Shadowrun, Sixth World Setting Overview

By Jason Hardy, Shadowrun Line Developer

While last week’s post focused on the rules of Shadowrun, Sixth World, today I want to talk about the game’s Sixth World setting, which is a key element of its success. It’s not just the unholy hybrid of fantasy and cyberpunk that make it compelling, but also the way the ongoing storyline has evolved over the years. With dragons, spirits, and sasquatches wielding significant corporate power, AIs and other mysterious entities roaming the Matrix, and spell-casting gangs spreading chaos through the world’s cities, the Sixth World is vibrant and exciting—and always throwing challenges at shadowrunners.

Talk to any Shadowrun fan and they’ll tell you stories—maybe about the Universal Brotherhood, or Renraku Arcology, or the death of Dunkelzahn, or Crash 2.0, or the fight for the future of Chicago. The unfolding story over the past thirty years has kept players and readers entertained, as stories play out in both sourcebooks and fiction.

That tradition continues with Shadowrun, Sixth World. Last week I talked about the upcoming plot sourcebook Cutting Black and the campaign book 30 Nights. While I don’t want to spoil any of the upcoming plot details, let me say that they start with Ares making a big move against the bugs, and the various responses to that destruction will reshape the world. The events are big, multi-pronged, and provide lots of chances for shadowrunner involvement. These aren’t events that happen over shadowrunners’ heads—they’ll be right down in it, dealing with world-shaking events and trying to survive while figuring out just what happened.

While these events are important, they don’t cover all the stories of the Shadowrun universe that need to be told. Novels, novellas, and short stories play vital roles in immersing readers in the universe and sharing unforgettable stories. From classics by Nigel Findley, Tom Dowd, and Robert Charrette, to new favorites like Russell Zimmerman, Jennifer Brozek, and R.L. King, Shadowrun has been Home to great stories and storytellers. Which means I’m very excited to talk about the fiction that’s coming up!

We already mentioned the six-part series of novellas called The Frame Job. They’ll cover the four characters included in the beginner box set, as well as a bonus character, then have a Sixth novella wrapping the whole story up. Dylan Birtolo wrote the first one, Brooke Chang wrote the second, and talented writers such as Bryan Steele, CZ Wright, and Jason Schmetzer will take on the other characters. Then I’ll be delighted to wrap it up!

But that’s not all the Shadowrun fiction that will be coming your way! Jennifer Brozek has a new novel called Makeda Red coming your way. It starts with an extraction on a luxury Party Train, and it’s every bit as fun as that concept implies. And more is in the pipeline, so keep your eyes peeled for future announcements!

Word about Shadowrun, Sixth World is starting to spread! EN World has a review up of the Beginner Box, Diehard Game Fan put up an unboxing, the Shadowcasters Network continues to cover the rules and upcoming books, Meeple Monthly and GTM have articles about the game (the latter includes a new, double-sided poster), and more reviews will be coming up—we’ll link to them when we see them!

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | 1 Response

Shadowrun, Sixth World Developer’s Notes

From Jason Hardy, Shadowrun Line Developer:

Shadowrun, Sixth World is coming soon!

Wait, Shadowrun, Sixth World isn’t out yet? But I’ve been thinking about it for years! Playing it for more than a year! How are other people not playing it? Development time can be so disorienting.

There was a time—six years ago, to be specific—when I threatened physical violence to anyone who said the words “sixth edition” in my presence. (The threats didn’t work. No one is ever scared of me. But I digress). Fifth Edition took a lot of effort to produce, and I didn’t want to think about starting that whole process again. But then there were a few years where I didn’t have to think about a new edition, and I could recharge. Actually, that’s not entirely true, because every time I play a game—whether it’s one I worked on or not—I’m kind of thinking of a new edition. I’m looking at what works well, what works differently than intended, and what possibilities might open up with a tweak here and there. So when the time came to envision the next edition of Shadowrun, I had a few ideas, as did the excellent roster of Shadowrun writers and gamemasters I could tap into.

All those ideas needed a framework, of course. As we started our work, we decided the sixth edition of Shadowrun needed to possess three main qualities:

  1. Be no more than 300 pages long;
  2. Use D6 dice pools; and
  3. Feel like Shadowrun.

Those last two points are related, because it’s tough for a game to feel like Shadowrun if you’re not rolling a healthy handful of D6s. But there’s more to it than that. Combat specialists, spellcasters, conjurers, adepts, faces, deckers, technomancers, riggers, enchanters, weapon specialists, and more all need to exist, and they all must have different and meaningful ways to contribute to a run.

