Author Archives: jhardy

Leap into the holidays with cons and deceit, Shadowrun-style!

The holiday season is rushing forward, and we have some fine new gifts for your favorite shadowrunner, including yourself. We can think of no better way to celebrate the holidays than engaging in some Sixth World underhandedness and deception. We know that may not be a normal thing, but we haven’t aspired to be normal for a really long time. Anyway, the point is, two new Shadowrun books are available for PDF purchase and print pre-order, and you can pick them up on the brand-new Catalyst Game Labs web store, which you should check out if you have not yet.

First up is the third Deep Shadows book for Shadowrun, Fifth Edition. Following on the trail established by Stolen Souls, which covered extractions, and Hard Targets, which covered wetwork, we have Cutting Aces (Catalyst Shop, DriveThru), your guide to everything you need to know about running con games. With details on many kinds of both short and long cons, updates on what Sixth World con artists are up to, and a profile of one of the hot spots for con games—the free city of Constantinople—the book is a vital guide to the art of deceiving others and winning trust you don’t deserve. Here are a few more details:

Hit Your Marks

The hotel bartender who slips you a guest’s room number because he thinks it will help him get lucky. The security guard who lets a team into a top-secret facility because he thinks he’s pitching in on covert-ops training. The business suit who drops ten thousand nuyen on a project because he thinks it’ll earn him fifty thousand.

Marks, all of them, and the Sixth World is full of them. Yeah, blasting your way into a well-guarded facility is fun, but talking your way in, smooth and subtle, might be more rewarding. Almost every kind of shadowrun involves at least a little con artistry, and some of them are full-on long cons. That means you need to sharpen your con game. With tips, plot updates, spells, gear, and more to improve characters’ con abilities, Cutting Aces gives players the swagger and skills they need to swindle the world. It also includes information on one of the Sixth World’s hottest spots for running a con—Istanbul, City of the World’s Desire.

Cuttings Aces is for use with Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, and it also contains plot information, story ideas, and characters that can be used with Shadowrun: Anarchy with slight adjustments of character stats.

CuttingAcesCover

Next, we have a Denver-based adventure called False Flag (Catalyst Store, DriveThru) that ramps up the tension and chaos in that city and could put the players in a dragon’s crosshairs. Here’s the rundown:

The Angry Gaze

The ruling powers of Sixth World sprawls are content to let the little people of their cities engage in all sorts of shenanigans and scheming so long as it doesn’t affect their master plans. But when the chaos gets too out of hand—or the little people start acting too arrogant—then those powers turn their angry gaze to the people they would rather ignore, and the everyday chaos of life erupts into something worse, and considerably more dangerous.

Recent attacks on the Paladin Medical Health Center in the Aurora Warrens have drawn the attention of some of Denver’s powers, and they’re not going to ignore the situation. They’re also not going to just send in the police, because that’s not how things are done—instead, they will launch schemes of their own, with the opportunity to create chaos that makes the previous wildness seem like a sunny day in the Rockies.

False Flag is the second in the series of Denver Adventures for Shadowrun, Fifth Edition. Whether played alone or as part of a larger campaign with the first adventure, it will test players’ resources, creativity, and skill, while moving them toward the dramatic plot developments ahead.

FalseFlagCover

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Missions continue and e-books return with new Shadowrun releases!

Matt the layout guy was quite busy over the weekend while we were obsessing over our beloved Cubs making their way to the World Series, so let’s catch up on the two books now available for electronic purchase!

First, Halloween’s coming up, and if you want to throw players into a shadowrun against otherworldly creatures that will test every last bit of their skills, check out the new Prime Mission, A Holy Piece of Wetwork (Battleshop, DriveThru). Prime Missions are designed for advanced characters, ones who might need a challenge beyond the scope of normal Missions, and this one delivers. Shadowrunners may have come up against the master shedim known as Auslander in other Missions, but the time has come to finish him off once and for all–and that means traveling to his home metaplane. But we’re stepping on the details the web copy wants to share with you, so let’s turn to that:

The Heart of Death

Auslander. If you haven’t heard the name, you’re lucky. If you have heard it, then you know enough to be worried. But not scared, because fear’s not part of the job. Which is good, because the job Mr. Johnson’s got in store for you is a big one—going to Auslander’s home metaplane and talking him out, once and for all.

