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Zero Day: Playing in the Sixth World


Shadowrun: Zero Day will be on sale at Gen Con, in Catalyst Game Labs’ booth 1611.

[This article first appeared in GTM 206; with their permission, we’re posting it here.]

I love great games. Obviously. I’ve been playing hobby games since I was eleven and first tossed D&D dice (thirty-four years ago—oh, my head); and working professionally in the industry for more than twenty years now. So a great game for me is one that is fantastic and cherished and re-played many times.

Just as enjoyable are brilliant universes/settings that captivate and never let go. Dune, Star Wars, BattleTech, Firefly—to name a few of my all-time favorite. And, of course, Shadowrun.

Twenty-eight years later, I still remember walking into Game Depot in Tempe, Arizona and seeing that brilliant First Edition cover by Larry Elmore as a poster on the wall and stopping dead with a “What is that?!”

Our gaming group grabbed four copies of the tabletop RPG the instant it was released, and while I’ve not always played it as much as other games, the dark dystopian universe of the Sixth World has always captivated and fascinated me to no end.

And of course, one of my all-time favorite things to do is mix those up. After all, IMO, the best universes lend themselves to iterations of experiences across a wide range of mediums. Books, movies, comics, video games, tabletop games: it’s always about that new and enjoyable way to experience a universe we love with friends. The Battlestar: Galactica game itself is absolutely amazing, and would’ve been great almost regardless of the skin. But pairing it with such a great and gritty TV series elevated the enjoyment all the more.


While Shadowrun remains a tabletop roleplaying game experience at its heart, Catalyst Game Labs has pushed that envelope into other avenues. First with the critically-acclaimed Shadowrun: Crossfire deckbuilding game, and then with our fast and fun push-your-luck dice game Encounters: Shadowrun. Next up, we’ve got a two-player, dueling hacker card game in Shadowrun: Zero Day.

There’s as many ways to reach a final game design as there are, well, games…and I’ve been a party to so many of those different avenues. However, while I love taking a rough game and developing it into a final version, one of my favorite experiences as a games publisher is to discover a diamond that’s sitting there, all polished and ready to go. The best example I have of that from personal experience is The Duke. While we added a few tiles at the end—as part of our Kickstarter campaign—beyond changing one tile’s name, we didn’t change a single thing about the game design. It was just that good!

Shadowrun: Zero Day is a close second. We’ve made a few subtle tweaks—working with the game designer, Brian Suhre—but by and large, the game we played last year at the Origins Game Fair is the game you’ll be breaking out to enjoy.

In the real-world, a zero day vulnerability refers to a security hole in a just-released software that is unknown to the vendor. This hole is exploited by hackers, which brings it to the awareness of the vendor, who fixes it as quickly as they can. This exploitation of an unknown weakness is called a zero day attack.

In Shadowrun: Zero Day, two players duel as they each launch a zero day attack against the various Megacorporations of the Sixth World. The goal is to determine who has the brains, guts, and gear to obtain the most paydata in trade secrets, credentials, passwords, nuyen and so on, before the besieged corps can shut the vulnerabilities down.

Set-up is quick, with each player grabbing their twenty data cubes and their draw decks of twelve Tool cards—three Decryption, three Sneak, three Exploit and three Guard—while building a communal deck of twelve Countermeasure cards. Each player will also place four different face-up Megacorporation Cards, as well as the deck of eight Data cards and twenty-one corresponding Data tokens, which are placed face down. Players then lay out three face-up Countermeasure cards, randomly drawing and placing one Data token on each Countermeasure, as well as revealing face-up three Data cards. Each player then draws four cards from their draw decks and the game is ready to begin.

Play proceeds with one person taking a turn, followed by the opponent. The game ends immediately if three Megacorporation cards have been fully scored, or if you need to fill a Countermeasure spot and you cannot (because the Countermeasure deck is empty). Players then add up their points to determine the winner!

On each player’s turn, they play a Tool card from their hand. Only one type of Tool card can be played at a time, but the player can play as many of that card type as they have in their hand. After they’ve played their cards, if the player has three or fewer left, they draw two cards from their draw deck, and their turn is done.

Playing a Tool card lets a player place a data cube on any matching Countermeasure card (the colors will match up). Once the total cubes placed by both players equal the card’s target number, the player with the most cubes wins the Countermeasure and the Data token on the card and places both in their score pile (both players put any of their Data cubes on the card back into their reserves). If the opponent had at least one Data cube on the defeated Countermeasure, that player may select a Data card to place into their score pile. Once a Countermeasure has been defeated, a new one is revealed to replace it.

