Augmented Reality

The Basics

To access AR, you need something with Image Link – this can be cybereyes, or some sort of vision device like glasses. When you fire up Image Link, you will be able to see an icon for every wireless device out there.

Every commlink, gun, maglock, trid set, car, children's toy, etc. in 2075 and beyond has an icon. You can even use this to “see through walls”, eg. If you can see four commlinks in the next room, each with a gun nearby, it's a safe bet that there are four people in that room.

You can even use this for targetting, and take a shot through a thin wall or door!

Matrix Perception

You can automatically see every device within 100m of your physical location. If you want to search for a specific icon beyond this, you need to make a Matrix Perception roll (p. 235, SR5). With successful rolls you can also get details about an icon, eg. The most recent edit date of a file, or a target's commcode, or if a file has a data bomb on it, etc. These are all listed in the Matrix Perception section.

If you don't want someone to see your icon, you can set it to Run Silent. To spot a silent icon, requires Computer + Intuition [Data Processing] v. Logic + Sleaze. Since only deckers (and some special commlinks – see Data Trails) have a Sleaze rating, only deckers are much good at this.

The only disadvantage of running silent, is that you are at -2 to all matrix actions from the silent device (including Matrix Perception).
If an icon is further out than 100m, you can still find it using Matrix Perception.

The only way to keep a device completely out of AR is to switch it to wireless off. But this means that it will lose any wireless bonuses.


Did we mention commcodes? This is like a phone number and an IP address rolled into one. Essentially a commcode is a matrix address, because in the Sixth World, all commlinks (what we think of as phones) make access through the matrix. But so do all cameras, cyberware, cars, guns, maglocks, etc. So every one of these has a commcode, which you can discover through a simple Matrix Perception roll. Then, in future, if you wanted to find this icon again you can.

In our world, you need to ask for someone's phone number, but in the Sixth World you can just help yourself.

Matrix Actions

Once you find an icon, either because it's within 100m, or you made a successful Matrix Perception roll, you can then make matrix actions on it. Most matrix actions that you'll want to make require that you have Marks on the icon first (Matrix Authentication Recognition Keys). This is the realm of the Decker or Technomancer, because this requires a device with Sleaze or Attack. If you want to try this without a deck, then head over to Data Trails and pick up some add-ons for your commlink.

The master of this arena is the hacker (decker or technomancer). Give them a commcode, and they can use Trace Icon to tell you where they are, or hack a device, control it or even destroy it.


Personal Area Networks are for matrix protection. If you have a device with a strong Firewall (or Rating), you can slave devices to this device as your master. Then when a decker attacks the slave, it uses the master's attributes to defend instead of the slaves (p. 233, SR5).

If you want to know what devices are slaved to a master, you can find this out with a Matrix Perception roll as well.


So apart from Matrix Perception and seeing the icons around you, is AR of any use to a non-decker? In a word, yes.

Using AR also gives you access to AROs: Augmented Reality Objects. These are like tags which you can create in AR, and attach to a device which you can see, and which leave a message for others. Eg. You could leave a message near a certain street warning everyone that this is Cutter turf. This would appear to everyone using AR. In fact this is common practice. Roadwork signs, restaurant menus, and even gang turf tags all appear in the AR world. But, they are fragile, because anyone can take them down as well if they are in the public domain.

Time for an ARO house rule here, but it seems sensible to me: If you are the owner of the device, or you have some marks on it (let's say 2), then you can add secure AROs, which others can see, but not edit. So a taxi driver can add AROs to his vehicle advertising toothpaste, for example. If there isn't a device to add an ARO to, you can buy an RFID and place it somewhere, then add AROs to it.

You can also add private AROs, and share them with a group of friends, which only they can see and edit. Eg. You can add an ARO to someone's commlink in a group, to warn your fellow shadowrunners, that this one needs to be taken alive, or to a vehicle, so that everyone can see it in the rush hour traffic, or to a bouncer, to warn your fellows that he can't be bribed.

AROs are very powerful, and completely free.


Hopefully this should make any runner realise that AR is not just for deckers and can be used as a very nifty way to view, track and communicate. Any hey, you might as well get used to it, because it'll be coming in real life any time soon...

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