I remember walking into the Game Depot in Tempe, Arizona in 1989. And there, on a wall, was a poster unlike anything I’d ever seen before, and it took my breath away: Larry Elmore’s brilliant Shadowrun, First Edition cover. A grubby, dark alley showcasing a magic-user wielding a shotgun while an elf hacked into a computer console. Meanwhile, at the end of the alley, orks in three-piece suits returned fire while hiding behind a futuristic-looking car. And beyond it all, the towering skyline of a harsh, future dystopia.
I instantly fell in love with the universe, and it’s a privilege, thirty years later, to have a hand in developing the Sixth World Beginner Box, which kicks off the sixth edition of this seminal RPG setting, leading to many more years where man meets magic and machine.
Jason Hardy (the Shadowrun Line Developer) and I worked hard to make this the best possible toolbox. Whether you’re an old hand in the shadows or a wet-behind-the-ears chummer, the Beginner Box is designed to easily slide you into the new mechanics of this edition while immersing you in all the brilliant potential of this magnificent setting where anyone can find a home.
Here’s a rundown of the contents to whet your appetites:
An easy-to-use single-page scream sheet will greet you as you peel off the lid. It gives a rundown of the contents and the best ways you can dive right into the game.
Next up is An Instant Guide to the Sixth World, a smash-and-grab four-page booklet that will leave you primed with Shadowrun lore and ready for more.
Then - characters, characters, characters! The best tabletop RPG stories we tell each other are those that involve the amazing characters we sheath ourselves in as we storm through the worlds we love. Shadowrun has a bevy of brilliant possibilities awaiting your imagination: from elf to human, dwarf to ork or troll, as they sling spells, hack the Matrix, toss hot-lead or swing a blade, and a myriad of other options.
The Beginner Box comes with four avatars ready to take you straight into the action. But we take it a step further. Each dossier is eight pages of tools at your disposal. The two-page character sheet includes sidebars that smoothly walk you through the details of character stats and provide the basics of the game; with just those two pages and a gamemaster, players can be off and playing.
The rest of the booklet contains additional background and player tips for getting the most out of a character. If that’s not enough, the toolbox opens even wider as a fiction section runs side-by-side with detailed examples of how players toss the dice to bring that fictional action to life in their own game. Finally, a set of basic tables brings easy reference into the hand of the players, so each group member had crucial rules at their fingertips.
Alongside the character dossiers, a set of Tool Cards gives players their weapons, spells, and gear in an easy-to-use and remember fashion. The character dossiers direct each player to choose the correct cards for their character at the start of a game.
Without a framework, roleplaying is just yelling at the table. While everyone can review the Quick-Start Rules booklet, it’s the gamemaster’s job to tackle the rules and convey them to the players. Remember that the sidebars next to the character sheets in the dossier work hand-to-grip with the quick-start rules, making getting up to speed and tossing dice as quick as an Ares drone strike.
The Battle Royale adventure is the bread-and-butter of this box set. This is where the rubber meets the road and your imagination soars.
Wrapping up this box is a two-sided, full-color poster. One side displays the maps for the Battle Royale adventure, while the reverse side is the Seattle Metroplex, tying into a location summary found at the back of the adventure.
Finally, what would the box be without a handful of new, custom D6s? It wouldn’t be Shadowrun, that’s for sure.
If you’re interested in more details, check out www.shadowruntabletop.com.
Randall N. Bills has led 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 tabletop games, including core development of Dragonfire.