For the Megacorporation cards, there are two ways to score. First, if a Tool from a player’s hand is played and there are no Countermeasures corresponding to that Tool, that player automatically places their Data cube(s) on the Megacorporation of their choice. The second option for scoring is when a player defeats a Countermeasure, any of their Data cubes placed that exceed the target number on the Countermeasure are placed on the Megacorporation card of their choice.

As with a Countermeasure, when the total number of Data cubes from both players matches the target number of the Megacorporation, it is scored. The player with the most cubes takes the card and puts it into their score pile, while their Data cubes are returned to their reserve. If the opponent had at least one Data cube on that Megacorporation card, any of their cubes are then placed into their score pile.

Shadowrun: Zero Day is a fun and quick game that let’s you dip your toes into the brilliant Sixth World in an engaging way that’ll have you exploiting zero day vulnerabilities over-and-over again.

Randall N. Bills has lead the development and publication of hundreds of novels, sourcebooks, rulebooks, box sets, game aides and more. He’s currently the Managing Developer for Catalyst Game Labs, overseeing the strategic development of the perennial BattleTech and Shadowrun properties, while managing the rollout of Catalyst Game Labs’ new line of table top games.

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Catalyst Game Labs At Gen Con 2017!

As Gen Con celebrates fifty years, Catalyst Game Labs is celebrating ten and we hope you’ll join us at booth 1611 for the festivities, including cake every day! (First come, first-serve basis.)

DEMOS, TOURNAMENTS AND GAMING
Of course we’ll be running our usual wall of demos, as well as massive events surrounding Shadowrun and BattleTech games. With the Shadowrun tournament, BattleTech Grinders, Shadowrun Anarchy games, BattleTech Alpha Strike games, and all manner of Shadowrun Missions and BattleTech scenarios being run, you can dive in throughout the con to find fun and adventure in some of the most exciting, enduring game settings of all time!

Our Shadowrun games are all being run in ICC 122-123, while our BattleTech games are being run in ICC Hall B.

NEW GAMES


In addition to our great catalog of existing games, the following brand new games will be available to play and purchase at the show!


Dragonfire: The Dungeons & Dragons Deckbuilder [$59.99]
Dragonfire is a 2 to 6 player deckbuilding game set in the world’s greatest roleplaying game, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. Players choose from a number of races, from dwarf to elf, half-orc to human, while assuming the quintessential roles of Cleric, Rogue, Fighter, and Wizard. Equipped with weapons, spells, and magic items, players begin their adventure along the famed Sword Coast, then expand to other locales across the Forgotten Realms, such as Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter, and Waterdeep, in future expansions. Along the way, players level up their characters, opening access to additional equipment, feats, and more. Join the quest, and build your own legend!

Come play in a demo and walk away with the free Gen Con promo Character screen!

Character Pack: Heroes of the Sword Coast [$24.99]
Character Pack: Heroes of the Sword Coast contains thirty-two additional Character screens, introducing the Druid, Bard, Ranger and Warlock Classes into Dungeons & Dragons Dragonfire. Additional races are also featured, including Rock Gnome, Tiefling, Lightfoot Halfing, and Gold Dwarf. Other screens bring Classes, genders and races together in a broad variety to fill out a sweeping range of adventuring parties. Finally, the pack includes dozens of sticker sheets, as well as twenty-seven new Market cards.


BattleTech: BattleMech Manual [$39.99]

  • Standing from seven to sixteen meters tall, and weighing from twenty to one hundred tons
  • Powered by an armored and shielded fusion reactor
  • Skeleton of honeycombed, foamed aluminum core wrapped with stressed silicon carbide monofilament and sheathed by a rigid, titanium-steel shell
  • Locomotion generated via bundles of polyacetylene-fiber myomer muscles
  • Protected by aligned-crystal steel over a layer of boron nitride impregnated with diamond monofilaments Mounting a swath of powerful weapons from charged particle beams to lasers, missiles to rapid-fire autocannons
  • All at the command of the noble elite, the MechWarriors

The modern BattleMech is the end result of more than three thousand years of battlefield technology development. Combining awesome destructive power and unparalleled maneuverability, the BattleMech is perhaps the most complex machine ever produced. The undisputed master of thirty-first century warfare, the BattleMech seems destined to reign supreme for centuries to come.

—Excerpts from a promotional pamphlet originally distributed by Defiance Industries of Hesperus, Lyran Commonwealth, 3007

Using the most up-to-date rules text, the BattleMech Manual has been designed from the ground up to cater to the BattleTech player wanting to engage in an all-’Mech battle. Includes a variety of optional rules, terrain and more.

