (Alpha Grade), Ultrasound Sensor 3 (Alpha Grade), Cybereye 3 w/ Smartlink, Vision Enhancement 3, Thermographic, Low Light and Vision Magnification (Alpha Grade), Cyberears 2 w/ Audio Enhancement 3, Damper, Spatial Recognizer and Select Sound Filter 2 (Alpha Grade), Full Obvious Cyberarm w/ Str5, Agi5, Cyberarm Gyromount, Implanted Machine Pistol w/ Extended Clip (Standard Grade), Aluminum Bone Lacing (Alpha Grade), Reaction Enhancers 1 (Alpha Grade), Wired Reflexes 1 (Standard Grade), Damage Compensators 4, Toxin Extractors 3


Hermes Ikon Commlink, AR Gloves, Biometric Reader, Subvocal Mic, Gas Mask, Magnesium Torches, piles of ammo for all guns, Basic DocWagon Contract, several doses of Bliss, Fake SIN 4 plus many fake licenses, several thousand nuyen.

Viper version 2

So… that in a nutshell is the current build for Viper.  What follows is what I got using the SR5 to SRA conversion rules.  The Name and Bio don’t change, but you will likely note several differences on the following version:


Strength 5, Agility 5, Willpower 3, Logic 3, Charisma 3
Edge 2, Essence 0.5


Natural Athlete = +2 to Athletics
Resistance to Pathogens = +2 Strength to Resist Damage from Pathogens
Moderate Addiction (Bliss) = must use a Plot Point to not get a fix when in a stressful situation, -2 to all tests if drug not available


Firearms 5, Heavy Weapons 5, Close Combat 4, Athletics 4, Stealth 3, Survival 2


Machete – Dam 6P, Close

Ares Crusader II – Dam 6P, Close/Near (-2)
HK 227 – Dam 6P, Close/Near
AK 97 – Dam 8P, Close/Near/Far (-2)
Ingram Valiant – Dam 8P, Close/Near/Far


Armor Jacket – 12, -1 Skill Point

Shadow Amps

Full Cyberarm = (Amp 3) Re-roll 2 dice on Agility Skills, -1 Essence
Aluminum Bone Lacing = (Amp 3) -2 Damage on all received attacks, -1 Essence
Wired Reflexes = (Amp 2) +1 attack, -1 Essence
Cybereyes = (Amp 3) Ignore all negative Vision mods, re-roll 2 dice on ranged attacks, -1 Essence
Cyberears = (Amp 3) Ignore all negative Audio mods, re-roll 2 dice on Perception rolls for detecting ambush, -1 Essence
Damage Compensators = (Amp 5) Ignore 3 wounds of damage (Stun and Physical) before determining negative wounds modifiers, -0.5 Essence


Gas Mask, doses of Bliss, DocWagon Contract, Fake SIN, Judge – Fixer, Dr. Hook – Drug Dealer


Battlefields change, but the rules remain the same
Adapt to the environment


“I’m a product of war and war is my product.”
“You guys handle the talking… when you want someone dead, come fetch me.”
“When you’ve seen the things I’ve seen, you need a way to switch it off.  This is my way.  Gimme my stash before I break your legs…”


For those not familiar with both systems, a lot of the above might as well be Greek.  The biggest changes that I’ve noted with this character in particular:

  • The abolition of tracking nuyen and ammo makes upgrading cybered individuals easier
  • The limit of 6 Shadow Amps caps the number of augmentations at 6, regardless of whether the character has Essence left or not (this limitation will also apply to adepts and mages as well)
  • Customization of cybernetics with capacity is outright gone, as are the grades of cybernetics
  • The limit of only 6 skills makes having a skill-focused character much less viable, especially if you wish to use one of those for a Knowledge skill
  • Lumping contacts in with gear and then limiting the amount of gear that can be carried limits the character’s ability to gather a network of useful people
  • The limit of two positive and one negative Quality (which you then have to define) also limits the customizations on characters

I’m sure other issues will appear as I explore the mechanics of Anarchy.  My initial thoughts…

In some ways, the new version is better… by gaining the group as opposed to individual skills, he can use a wider range of weapons, or his skills with some weapons have improved.  Perception is no longer a skill, but an attribute-based item, which made Viper’s overall dice pool drop slightly.

However, a lot of the customizations, particularly in his cybernetics, was lost.  With every cybernetic implant costing 1 Essence and every Bio Implant costing 0.5 Essence, it really limits what you can load into a character.  For old-school Shadowrun players, the idea that a Datajack and Wired 3 cost the same amount of Essence probably comes off as just plain wrong…

It probably shows through in my bias, that I prefer the flexibility of the full-blown system when it comes to characters.  However, if you have a group of players that are brand new to the world and they aren’t keen on spending hours tweaking a character with a giant pile of books, then Anarchy could prove a quick entry point for new players.  However, I don’t know that anyone comfortable in the full SR5 world will enjoy the vastly simplified characters used in Anarchy.

~ by 1nsomniac on April 11, 2017.

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