ShadowHaven:Madman's Guide to Gear

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There is so much gear available in Shadowrun, it’s hard to know what to start with. This guide is intended for new players who are just overwhelmed by the number of choices involved in starting a character, and you don’t want to read all… like…. 10,000 pages of gear descriptions. In order to help the greatest number of characters, this guide not only gives basic gear recommendations, but 3 levels of gear recommendations: minimum, recommended, and exceeding. This is to help characters like mages who start with very little nuyen, characters with an average amount of nuyen, and characters who have a bit of nuyen leftover at CharGen, but need to spend a little more to get below the 5,000 nuyen point.

Now, since this is intended for new players, I will be explaining the reasoning for my gear choices. The recommendations are listed at the beginning of each section, so you can skip the Why sections if you want, but if you’re a new player, they are a good read. I will also point out that you can spend up to 10 karma to get additional nuyen at a rate of 1 karma > 2,000¥. For those characters at Resources E, getting only 6,000¥, you will need to do this, as 6,000¥ is not even enough to purchase a decent Fake SIN, which you need to… you know. Buy food. A house. Y’know, unnecessary stuff that is nice to have.

So, without further ado, Here is the MadMan’s guide!

Start with your Identity


(9,300¥ with 3 licenses)

R3 Fake SIN with Licenses to cover your “cover story” (Security Spider for a Decker, Bounty Hunter for a street sam, etc.), obvious restricted items (Restricted Augmentations, etc.), Firearms (if your character is using firearms), Armor (if you have restricted armor that you are going to wear around) and, if awakened, a license for their magic.



Same thing but R4. R4 is the max you can get at CharGen due to availability limits. This is true both for Standard and Prime generation.


You can’t get an R5, so the only way to exceed in this area is to get another SIN. This can be useful as you can run one SIN as your lifestyle and the other as your “running SIN” but is not necessary. It can also be useful for Face (social) characters as having one identity as a doctor can help you get by in a hospital, and then another as an OSHA inspector can get you into a factory. Ask your GM if they would allow this to aid in social tests, but realistically, it should.

===Why=== A default character is SINless, meaning they have no legal identity. Of course, Big Brother doesn’t like this, so a SIN is required for things like buying food. So, if your character is SINless, you’re SOL, right? Well, this is where Fake SINs enter. Think of it like a spoofed ID. You need one to survive. Now, the way a SIN works is when your SIN gets scanned, the scanner rolls 2x its device rating, limited by its Device rating, with a threshold equal to your SIN. For example, if you get stopped by Knight Errant and they want to check your SIN, a KE hand scanner would have about a device rating of 3. So, it would roll 6 dice, and could count up to 3 hits. If your SIN was a rating 4, then the KE scanner would not be able to identify your SIN as fake. If you have a rating 3, it *could* tie. In the event of a tie, it doesn’t “burn” (or mark it as fake making it now unusable) the SIN, but says it is questionable. They may run the SIN again, or the person scanning may look at the details with more scrutiny. You shouldn’t really run into an R4 scanner unless you are going to a border crossing or something similar, so an R4 SIN should be able to get you almost all places you need to go without question.

Licenses also go on Fake SINs. Licenses are basically your right to have restricted items or restricted… y’know, existence (in the case of mages and technomancers). Licenses are added as a plugin to SINs and must be at the same rating as the Fake SIN. You cannot get licences for forbidden items. Depending on your GM, you might need a License for every restricted item or for classes of items. Consult your GM for specifics on what licenses you would need.

“But wait! I have a SINner quality! I don’t need a fake SIN.” Yes, you do. You’re out on a run, and a KE officer catches your SIN. He checks it out and, guess what’s on it? Your real name. Your real family. Your real home. Your real bank account. Get a Fake. Protecto yourself.


I did not create this particular guide, however it is quite thorough in its descriptions of firearms and armor. (Thanks Jag!)


(1,000¥) An armor jacket


An armor jacket, and armor accessories (have a +X armor rating) to a total of your STR. YNT Softweave. Non Conductivity Rating 4, Chemical Protection Rating 4. Gas Mask installed in ballistic mask (which should be your first armor accessory purchased)


Add more mods. Consider high fashion armors, including the Sleeping Tiger which is good for combat, sneaking, and social situations.


Armor is the lifeblood of a runner. It has two major functions. First, whenever you take damage you roll (Armor - AP of attack, minimum 0) + Body and reduce damage by hits. So, the higher your armor, the less damage you take. It also does the secondary effect of converting Physical (will kill you) damage to Stun (will only knock you out) damage if it is high enough. This is done by comparing (Armor-AP of attack) against the DV of the attack. So if you are wearing an armor jacket (Armor 12), and get hit by a shotgun doing 11 damage, with an AP of -2, then you would compare 12-2 (10) against the DV of 11. Since the DV is higher than the modified armor, you would take physical damage. However, if you wore a ballistic mask as well (+2 armor accessory), then you would have 14 armor. 14-2 (12) is greater than 11, so it would only do stun damage. The armor jacket is the best bang-for-buck basic armor you can get as far as raw armor rating. Hence why it’s great for starting out.