In this edition, all that had to happen within 300 pages. Which is a trick. Fifth Edition, not counting the index, is 466 pages; the anniversary edition of Fourth Edition was 351 pages, and Third Edition was 325 pages (minus the sample record sheets). Second Edition is a lean 284 pages, but it had no bioware, no technomancers, no alchemy, and no qualities, to name a few things that have changed in the intervening years. The book that started it all is an even leaner 207 pages, but along with the elements Second Edition didn’t have, it lacks things such as adepts and foci, and it offers only twenty guns—heresy! (Fifth Edition has 52, while Shadowrun, Sixth World will offer 53–we didn’t cut back much on those options!) All this is to say that streamlining the core rulebook back to 300 pages was not going to be easy.

It’s important to note that simply making the book shorter doesn’t, by itself, do any good. You can make any book shorter by simply ripping every third page out, but you end up with a book that makes no sense. Making the book shorter only is useful if the game also becomes smoother to play. In other words, we didn’t just want a shorter game—we wanted one that moved faster and was easier to get into, while still offering lots of meaningful options. We also didn’t want this to be Shadowrun: Anarchy for the simple reason that Anarchy already exists. Anarchy represents a more extreme end of the rules-light spectrum than Shadowrun, Sixth World–one way to understand the difference between the two is that the gear rules and listings take up about seven or eight pages in Anarchy, compared to fifty pages in Sixth World. Did I mention we wanted to offer lots of options?

Anyway, this means that if the rules were changed, they needed to be changed with an eye toward enabling players to do the things that they wanted to do more quickly. Combat should be faster. Hacking should be smoother and more intuitive. Magic should adapt to be just what the caster wants it to be. And so on. So what, specifically, did we do? Here’s a sample:

  • Expanded Edge: Yes, one of the things we did to streamline the game was to make one function much more detailed. But stay with me for a second. The definition of Edge has shifted—rather than being that undefinable something extra you reach for in a tough spot to help put you over the top, Edge now represents the accumulated advantage you get in opposed situations. Whether you’re fighting, spellcasting, hacking, or negotiating, you’ll have a chance to earn and spend bonus Edge. And you should spend it—if you’re not gaining and spending Edge regularly in Shadowrun, Sixth World it might be time to rethink your tactics. Or find less formidable opposition. Gaining and spending Edge replaces a lot of other functions in the game, like calculating situational modifiers, dealing with recoil and armor piercing, and environmental modifiers. Edge also provides a chance for a character to really have an impact when it’s time to spend it.
  • Fewer action types: There are two, Minor and Major. That’s it! You get one Minor and one Major per turn, with an additional Minor for various circumstances, such as reaction-enhancing augmentations or spells. One Major Action may be traded for four Minor Actions, or four Minor for one Major.
  • Simplified initiative: You roll initiative at the start of an encounter and then don’t re-roll it. Certain actions or effects may change your initiative score, though.
  • No limits: Limits served a valuable function of balancing attributes and providing different opportunities for rule effects, but in a streamlined ruleset, they are not needed. Limits on most tests and Force for spells have all been removed.
  • Skill list narrowed: SR5 has 80 skills, while SR6 has 19. That’s a big difference. There’s definite streamlining there, but it comes at the risk of characters not being distinct from each other. To deal with that, players can still select specializations but can also upgrade a specialization to an expertise, giving their character +3 bonus dice instead of +2, and once they  have an expertise they can select an additional specialization. This will provide characters with chances to become truly distinct.
  • More intuitive Matrix: This is an ongoing goal, and it’s always fun to try to make Matrix activities happen alongside and in parallel with the other actions. Deckers will have meaningful things to do and ways to get in, make things happen, and get out—all while trying to avoid the watchful eyes of the Grid Overwatch Division, of course.

Those are some of the major changes, but far from the only ones. We haven’t talked about Attack Ratings, the uses of armor, changes to Knowledge skills, revamped spell design, new vehicle stats, cyberjacks, and more. I hope this gives you a taste of the upcoming changes, and I look forward to you all playing Shadowrun, Sixth World as much as I have and will! And look for more information on this blog each Wednesday in May!

Posted in General, Products | 1 Response

Preview the Lineup of Shadowrun, Sixth Edition Rulebooks, Sourcebooks and Game Aids!

