Shadowrun 6th Edition Announced
  • Shadowrun Sixth Edition Announced!


    The Sixth World is getting a Sixth Edition this year! As part of the 30th anniversary of the Shadowrun game system, Catalyst Game Labs announced that the new sixth edition will be released this summer.



    The announcement came on the Shadowcasters Network Twitch channel late last night (or early this morning, depending on your point of view) with the official announcement from Catalyst Game Labs released today. The new edition will launch with a brand new Beginner Box including a four-page introduction to the Shadowrun setting, quick-start rules, an adventure titled “Battle Royale”, four pre-generated characters, a deck of fifty-five gear cards with all equipment stats for easy reference, poster maps (including one of the Seattle sprawl), and “handfuls of d6s”.

    No specific release dates have been announced, but the Shadowrun Sixth World Beginner Box will be available at Origins Game Fair this June and the Core Rulebook will be available at Gen Con this August.

    Details about the game have come out from various sources, including an interview with Line Developer Jason Hardy with The Arcology Podcast, an actual play podcast from the Neo-Anarchist Podcast of the beginner box quickstart adventure, a quick overview of some of the rules changes from Complex Action, and the archive of the Shadowcasters live stream announcement available on YouTube. You can also find some highlights of those announcements toward the end of the article.

    From the back cover of the Beginner Box:

    SHADOWS DARKEN AND DEEPEN. They’re cast by the enormous, world-striding megacorporations that grasp for power and strangle humanity in their clutches. By 2080, most of the planet has given in – bowing and scraping before their corporate overlords; selling their souls to the almighty nuyen. The corps gotta make a trillion, no matter who dies.

    But in the darkest depths, defiance flickers. Spikes, mohawks, and tattoos flash, while blades and appetites sharpen. The ignored and the marginalized refuse to be ground down. And their reactions set their destiny. They may seek to repair the world’s injustices, or build wealth to keep themselves safe, or just strike a match and watch the world burn.

    Regardless of their chosen path, they stand up and survive. They’re called shadowrunners, and they risk everything…

    Wrestling magical energies, channeling them into power;

    Pitting their minds against the electronic void of the Matrix;

    Trading flesh and blood for chrome and steel to become more than human.

    WILL YOU STAND UP, JOIN THEM, AND DARE TO RISK IT ALL?

    From the press release:

    Catalyst Game Labs proudly announces the sixth edition of the Shadowrun roleplaying game, Shadowrun, Sixth World, debuting this summer.

    Shadowrun, Sixth World builds on Shadowrun’s amazingly successful legacy, becoming easier to learn and play while still providing role-playing depth. Welcome to the marquee event of the game’s 30th Anniversary year!

    It all starts with the Shadowrun, Sixth World Beginner Box, releasing in June. Here’s an exclusive look at the box’s cover art and contents:


    Take your first step into the shadows with a new novella, “The Frame Job, Part 1: Yu” available today. Written by Dylan Birtolo, this exciting new fiction—which ties into the characters from the Shadowrun, Sixth World Beginner Box—is the first installment in a cycle of novellas releasing over the next few months.

    You can also check out Shadowrun’s brand-new, future home at www.shadowrunsixthworld.com, featuring the game’s updated look and intense new art. In the coming weeks the site will expand and grow.

    Catalyst is also pleased to announce the following localizations of Shadowrun, Sixth World already in the works: German (Pegasus Spiel), French (Black Book), Italian (Wyrd Edizioni), and Russian (Hobby World). More are in discussion.

    Need more info? Here’s what to look out for on both www.shadowrunsixthworld.com and www.shadowruntabletop.com, as well as the official Shadowrun and Catalyst Game Labs social media, and on the official Shadowrun forums over the next few weeks:

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


    To tide you over until the Sixth World Beginner Box is available, the Sixth World Sprawl Fashion T-shirt is now available for purchase! (As part of BattleTech’s 35th anniversary, the Red Duke Solaris Fashion T-shirt is also now available.)

