When I started running my game, many of players had little to no experience with Shadowrun. My first choice might have been deciding which version of the game to run, but 5th edition had just come out and I really liked the system, so that decision was pretty much made for me. My Next choice then was when to set the game. Since my group was mostly inexperienced with Shadowrun, I decided to start near the beginning. This way, my group could experience a lot of the world shaking events that most long-time players take for granted. Luckily, there are several modules and materials out there that deal with these early years. The problem? They are for earlier editions of the game. Time to convert.
How to convert? Thankfully there are some Conversion Guides out there. In the back of the Second and Third Edition books, there are guides for bringing the previous edition “up to date,” and there is a PDF out there with details for bringing Third Edition up to Fourth Edition. Some of the changes are listed below.
- From First Edition to Second Edition, very little changed except some gear and weapon stats. Attributes and Skills, and most of the actual rules mechanics remained mostly the same.
- From Second Edition to Third Edition, certain skills changed names, and certain Concentrations were split off their base skill and became separate skills. Also, knowledge skills were introduced, so points were given to add some of these to existing characters. Again, most actual mechanics remained the same though, but since we’re not interested in mehanics, we can ignore any of these for now anyway.
- From Third to Fourth. This time, more that just some gear and equipment changed. The entire game changed. We lost two Attributes.. well, Each one was Split into two attributes. Intelligence was Split into Intuition and Logic, and Quickness was split into Agility and Reaction, taking Reaction from a derived stat into its own Attribute. Rules were given to modify attributes and skills, lowering them slightly.
- From Fourth to Fifth, there were some minor changes. Again, certain skills were renamed, or regrouped. This time, skills were increased, and the net result brings them a little higher than they might have been before the reduction from 3 > 4. And limits were added
So, adding all of that in together, I tend to just leave most of everything as is. If anything, I increase some skills by a point or two, to bring things in line with expected challenge ratings. When it comes to skills that were groups in previous editions, I just consider that he has the appropriate individual skills.. Firearms would be considered Automatics, Pistols, Longarms, etc.. that way, any weapon I might give the NPC, I’d just roll the dice listed in Firearms. The same with other skills that used to be in a group.
So, here is an example NPC from a First Edition module
Armed Combat: 4
Etiquette (Corporate): 3
Unarmed Combat: 6
Wired Reflexes: 1
Armor Clothing and certain weapons
So, the first thing, I split Quickness into Agility and Reaction. 5 in each.. though since this is meant to be a hired gun, I might go with a +1 to Agility, making it a 6. And Since it is a hired gun, when I split Intelligence into Intuition and Logic, I leave them both at 4. Since he had Wired Reflexes 1, I adjust Reaction accordingly.. 5(6)
For skills, I leave them pretty much as is. Considering that the weapons he has are pistols, I just assume he has the Pistols skill at the same level as he has Firearms, so 5.
Cyberware and Gear, I use the equivalent from the SR5 material. If they had a Predator II for instance, I still call it that, but stat it as if it were a Predator V.
So when it comes to combat, his Initiative is now 9+1d6 if his wired reflexes are off, and 10+2d6 if they are on. For his pistols, he rolls 11 dice, + any appropriate modifiers for gear/cyber
The Matrix now, is the area that is the most different. Original Matrix nodes were like flowcharts, or a dungeon crawl with pathways to different areas. Since the new Matrix is a little more free form, I play this by ear. I consider it a Host, trying to find an appropriate rating for what the target happens to be. Areas in the Node that would Files or Devices, I treat appropriately.
There are sometimes some elements of the fluff that need to be considered as well. In early editions, the Matrix was Wired, and sometimes that is referenced in the module. Either by an NPC mentioning the lack of access, or the module assuming that access needs to be attained in a certain area, or by a certain method. Most of these you just ignore, or alter accordingly.
If you have any questions about aspects I may have missed, or just about converting in general, please feel free to leave a comment below.