Le site officiel Shadowrun RPG

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.

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

Experience Gen Con now with The Complete Trog and Ripping Reality

When you work for a game company, the phrase “Gen Con will be here before you know it” fills you with simultaneous excitement and dread. Because while Gen Con is an awesome experience of games and people and non-stop activity, it’s also a lot of work to prepare for it. Some of that preparation involves getting books ready to sell, and the good news for all of you out there is that we need them to be done before the con if we want to sell them there. Which means they’re done now and at the printing press. If they’re done, we see no reason why you shouldn’t have PDFs of them if you want, so get a jump on the big con by checking out the electronic versions of two new books!

First up is The Complete Trog (Catalyst shop, DriveThru), your guide to orks and trolls in the Sixth World, with lots of flavor about the ork and troll experience, as well as game mechanics and rules to enhance playing these characters. It works with both Shadowrun, Fifth Edition and Shadowrun: Anarchy! Here’s the full summary:

Big, Bad, and Awesome

They can call you a trog. Sure they can. Let ’em think it’s 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.

Next up is Ripping Reality, and adventure that completes a Denver trilogy following Serrated Edge and False Flag. Whether you’ve played those other adventures or not, Ripping Reality (Catalyst shop, DriveThru) will take you on a wild ride as a life-or-death conflict involving some of the Sixth World’s major powers drags shadowrunners into its wake–and gives them the chance to affect the outcome. Here’s some more info:

Chaos Rising

The Denver sprawl has always been a battleground, but lately it seems to be at war with reality. People are disappearing from the streets, never to be seen again. Strange creatures are materializing out of nowhere, and sometimes they bring entire landscapes with them. Something has gone desperately wrong, and the stakes are so high that two enemies who had been locked in combat are setting aside their fight to find out what is happening and why.

If investigations into bizarre occurrences need to happen, then there are shadowruns to be done. The right team will have the chance to bring in an impressive payday, but they’ll have to navigate their way past old grudges, tainted magic, and creatures of pure destructive power waiting to be turned loose on the sprawl.

Building on plot strands from the previous Denver adventures, Serrated Edge and False Flag, Ripping Reality sends players on a wild ride through a sprawl that seems to be tearing itself apart, giving them a chance to try to keep it together.

Ripping Reality is for use with Shadowrun, Fifth Edition.

Jump into these books and enjoy the fun!

Delve into the unknown with Forbidden Arcana, new advanced magic book!

Lots of new Shadowrun thrills and possibilities have erupted into the world today! Like an overcast fireball lighting up the hallways of some corp lab, a new advanced magic book called Forbidden Arcana is now available for PDF purchase at the Catalyst shop and DriveThruRPG.

Now, before we discuss the content of the book, eagle-eyed viewers of the above paragraph and the Catalyst shop may notice that there is, at the moment, no link for a print pre-order. Don’t worry–that doesn’t mean we have forsaken print books! With the new Catalyst web shop and the ongoing work to make our sales and distribution processes function as we’d like them to, at present pre-order will not occur until the book is in the warehouse, ready to be sent out. But we can assure you that Forbidden Arcana is at the printer now and will make its way to game stores and online ordering before long.

That said, let’s take a look at what’s in the book:

Ride the Crashing Wave

Magic is wild. Magic is undisciplined. You can try to impose order and understanding on it, but that’s just surface. Underneath is chaos, an erratic heart beating to a staggering rhythm. You don’t control it, any more than a surfer controls twenty-meter-tall wave; you don’t direct the wave, you ride it, capture a piece of its power, and hope to survive. If you do it right, though, you catch a portion of unimaginable power—power those who control the Sixth World don’t want you to have. All the more reason to push past their boundaries and grab it.

Forbidden Arcana offers dozens of different ways for Awakened characters in Shadowrun to harness that power and make themselves a mana-slinger like no other. From new ways to distinguish spellcasters of different traditions to more chaotic methods for summoning spirits to options for Awakened characters who have mastered their craft, Forbidden Arcana shows players how to break out of conventional molds, use mana in new ways, and become true street legends riding the growing wave of Sixth World mana.