    Additionally, don’t forget about the other 30thAnniversary items we’ve released on the Catalyst Game Labs store, including the t-shirt and hooded sweatshirt, Executive Dice, and the commemorative pin. Look for more great items throughout the year.

    This summer, the shadows fall darker than ever, and survival depends on your willingness to risk everything and become a legend!



    The live streams and podcasts have already released a lot of information about the new system, but here are some highlights that have been announced so far:

    • Keeping with the "the Shadowrun world is sixty years and six months in our future" rule of thumb, the new system will be set in 2080.
    • The core task resolution system is still a D6 Dice Pool made of Attribute + Skill with 5s and 6s being successes, as with the last two editions.
    • The Edge system has been completely overhauled as a resource pool for different effects in a conflict, both combat and non-combat, to replace many of the fiddly circumstantial modifiers (you know, the "+1 for this and -2 for that and +1 for this and +1 for that and -1 for this and..." chain that bogs down games).
    • Core Rulebook will be about 300 pages rather than the 450-500 of 4e and 5e (but don't worry, the gear section still makes up about 50 of those pages).
    • Limits are GONE. "The role they [limits] played in Fifth Edition doesn't need to be filled anymore."
    • The skill list has been greatly reduced, with most of what used to be Skill Groups now just a single skill (so for you really old-school Shadowrun ​players like me, the Firearms skill is back!)
    • Combat will move faster and be deadlier, but also will have more flexibility due to the new Edge system.
    • The action economy and initiative system are getting an overhaul to speed combat, reduce analysis paralysis, and to prevent faster characters from dominating every combat encounter.
    • The magic system is getting an overhaul to make spells more modular and to push more of the mechanics centering on power versus drain. No more force ratings. The system is specifically designed for further expansion with the unannounced magic sourcebook to allow full customization and creation of spells via a modular system.
    • The Matrix greatly streamlined. No more Marks, skills are reduced down to two (one for legal/authorized actions, one for illegal/hacking), ties into the Edge mechanics. Datajacks are replaced by "cyberjacks" which are used for defense with cyberdecks used for attacking.
    • Character creation will still be priority-based, with tweaks allowing easier creation of metahuman characters. Restrictions on gear and cyberwear are reduced at character creation so you can get most anything at the start of the game ("opening up the toy box").
    • The sourcebook No Future (on the culture and media of the Shadowrun world) will receive an update to the digital version making it dual-stat for both Fifth Edition and Sixth Edition with the physical print copies ready for Sixth Edition. The Neo-Anarchist Streetpedia (a sourcebook compiling entries on different corporations, politicians, countries, cities, orgainizations, gangs, organized crime, etc.) will also be Sixth Edition compatible (as it is mostly a lore book anyway). Some Shadowrun Missions adventures (the official organized play of Shadowrun) will have dual-stat adventures. After that, all new products will be for Shadowrun Sixth Edition.



    The original announcement of the new edition came from the Shadowcasters Network Twitch channel last night at midnight. The Shadowcasters Network also has more exclusive details coming in the following days in addition to the official Catalyst Game Labs announcements from the press release. On Wednesday, May 1, at 9 PM Eastern, there will be an AMA with the Shadowcaster hosts (some of whom are Shadowrun freelancers) and on Thursday, May 2, at 8 PM Eastern is a Q&A interview with Shadowrun Line Developer Jason Hardy, which will be followed at 9:30 PM Eastern with the first in an eight-part live stream actual play of Shadowrun Sixth Edition.

    The website www.shadowrunsixthworld.com currently displays a countdown that will end around midnight GMT on Wednesday, June 12 (7PM Eastern on Tuesday, June 11) along with a very brief overview of the setting of Shadowrun and a link to the official forums. This will be the first new edition of Shadowrun since the fifth edition of the game was released in 2013 and sixth overall since the game’s original release in 1989.