As for the armor accessories, here’s how encumbrance works in Shadowrun: armors don’t stack. So you can’t wear 3 armor jackets and get 36 armor. Instead, you wear a basic armor and then you can add armor accessories. Armor accessories have an armor rating of +X. Some armors have an armor rating of X/+X. These can be worn as standard armors, getting the first rating, or as an accessory, gaining the second rating. Now, you are able to wear accessories to get bonus to your armor rating as you have augmented STR without taking a penalty. After you have reached that point, for every 2 *full* points of armor accessories above that, you take -1 Agility and -1 Reaction. This is a lot to give up for some armor. However, the requirement that it be 2 *full* points, means that you can get only *1* point above your augmented strength without taking penalties. This means that even a Str 1 character should be able to take a Ballistic Mask.

As for the armor mods, electricity and toxins are the most common “elemental” types of damage you will run into. Fire is uncommon, and cold is very rare. The gas mask gives you immunity to inhalation toxins, but must be activated and only works for one hour. It is usually assumed you have your gas mask active before you go into a combat situation unless your GM is mean or he has said to you that he is not assuming competence. Chemical protection can defend against contact vector toxins. Now, understand this as well, if a toxin has multiple vectors, or means of affecting you, you get the lowest defense of these vectors. For example, Pepper Punch is a Contact, Inhalation vector. So although you are immune to it via your gas mask, you are not immune to contact and will have to roll your resistance.


I did not create this particular guide, however it is quite thorough in its descriptions of firearms and armor. (Thanks, Jag!)


A sidearm of some form. If you have taken Automatics as a skill, a machine pistol. Steyr TMP and Ares Crusader are my favorites. If you have taken Pistols, a light or heavy pistol. Light pistols, check out the Ares LIght Fire 75. Heavy? Savalette Guardian. Ignore holdouts. Light pistols are better holdouts. Don’t forget to get at least 2 Spare Clips (Speed reloader for revolvers) If you have unarmed but low strength, a Shock Glove. If you have a melee skill, a melee weapon of your choice. . It’s best to add them as “mods” if you are using chummer because it gives you better tracking options in Career mode.


A power firearm. Something to lay the hurt. An assault rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle. If you only have Pistols, a Heavy Pistol with good DV. Again, don’t forget some Spare Clips.


Mod your weapon(s). Some highly recommended items are an external smartgun (if it does not have a smartgun system and you have smartlink either in ware or other gear), Improved Range Finder (used with smartgun system),  Gas Vent 3 system (especially for low strength characters and those using automatics), sling (for big guns), Concealed Quick-Draw Holster (for sidearms), and personalized grip (for every for every weapon). Don’t forget to add extra clips!


The why on each weapon is explained more clearly in the guide above. Having a sidearm is having an easily concealed weapon that you can smuggle places that don’t want you to have them (hence the concealed quick draw holster as well). But they won’t do a lot against some heavy armored CorpSec or a HTR (High Threat Response) team. Hence the big gun. You might need one of those if your role is different, like a mage or decker, as there are other ways you can contribute to the team besides just laying on hurt.



2 types of ammo. One to kill (Explosive or APDS) and one to stun (Gel or Stick and Shock). Get enough of each to fill two clips for each weapon you have.


Basically, the same as minimum. Plus, if you have a grenade launcher (and the heavy weapons skill) or the throwing weapons skill, get some grenades. Grenades are great utility items. High Explosive has a larger blast radius and does more damage, on average, than a Frag Grenade, due to its larger radius and better AP. Other fun grenades: smokebomb, thermal smoke, smoke, gas with chosen toxins (neurostun is nice), and flashbangs. Again, try to have some lethal and some non-lethal. Another fun method is to get paint grenades and then put DMSO (which turns a non-contact vector toxin into a contact vector toxin) with your chosen toxin.


Just… don’t exceed in ammunition. It’s easy to restock between runs. That should be plenty.


“My character is a stone cold killer. I don’t need a stunning thing.” There are two reasons this doesn’t work. First, the response from your opposition will escalate with how much you escalate things. If you use APDS, they will now feel like their lives are on the line. Think of the difference IRL when someone tries to punch a cop versus when they pull a gun on the cop. This is true in the Shadowrun universe as well, with a few exceptions (Red Samurai are a notable exception that will try to kill you outright). The second reason is: what happens if you are performing an extraction on an unwilling target? You need to knock them out.

APDS is great against high armor targets, and explosives against low. I tend to favor APDS, but Explosive has higher average damage.

Gel rounds and Stick n Shock have the same average damage (after comparing APDS and DV), but Stick and Shock have the added benefit of dealing electrical damage (thus affecting their initiative and inflicting -1 on their actions). SnS also do physical damage against vehicles while gel rounds do not. For these reasons, I tend to favor SnS.