Forbidden Arcana is an advanced magic rulebook for use with Shadowrun, Fifth Edition; magic concepts from the book can be used with Shadowrun: Anarchy, though mechanics for that game are not included.

Totally normal, free Mission for Shadowrun released!

Hey, we’ve got a new Mission for all of you today, and we’re releasing it for free! And we’re here to tell you that it’s completely, totally normal in all possible ways. Yep. Nothing weird going on here. No, sir. The content? The characters? All totally normal. Certainly not the products of someone who clearly spent a lot of sick days watching too much television when they were young. Nope. Definitely not. It’s all just as it should be.

And it looks normal, too! Sure, it may not have been laid out by, you know, a professional layout person or anything, but there are words inside a PDF, so hey, it’s pretty much the same, right?

But the important thing is it’s free. Completely free. So even if it were a little weird or something–and it’s not! Definitely not!–it would be worth checking out for the price, right?

You can download the totally normal Mission right here: SMH 2017 Scene It All Before

New Shadowrun release roundup

So we’ve been busy in Shadowrun-land, working on projects we can’t talk about yet while also getting more books out and keeping tabs on the progress of Catalyst’s new web store. While things were moving ahead, a few new Shadowrun books slipped out that we felt deserved your attention!

First, there’s the new campaign book titled Book of the Lost (Catalyst Shop, DriveThruRPG). Some of you picked up our special Gen Con-edition of the Sixth World Tarot with art by the fabulous Echo Chernik. The full print run of tarot decks will be making its way to stores before long, but in advance of that we have a campaign book that’s your guide to using the images and ideas the deck presents. Even if you don’t have the deck, the book presents dozens of images from the cards, as well as descriptive information that will led you dive into the strange and wild world of quests the tarot opens up. Here’s some more info:

No Longer Hidden

The Bastard, upright. A man in clown makeup stands in a broken skyraker window over another man on the verge of a long plummet. Near the clown’s hand, a white rose. Opportunity, adventure, but also mania and frenzy. 404, upright. A woman crouches on the edge of a rooftop, holding a white rose. In the distance is the image of a woman in a red dress. Destruction, failure, collapse. Queen of coins. A woman in a red dress, lounging amidst luxury. She has material wealth but emptiness of soul. Upright, she is opulence, magnificent. Inverse is suspense, fear.

Opportunity and adventure abounds. Destruction and failure loom. Will the result be magnificence—or fear?

Book of the Lost takes the intricate art of the Sixth World Tarot and turns it into stories and campaigns for Shadowrun players. Full of plot hooks and adventure seeds, this book is a treasure trove of ideas, mysteries, and enigmas that can make memorable games. Open it and explore knowledge that had been lost but is now, here, rediscovered. And waiting for you.

Book of the Lost is for use with Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, and can easily be used with Shadowrun: Anarchy with minor NPC adjustments.

Along with this book, we also have a new Mission! Do No Harm (Catalyst Shop, DriveThruRPG) tests players’ creativity and morality–and while shadowrunners tend to have plenty of the former and something of a deficiency of the latter, they’ll have to find the right balance to pull this job off. Here are the details:

The Finesse Game

Every runner knows there are times when you need to throw grenades at gasoline trucks, and other times when more discretion and subtlety is called for. True pros distinguish themselves with precise operations that are noticed by no one besides their target—but those targets see enough to push them over the edge of sanity.

In this Mission, runners get an assignment that is easy to describe but difficult to execute. The job? Ruin a life. The method? That’s where the runners come in. They’ll have to exercise all their creativity and sneakiness to plan and pull off this job—unless they want the police and some nasty corporate security putting their work to an early end. Do runners have the smarts, stealth, and deviousness to pull this off? As always, the answer is another question: How badly do they want to get paid?

Do No Harm is the latest Shadowrun Mission set in Chicago, bringing a new twist and degree of freedom to runners who take it on. The Mission is for use with Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, and plot elements could also be used with Shadowrun: Anarchy.