    Comments 47 Comments
    1. Ralif Redhammer's Avatar
      Ralif Redhammer -
      The talk of streamlining, making it faster, and reducing fiddly bits is all very promising. But I wonder what it might mean for the ultra-streamlined Shadowrun Anarchy, which really has the Shadowrun system I've always wanted it to have.
    1. Retreater -
      Seems like a quick turnaround. I know it's been 6 years since 5th edition was first released, but it's been less than 3 since the last update/reprint as well as the release of Shadowrun: Anarchy. Also a quick turnaround with regards of announcement to product release (a month and a half).

      Kinda sucks because I haven't even had a chance to put together a Shadowrun: Anarchy game yet.
    1. Len's Avatar
      Len -
      Yeah, it seems like I just picked up 5e a while ago. Well, as long as I can still use my Shadowrun dice...
      The core task resolution system is still a D6 Dice Pool made of Attribute + Skill with 5s and 6s being successes, as with the last two editions.
      Oh, good.

      I'm used to Shadowrun's complexity and the plethora of gear, so I'm not sure how I feel about streamlining it. On the other hand, we've played a Shadowrun campaign using Savage Worlds rules, so... *shrug*
    1. Retreater -
      Quote Originally Posted by Len View Post
      Yeah, it seems like I just picked up 5e a while ago. Well, as long as I can still use my Shadowrun dice...

      Oh, good.

      I'm used to Shadowrun's complexity and the plethora of gear, so I'm not sure how I feel about streamlining it. On the other hand, we've played a Shadowrun campaign using Savage Worlds rules, so... *shrug*
      Our former Shadowrun GM was re-writing the setting for use with Genesys. I guess these are good indications a simplified system is needed.
    1. sevenbastard's Avatar
      sevenbastard -
      I played a lot of 1st and 2nd edition SR. Tried 5e and it was just to crunchy for me. Not sure I will buy this, but I like the idea they are simplifying it.
    1. Saelorn's Avatar
      Saelorn -
      I'm in a similar position. I loved 2E and 3E, but 5E was just gratuitous in its complexity.

      I'm not happy about buying another book, but if it means I can actually play this thing again, then I'll consider it worthwhile.
    1. Stacie GmrGrl's Avatar
      Stacie GmrGrl -
      In the Arcology Podcast interview it was stated that Anarchy will continue As Is with no changes and be its own game line separate from SR6.

      The streamlining of SR6 seems focused around the new Edge system. It completely replaces the majority of all those modifier charts that seemed to be prolific in 5e, while also being much more important in combat, matrix, and social situations.

      The other thing (to me) that seemed to streamline it is only rolling once per combat for initiative, instead of every round. Armor isn't as impactful, so the game will be more deadly. So perhaps combat will finally have fewer overall rolls with a lot less modifier look up since Edge replaces that.
    1. trancejeremy's Avatar
      trancejeremy -
      I was a huge, huge, huge 1e to 3e fan. 4e lost me and 5e turned me off as it was a bloated 4e (so it seemed to me). While this seems like a step in the right direction, I'm not sure...
    1. Rattfraggs's Avatar
      Rattfraggs -
      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!


