Run Threat Descriptions
Milk Runs are extremely low threat games, intended as a way to introduce a player or GM to a new mechanic they may not be familiar with at minimal risk. Failure states are exceptionally rare, and opposition, if there is any at all, usually consists of Professional Rating or Threat Level 0 or 1 grunts that the PCs may even outnumber. A typical Milk Run could be anything from binding a mischievous but harmless spirit, graffiting a Stuffer Shack Host, or beating up a stalker. Rewards should consist of little more than bragging rights but in some cases a few RVP is acceptable (certainly never more than 5).
Low threat runs have rewards between 6-9 RVP (an example payout would be 6,000nY and 4 Karma). Opposition is fairly light, consisting of Professional Rating or Threat Level 1 or 2 grunts that may slightly outnumber the PCs, low Force spirits with limited powers, or low rating IC. Static defenses and obstacles, such as mana barriers, can go a bit higher in dicepools, since runners can generally circumvent them. Opposition will be disorganized and unlikely to do much other than point and shoot.
A Low Threat run typically involves people or organizations incapable of maintaining long-term consequences on a PC.
Medium threat runs reward between 10-13 RVP (an example reward would be 12,000nY and 5 Karma). Opposition gets much more serious at this level and consists of PR or TL 3 or 4 grunts who outnumber the PCs in most encounters, medium Force Spirits with the occasional disruptive power, or strong IC with the possibility of Black IC if the players aren’t careful. Static defenses and obstacles, such as mana barriers, can go higher, and circumventing them might be important. Opposition will use low-level tactics like suppression, drugs, alchemical preps, and flanking attempts.
A player is expected to do their legwork to avoid failures, and be comfortable with their role in a team. At this level, weak “landmine” effects begin to show up; an opposing mage might use a screech rifle on the Street Sam, gas may flood out of vents, etc. These effects often come up easily in legwork, and can be defended against by a prepared team.
High threat runs reward up to 16 RVP (an example reward is 16,000nY and 6 karma). Opposition consists of PR or TL 5 grunts, with elements of PR or TL 6 opponents. They will use clever tactics like focused fire, hacking unsecured ‘ware, illusion and manipulation spells, and attempts to lure PCs into traps. Often, opposing forces have the means to discover if Runners are working against them and the resources to counter the team. Static factors and obstacles, such as mana barriers, might be prohibitively difficult to overcome directly.
Comprehensive legwork is essential to discovering the full extent of the opposition players will face, with the occasional unexpected wrench thrown in to derail their plan. Proper planning is necessary to avoid failure, and contingencies are an asset. Players are expected to be fully capable in their given role, with a strong understanding of mechanics attached to it. High threat runs include people and organizations that punish failure severely, and are capable of being major detriments to PCs.
Semi-prime runs reward up to 40 RVP. At this point, rewards typically come in the form of rare equipment or powerful contacts, in addition to money and karma.
Opposing forces consist of PR or TL 6 units, often matching or slightly outnumbering the PCs. Much of the difficulty from semi-prime runs comes from how opposition behaves. Landmines are hidden behind difficult legwork, and failure comes from PCs being unable to handle rapidly shifting mission parameters. Semi-prime runs involve people, things, and organizations that have the means and the will to invest significant resources towards thwarting attacks by Runner teams.
Prime runs are the height of a Shadowrunner’s career. Reward can be upwards of 100 RVP depending on threat and consist of extremely rare and powerful gear, along with elite contacts and sizable cash and karma payouts.
Opposing forces in Prime runs have no listed PR or TL or dice pools. As a GM hosting a Prime run you are expected to have full working knowledge of all the game’s systems, as well as the ability to provide a challenging experience that will push your player’s abilities to their limits. Prime runs are not to be taken lightly, and contain serious risk of PC death or retirement.