Many Faces 1

Copyright 1991 by

Stephen R. Marsh

1401 Holliday Street

Union Square #316

Wichita Falls, Texas 76301



Many Shadowrun campaigns can benefit from the use of D&D materials or the introduction of D&D characters. Quests on the Shadowrun Astral Planes or Parallel Dimensions can be easily run by using a D&D module. An entire universe of alternate dimensions and fantasy play is available to any Shadowrun campaign by merely using the existing D&D (or AD&D) materials.

This is a file of notes for converting D&D characters to Shadowrun rules. Shadowrun makes for a fine fantasy rule set as well as the era in which it is set and the D&D modules make for wonderfull settings and cross-overs.

In addition, using a D&D character in a Shadowrun campaign is a good way to rescue a well-loved character from the dearth of D&D campaigns.


A. Background data.

The background data section on Shadowrun characters is generally just descriptive and only requires fitting the description to the rule format. It is:

Standard Character information

Real Name/Handle (many fantasy campaigns do not use handles)

Sex (same as Shadowrun)

Race (many campaigns use extra races)

Karma (For characters above first level, give them karma equal to hit points). May be spent to improve skills, etc. prior to play.

Lifestyle (streets, low, medium, high, true luxury. This stays the same).

Money (convert each gold piece to 10 nuyen)



Attributes are the first real area where adaptation becomes important. The easiest way to adapt character requisites to attributes is by a simple formula changing 3d6 requisites to 1d6 attributes. For all attributes, take the D&D requisite and divide by three, rounding any fractions down.

Body is constitution/3 (e.g. CON 15 = body 5)

Quickness is dexterity/3 (e.g. DEX 11 = quickness 4)

Strength is strength/3 (e.g. STR 9 = strength 3) Charisma is charisma/3 (e.g. CHA 13 = charisma 5)

Intelligence is intelligence/3 (e.g. INT 16 = 6)

Willpower is wisdom/3 (e.g. WIS 9 = willpower 3)

Essence is 6 - cyber (if any)

Reaction must be calculated (e.g. 5 for the character above)

Allow attribute points to be shifted, but treat all attributes as already increased to maximum by karma.

Magic-users are converted to Initiate Mages, Grade = ½level (e.g. 12th level = 6th Grade). Clerics are converted to Initiate Shaman, Grade = ½level.

With AD&D characters, round all points down. (AD&D characters tend to have much higher than average requisite characteristics). More notes on this process will be included in the example.


In place of levels, Shadowrun uses skills. Levels compare to the following skills.

Mage/Shaman (i.e. Magic-User/Cleric)

Armed Combat (¼level)

Etiquette (¼level)

Sorcery, Enchanting, Conjuring:

One at (level), one at ½level, one at ¼level

Magical Theory (level)

Centering Skill

(a language) (level)

Other Skill (½ level)

(Cleric/shaman may substitute Armed Combat at ½level for Other Skill at ¼level).

Other Skill (¼ level)

Fighter (i.e. Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, etc.)

Archaic Projectile Weapon (level)

Armed Combat (level+1)

Atheletics (½level + 1)

Etiquette (military) 3

Etiquette (other) 3

Horseback Riding (½level)

Other Skill (any) (level)

Other Skill (any) (½level)

Other Skill (any) (¼level)

Other Skill (social) (¼level) Stealth (¼level)

Unarmed Combat (level)

Physical Adept (Monks, Mystics, Etc.)

(points equal to level in powers)

(e.g. a 12th level monk would have 12 points in physical adept powers)

Armed Combat (½level)

Atheletics (level+1)

Specialization (level+3)

Etiquette (own) (½level)

Etiquette (other) (¼level)

Other Skill (any) (½level)

Other Skill (social)(¼level)

Stealth (level)

Unarmed Combat (level+1)


Base Language Int + (¼level)

Other Languages (Intelligence + ½ level in points distributed between other languages)


No cyberware except for dwarves (and probably not for dwarves either in most campaigns).


Up to three if the character has no contacts, otherwise take the character's current contacts and fill them in here.


Lined Coat Special (4/3)

or Chiba Leathers (3/4)

Normal Equipment on character sheet

Magic items, as converted.

Notes on converting magic items.

Many common magic items can be duplicated with spell locks or quickened spells focused on items. Plate Armor +3 is Full Armor with a 3 point Armor Spell Quickened on it. Many magic swords are swords with Increase Attribute (Strength) Quickened on them.

