Tag Archives: Sixth World

New Shadowrun Beginner Box Dossier and Release Info!

Do you have the Shadowrun, Sixth World Beginner Box Set? Do you want a preview at how characters in that ruleset will look? Do you just want free Shadowrun stuff? There’s no wrong reason to download the character dossier for Emu, the human rigger! It’s now available! 

And it’s a great time to share Beginner Box material with you, because the box itself is nearing release. The official street date is July 10–two weeks from now—but you might want to pay attention to your friendly local game store, because some copies might show up in advance of that. So if you want your first look at the next edition of one of gaming’s greatest settings, keep your eyes open!

Of course, the Beginner Box is the first step of the journey to the release of the full Shadowrun, Sixth World core rulebook, which will go on sale August 1 at Gen Con. We’ll be counting down until that week with more blog posts and information about that book, including the following:

July 3: Magic in SR6

July 10: Combat in SR6

July 17: Matrix in SR6

July 24: How to describe 30 years of Shadowrun history

July 31: Gen Con preview!

We look forward to sharing more about this edition of Shadowrun, and we’re especially excited to get people playing!

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Shadowrun, Sixth World to Debut at Origins Game Fair

Origins Game Fair is about to launch, and with it comes the worldwide premiere of Shadowrun, Sixth World!

Kicking off on Thursday, June 13 and running through Sunday, June 16, Origins is your first chance to get your hands on the new Shadowrun, Sixth World beginner box set. Those at the convention also have the first opportunity to try out the new rules.

Available for sale at the Catalyst Game Labs Booth (701, 707, 807) at Origins will be:

  • Shadowrun, Sixth World Beginner Box (Street Date: July 10)
  • Neo-Anarchist Streetpedia (Street Date: June 12)
  • No Future (Street Date: July 10)
  • Mekeda Red (Available now)
  • Prime Runner miniatures (Advance sale; street date TBD)
  • Shadowrun Dice & Edge Tokens (Advance sale; street date TBD)

To celebrate the launch of Sixth World, anyone ordering the above products through the Catalyst Game Labs store in print format will receive the PDF version for free (except, of course, the dice and edge tokens). This promotion will begin with the release of the Neo-Anarchist Streetpedia today (PDF only // Book & PDF).

In addition, any visitors to the Catalyst Game Labs booth will receive an all-new Shadowrun, Sixth World poster, while those playing in Shadowrun games at Origins will walk away with new custom dice or edge tokens. (Both offers good while supplies last.) And we will also be running plenty of Shadowrun, BattleTech, Dragonfire, and more!

Demonstration games of Shadowrun, Sixth World will be available at the Catalyst booth. In the Gaming Hall, the Shadowrun Missions line will continue the Neo-Tokyo storyline started in Season Nine, the final Missions written for Fifth Edition.

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Creating Shadowrun Fiction for the Sixth World Game Edition–or, Meet your Editor, Mr. Johnson

(Note: The Rigger Dossier intended for release this week will be made available at a later date. In its place, we present this in-depth look at upcoming Shadowrun fiction.)

By John Helfers

I’ve been editing fiction for Catalyst Game Labs for several years now, and I like to think I’m pretty decent at it. But even though I’ve commissioned dozens of stories and novels, some projects still require a bit more of a hands-on approach due to their unique nature. And along with that uniqueness often comes a deadline that is just as immovable as anything else in publishing.

Just like the one for this article was. How was I supposed to write about overseeing the creation of six interlinked novellas set in the new backdrop of the next edition of Shadowrun, and featuring the new characters from the Beginner Box Set and take you through how that all came about?

While I was staring at my computer screen, trying to get the words flowing, the core idea hit me: for all intents and purposes, a tie-in fiction editor is a lot like a Mr. Johnson in the Sixth World.

Exactly like them, in fact.

I receive my assignment from the corp: It all started when the CGL overlords (well, one of the overlords) Randall Bills started a thread (or perhaps an e-mail) about how to tie our fiction line into the upcoming release of the next edition of the Shadowrun roleplaying game. I assured him that this was a great idea (it is), and of course I could commission a series of six original interwoven (!) novellas, all featuring a team of runners out to score some kind of major run on a corp, and have the first one ready to publish in about 45 days from initial concept (!!), with the next five to follow in two-week intervals leading up to the launch of the new Shadowrun edition this August.

I assemble my shadowrunning (shadow-writing?) team: Next, I had to pull together the group of writers I would hire to handle this trickier-than-usual job. Commissioning six Shadowrun novellas is easy; commissioning six novellas whose plot paths cross over one another and weave in and out as the story progresses is a very different item. I needed to find writers I not only could trust were familiar with the Shadowrun universe, but who were also solid writers that would play well with the rest of the group. If we didn’t have cohesion as each writer turned in their separate plot for the others to tie their stories in to, the whole project could fall apart.

Fortunately, I’ve been editing this IP long enough that I know several excellent writers who can turn in wonderful stories on relatively short notice. I also had contacts on the gamebook side of SR, and Line Developer Jason Hardy put me in touch with a couple writers who had been working hard on the core rulebook, were experienced in writing Shadowrun fiction, and who were also free (and willing) to tackle this project in the limited time frame it required.