It’s not safe. Of course it’s not. Even the act of getting to the metaplane will cost blood, and nothing gets easier from there. Every type of assault will be thrown at the runners, and they will need every milligram of their considerable skills if they want to succeed and, somehow, survive.

A Holy Piece of Wetwork is a Prime Mission, a run designed for high-level players whose abilities have grown beyond the challenge provided by regular Missions. The adventure is for use with Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, and the plot can also be used with Shadowrun: Anarchy with adaptation of character stats and adjustment to some other mechanics.

HolyPieceOfWetwork

We also have the return of the e-book line, with a chance to explore one of the vast sprawls of the Sixth World in a way that has never been presented before. Come on down to Amazonia and make your way through the vast sprawl of Metrópole (Battleshop, DriveThru). Here’s the skinny:

This Is Not for You

Metrópole was not built with shadowrunners in mind. Or even metahumans, for that matter. In the Awakened country of Amazonia, the great dragon Hualpa reigns, critters walk the streets under full protection of the law, and the people struggle to figure out how they’re supposed to fit into this huge mess.

And huge it is. With many kilometers of coastline, thousands of tangled streets, and millions of residents, the city is packed with power, money, and intrigue—everything shadowrunners need to do their work. Yeah, the job might come with a slightly elevated chance of becoming dragon food—if that worries you, maybe the work down South America way is not for you. But if you have enough courage and an appetite for the strange, Metrópole is a great way to fill it.

Metrópole is a guide to a fascinating section of the Sixth World, with information on the city, the powers within it, and the plots that will entangle shadowrunners. With NPCs, critter stats, and even a life module for Metrópole natives, the book has all you need to experience this massive sprawl.

Metrópole is for use with Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, and it can also fuel plot ideas and storylines for Shadowrun: Anarchy.

MatropoleCover

There you go! Hope these act like jet fuel in the engine of your Shadowrun game, or something like that!

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Thoughts on gamemastering and Anarchy

Shadowrun: Anarchy has been out (Battleshop, DriveThru) for just over a week now, and I’m really pleased by how it’s been received. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed in my Anarchy games is the new gamemaster skills I’ve worked to developed while playing.

I started out my gamemaster life as a kind of novelist/gamemaster, one who had a very definite story in mind for the players to follow. I was stubborn about this, too; I knew what the players were supposed to do, where they were supposed to get information, and things like that, and if they weren’t following the proper path, I had no qualms about stonewalling them until they got on the track. So yeah, I wasn’t a great gamemaster. But when I wasn’t running games, I got to be a player a lot, and I’ve played with a wide range of different gamemasters, with a wide variety of strengths for me to learn from.

Two gamemasters in particular that I’d like to talk about happen to be the stars of the April Fool’s Shadowrun movie we made a few years back (which, sadly, seems to have disappeared from the web). One of the things I noticed about both of them when they ran games is that they were incredibly willing to take the plot in new directions based on what the players did. When we made a choice, interesting things happened. We didn’t hit dead ends—we found opportunities.

This is not to say there was no such thing as a bad or inconvenient choice. There were rash or unwise things our characters did, and that affected the story for many sessions as we lived with the consequences of our decisions. But that was the thing—good or bad, our decisions had consequences and shaped the story. They did not have a planned plot so much as they had a plan to have us shape the plot.

This sort of gamemastering was very much on my mind in developing Anarchy. Not coincidentally, both the gamemasters I’m referring to have significant improv experience. Anarchy refers to improv concepts repeatedly in the book, especially the “yes, and” concept of adding to what the other players are doing, instead of detracting or moving away from it. Anarchy puts the story first, and that’s led to a change in the way I prepare to run games—a change that affects the way I run Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, too. My plot preparations have been reduced; I have a few twists I’d like to introduce, but for the most part I’m gathering interesting people, places, and things, then waiting to see how the players are going to encounter them. The framework will be set by the players’ choices—my job is not to dictate what choices they make, but rather to ensure the choices they have are meaningful.