Some items, especially the more resistant (to dispelling) ones, can be treated as quickened spell locks (or Quickening Locks // QLs).

Quickening Locks are made from Orichalcum (9 units) and karma (1d3 points). They lock a Force 3 spell to whoever is bonding the lock. Cost to bond is one point of karma. Resistance to dispelling is Force 10 to 12 (Orichalcum + karma). The number of successes is generally frozen at between 9 and 12 (8+d4).

A Quickening Lock allows one to duplicate most D&D magic items (D&D spell lock equivilents seem to be more robust vs dispelling, etc. than standard Shadowrun. It seems that for more cost, more resistance should follow).

Most wands and staves (e.g. fireball and firebolt wands, cold of cone, etc.) convert either to power focuses or spell focuses. Some (e.g. detection wands) can be spell locked, or, possessed by a spirit (e.g. a force 1 spirit with force 1 detect enemies, which it can cast from time to time, is actually of less use than a wand with a 1 point detect enemies spell lock. It does resist dispelling a little better and offers some potential for future trouble).

This can be much better (in controlling power available to players) than making wands spell focuses. That is the usual conversion.

Non-mages can use special combat focuses that are possessed by spirits (for intelligent magical weapons) or that do not require bonding by a non-mundane (for unintelligent magic weapons). (Shadowrun's big departure from traditional fantasy is that magic weapons are almost exclusively the department of intense spell casters).

Some magic items duplicate tech or give bonuses (e.g. the standard elven cloak and boots can either be treated like chameleon equipment or +2 to stealth rolls).

Finally, potions can be treated as transferrable sleeping quickened spells of temporary duration and no bonding cost.

That is, a potion sleeps (e.g. the spell does not take effect) until it is drunk. Then, the potion triggers the spell on the drinker. The spell is only temporary in duration (which is why it costs no karma to bond -- it does not remain around to be bonded).

Scrolls can be treated the same way.


Add up all the spell levels. E.g. a first level character has one spell at first level. That is a total of 1 spell point. A twelfth level magic-user has 4 first level spells (4 points), 4 second level spells (8 points), 4 third level spells (12 points), 4 fourth level spells (16 points), 4 fifth level spells (20 points, and one sixth level spell (6 points). Thats 66 points (slightly more than the 50 points a starting character can have in Shadowrun if assets are the #1 priority).

Rangers and similar characters who have minor spell use are either adepts or mundanes with some skills. (See the rules on mundane fetishmongers and mundane conjurers). Occassionaly, treat a semi-magical class as a character with an allied spirits (force = ¼level, sorcery = ¼level, spell points determined as above) depending on the character type.


Magic-users should have an allied spirit of Force = ½level, gained through initiation, karma = 2*level in spells & such.


For my example I will use a twelfth level magic-user with 42 hit points.

Mik STR 9, WIS 9, INT 16, DEX 11, CON 15, CHA 13, Level 12 becomes

Mik Male


Karma 42

Medium Lifestyle

Money 30,000 nuyen

Base Magic-User


Body 5 3 (switched with


Quickness 4 5

Strength 3 2

Charisma 5 5

Intelligence 6 6

Willpower 3 5 (switched)

Essence 6 6

Magic 6+6 12

Reaction 5

Note that Mikhas 26 points of attributes, roughly the same as 20 points starting and 6 added through karma. No character should end up with more than 36 points of attributes for fighters and adepts, 30 for magic-users.

Initiate Mage Grade 6.


Armed Combat 3 3

Centering Skill 12 12

Conjuring (6) 8

(default from sorcery is 8)

Enchanting (3) 10

(default from sorcery is 10)

Etiquette 3 3

Literacy 6 6

Magical Theory 12 12

Sailing 3 3

Sorcery 12 12

+ spending some of his 42 points of karma


Common (City Speak) 9

Elvish 5

Trade (English) 5

Semmi (Japanese) 2



Street Mage (the translation for his current

city mage contact)


(guildmaster translation)

Bounty Hunter

(same as campaign)


(the religious contact).


Fireball Wand 65 charges

becomes a specific spell focus

Firebolt Force 6 (Force 6 ~6d6)

with 65 points of drain resistance.