So, relatively quickly, I assembled my team: game designer and writer Dylan Birtolo; two Shadowrun, Sixth World writers, Brooke Chang and CZ Wright; professional game guy and Shadowrun enthusiast Bryan CP Steele; former BattleTech editor, and current Shadowrun and BattleTech freelance writer Jason Schmetzer; and to wrap the whole thing up into a nice neat ending, the same Jason M. Hardy (because he didn’t have enough to do with overseeing the creation of the new edition) who gave me his author list in the first place. Once again, no good deed goes unpunished.

I give the team their assignment and turn them loose: I brought the team together on our online Basecamp project managing site and pretty much let them loose on figuring out the who, when, where, why, and how the overall plot would go down while I kept tabs on how things were progressing and weighed in on ideas and answered questions when needed. The authors all came together nicely, and soon the ideas were flowing fast and furious.

I take the results of each section of the overall mission and make sure they work for the parameters I’d been assigned: The novella manuscripts started hitting my inbox, and that’s when I really got to work in editing and shaping each piece to make sure they fit our vision of what the overarching story was going to be. I’m pleased to say that everyone has delivered stellar work so far, and I have no doubt that the rest of the pieces will be up to the high bar of the first three stories we’ve published.

When the last of the stories is completed, I will make sure the runners…er, writers are all paid for their work, and I’ll enjoy the satisfaction of having overseen the completion of another successful mission in media tie-in publishing. The job’s only half done at this point, with me still having to review and make sure the last three stories bring our story to its exciting conclusion. But I have every confidence that the rest of my writing team will do it justice.

Okay, so there was no posturing for respect on the mean streets or last-minute double-crosses among the writers (good thing, too) or betrayals from the corp itself—the closest thing to any obstacles I encountered was that some of the authors needed a few more days to complete their stories (and one time cover art was delayed, necessitating a rescheduling of the publication of one novella). Frag, I even work on a computer for 99 percent of the time, so I don’t even get so much as a paper cut nowadays.

The team I put together worked like a well-oiled machine that gave me the results I wanted, and the final product is a great introduction to the exciting world of Shadowrun, Sixth World. I completed my assignment (or will), making my corp happy and allowing a very talented group of writers to show all the Shadowrun fans what they can do. In short, I executed like a true Mr. Johnson.

But now, as I’m re-reading this, maybe editing tie-in work isn’t all that hazardous, and perhaps I’m stretching that editor-as-Mr. Johnson analogy a bit too far…

Nah…

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

Welcome to this week’s Shadowrun, Sixth World update! For this week’s post, we’ve scoured various internet outposts to find some common questions about Sixth World, and asked Jason Hardy, Shadowrun line developer, to answer.

Is Sixth World an attempt to simply fix the problems that some saw in Fifth Edition, or is it more of a ground-up re-envisioning of the Shadowrun game as a whole?

Definitely closer to the latter. I wouldn’t say it’s a total re-envisioning—we still have dice pools of D6s, we have the same attributes, and many aspects are the same as previous editions. But we did not want to simply tweak or adjust Fifth Edition–we wanted this to be a whole new edition, with new concepts and a different feel. We also wanted to streamline the game—which is the subject of the next question!

In streamlining the Sixth World rules, did the developers take any cues from other game systems and their recent editions on what to do or not do?

Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: I play games a lot, so I’m always looking at lessons to learn from other games. In particular, I looked at a lot of ways of making adjustment to dice and dice pools, to see how the math on each of those work out. Adjusting threshold numbers, adding more dice, adding +1 to a die, re-rolling a die—all of those have different effects, and knowing what those effects are was important in designing the game (I have a lovely spreadsheet with fun stats!).

I also looked at one element crucial to role-playing games, and that is giving a range of characters meaningful choices. Without going into details, I’ve seen games that do a great job of it, and I’ve seen games where some types of characters seem to only be able to choose from a small range of actions, so they end up picking between one or two alternatives most of the time. We tried to emulate the former!

Who did the developers turn to for input on revising the rules for Sixth World? How was the system playtested and what tweaks were made as a result?

Lots of people! The initial phase of development was more of a reaching-out phase—we spoke with people who weren’t in the trenches of day-to-day Shadowrun work to get their thoughts on different ways Shadowrun could reinvent itself, so that we could get fresh ideas. We also reached out to freelancers working on Shadowrun, especially those with lots of in-the-trenches gaming experience.

Playtesting went through several phases (fun fact: the core playtest document was updated and re-circulated 12 different times during the playtest process). Throughout the process, I ran games with a variety of people—Catalyst staff, experienced Shadowrun players, and people new to Shadowrun. The freelancers working on Shadowrun ran several playtests as we were in the early stages of forming the main structure of the game.

Once we had a basic structure in place, the playtest broadened. We have a large group of non-staff, non-freelancer playtesters we use for a lot of different games, and many of them stepped in to run games. This gave us the perspective of people coming to the ruleset with fresh eyes, having not been involved in any of the early development of this game or in any writing of SR5 rules.