Welcome to the most table-usage-friendly BattleTech rulebook ever published!


BattleTech: Technical Readout: Succession Wars [$29.99]
On February 5, 2439, the Mackie obliterated all opposition during its first combat trial, ushering in a new era of warfare. The BattleMech—King of the Battlefield—was born. BattleMechs reached their pinnacle during the golden age of the Star League. The fall of the Star League and the Succession Wars that raged for centuries afterward took their toll and by the Fourth Succession War, the technology employed on the battlefields was a mere shadow of what it once was. However, the discovery of the Helm Memory Core unlocked the technological potential to develop new BattleMechs and experimental technologies for the first time in centuries.

Technical Readout: Succession Wars is the perfect “first Technical Readout” companion to the BattleMech Manual. Combining the ’Mechs previously found in Technical Readout: 3039, Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade, Technical Readout: 3058 Upgrade, and Technical Readout: 3075, this volume features some of the most common ’Mechs from the Age of War to the Succession Wars. Each machine is illustrated in detail, and accompanied by a description of its history, capabilities, game stats, along with their most famous pilots.


BattleTech: Legacy Anthology [$11.95]
A Draconis Combine warrior struggles with immoral orders in the First Succession War. A House Davion MechWarrior participates in a risky heist as part of Operation Guerrero. A history buff battles the Word of Blake during the Liberation of Terra. What do these MechWarriors have in common? Each one pilots the same BattleMech, a survivor that has been repaired and rebuilt countless times throughout its long and bloody 300-year lifespan.

The seventy-ton GHR-5H Grasshopper can outmaneuver and outlast some of the most fearsome enemy ’Mechs, making it an invaluable asset to battlefield commanders. Even an incapacitated Grasshopper will be rebuilt to fight another day, with a new pilot at its controls, because MechWarriors can be replaced, but ’Mechs cannot.

In BattleTech: Legacy, thirteen all-new stories chronicle the fortunes and tragedies of a single ’Mech across several tumultuous points in its wide-ranging combat history. Veteran BattleTech authors Kevin Killiany and Craig A. Reed, Jr. bookend this exciting collection, while other familiar names and new blood explore important moments in this ’Mech’s history of constant, unmitigated warfare that leaves no corner of the Inner Sphere untouched.


Shadowrun: The Complete Trog [$44.99]
They can call you a trog. Sure they can. Let ’em think it’s a smear. Let them show you what they don’t know. Let them ignore history, the great accomplishments orks and trolls have made in every field in the Sixth World, the homes and enclaves they’ve built out of nothing. There’s enough talent in the trog population to punch, hack, rig, charm, or enchant that smug smile right off their face. You know what you are. They’ll learn—fast, if they know what’s good for them.

The Complete Trog is the definitive guide for ork and troll characters in Shadowrun. With information on what it’s like to be an ork or troll in dozens of spots across the globe, details on working in corps as a trog (including in ork- and troll-dominated corps) and the heroes and enemies of trog culture, the book helps players add flavor and depth to their characters and the world around them. On top of that, it has gear, qualities, and life modules compatible with both Shadowrun, Fifth Edition and Shadowrun: Anarchy. Plunge into the rich culture of trogs and watch them turn that slur on its head.


Shadowrun: Sprawl Stories Vol. 1 Anthology [$11.95]
The Sixth World is a dangerous place, and nowhere is that more obvious than in Seattle, the so-called Emerald City. Surrounding its neon-drenched heart is kilometer after kilometer of Sprawl, where millions of people scratch out a living among hazardous, slowly decaying neighborhoods and even more dangerous neighbors.

Sprawl Stories contains four Shadowrun novellas that explore Seattle through the eyes of the people who live there every day. A burned-out mage detective tackles a missing person case that quickly threatens to spiral out of control. A reporter goes on the ride-along of her life with a high-octane DocWagon team, and uncovers a conspiracy on live triedeo. A young ex-wagesalve is caught between powerful forces while investigating his uncle’s death. And a shaman must deal with a serious injury that threatens his very way of life–but not before taking vengeance on those who double-crossed him.

So take a walk on the true wild side of the Seattle Sprawl If you’re good–and lucky–you might even come back out in one piece…


Shadowrun: Zero Day, a two-player card game [$19.99]
You’re the contagion. You are the fear. You are the thing that makes the megacorporations of the world tremble. In the world of Shadowrun, the corps think they have everyone and everything under their thumb, but they don’t have you–the hacker in the Matrix, the fly in the ointment. You know where the world’s deepest scariest are buried–and you have the weapons needed to fight to bring them out.

