Conversion Blues



This is a long random thought on trying to make a conversion…if you have advice great, one way or the other not sure my feelings at the moment.

So as some may know, though I am not sure I posted it much, I love the setting and feel of Shadowrun, I’ve played every edition, well except the newest, if it is out yet…

My only dislike of Shadowrun is combat takes forever…not a 6 hour session, I can’t run a challenging combat, and have any story. Also the system is just very dated and old. 5th ed did alot to fix some things but it did not fix the long combat resolution.

So I set to making a dice pool version of ICRPG. I have alot of the components figured out and was hoping that it only required 4 or 5 pages of ICRPG rules to be ignored.
It requires everything with dice mechanics to be ignored.

If I design a setting that is similar to ShadowRun, but not, and a Rule system that is a bastardized version of ICRPG, is there a real point?
Success and effort are about as fast as ICRPG, though effort can get a bit Spiky compared to SR 5 and ICRPG.

The character sheet and creation is way more involved than ICRPG (I added skills as separate thing)

And its not ICRPG,…but I can’t say it is my design, and I really don’t want to make a design from scratch. but it is more more on par with the complexity of D&D 5E…shit.

So none of this is beyond notebook stage, but is there value in creating something that does not fit into the great aspects of a system, just because you like the feel of rolling a crap load of D6s?

Is complex character creation not too terrible? After testing and bug fixing, how do I post it as an ICRPG add-on, when you have to convert most everything?

anyway, just feeling annoyed that I spent the brain power figuring the mechanics and now I see it is not the result I wanted, and I don’t think I can get that result. But it would be a fairly stream lined Dice pool system. perhaps I need to look at more dice pool systems???


@Ezzerharden and I had a similar discussion over the weekend. Basically, what I came away with is, know what you’re truly trying to capture from each system and stay true to that.


I agree with Shady. I also once emailed Hank about a simple conversion that used a dice pool system and he made a great point. If you’re trying to make an ICRPG conversion, the dice pool system pulls away from what ICRPG is meant to be. Just a thought if you were aiming it to be ICRPG. So like Shady said, keep it true to what you’re trying to convert.

PS. I’d never say you wasted brain power because even if you don’t use a lot of those ideas, it’ll just solidify your decision when your done.


oddly, I may have just figured it out.I need to think about it some more. Flavor, style need…then again I’m probably wrong.
if I keep the effort as is, d4,d6,d8,d12 or d3, d6, d6+2, 2d6 it does not spike to the degree I had it spiking.all I am really changing is the action mechanics with a counter save for the players. the npcs can still use the room target as their “armor”.


@Shadymutha hit the nail on the head… conversion shouldn’t change the system to adapt to the story. When you convert the system so much that your forcing the changing of the rules to fit the original, than why not play the original?
@Paxx If you really want to play shadowrun using ICRPG just translate what you need and let the game at the table and your players come up with the rest… there is a wrold primer for shadowrun that I started somewhere on the forums… search it out and see if it helps to give you some guidance… GAME ON!


System Does Matter

I reference this article fairly frequently. The reason we have so many systems is that every author is trying to codify their ideas regarding resolution and interaction. It’s never a waste of time to explore where you want to go or what you want to see. For example, as much as I like the Shadowrun setting, you will not catch me playing SR5. I recall picking up the book, flipping through the pages then putting it right back down. If SR6 is based on SR5, that’ll get a hard pass as well.

The closest to an ideal system I’ve encountered is Fate Accelerated. It addresses MY needs for an RPG: establish a few facts, provide a quick resolution mechanic then get out of the way. My nemesis is the Hero system: calculation and referencing a giant tome of information is not my idea of fun. Which is also why I quit playing 3.5 D&D - I had one character that needed five (six?) books to reference because the character had a feat from this book, a feat from that book, a prestige class from another book, etc.

