Action Economy & the Combat Round

Banner: Home to Incredible Indies - Available Now @

The Slowest Four Seconds


There are 3 different categories of actions in Shadowrun 5e:

  • Free Actions: Very simple, nearly automatic actions that require little focus to accomplish. The GM might decide that current conditions (like a raging blizzard and yetis throwing rocks at you) might make something that is usually a Free Action take a Simple Action instead. Occasionally the GM may allow you to do two to free actions at the same time, assuming those actions wouldn’t interfere with one another, like pulling out your weapon and yelling for your allies to hit the dirt.
  • Simple Actions:
  • Complex Actions:

On your turn, you can have your character take will be allowed to take actions each time their turn comes up in initiative passes (for every 10 points of initiative you have, you will get one ‘initiative pass’ during each 4 second combat turn). Each combat turn you are allowed one Free Action, not per initiative pass, this is a detail that often trips up new players, so be careful. In addition to that one Free Action, during each initiative pass you are allowed to perform two simple actions or one complex action. Additionally, if you have the initiative to pay for it, you have the opportunity to take Interrupt Actions on other people’s initiative pass. Each of these Interrupt Actions have an initiative price, which is subtracted from your current initiative, if you do not have enough initiative to pay the price, you can not take the Interrupt Action.

Free Actions

Simple Actions

Complex Actions

These rules are used in our Shadowrun campaign hosted by Cai the GM; we use specific house rules to simulate better the world we play in based on the stories told between the first edition and the third editions of the game. This game information might not apply to your game world, but if your GM and players like these rules, feel free to use them at your table.

Shadowrun Fifth Edition is ©Catalyst Game Labs and is a Trademark of Topps and Microsoft. We make no claims on any of their intellectual property rights. You can get a copy of the SR5 core rules that comes with all the brilliant history and lore at Drive Thru RPG.