And finally, new Shadowrun fiction is in the wild! The novella series continues with Blind Magic (Catalyst Shop, DriveThruRPG) by Dylan Birtolo. With down-on-their-luck characters facing the twists of a merciless world, it’s classic Shadowrun, featuring … well, let’s let the book summary do its job:

Lucas, a gifted shaman and member of the Salish-Shidhe Council, is respected for his arcane talents among his tribe. When he’s blinded during a shadowrun on an Evo Corporation outpost, he’s fitted with a set of cybereyes during his recovery. But upon his return to the Council, the tribe banishes him, saying the cyberware he’s accepted makes him unfit to be a shaman. Distraught, Lucas heads to Seattle and spends time in the Barrens attempting to scrape by.

Wanting revenge against Evo, he teams up with a group of shadowrunners, influencing them to take runs against the megacorporation. During one such run, they determine that Evo is retrieving an arcane artifact from a dig site located in Salish-Shidhe territory. Lucas convinces his team to take the initiative and either stop the dig or steal the artifact. But when a team member double-crosses Lucas and the others, he must race against time to discover the true masterminds behind this shadowrun…and stop the thief before they escape with both the artifact and Lucas’s last chance for redemption…

So whether you want adventures or fiction, plot hooks or great art, we’ve got you covered! Go enjoy some Shadowrun!

 

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.

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.

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)

    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).

    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….

Another New Mission and Legends Available!

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

    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).

    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…

A New Mission and Legends Available!

First up, there’s a new Mission available, The Deck Job (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG)!

    The only shadowrunners who don’t ask the above question are ones who have been dead so long that no one remembers their name. Which, for most runners, means two months. The point being, any runner knows that a job that can be described in a simple, straightforward sentence at the beginning of the day is going to become a tumbled, tangled mess by the end of the day, the simple sentence exploding into a story that you’ll tell over a few drinks some night—unless the story got messy enough that you joined those forgotten shadowrunners in some shallow grave.

    The simple sentence at the beginning of this job is this: “Retrieve a stolen cyberdeck prototype.” Sounds easy enough, but add “in Chicago’s Containment Zone” to the end of the sentence, and already the complications have begun to mount. And they’ll continue—by the time the runners are done, they’ll see double-crosses, deceits, lies, and betrayals speeding past them, and they’ll have to do their best to figure out what’s really going on before they get overwhelmed and overran.

    Kicking off the newest season of Shadowrun: Missions, The Deck Job puts players in a nest of twists and turns while launching a new, Chicago-based plotline. The Mission is for use with Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, and the story elements could be part of a Shadowrun: Anarchy game with mechanical adjustment to character stats.

And also a new Shadowrun Legends available in Tails You Lose (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG).

    When a shadowrunner managed to extract PCI’s most vital employee, it was Alma’s job as security expert to get him back–no matter the cost. But all the evidence pointed to the one person who couldn’t have done it…herself. Branded a traitor, Alma has one shot at redemption: find the real culprit. But she’s never faced an enemy like this one. This ‘runner not only looks like Alma–she’s also equipped with Alma’s top-of-the-line cybernetic implants, and she’s backed by the powerful magic of the Chinese underworld. Now, the expert in defense must attack–and risk it all to bring down a rival so much like herself that there can be only one shocking explanation…

New Legends Epubs Available

We’ve two new Shadowrun Legends available in Preying For Keeps (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG) and Headhunters (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG).

    When ace shadowrunner Jack Skater leads his team of commandos in a raid on an elven ocean freighter, things get a little sticky. Yakuza hitmen crash the party, and a Japanese shaman whips up a titanic sea creature just to make sure nobody gets out alive. Now, having escaped with his troops by the skin of their teeth, Skater wants to find out who set him up.

