Monthly Archives: July 2016

Shadowrun: Anarchy: Why We Took a Cue

Gen Con is rushing down on us, and one of the things I’m most excited about is getting the prototype version of Shadowrun: Anarchy into gamers’ hands. Since that’s about to happen, followed by the push to get the full version off to print, it’s a good time to start talking about how the book came to be—and why it is what it is.

The reason to bring Shadowrun: Anarchy into being is simple—people kept asking for it. I love Shadowrun, Fifth Edition and look forward to further expanding and detailing that ruleset, but I also see the value in something that you can learn and play quickly, where the focus is the story and the rules are there to help the story move along. In early 2015, I kept having conversations with people interested in such a system, to the point where my thinking went from “Should we do this?” to “How should we do this?”

Answering that question meant looking at an asset we already had in hand—the Cue System that was first used in Cosmic Patrol and then in the Valiant Universe Role-Playing Game. I love Cosmic Patrol’s fast pace and the way it draws all the players into shaping a shared story, while the Valiant RPG showed the system’s potential for holding more mechanics, allowing more depth and variety of characters without sacrificing speed and simplicity. Still, if we were going to try to adapt the Cue System to Shadowrun, it was going to have to change even more. Some critical issues that arose during development included:

  • Could we move the system from a series of progressing dice—attributes in the Cue System improve by going from D4 to D6 to D8 and so on—to pools of six-sided dice, which is a critical part of making a system feel like Shadowrun?
  • Could we adapt the Cue System’s shared-gamemaster structure into one that allows a more traditional, single gamemaster as an option, or even one that uses a single gamemaster as a default?
  • How many connections could we make between Shadowrun, Fifth Edition and Anarchy so that players may move from one to the other?
  • How could we introduce magic, combat, and the Matrix so that all elements feel usable without overly complicating the game? What about spirits? Technomancers? Riggers?
  • What is the balance between providing the information the players need for the game to work and providing too much information so that it becomes off-putting?

These are not easy questions, and they were not answered easily or right away. One answer we saw pretty quickly was that the Cue System could work—we could bend it and stretch it into what we wanted it to be while working with its cooperative storytelling strengths. We had the bones we needed—our work was fleshing it out.

As we look into the development process, we’ll talk about how we answered some of the other questions I mentioned, and why we chose what we chose. For this post, let’s answer the first question: Six-sided dice pools are go! Having a simplified list of skills and connected attributes allows us to use dice pools that grow as characters improve, and allow the same virtues of scaling up that we get in Shadowrun, Fifth Edition. If it’s a Shadowrun role-playing game, we want to be able to roll six-sided dice, so that’s what you’re going to get!

How did we answer those other questions? Future posts will let you know!

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Court of Shadows PDF/Print Pre-order Available!

Shadowrun: Court of Shadows

You have seen it. You have felt it. The dream where you are falling, falling, and you cannot see the ground but you know it is there waiting. You may try to brace yourself, you may try to force yourself awake—you do anything to avoid the impact that keeps rushing toward you.

The Seelie Court is the realm of the hidden, the rumored, and the unknown. Fairies, spirits, and enchanted creatures mingle there, building alliances, plotting, scheming, toying with the realm of humans—and with each other. The Court has long held a distant attachment to the material plane, influencing it like a dream influences our waking hours. But now a new connection has emerged, allowing humans to infiltrate the courts and influence its proceedings. At a time when magical power is ever in the rise, the mix of human and fae could set both worlds into a calamitous plunge, and no one will want to be awake when they hit bottom.

Court of Shadows is an alternate setting for Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, emphasizing the magic and intrigue of the Seelie Court. With full setting, character, and plot details, as well as information on using SR5 characters in the Seelie Court, this book presents all-new ways to play Shadowrun and to live in the mystical intrigue of the planes of fairy, capturing the magic of the dream world—and seeing if they can prevent its fall.

Court of Shadows Bundles

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The Seattle Sprawl box set is in our warehouse and ready to start shipping. Anyone that previously ordered the Seattle Sprawl Digital Box will be receiving an email with a code for $10 off the physical order.

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Ordering Issues

Catalyst Game Labs’ online ordering—the BattleCorps website—is built on very old code. Thirteen years old, to be specific, which is several generations when it comes to tech. It was enough to get us up and running back in the day, but it developed more problems as time went on—problems we were able to stay on top of with a reasonable amount of time and effort. We got by until this last year, when several changes by our fulfillment center and an attempt to update our software compounded the issues to an extent that we can’t even track down half of the problems it’s now giving us.

At present, a lot of our orders (most, in fact) seem to go through without an issue. But when there is a problem, in some cases we lose all ability to track and reply. We agree this is unacceptable, and we are taking steps to deal with it. We are bringing in a specialist this next week to try to fix our email tracking issue, and we have several days set aside to work on a complete system rebuild using modern software tools.

In the meantime we are trying to get all back orders taken care of as quickly as we can. If any of you are not in communications with someone at Catalyst and feel that your order is outstanding, by all means, feel free to contact, with the subject BATTLECORPS ORDERING PROBLEM, and he’ll work directly with you and the warehouse in the interim.

Thank you for your patience and support.

Team Catalyst

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Steel Rain Legends Epub Available!

The next Shadowrun Legends installment is Steel Rain (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG).


    Sword Of The Serpent

    Machiko is second-in-command of the Green Serpent Guard, an elite corps of Elven samurai who are sworn to defend the Chairman of Nagato Corporation. But she soon gets a promotion – after her superior is ruthlessly cut down in a slew of attacks aimed at the famous Guard itself.

    Only the wealthiest can afford assassins with enough muscle to take on the Green Serpent Guard, and Machiko turns up evidence that points ot Nagato’s biggest rival, Fuchi Corp. It looks like Fuchi has designs on Nagato’s sensitive research division, where the incredible future of the communications matrix is taking shape. When magical attacks and sabotage begin taking out more of Nagato’s personnel, things between the two megacorporations really heat up. But behind the growing hostilities with Fuchi looms a more sinister threat, requiring far more of Machikos talents than her flashing sword. And staying alive may require defeating a high-tech foe with virtually unlimited powers – and absolutely no mercy ….

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