In Shadowrun: Zero Day, players hack into the megacorporations that rule the Sixth World. Whoever disables and bypasses the myriad countermeasures and scores the most assets wins!


Sixth World Tarot, Deluxe [$39.99]
Look Closer!

When you look at this tarot deck, what do you see? You can’t miss the 78 cards with gorgeous, original art by Echo Chernik, that adapt tarot arcana to Shadowrun’s Sixth World. But look closer. Examine the details. Explore connections. Do you see them? Are you catching everything the cards have to tell you?

Are you seeing enough?

The Sixth World Tarot is a complete deck of Shadowrun-themed tarot cards, useful as game props, plot hooks, or any other purpose tarot cards are for!


Master of Orion: Conquest, a dueling deckbuilder [$19.99]
Master of Orion: Conquest is a two-player dueling deck builder. Play as one of two species in the galaxy–the humans and the shape-changing, mimicking Darlocks–as you build and fighter your way to victory. Explore the galaxy to find new Planets to colonize and use their production to build your fleets. Destroy the enemy’s Home World and become the Master of Orion!

OUR USUAL TCHOTCHKES




We’ve also got our usual bevy of new t-shirts, pins, and dice, including these fabulous, all-new metal dice made from aircraft-grade aluminum, and the first ever BattleTech and Shadowrun poker chips!

AND SOME SURPRISES



If all of that weren’t great enough, come get a sneak peek at an avalanche of awesome games coming in the next 6 to 12 months from Catalyst Game Labs!

We hope to see you all within the week!

Team Catalyst

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New Shadowrun Fiction Available

Grab some great Sixth World fiction to start out your week!

First up is a brand new novella, by R. L. King, Big Dreams (CatalystStore, DriveThruRPG)

E-CAT26NV002_Big-Dreams

    Slacker corp mage Cody’s bad day is about to get a lot worse.

    Losing his job is crappy enough, but when his talismonger uncle turns up dead and dissected in his shop, Cody finds himself on the run from some very nasty people who want something they think he has.

    The problem is, Cody has no idea what it is.

    Turning for help to old friends from his Barrens roots, Cody soon learns that his problems are bigger than any of them can handle. To survive, he’ll need some heavy hitters on his side–but can he trust them not to sell him out?

Then we’ve a new Shadowrun Legends available in Ragnarock (CatalystStore, DriveThruRPG).

Ragnarock

    In the twenty-first century, magic brings out the best in people–and the worst. Tommy Talon should know. As head of a successful shadow-running team, it’s the dark side of people that brings him business. This time he’s hired to hunt a murderous archaeologist and recover a magical relic. But Talon’s not hunting alone. Someone else wants the artifact too–someone very powerful. And Talon and his team must outwit the world’s most potent megacorporation on its own turf if they’re to have any chance of returning the treasure–or any chance of returning at all….
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Another New Mission and Legends Available!

Two weeks and two Missions!!! This one is the Action Collection (CatalystStore, DriveThruRPG)!

Shadowrun Missions: Collective Action (07-02)

    The quintessential Chicago shadowrun is a full-to-bursting package with a variety of ingredients and flavors. And it doesn’t even need to include bug spirits. If you want the true Chicago experience, it‰۪s here waiting for you. What ingredients does it contain? How about a rush job on a tight deadline, occasionally hostile crowds of locals, panicky security, explosions, stealth, open firefights in the streets, vicious traps, burning buildings, a crazed hermit, and a pack of drug-addicted dogs.

    Those are all ingredients in the stew that is this run, and Mr. Johnson is paying good money for you to wolf it down as fast as you can. Get moving!

    Collective Action is the latest entry in season 7 of Shadowrun Missions and is for use with Shadowrun, Fifth Edition. The storyline could also be used in Shadowrun: Anarchy, and NPCs could be quickly converted for use with those rules.

And of course, a new Shadowrun Legends available in Run Hard, Die Fast (CatalystStore, DriveThruRPG).

RunHardDieFast

    Argent is the best shadowrunner in the biz…with one flaw: he’s got a conscience. That’s why he can’t leave a chummer hanging. Only Andi Sencio is more than just a friend. She’s his former partner–and lover. And now she’s in the deepest drekpot of her life. Heading an op on a datasnatch turned bad, she’s been stranded by the megacorp she works for–and targeted for flatlining by two more. Unless Argent gets to her first…

    Recruiting a top-notch team for the exfiltration shadowrun, Argent is risking it all–his money, his reputation, and his life–for the woman who once walked away from him. It’s suicide mission through high-caliber hell. But that’s never stopped the steel-armed, street samurai before…

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