Shadowrun is just a setting; the system answers the questions. I prefer systems that are fast and light, where I don’t have to spend an hour or more generating details. Games like Fate and ICRPG keeps the paperwork simple, so I lean toward them. One of the more intriguing RPGs I’ve come across recently, The Veil, is a Cyberpunk RPG that uses emotional states as ability scores. So, I guess it just comes down to figuring out what questions you want answered.


What if you had all your stats start as 1’s before you spend points to make your character with the idea that rather than adds to a d20, they were instead the dice pool you roll: so a Str 3 is 3d6s? Then have the difficulty of the roll 1-6 be the difficulty of the ‘room’/scene.

That way you can keep the flavor of dice pool mechanics for base action resolution but still be able to resolve the “damage roll” in terms of the ICRPG effort dice.

That splits the difference nicely I think and preserves what I like about both systems.


Not sure I’d go with a skill list beyond a simple binary: if you’re trained in something, it’s Easy for you. I wouldn’t nail it down more than that.

You might (this seems REALLY fun to me while typing it and deeply ICRPG-minded) create a random list of fun and oddly specific skills that fit for a Shadowrun game–some of them more handy in combat maybe (like a knack for hotwiring electronics panels) some weirder ones that are almost all fun character stuff (a talent with flavor faucets lets you make soy taste exactly like any food you’ve tasted). Just have each character roll on your list a few times.


Well holy crap man, that’s a thing of beauty for anyone wanting to move their group to ICRPG.

I’m actually looking to keep the play style of ICRPG and add elements of ShadowRun. Oh, and I like the feel of a hand full of dice.

That said, I’ll definitely pilfer from your work, and I almost never finish personal projects. But this has my brain engaged for the moment.

I’m also thinking I’d rather have the bio forms from earthdawn. And a totally different world, So to call it a conversion might be a misnomer.
SR really has 4 or 5 worlds on top of each other running simultaneously. I can try to streamline it to 2 and make resolutions quicker.
Do we really need to detail vehicle combat? You might use it 5 times during a normal campaign.
Do we need 50 different guns?
Reskinning guns from Warpshell and ghost mountain should fit.
Matrix will have to be it’s own minigame. And magical realms as well, but the magical realm might not need it as much, perhaps a conversation of the concepts of distance, with the physical stats removed. And the element of “do you know where your body is?”


Grim, great ideas, I’ll steal some.
But the real breakthrough for me and hardest to wrap my head around had been room target. NPC’s are not simplified characters, they are obstacles and threats. A dragon is not bag of hit points and a bunch of damaging attacks, it’s hard to damage at all and any hit will likely kill you, 2 hits for sure.
20 pijama clad guys against your party of mercs, scary and deadly, but picking them off is easy.
Players play against the room, npcs against the players defenses. Timers and player action adjust the room target #, situational issues make rolls easy or hard.

On odd occasions you run them against other “characters” but that’s not the normal game.


And none of it is hard and fast. I’m new for sure to ICRPG but my personal feeling is that this is DIY above all–it’s more important that it work for you and your story than that it’s ideologically loyal to the ideas of the game system. If it doesn’t help speed up or improve your game, scrap it and do something that will.

Fixed room difficulty doesn’t necessarily mean that enemies have to be flat obstacles–they can still be well rendered, fleshed out characters with as much detail as you care to give them. But there’s a nice framework for the pajama ninjas so you don’t have to sweat statting each one out. And when you are fleshing out a more complex enemy, you only need develop the detail that will affect the characters when they hit the table. I like that. For the most part when you’re dealing with room difficulty I see it as more environmental–a firefight in a crowded nightclub with pounding music and darkness with screaming bystanders running everywhere will make everything harder. A swordfight in the guts of the AI subsystem of a nuclear power plant on rickety catwalks with steam jets everywhere is inherently harder. The same fight in a well lit corp parking structure should be significantly easier.