      Oh man! All y'all saying that 5th was "too" crunchy?!?!?!?!?! LOLOLOLOLOL
      4th and 5th were both farther steps away from crunch and towards rules "lighter" editions... If you thought 5th was too complex then you are showing you never played 2nd.
    1. ParanoydStyle's Avatar
      ParanoydStyle -
      1) This is a huge amount of information to process.
      2) Based on a cursory skim, they are doing a GREAT job in terms of this launch. This is a brilliantly coordinated media blitz. Hats off to Jason, Randall, and Loren, and the rest of the CGL team for that.
      3) As soon as I saw (on Twitter) that Shadowrun 6E was a thing, my immediate thought was: "Well, they'd have to try pretty hard to frag it up worse than Fifth Edition. I should know, I was one of the people that wrote Fifth Edition."
      4) As someone who fought HARD against Limits in 5E when I was on the design team, I feel vindicated to see them being given the boot in the new edition. They were and are a terrible idea.
      5) I have no idea how to feel about what they announced on the Matrix rules. It's going to depend entirely on how it's executed. The closest thing I have to insight on that is that I don't think "cyberjack" is a very cool sounding name. I think I'd think that even if it weren't just a lazy portmanteau of datajack and cyberdeck. It's been years since I've thought about this stuff but IIRC Marks were another bad Aaron Pavao idea that I'm happy to see go.
      6) What they're trying to do with Edge is super cool, and I'm interested to see how it plays out in terms of execution.
      7) "Restrictions on gear and cyberwear are reduced at character creation so you can get most anything at the start of the game ("opening up the toy box")." I read this mostly as "deckers are allowed to have cyberdecks worth using at chargen" which was another hill I nearly died on during the design of 5E. So again, I feel vindicated.
      8) "Combat will move faster and be deadlier, but also will have more flexibility due to the new Edge system." When has anyone ever complained about combat in Shadowrun not being DEADLY enough? Srsly. Not counting 1st Edition which was actually like the most padded sumo RPG of all time because of the ridiculous way that soak rolls worked.
      9) "The action economy and initiative system are getting an overhaul to speed combat, reduce analysis paralysis, and to prevent faster characters from dominating every combat encounter." As written, this SOUNDS AWESOME. I just desperately hope it doesn't MEAN "we're switching over to a hard limit of one action per character per turn because that's how D&D5E does it and have you seen how much money they're making!?!?".
      10) "Keeping with the "the Shadowrun world is sixty years and six months in our future" rule of thumb, the new system will be set in 2080." Good. It's a damn good rule of thumb. Every time I watch the new Ghost In The Shell hotness it's always "Newport City - 2029 AD" REGARDLESS of how close CURRENT YEAR is catching up to that date. It's like, really guys, we're gonna have prosthetic bodies and cyberbrains in the next ten years? REALLY?
      11) That ork with a molotov is sexy as hell.

      Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
      Seems like a quick turnaround. I know it's been 6 years since 5th edition was first released, but it's been less than 3 since the last update/reprint as well as the release of Shadowrun: Anarchy.
      It might have something to do with the fact that Fifth Edition is fragging terrible.

      Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
      Also a quick turnaround with regards of announcement to product release (a month and a half).
      It's actually not THAT far off from how we/they did it with 5E. The freelancers learned about it at a super secret meeting and sworn to secrecy at GenCon '12, the announce was planned for GAMA Trade Show '13, and the release for Origins in June. So, there are a couple months less interval between announce and release, but I have a feeling that CGL has good reasons for doing it this way. No, I don't know what they are.


      Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
      Kinda sucks because I haven't even had a chance to put together a Shadowrun: Anarchy game yet.
      How and why would this stop you? Shadowrun and Shadowrun: Anarchy are designed to scratch two very different itches. The former is a very crunchy simulationist tactical RPG. The latter is a Story First storygame. I don't see how one precludes the other.

      Quote Originally Posted by sevenbastard View Post
      I played a lot of 1st and 2nd edition SR. Tried 5e and it was just to crunchy for me. Not sure I will buy this, but I like the idea they are simplifying it.
      I'd recommend trying 4E if you can find it free, cheap, or on sale. I can't compare it to 6E obviously because I haven't seen 6E but of the five editions of Shadowrun that ARE out on the market, I'm firmly of the opinion that 4E is the best. 4E is less crunchy and better than 5E so if you like 4E you might like 6E because it looks like it's aiming to be less crunchy and better than 5E. Typing numbers followed by the letter E is losing all meaning. I'd offer the same advice to @Saelorn.

      Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
      Our former Shadowrun GM was re-writing the setting for use with Genesys. I guess these are good indications a simplified system is needed.
      I don't know what Genesys is, but nonetheless ding!ding!ding! we got a winner! You're absolutely right.

      Quote Originally Posted by trancejeremy View Post
      I was a huge, huge, huge 1e to 3e fan. 4e lost me and 5e turned me off as it was a bloated 4e (so it seemed to me). While this seems like a step in the right direction, I'm not sure...
      Emphasis mine. Speaking as an author of Shadowrun Fifth Edition? 5E WAS a bloated 4E. How did 4E lose you, if you don't mind my asking? It's my favorite edition, with third being a close second.