    But it isn’t going to be easy. Because the runners are stuck up to their pointy ears in a sinister super-scheme that involves Skater’s ex-wife, two elven gene corporations, a ruthless mafioso named McKenzie, and stolen data disks containing secrets worth killing for. It’s a high-tech mega-mess with no way out. And as a ghastly virus hits Seattle, unleashing hordes of homicidal cannibals onto the streets, Skater and company have to bring in some heavy artillery just to stay alive….

    Somebody aced the dragon Dunkelzahn, and one of the mysterious links to the assassination is flat on his back in slab city: a double agent with two identities–both out of commission. Now he’s the most-wanted carcass in Tacoma. Jack Skater’s mission? Sleaze past the high-tech funeral security, outwit the Knight Errants, cop the stiff, and keep it on ice long enough to get the answer to the shadowrunners’ life-and-death question: what’s so hot about a stone-cold corpse?

    And that isn’t all that’s dropped Skater elf-deep in drek–the UCAS Secret Service is also after the dead man’s secret–and the government blue crews are prepared to liquidate anything in sight to get to it first…

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.

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.

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

New Legends Epubs Available

We’ve two new Shadowrun Legends available in The Burning Time (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG) and Psychotrope (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG).

    Low-level programmer Roy Kilaro wants nothing more than to become a Seraphim–an elite corporation operative–and experience some real action in the shadow ops between the megacorporations. He gets more than he ever wanted when a routine business trip to Boston lands him at ground zero of a running battle for survival. The combatants: a group of hardened ‘runners trying to finish a job, the ruthless anti-elven terrorists known as the Knights of the Red Branch, and a powerful sorceress who wants revenge upon them all…

    LIFE SPAN: 12 MINUTES

    It started out as a simple Matrix run, but now five deckers are trapped inside a nightmarish virtual landscape where jacking out is an impossibility–and what waits has all the hallmarks of the afterlife: tunnels of brilliant light, greetings from long-dead friends and family…and the terrifying sense of being juggled between Heaven and Hell. But in this computer-generated netherworld, there is only one thing that can be trusted. And it isn’t the senses….

    …THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS

    It’s the uncommon experience the deckers have in common: a near brush with death. It has brought them together in this hell-raising realm and under the influence of a twisted intelligence with diabolical plans for the unwary travelers in grid-time. Having their minds and souls extinguished before the Matrix-scape crashdown is only the beginning of the puzzle. Discovering why will be the end. A dead end.

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.

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

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. Links and cover preview coming soon, but here’s a description to whet your appetite:

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!

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!

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

Great New Shadowrun Fiction Available!

We’ve two new Shadowrun fiction epub novels now available.

First up is Drawing Destiny, a fantastic anthology of fiction that ties into the coming Sixth World Tarot, as well as are already available Court of Shadows (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG). Additionally, a new Shadowrun Legends in Crossroads (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG).

    THE TAROT HAS AWAKENED…

    …And nothing will ever be the same again.

    The Tarot, a mystical divination deck of cards, has appeared in the Sixth World as a powerful artifact. It works its will on anyone who finds one of its magical cards, from runners surviving on the street to corp executives battling in the boardroom. And not just people’s lives will be changed, for the Awakened Tarot deck is more than just a formidable magic item, it has an agenda all its own, and will seek to use those it comes in contact with to set its plans in motion…

    Drawing Destiny is the latest original Shadowrun anthology, featuring twenty-three original stories about this brand-new artifact introduced into the game universe. Featuring stories from Michael A. Stackpole, Jennifer Brozek, Chris A. Jackson, Lucy A. Snyder, Aaron Rosenberg, R.L. King, Russell Zimmerman, Josh Vogt, and Jason M. Hardy, and 14 more authors, these stories reveal how the Awakened Tarot will impact the Sixth World for better, and sometimes, for much worse…

    In the magical world of 2060, street mage Tommy Talon has hit the big time. He’s a member of Assets, Inc., one of the best shadow-teams in the business, but now he’s drawn back to his home town of Boston by secrets from his past. Secrets that lead him into conflicts with megacorporations, yakuza gangsters, and a powerful spirit that’s hunting for him. Talon must call on all of his magical powers and the abilities of his shadowrunning friends to unravel the mystery. Along the way, he finds out some unexpected things about his past, himself, and his true enemy: someone very close to him indeed…

New Legends Epub Available!