Hot on the heels of our announcement launching Shadowrun, Sixth Edition, it’s time to take a closer look at the blistering fusillade of action-packed books, games, and swag that will shake the Sixth World!

BEGINNER BOX, $24.99 (JUNE)

The Shadowrun Sixth World Beginner Box is the easiest way to dive into the intrigue, grit, and action of one of the most enduring role-playing settings of all time! It includes everything needed for a game, including quick-start rules, character dossiers, an adventure, gear and magic cards, dice, and more!

NEO-ANARCHIST STREETPEDIA, $34.99 (JUNE)

The Neo-Anarchist Streetpediais your definitive guide to the Shadowrun universe. With hundreds of entries, it covers corporations, shadowrunners, politicians, nations, cities, criminal organizations, and more. Even better, it gets to the point and tells you what you need to know now, so you hit the streets a little smarter than you were when you woke up this morning.

NO FUTURE, $49.99 (JULY)

No Future is the Shadowrun guide to Sixth World culture, including information on music acts, trid movies and series, media sources, and sports, with a look at some of the voices bubbling up from the underground and demanding attention. With detailed setting information and relevant rules, No Future adds new elements and depth to Sixth World role-playing.

NOTE: No Future was originally released in PDF format earlier this year as a sourcebook for Shadowrun, Fifth Edition. The short rules section was updated to the Sixth World system for its print release. An updated PDF will be available upon No Future’s print release, and all customers who previously purchased the book in PDF format will receive a free upgrade to the updated PDF.

SHADOWRUN SIXTH WORLD CORE RULEBOOK, $49.99 (AUGUST)

Shadowrun, Sixth World is the latest edition of one of the most popular roleplaying games of all time.

  • The new edition is easier to play and learn than it has ever been, yet it still offers the roleplaying depth that is a key part of the Shadowrun experience.
  • The rule system is built around gaining advantages and taking risks, building up to spectacular moments that are part of great gaming sessions!
  • Faster gameplay and conflict resolution keep the game moving and plunge players ever-deeper into Sixth World intrigue.
  • More pre-generated characters plus character creation rules allow you to design and select exactly the character you want to use in the game.

Limited Edition, $99.99

Executive Edition, $199.99

  • Details to come!

ROGUE’S GALLERY: AN NPC DECK, $19.99 (AUGUST)

Whether on the desperate streets or in the Machiavellian high-rises of the corporate elite, dangerous people lurk in every corner of the Sixth World. And they’re in here, too, with a quick backstory, a hook, and streamlined game stats. Bring the Shadowrun universe to life by putting these characters at your fingertips and in your game!

DICE & EDGE TOKENS, $19.99 (AUGUST)

Tossing a handful of dice to out-maneuver or out-gun your opponent always brings a rush. Especially when you’re spending some Edge to boost your actions. Add more dice to your Shadowrun game, along with a great way to track your Edge!

PRIME RUNNER MINIATURES, $19.99 (AUGUST)

They’re rough. Tough. Ready for action. And you can fit five of them in your hand. Bring Sledge the ork street samurai, Coydog the elf shaman, Gentry the human decker, Hardpoint the dwarf rigger, and Blanco, the troll weapons specialist to your game table and let them unleash chaos!

GAMEMASTER SCREEN, $29.99 (SEPTEMBER)

Experience a gamemaster screen unlike any other. Features include a large outward-facing pocket for the insertion of various scene inserts—included in the pack—to change up the players’ visual experience. A variety of interior card pockets allows the GM to quickly and easily track NPCs, and other reference cards. Finally, a series of Reputation trackers are built directly into the screen, enabling a runner team to track their heat from Ares to Aztechnology, and more, changing up the games as they play. (Note: the image above is a teaser; the full image will be revealed at a later date!)

CUTTING BLACK, $49.99 (SEPTEMBER)

A new edition of Shadowrun requires new stories, and Cutting Black launches Shadowrun, Sixth World with a bang! Following on the immersive style of classic Shadowrun books such as Universal Brotherhood and Bug City as well as newer successes like Dark Terrors, Cutting Black sets up storylines full of dark dealings and intrigue that will shake the Shadowrun setting and inspire game campaigns for months or longer. Players and gamemasters alike diving into the new edition will need this book as a resource to find out what’s happening in the Sixth World and to keep up with its twists and turns.