      Quote Originally Posted by Rattfraggs View Post
      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
      Ha! Fraggin' Ha! The Laughing Man strikes again?


      Quote Originally Posted by Rattfraggs View Post
      Oh man! All y'all saying that 5th was "too" crunchy?!?!?!?!?! LOLOLOLOLOL
      4th and 5th were both farther steps away from crunch and towards rules "lighter" editions... If you thought 5th was too complex then you are showing you never played 2nd.
      I played 2nd. I WROTE 5th (not all of it obviously, but I was on the design team, involved in talks about its development for MONTHS, playtested it, wrote a chapter of it, and wrote the first adventure published for it). So I think I'm pretty damn qualified when I say...

      You. Are. Dead. Wrong.

      Shadowrun 4E very likely had design goals that aimed at simplifying the rules and making the game more playable and more accessible. In any case, that is what was achieved. 4E is the best and most playable mainline edition of Shadowrun ever (I haven't read or played Anarchy nor will I be, hence 'mainline').

      Shadowrun 5E had completely incoherent and contradictory design goals seriously exacerbated by a major lack of any kind of strong top-down direction or vision. Competing bad ideas included grognards frothing at the mouth to undo virtually everything 4E had accomplished, turning commlinks back to cyberdecks, etcetera etcetera. Call that the 'I Miss The 80s' faction. And yes, nostalgia was their sole design strategy. Compounding this, there was the somewhat-more-officially-sanctioned design strategem of Aaron "Games Do Not Have To Be Fun*" Pavao whose foolproof mathematical system for creating a perfectly balanced RPG was...none of those things. Except mathematical. It WAS annoyingly mathematical. Unsurprisingly this resulted in the bloated wreck that is 5E. 5E was so bad that it actually ruined Shadowrun for me for half a decade.

      Even accounting for how counterintuitive it is trying to hit a Target Number of 11 with a pool of six-sided dice, 2nd Edition is far, far more playable than Fifth.

      * When we were arguing about who knows which of the disastrous design decisions I saw being made in SR5, Aaron browbeat me into talking to him over the phone, which I was not remotely comfortable with. Anyway, that's the most memorable quote from the conversation. He actually said that. For reals, guys. Probably the single strongest influence over the design of 5E was a man who unironically believed that it was not a priority for games to be fun.
    1. Scarlet.Knight's Avatar
      Scarlet.Knight -
      Love the world. Can't do the system. Too crunchy, too cumbersome for my taste. If this ends up being halfway between the current edition and Anarchy, I'd be tempted to try it.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Because it's come up a couple of times, Shadowrun Anarchy will still be supported and freelancers are still pitching new books for that line. It's not going anywhere and will stick around in parallel development as an alternative for more narrative, "rules lite"* Shadowrun.

      * I say "rules lite" but let's be honest, it's probably the crunchiest narrative RPG on the market...
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by ParanoydStyle View Post
      9) "The action economy and initiative system are getting an overhaul to speed combat, reduce analysis paralysis, and to prevent faster characters from dominating every combat encounter." As written, this SOUNDS AWESOME. I just desperately hope it doesn't MEAN "we're switching over to a hard limit of one action per character per turn because that's how D&D5E does it and have you seen how much money they're making!?!?".
      I haven't seen the full system yet (I've got a review copy coming my way soon where I'll do a full breakdown), but the way it sounds is they're switching to a fixed initiative system like D&D's where you roll once at the start of combat then just go around like that. However, you will be able to move around that initiative order in various ways (spending Edge, use of gear/cyberware/spells, stuff like that). They've also streamlined actions down to two categories, Major and Minor (previously it was Complex, Simple, Free, and Movement I believe). You get one Major and two Minor actions per turn as default, movement is a Minor action (so it's no longer separate from the rest of the action economy), and the Speed Demon character builds with wired reflexes (that would normally get 2-4 turns per round) now just get more actions. Seems like a fair balance between "everyone gets to do something in combat instead of watching the Street Sam put on a gallery shooting exhibition" and "characters that invest in speed-altering effects don't feel fast".

