GTM #233 - Shadowrun: The Shadows Get Darker
by Catalyst Game Labs



We hope that by this point you’ve heard about Shadowrun, Sixth World, the upcoming new edition of the classic role-playing game. A whole slate of books and supporting items are joining the core book in this launch, so we wanted to talk a little about what’s coming and what will be in each item. Let’s jump right into the rundown!



First out of the gate is the Neo-Anarchist Streetpedia, which is the 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 readers what they need to know now, so they hit the streets a little smarter than they were when they woke up in the morning.



With the Streetpedia establishing the lore, the Shadowrun, Sixth World Beginner Box launches into the rules. This box includes a simplified version of the rules from the new edition, so that players can hack the Matrix, cast spells, shoot guns, and rig vehicles as they learn how these rules work. Detailed character dossiers not only include stats and background info about each character to help players use them quickly but also have an account of a run side-by-side with the game mechanics needed to play through those situations, helping players and gamemasters learn how to work with the characters. The box also has reference cards and a handful of six-sided dice, because lots of dice are a key part of what Shadowrun is all about.



One of the great and compelling things about the Sixth World is the depth of the setting. Musicians like Maria Mercurial, trid shows like Neil the Ork Barbarian, and news sources like KSAF all are part of the setting’s background, giving it depth and intrigue. No Future is latest book to look into these areas, covering 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. No Future also provides some unique ways to immerse readers in the Sixth World, with inserts and overlays in the book that show how some of the culture of the Sixth World looks and functions.



This is the heart of the matter! Shadowrun, Sixth World is the new Core Rulebook for Shadowrun, containing all the rules players and gamemasters need to play. Here is a rundown of some of the critical aspects of this edition:

  • The new edition is easier to play and learn than it has ever been while still offering the role-playing depth that is a key part of the Shadowrun experience.
  • The rules system is built around an expanded version of the Edge mechanic to gain advantages and take risks, allowing players to build up to spectacular moments that make for great gaming sessions.
  • Faster gameplay and conflict resolution keep the game moving and give every player a chance to shine.
  • Shadowrunners encounter a greater risk of injury in this edition, but they also have more ways to overcome that and build up to spectacular conclusions.



In this new edition, we want to provide tools to let the gamemaster and players organize information easily and find what they need so they can get into the action. Having ready-made NPC stats is something I always appreciate when I run a game, and this deck provides a ton of them! The deck includes 50 characters with all the necessary stats, along with some hooks and flavor text to help gamemasters know when and how to deploy them in a game. This saves the gamemaster time flipping through books or writing down numbers on the fly, and I always figure that anything that saves the gamemaster time makes the game move better.



When I’m role-playing, there are two main functions I want my game aids to perform: I want them to make gameplay easier, and I want them to look cool, to help get people immersed into the game and the Sixth World. I think this combo pack containing dice and Edge tokens perform both functions for Shadowrun, Sixth World. They make keeping track of each player’s Edge easy and satisfying—I love tossing a chip to players when they earn Edge, as there’s an immediate visual and visceral signal of their accomplishment. They can then watch their Edge stack grow as they prepare to spend it in ways that will devastate the opposition. And six-sided dice, of course, are critical to Shadowrun, and these custom dice make it easy to find hits and glitches while matching the look and feel of the books of this edition.



One of the great things about Shadowrun is the total coolness of the character concepts. The ork street samurai, the elf shaman, the dwarf rigger—those words are evocative to Shadowrun fans, especially when combined with the future-noir look that is Shadowrun’s hallmark. With the new edition, some of these visuals are coming to three-dimensional life on the game table as we release a box of five shadowrunner minis. Nothing brings your game to life like moving a troll carrying a huge gun around your table and putting him in position to take care of the opposition with a punishing fusillade of weapons fire!



At Catalyst, we had a lot of conversations—a lot of conversations—about Shadowrun, Sixth World, and one of them was about what we could do to make a gamemaster screen special. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how to move it beyond the standard art-and-tables presentation of most gamemaster screens, and that’s because the classic form is valuable. But we talked, turned over ideas, looked at possibilities, and eventually came up with a screen that we believe is truly special. It’s got the art and reference tables a gamemaster screen needs, but it also has pockets that allow gamemasters to choose the information and art they want to use. It comes with extra art to insert on the player-facing side, based on what the players are up against. And it has built-in trackers so players can see how the pressure on them from the megacorps, law enforcement, and other entities is growing—or, if they’re abnormally fortunate, decreasing. We’re excited to see how players put this screen to use at their tables!



With all the rules and tools in place, what the new edition needs next is stories. Cutting Black, a plot sourcebook, and 30 Nights, a campaign book, fill that need. These books create a plotline that should be world-shaking and memorable while also giving shadowrunners a chance to play a strong role in those events. I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers here, so all I’ll say is that major powers will clash, disaster will result, and it will be up to shadowrunners to survive, help others stay alive, and see if they can find out who is doing what. With magic, tech, and firearm-laden obstacles being thrown at them, all characters should encounter some serious challenges, and hopefully they’ll pull off the kinds of triumphs that gaming groups talk about for years!

That’s the immediate lineup for Shadowrun, Sixth World. We’re excited to share these books with gamers, watch them have fun with them, and then see how they take plots, characters, and game concepts in directions we would never imagine!


Jason M. Hardy has been the Shadowrun Line Developer for ten years, a game writer for almost 20 years, and a total nerd for about 45 years (exempting his cute toddler days).