We’ve two new Shadowrun Legends available in Technobabble (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG) and Clockwork Asylum: Dragon Heart Saga #2 (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG).

    He awoke in a body bag, his brain fried, a black hole where his memory should be. If not for the cool carbon-fiber blade concealed in the bones of his arm, he would’ve been dead for sure. But Michael Bishop–a.k.a. Babel, messiah of the Matrix–is back in the game.

    Renraku Computer Systems has defied the accords of the Corporate Court. Now they must decipher the secrets of the otaku–and Babel is the technoshaman reborn for the job. But Netwalking in the shadows of the electron jungle means initiation into deadly megacorporate intrigue–and discovering more about Babel’s own team than he fears he should know. As allies become adversaries, Babel breaks through the dreaded black ice security to find a doorway to the future–and signs of a corp war looming on the horizon–one that could destroy the technoworld and beyond…forever.

    In this second book of the greatest epic in Shadowrun history–the maelstrom of cyber-magic and political intrigue following President Dunkelzahn’s assassination rages out of control. Ryan Mercury, Dunkelzahn’s secret agent, is torn between his duty and his desire to find a killer. But when a spirit wrongly concludes that Ryan is working for the enemy, he anoints a cyberzombie to carry out a hit of its own. Now with an impressive arsenal of allies, weaponry, and the Dragon Heart, Ryan just might pull off the save of the century–if he doesn’t lose his life first!

Blood Sport Legends Epub Available!

The next Shadowrun Legends installment is Blood Sport (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG).

    Mama Grande streaked through Leni’s life like a bad dream. She arrived out of nowhere, claiming to be the ex-Lone Star detective’s grandmother. She prophesied rivers of blood and an earth in flames. But her murder was even more bizarre: she died at the hands of two Yucatán missionaries hiding a secret of the Gods.

    With combat biker wannabe Rafael in tow, Leni dives into Mama Grande’s past… and hurtles into the dark heart of Aztlan – where human sacrifice is all the rage, and where ancient ceremonial games could trigger the end of the world. Are they crazy cultists of true harbingers of doom? The closer Leni and Rafael get to the answer, the nearer they move to the brink of oblivion. Either way, their futures could be cancelled….

New Legends Epub Available!

We’ve two new Shadowrun Legends available in Stranger Souls (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG) and Shadowboxer (BattleShop, DriveThruRPG).

    Dunkelzahn the dragon’s election as President of the United Canadian American States promised the dawn of a new era. But the hopes of a nation disintegrate with the powerful explosion that assassinates him. On that same fateful evening Dunkelzahn’s most trusted special agent, Ryan Mercury, is on a secret mission of great urgency involving dangerous magic. And only a miracle can save the world from total destruction…

    In this first book of the Dragon Heart Saga, Dunkelzahn’s murder shocks the Awakened-world. Rumors and suspicions run rampant as shadowrunners, Secret Service agents, and megacorp execs scramble for the reins of power. Open these pages to see the story behind the great dragon’s death and the beginning of a new adventure…

    Too Hot To Handle

    For Two Bears, a dwarf mercenary accustomed to running the shadows, the job sounded like an easy way to make a huge stack of cash: track down and discover the meaning of the word “IronHell.” But when the decker he approaches for help gets her brain fried on the Matrix, Two Bears konws he’s up to his stout little shoulders in drek.

    Too Cool To Give Up

    Realizing that IronHell must be the title of something – or somebody – very powerful, Two Bears looks for some backup to make sure he gets through this job alive. He lines up a street troll called Thumbs, a slick decker named Silver, a suit-wearing samurai called Delphia, and Moonfeather, a magic-wielding disciple of the Cat totem. Together they blast their way through a stream of megacorp] operatives, giant meta-beasts, and high-tech pirates, desperate to unravel the incredible secret of IronHell – before it unravels the world ….

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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