If there’s been a weakness to Shadowrun and other Cyberpunk flavored games it’s been this idea that going into the Matrix or magical realms ends up effectively sidelining the entire character party except the decker/mage who then gets to go on a solo adventure while everyone else is forced to sit around and watch.

I feel like if you took your street samurai and had him get a call, meet a guy and run a whole mission while everyone else just had to sit there it wouldn’t be acceptable, right? So why is it okay when it’s the other guy? It’s always bugged me.

My druthers would be to handle matrix runs a lot like picking locks and disarming traps in the base game–except the flavor text instead of being nonsense about pins and tumblers or tripwires, I’d describe neon green digital werewolves and gridded Tronscapes they have to make their way through–but it’d still be just a dieroll or two. Then back to the real world.

I wonder if you couldn’t deal with Astral travel as being basically invisible, the way you would with a Ghost–except that there might be special astral badguys that end up only seeing them, effectively causing there to be two fights going on simultaneously? Special vision quests where they dive into the Astral to unlock more magical powers…I don’t even know. Let the other players make new characters that are fellow mages on a similar quest? Turn that into its own whole adventure? Either that or honestly I might just have a little back and forth with the player when they increase their magic powers describing the crazy quest they went on to get it, again just broadstrokes.

It’s really about how core it is to your Shadowrun experience. For me it’d be something I’d be happy to strip down as much as possible.


Lol, sorry text is a terrible medium for some things.
From a mechanical point of view, the melee in the nuke power power plant cooling tower is the same as a combat on a well lit soccer practice field. But the room target # should be lower and the there should be no hard rolls until the nausea gas starts flying.

Making the story and the mechanics fit is not where I am at yet. I’m just trying to understand the raw mechanics and what lever is for what.

Of course flavor should always be added. But that comes a bit later.

I’m now kinda thinking try it with default ICRPG 6 room run, then see if my dice pool works differently. Each way I do some room design that will fit the motif, so not wasted time and effort. I’m honestly thinking I’m near where I want to be at the moment. Just need to work it and then test run it.


Agreed. I feel like there’s been some crosstalk. Not sure where we got messed up. Let me backtrack a tiny bit:

You mentioned a couple of things in your previous posts: that you were still trying to get your head around the ICRPG idea of badguys as obstacles versus Shadowrun’s idea of badguys as NPC “characters”. You also mentioned in a post that the Matrix and magical realms would have to be minigames of their own separate from the game happening in the real world. That’s what I was trying to tackle. For good or ill.

For the “how to handle badguys in ICRPG” thing I was suggesting that you shouldn’t feel too beholden to the way ICRPG does things–more focused on what helps you tell the story you’re telling. Something like room difficulty can mean the difference between a group of fairly easy to kill ninjas and a nearly unkillable dragon, sure–but my point is it wouldn’t necessarily have to. The higher difficulty could be environmental–say fighting ninjas in a dark nightclub or reactor catwalk. It’s flexible like that. That was my point. Or if a situation comes up where the idea of a “room difficulty” gets to be more of a problem than a help–like if the ninjas were to show up in the middle of your dragon boss fight, but you don’t want them to have the same challenge level because that doesn’t make sense–that you can feel free to change it. They’re not hard and fast rules to describe the world. They’re just shorthand to speed gameplay. I’d feel free to keep or ditch them on the fly as suits the particular encounter.

Does that make more sense?

The second part was with regards to the magic realms and Matrix as dealt with in Shadowrun. For me, in my games, it’s always been an issue that they end up having to be dealt with as mini solo adventures for one player with everyone else stuck watching. That’s been a big negative for me, so my inclination would be to handwave most of it and deal with it as the special power for the Decker or Mage class as something they spend a few rounds of effort to chew through (akin to picking a lock) rather than something I would stage as whole encounters of content that only they get to engage with. But it’s really all about how much you like that part of the game or if it bugs you like it does me.

Not sure if that’s any clearer.