Direct Neural Interface

Minimum: Have one. I’m not going to put down what gear is the minimum I recommend. Here are the various methods that you can get a DNI with: Trodes, Trode Patch, Datajack, Datajack Plus. The first two are gear and do not require essence. The second two are cyberware and will require essence. Check with your GM if the Datajack plus will be beneficial for you before taking it.

Why: A direct neural interface allows you to issue mental commands to your gear. When combined with a device with a sim module, it can also give you an AR overlay without taking up valuable capacity in vision and hearing devices. It allows you to send messages back and forth with your team and communicate silently while your Face deals with the Johnson. Without a DNI, you have to do very conspicuous typing. And at 70 nuyen for a set of trodes, there is very little reason you should not have one.



Have a method to increase initiative. For non-combat characters, shoot for high teens, preferably 21+ on average. For combat oriented characters, shoot for 31+ on average. This is not always possible, but here are a few methods that can increase your initiative. For reference, here are the ShadowHaven rules on stacking initiative. These are pretty much RAW, but may contain a few variances. It also lists the many methods that you can use to increase initiative, so I won’t bother listing them here. Drugs that boost initiative include: Accelerator (dangerous), Cram, Jazz and Kamikaze.


Again, this is not a minimum kind of thing. Methods will vary from character to character. Here’s the deal, combat is very fast in Shadowrun. A high initiative score can mean more than one turn in each combat turn. Combat turns are separated into initiative passes. Everyone gets a turn on the first initiative pass in descending order of initiative. After everyone has had a turn, all scores are reduced by 10, and then anyone with an initiative greater than 0 gets to go again. This is repeated until no one has a chance to go. This means an initiative of 11 gets you two turns, 21 gets you 3, 31 gets you 4, etc. Hopefully, you can see how this is extremely beneficial.

Buy a House


Advanced lifestyle Low with comforts increased to 3. Get public transportation for your city if you don’t have a vehicle.


Medium Lifestyle. Public transport if needed.


High. Don’t get higher than that, since luxury will be impossible to maintain. If you’re this high, I hope you have at least a Dodge Scoot to get to meets.


So, to understand my recommendations, let’s understand lifestyle damage. At the beginning of each run, you take 6S fatigue damage (resisted by Bod+Will), representing how hard it is to live in the 6th world. You can mitigate this, however, by making yourself a comfortable lifestyle. Each lifestyle has a set level of “comforts.” For each level of comforts, you take 2S less fatigue damage. A low lifestyle has a default comforts level of 2. By using advanced lifestyle, you can increase it to 3 for a total extra cost of only 200¥. Medium has a default level of 3. While you don’t need to do an advanced lifestyle, I recommend it. Advanced lifestyles have a lot more options and many of them are free.

Now, another thing to consider is how much money you get from each lifestyle. Starting nuyen is whatever you have leftover from CharGen (up to 5,000¥) and an amount determined by lifestyle. For low, you get 3d6*60, for an average of about 600 nuyen. Medium gets you 4d6*100, for an average of 1400¥. High lifestyle gets 5d6*500 nuyen, averaging around 8,500 nuyen, the highest return on investment for these lifestyles. Well, on average.

Defensive Drugs


Get 3 doses each of Guts and Ondanstron, 2 R6 Stim Patchs, a Trauma Patch


There are certain status effects that may occur that feel like a “You Lose” button. This is fun when used against enemies, but whatever you can do, so can your enemies. Fear is one such effect. If you fail, you must run away or cower for an extended period. With how fast and deadly combat is, even something as small as a few combat turns (remember the multiple initiative pass, thing?) can be very deadly. Guts makes you immune to fear. So, keep it in your pocket in case you need it.

Nausea is also a pain. It’s a catch-all status effect that means a large amount of discomfort, enough to stop you from acting, often for minutes. Note that a single minute is 20 combat turns. So, yeah. This drug gives you bonuses on your resistance test, as well as increases your Willpower for the purpose of resisting nausea, which is incredibly important.

Stim Patches temporarily (1 hour) heal stun damage.

Even if you’re running a character that is anti-drug, consider these prescription drugs. For what ailment? Not dying.

Misc. Items


A few small items that may or may not benefit you depending on the run. The goal of these items is to have them on hand in case you need them on the spot, but most of these can be picked up real fast if you don’t have them. A silver and 2-3 standard credsticks. A tag eraser.


Contacts and glasses with various vision mods. Earbuds with various hearing mods. A R6 Medkit (that you keep at home or in a vehicle, lugging it around is not the best idea as this is the size of a large duffel) An auto injector with a savior medkit inside it and a biomonitor to watch your vitals so it knows when to trigger the auto injector. Some method of transporting electronics without being tracked (R6 directional jammer, a Body Bag armor with R6 Universal Mirror Material, faraday pocket armor mod for small electronics)


Get a vehicle with the basic “anonymous package” mods: Spoof chips, morphing license plate, and gridlink override. Also a smuggling compartment is nice. Gecko gloves. Plasteel restraints.