30 NIGHTS, $39.99 (OCTOBER)

30 Nights is a detailed campaign book to help players learn and have fun with Shadowrun, Sixth World. It introduces players to new rules and new plot lines, plunging them into the growing chaos in the UCAS as they look into the source of a mysterious blackout plaguing Toronto. The adventures can be played as a single gaming session to introduce players to the new rules, multiple sessions hitting highlights from the adventures, or a detailed campaign propelling the players through each of the 30 nights of the blackout and ensuing chaos. This book includes a laminated, poster map of Toronto, with expanded content.

DEEPER INTO THE SHADOWS

Don’t forget, we’ve released numerous 30th Anniversary items on our website, from hoodies, to t-shirts, to lapel pins, deluxe metal dice, and more. Keep an eye on the Catalyst Store for more fantastic offerings to celebrate where man meets magic and machine.

While we hope that you’ll check out Shadowrun, Sixth World, feel free to continue your Shadowrun, Fifth Edition adventures and adapt the exciting upcoming plotlines to meet your gaming group’s desires.

We’ve got more inside looks at Shadowrun, Sixth World coming—stay tuned! In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our growing website at www.shadowrunsixthworld.com. An all-new News section is now live, and join our mailing list on that site for unique future opportunities.

  • May 1: Initial Announcement
  • May 8: Product Overview
  • May 15: Developer Overview
  • May 22: Setting Overview/Fiction Announcement
  • May 29: Developer Q&A
  • June 5: Rigger Dossier
  • June 12: Shadowrun at Origins preview
  • More to follow
Posted in Products | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

SHADOWRUN: SIXTH WORLD, An All-New Edition of Cyberpunk Fantasy

Catalyst Game Labs proudly announces the sixth edition of the Shadowrun roleplaying game, Shadowrun, Sixth World, debuting this summer.

Are you ready to risk everything?

The Sixth World. One of the most enduring RPG settings ever created, with shadows growing deeper and darker in its latest edition. Dominated by enormous, world-striding megacorporations strangling metahumanity in their clutches, by 2080 most of the planet has surrendered to these corporate overlords.

But from the darkest shadows, defiance flickers in people known as shadowrunners. They risk everything—wrestling magical energies, channeling them into power; putting their minds against the electronic void of the Matrix; trading flesh and blood for chrome and steel.

Stand up, join them, and dare to risk it all!

Shadowrun, Sixth World builds on Shadowrun’s amazingly successful legacy, becoming easier to learn and play while still providing role-playing depth. Welcome to the marquee event of the game’s 30th Anniversary year!

It all starts with the Shadowrun, Sixth World Beginner Box, releasing in June. Here’s an exclusive look at the box’s cover art and contents:

Take your first step into the shadows with a new novella, “The Frame Job, Part 1: Yu” available today. Written by Dylan Birtolo, this exciting new fiction—which ties into the characters from the Shadowrun, Sixth World Beginner Box—is the first installment in a cycle of novellas releasing over the next few months.

You can also check out Shadowrun’s brand-new, future home at www.shadowrunsixthworld.com, featuring the game’s updated look and intense new art. The site will expand and grow over the coming weeks.

Catalyst is also pleased to announce the following localizations of Shadowrun, Sixth World already in the works: Brazilian Portuguese (New Order), German (Pegasus Spiel), French (Black Book), Italian (Wyrd Edizioni), and Russian (Hobby World). More are in discussion.

Need more info? Here’s what to look out for on both www.shadowrunsixthworld.com and www.shadowruntabletop.com, as well as the official Shadowrun and Catalyst Game Labs social media, and on the official Shadowrun forums over the next few weeks:

  • May 1: Initial Announcement
  • May 8: Product Overview
  • May 15: Developer Overview
  • May 22: Setting Overview/Fiction Announcement
  • May 29: Developer Q&A
  • June 5: Rigger Dossier
  • June 12: Shadowrun at Origins preview
  • More to follow

To tide you over until the Sixth World Beginner Box is available, the Sixth World Sprawl Fashion T-shirt is now available for purchase! (As part of BattleTech’s 35th anniversary, the Red Duke Solaris Fashion T-shirt is also now available.)

Additionally, don’t forget about the other 30thAnniversary items we’ve released on the Catalyst Game Labs store, including the t-shirt and hooded sweatshirt, Executive Dice, and the commemorative pin. Look for more great items throughout the year.

This summer, the shadows fall darker than ever, and survival depends on your willingness to risk everything and become a legend!

Posted in Products | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
  • Shadowrun Tabletop
  • Shadowrun Fiction
  • Quick-Start Rules
  • Shadowrun Media Kit