Nothing about trying to fit story to mechanics or anything, just how to emulate different Shadowrun elements using ICRPG rules and how much should be played out round by round and how much should be abstracted.

All of which is really stuff only you and your group can answer. But it’s fun to spitball ideas. Hopefully some of it helps.


SR5 did a good job of making matrix real time, a terrible job of astral overwatch.

I think there are some mechanics that can be added to icrpg. I’m delving into something similar to DMChef’s zombie game Zombies ICRPG

but in the infiltration genre. If that seems to work, add magic and matrix aspects.

If that all works see if it works with my dice pool idea.
If that works see if there there is an easy way to convert.
Write the conversion.
Keep it separate, one almost pure ICRPG, the other a conversion to a D6 dice pool system.
I’ll play whatever I and my players like, others can take it for 0.004 credits it’s worth.

So next step, 10+ room designs that can be easily altered and combined in almost any order. Team of infiltrators go in, and take what needs taking. Running through 4~7 “rooms” a few timers running,

Succeed, characters can choose a boon and get a random loot.
Fail, characters might be dead or captured, or live another day but no advancement.

Make sure there is something for each class of infiltrator, but that none are essential.

Expand room types to 14+.

Add in overwatch types (matrix, astral, other???)
See how that works.

Revisit D6 dice pools.

If all goes well, add in more RPG elements as opposed to tabletop tactical.
Not reinventing the wheel, total IP theft but should keep me occupied for the summer.


It’s helped a ton.
On the NPCs as obstacles. That is what ICRPG is great about. That is what they are from a mechanics point of view. It does not mean the narration, story, even character sheet needs to be any less than a full fledged PC, just keeping 100% ICRPG, all of that is fluff. If it helps, add. If your players are murder hobos, work less on fluff and design engaging encounters. If your players are full on Role Players, work on engaging NPCs.
I’m just an idiot trying to make a setting I’m nostalgic for, fit a system that I think is the best RPG training system because it is the essence of what is needed, and not much else.

So, I’ll focus on the essential, and expand from there, or drop it into the waste bin of my mind. Each post has helped my thinking it through very much, and I can’t thank you all enough.


Sounds good man. Good luck with your tinkering! Hope you get something rad.


On the sidelines of players, when I ran SR a lot, 3rd edition with up to 12 players, I tried to leave the sidelined group with planning to do, and I used the solo adventure as a smoke break for myself. Only cursing when I needed to go back in for more than the 6 dice I took with me. Had good attendance most nights so they enjoyed it.


For me, when SR5 changed matrix and astral magic to “real time”… it solved so many probs… and then Anarchy came out and made it even lighter without losing any of the flavor… it became SICK/NASTY! … Game On!


SR 5 did improve that, but to me it, well SR 4 took out the magic impact on it, and the flavor magic had. Magic became bland for me, and OP in 4 only needed for magical defenses in 5. I did like the matrix changes.

And combat just always took too long. Using calculation apps helped, but combat was too bloated. Deadly if run right, so never unbalanced, but just 3+ hours for a 50/50 combat. 30 minutes should be the goal. I’m used to running 8+ people but rounds took 20~40 minutes. Phys-Adds and samurai going 3~4 times might have been the problem. But still.

Thinking it was me, I played a lot at conventions. They ultimately really tailored their combats to fit the 4 hours. Limiting pre run planning. Taking away from the natural flow for me.
get the job, plan and prep. Session 1.
Do the run and get what’s coming to you, session 2.

It became, here’s the info, see if you can improve it in 20 minutes through contacts or the matrix, do the run. Almost always get your promised reward.

Well designed missions where fun and great designs but it was cheeseburgers, cheeseburger. Not these wonderful side quests my players would get into prepping the job. And combat if played right is Rock Paper Scissors. Perhaps I looked into the void too long and didn’t like the view behind the curtain.
Sooo, let’s see if it all can get streamlined to it’s raw potential and fit session one and two into a game.