Fire Magic ArmRing +2

Fire Elemental Summoning Staff

becomes a combination focus,

Fire Magic Spell Focus Force 2

Fire Elemental Focus (+2 to Charisma

for Fire Elementals)

Flying Ring

becomes a

Levitation Quickening Lock

(Personal Levitation only)

Force 3 (9 successes)

Invisibility Ring

becomes an

Invisibility Quickening Lock

Force 3 (9 successes)

Lined Coat Special (4/3)

(replaces whatever armor, if any

that the D&D GM allows mages)

Other Items

Misc. magic items that do not convert well (e.g. his rod of cancellation and his land magic stuff) should be pooled for a power focus or a bound/allied free willed spirit.

In this case, a Force 5 Spirit of the Land as an ex free-willed and now allied spirit. (That duplicates the magic and explains how a mage gets a Shaman type spirit). 20 points of karma in spells & skills.


66 points (in his case, spent for 1 ten point spell, 4 six point spells, 9 three point spells, 5 one point spells).

Analyze Device S2/P/S 6

Chaos S2/P/S 3

Clairvoyance (ER) S1/M/S 3

Detect Enemies M1/M/S 1

Detect Life L1/M/S 1

Dimension Door D4/P/S 1

Fire Bolt D3/P/1 10

Fire Cloud S3/P/1 3

Fire Dart M3/P/1 3

Fire Missile S3/P/1 3

Increase Str +4 D2/M/S 1 Magic Fingers M2/P/S 6

Mana Barrier D1/M/S 3

Mana Blast D1/M/1 6

Mind Probe M1/M/S 6

Oxygenate L2/M/S 3

Personal Barrier M2/P/S 1

Personal Combat Sense L2/P/S 3

Physical Mask L2/P/S 3

Power Ball S2/P/1 3

Shapechange M3/M/S 3

Turn to Goo S4/P/S 3


Has 7 fire elementals (his charisma limit +2 for the magic item) bound.

All force 7 (the equal to charisma level +2 for the magic item). All bound to 10 services each (he has re-summoned all of them).

He always releases elementals after five services unless he is in a really messy spot.

Any elemental that has force burned off is re-conjured (to regain/replace the lost force) and then released.


Fire Elemental

Force 6 (½level)

Sorcery 6 (½level)

24 karma in spells, skills and powers.

Sense Link (5 karma)

Extra Forms (2 karma, 3 forms)

Spells (14 karma)

8 in health spells

All one point spells

Skills (3 karma)

Psychology 2

Other (0 karma, all 24 points used)


Force 5

Sorcery 5

20 karma in spells


Give it a try. Shadowrun makes a great home for old D&D characters.


A. Hitting the top, how high can you go before characters have "too much" power or skill."

The Shadowrun system has target numbers and non-cumulative dice. E.g. take a task with a target number of 4 and a character with a skill of 5. The character would roll 5 d6s. Each d6 that came up as 4 or higher would be a success. The difference from skill 2 to 4 is a much larger jump than from 4 to 6. (Run the math).

To increase a skill from 2 to 4 takes 10 karma. To increase from 4 to 6 takes 18 karma. From 6 to 8 takes 26.

Diminishing returns takes over soon in Shadowrun with the result that the high end of the game system is probably out of reach for most campaigns (it gets cumbersome before it gets unreal).

B. Why I like the system, or hope in a dark future.

The system is set in a semicyberpunk sort of magic returns world. My disbelief is as strong as it would be for a prediction in 1970 of the world as it is right now for the history (and I don't believe that magic is going to return).

However, there is a lot of thought in parts of the game system and the underlying philosophy/orientation of the books and such is positive. It is the green sprouts covering the bomb crater sort of world. Lots of darkness, played in shadows, with the characters taking the part of the light.


The Grimoire, FASA, $12.00. All the magic rules that couldn't fit in the first rules book, needed adjustment or someone thought of later. Well done with loads of new spells, good, solid work but needs more descriptive text.

Harlequin, FASA, $12.00. I did not like it. I'll gladly trade my copy for an equivilent FASA product.

I also have a shareware Shadowrun floppy with the equivilent of two and a half scenarios. Shareware is now one dollar a disk plus SAS mailer. (postage rates changed again).

[Heroquest] [Norns] [Diablo] [WingCommander] [e-mail] [©1996-1998 Stephen R. Marsh All Rights Reserved]