The changes from this process are numerous. A few examples:

* The very first set of playtest rules had a lot of what is now part of the Edge in a separate sub-system. Playtesters thought it would be good to combine all the systems into Edge. That was a good idea.

* There were many playtest ideas on ways to reconfigure skills to make them easier to handle while also providing ways to make a range of characters. The Specialization and Expertise system came out of that.

* Early playtest documents focused on the Combat uses of Edge. The intention was always to expand it, but that was given special urgency by playtesters emphasizing that Edge needed to be woven into multiple areas of gameplay.

* Playtesting is also good for making small tweaks—damage values, Karma costs of qualities, drain values of spells, and more were adjusted in playtesting.

How long will it take for the various sourcebooks for all the character classes to come out? Will I have to “downgrade” my character to what’s available in the core rules until those books are available?

The combat sourcebook will come out by the end of this year. As with Fifth Edition, the other core books will then come out regularly as they are developed and written. We will have a character conversion guide that will help with bringing a character into the new edition, but we simply cannot put put rules that covered more than 2,000 pages in Fifth Edition in a single burst, especially since the last books developed for Fifth Edition haven’t come out yet, so I was working on them while also working on Sixth World. Getting all the core books out in a single year would require at least a year where I wasn’t working on anything else, and that’s not something I can do!

When will Missions change over to using Sixth World rules, and will my character have to be reset to use only what’s in the core book?

If all works the way we have planned, the first Neo-Tokyo Missions will be dual-statted for both Fifth Edition and Sixth World. We hope those will start flowing out this fall. That means you should have at least half a year before having to make the conversion to Sixth World to play Missions. If the dual-statting goes smoothly, we can explore extending it.

Have you made any changes to riggers, their rules, or how they’re incorporated in runs? Will rules for riggers come earlier in the release schedule than in the past?

Yes. Vehicle stats are greatly changed—in some ways, they’re one of the ways the rules became a bit more complicated, if only so vehicle movement could be tracked without the abstracted chase rules of previous editions. Matrix rules have been changed, so with them rigging rules have been adjusted, though that level of detail is beyond the scope of this post! Between drone rigging, vehicle operation, and taking over other vehicles and drones, riggers should find plenty to do.

The timing for the rigger book and other books has not been decided yet, though I’ll just take this opportunity to point out that Rigger 5.0 came out more than three years ago, less than halfway through the Fifth Edition cycle!

What would you say to those who are concerned about the reduced number of Skills in Sixth World?

First, the goal of specializations and expertise is to give players a way to differentiate characters with this smaller skill set. I hope that will be useful and give characters their own feel. Second, if, in the end, you prefer the longer skill list of previous editions to the list in Sixth World, that’s okay. I long ago came to grips with the fact that no single edition of Shadowrun will be everything to everyone. Everyone will like the things they like, and I just hope Sixth World provides rules and tools a substantial group of players can use to have fun!

Can you talk a little more about Edge, and why Sixth Edition changes how it is used?

The process of how Edge evolved is the longest, most detailed process in the whole game. So I’ll try to make a long story short! Ish. So, the first thing I focused on when it came time to move past brainstorming and put rules to paper was combat. I wanted the whole combat process to move smoother and for combat to resolve faster. I saw a lot of things to tweak the process, but in the end, many of them boiled down to one thing: It takes a long time to calculate dice pools. Modifiers can come from a lot of places, and remembering to look at all these places, while also remembering the size of the modifiers, can be complex. I wanted to streamline that whole process. The first step in that was combining a lot of weapon stats into a single number called Attack Rating. That number is compared to a Target’s Defense Rating, and, in the initial system, if your Attack Rating was sufficiently higher than the Defense Rating, you’d get what was called a Chip, which would represent your accumulated advantage in the fight. The idea was that other things, such as good tactical execution, would give you more Chips. Then playtesting showed us that the Chip system had similarities with Edge, and things would work best if Edge was expanded, rather than introducing a new meta-game currency. Once that merger was in place, the work was to find how to implement Edge across the system. So deckers, faces, riggers, technomancers, and whoever else hits the shadows gets a chance to build up Edge and spend it in a spectacular move.

How did you balance the need to streamline the core rules against the complexity and detail that many Shadowrun players enjoy?

That was a tough one! In the end, I think it’s about making a good framework for the game. The basics of Shadowrun are simple—find a skill for the action you’re going to attempt, add ranks in that skill to ranks in an associated attribute, roll that many D6s, and count how many 5s and 6s you get. You’re either trying to beat a threshold established by the gamemaster or the number of hits from another character. That part isn’t hard to master. The complications come with all the attachments, which means that in the end, it’s about not overloading the core system with attachments. The way Edge works in Sixth World gives players plenty of opportunities for their choices to have and effect in the game while making it easier to determine what that effect is.

Why should an established Shadowrun player pick up Sixth World?

For the adventure and challenge! Game rules offer structure and limits, with the players seeing what cool things they can pull off within that structure. Just like designing a new character, new rules give you a chance to see what you can make happen with new trappings. In Sixth World, combat should move faster, and your opportunities to do spectacular things should come about more frequently. You also might have an easier time getting people who found the longer Fifth Edition book too daunting into the game!

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