That’s critical in Anarchy, because the emphasis is more on narrative than mechanics. All the critical aspects of Shadowrun—magic, tech, Matrix, etc.—are there, but streamlined, and some power is shifted from game mechanics to collaborative storytelling. One of the great joys of Shadowrun is finding the exact right tool (whether that be gear, cyberware, a spell, or whatever) to make a job work right. In Anarchy, it’s less about having the right piece of gear (or, in Anarchy parlance, the right Amp), and more about coming up with creative ways to move a story forward, using what you have to inspire invention and creativity. Anarchy isn’t trying to compete with SR5’s wealth of rules, so there won’t always be mechanics for what a given item does in a certain situation (indeed, some pieces of gear have no rules at all). The plot isn’t already determined, with the players just trying to figure out what’s going on in the gamemaster’s head. Instead, they are making it happen together, from the broad strokes to the particulars of how some items work or interact with each other. That flexibility is a key part of the game, and an important way to unleash the creativity of people at the table. I’m excited to play with more people to see just how the Sixth World unfolds in their telling of it.

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Anarchy release! SR5 reprint with comprehensive index! The shadows just got brighter!

Update: SR5 Master Index Edition links now updated!

Update 2: Links to places to buy Anarchy and cover preview added!

Hey, chummers, we got a lot of Shadowrun goodness for you today! First, we have the electronic release and print pre-order of the highly anticipated Shadowrun: Anarchy ruleset. Built to be fast-moving and easy to use, Anarchy takes some basic concepts of Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, mixes it with some narrative role-playing styles, and comes up with a whole new gaming experience. Want to check it out? Here’s where to get it! Battleshop, DriveThru. And here are a few more details:

Man. Machine. Magic.

Shadowrun. The Sixth World. Orks in pinstripe suits with uzis; mohawked dwarves jacked into vehicles racing through megasprawls at breakneck speed; humans casting fireballs at corporate-trained paracritters; elves hacking the Matrix for a datasteal of the latest tech or working to topple an upstart corp. It’s where man meets magic and machine.

Dive into a cyberpunk dystopia and become a shadowrunner, a deniable asset who does the jobs no one else can—or will—do. It’s not an easy life, but it beats selling your soul to the megacorps. You’ll break into top-secret labs, stand up to gangs bent on destruction and chaos, encounter dark spirits hiding even darker secrets, and come face to face with some of the infinite dangers the Sixth World can throw at you. And you’ll come out on top—because if you don’t, you don’t get paid.

Shadowrun: Anarchy is a new way to get into the best cyberpunk/urban fantasy action around. Based upon the rules-light and easy-to-learn Cue System, Shadowrun: Anarchy is a narrative-focused game experience that has everything you need to quickly grab some gear, load up on spells, and get to throwing the dice. With loads of characters and missions, the book makes it simple to get up and running. Immerse yourselves in the Sixth World!

AnarchyCover

We’re very excited about Anarchy and hope people have tons of fun playing it, but we want to make it clear that our beloved SR5 is not going anywhere. The new fourth printing of SR5 should be hitting stores now, and it’s about to be a free upgrade for PDF purchasers. What do you get in your upgrade? How about a comprehensive index of all the core books? Run & Gun, Run Faster, Street Grimoire, and so on. It’s in there! So get your upgrade and enjoy! And if you haven’t bought a SR5 PDF yet–there has never been a better time! Here are helpful links: Battleshop, DriveThru

And while we’re talking about new things, did we mention that the sixth season of Shadowrun Missions concluded with Falling Angels (Battleshop, DriveThru). Does your runner need a challenge? Then send them through this particular wringer and see how they come out. Here’s a little more info:

All Going Down

Tensions don’t simmer for long in the Sixth World. They build, and then they explode. In Chicago’s Containment Zone, that time has come. From the hunt for the missing Samantha Villiers (in her various guises) to rising gang tensions to mysterious strangers building power bases for secretive purposes, there are plenty of unstable reagents mixing in the CZ, and they’re about to blow. Shadowrunners are going to be right in the middle of it all—aren’t they always?—and they’ll have to see how many lives they can save. Including their own.

Falling Angels is the dramatic conclusion of Season 6 of Shadowrun: Missions. Drawing on plot elements and characters from previous Missions, this job brings the storyline to an explosive conclusion while setting the stage for future jobs in one of Shadowrun’s most chaotic settings. Jump in for a wild ride!

FallingAngelsCover

So enjoy the Mission, get ready to ramp up to Season Seven, play Shadowrun with SR5 or Anarchy and, whatever you do, have fun!

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