      10) "Keeping with the "the Shadowrun world is sixty years and six months in our future" rule of thumb, the new system will be set in 2080." Good. It's a damn good rule of thumb. Every time I watch the new Ghost In The Shell hotness it's always "Newport City - 2029 AD" REGARDLESS of how close CURRENT YEAR is catching up to that date. It's like, really guys, we're gonna have prosthetic bodies and cyberbrains in the next ten years? REALLY?
      This wasn't actually intentional in the modern era best as I can tell. When FanPro did the time jump in 4e, they messed with that "60 years 6 months" formula, but then when FanPro ran into its financial troubles and schedule slips then the delay when Catalyst took over the license, it ended up catching back up to the time skip.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Retreater View Post
      Also a quick turnaround with regards of announcement to product release (a month and a half).
      CGL's got nothing on Games Workshop. They announced Warhammer 40K 8th Edition on the day it was available for sale​.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Len View Post
      I'm used to Shadowrun's complexity and the plethora of gear, so I'm not sure how I feel about streamlining it.
      It looks like they're moving more toward tactical and narrative gameplay but not abandoning crunch entirely. The core rulebook's down to about 300 pages reportedly (which puts it more in line with 1st and 2nd ed), but the gear chapter's 50 pages so we still get to have our shopping.
    1. Staffan's Avatar
      Staffan -
      Quote Originally Posted by ParanoydStyle View Post
      I don't know what Genesys is, but nonetheless ding!ding!ding! we got a winner! You're absolutely right.
      Genesys is the generified (shut up spellcheck, that is a perfectly cromulent word) version of the system used in FFG's Star Wars RPGs. If Numenera was Star Wars, Genesys would be the Cypher System.
    1. imagineGod's Avatar
      imagineGod -
      Quote Originally Posted by Staffan View Post
      Genesys is the generified (shut up spellcheck, that is a perfectly cromulent word) version of the system used in FFG's Star Wars RPGs. If Numenera was Star Wars, Genesys would be the Cypher System.
      And Genesys Android: Shadow of the Beanstalk has the cyberpunk genre covered.
    1. Abstruse's Avatar
      Abstruse -
      Quote Originally Posted by imagineGod View Post
      And Genesys Android: Shadow of the Beanstalk has the cyberpunk genre covered.
      I always find it weird that people immediately think "Shadowrun" when they think cyberpunk RPG when it's always been a blend of cyberpunk and urban fantasy (even before "urban fantasy" was popular as a genre) and the vast majority of the metaplot of Shadowrun comes from the fantasy side of that coin.
    1. Saelorn's Avatar
      Saelorn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Abstruse View Post
      I always find it weird that people immediately think "Shadowrun" when they think cyberpunk RPG when it's always been a blend of cyberpunk and urban fantasy (even before "urban fantasy" was popular as a genre) and the vast majority of the metaplot of Shadowrun comes from the fantasy side of that coin.
      Well, yeah. Cyberpunk is super depressing, and RPGs are supposed to be fun. Without orks and wizards, a cyberpunk game is too much like the real world.
    1. Retreater -
      Quote Originally Posted by ParanoydStyle View Post
      How and why would this stop you? Shadowrun and Shadowrun: Anarchy are designed to scratch two very different itches. The former is a very crunchy simulationist tactical RPG. The latter is a Story First storygame. I don't see how one precludes the other.
      I was mistakenly under the impression that Shadowrun 6e would take over Anarchy's spot, as I thought the point of Anarchy was a "rules lite" version of 5e. That's how it was sold to me at GenCon at the Catalyst booth. And the way it was run for us when we played it at Origins. We didn't do any of the "shifting narration" or "getting complication points" stuff that's present in many of these storygames. (I just don't understand the concept of that, anyway.)
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