December 21st marks the end of the Mayan calendar, which launched the return of magic and the beginning of Shadowrun’s “Sixth World.” In our own world, this date launches The Year of Shadowrun, where we bring you an avalanche of superb games set in the ever-popular and fantastic Shadowrun universe, one of the most dynamic and long-standing fictional settings of all time.
Due to timezones spreading from Seattle to Germany dealing with elements of this announcement, bear with us as some things may take a while yet to go live. Runs do go sideways…
For the first salvo of the year, Catalyst will publish Shadowrun: Crossfire, The Adventure Deckbuilding Game. Designed by Fire Opal Media, it features the very best designers in card games: Gregory Marques, Mike Elliot, Rob Watkins, Rob Heinsoo, Jay Schneider and James “Jim” Lin.
Shadowrun: Crossfire is a cooperative deck-building card game for two to four players set in the gritty, cyberpunk fantasy world of Shadowrun. Play a shadowrunner team and take on tough jobs such as protecting a client who’s marked for death, shooting your way out of downtown when a run goes sour, or facing down a dragon. In each game you’ll improve your deck with a mix of strategies while earning Karma to give your character cyber upgrades, physical augmentations, magical initiations, weapons training and Edge.
Shadowrun: Crossfire includes an obstacle deck, black market deck, race and role cards, scenario cards, augmentation stickers, and personal missions that test a team’s allegiances.
“We designed Crossfire to take deck-building games to a new level, by combining RPG elements with cooperative gameplay,” said co-designer Mike Elliott. “The result is a challenging game system that keeps evolving.”
The year will continue with Catalyst’s launch of the Shadowrun, Fifth Edition RPG. Shadowrun, Fifth Edition is the latest version of one of the most popular and successful role-playing settings of all time. Fusing magic with technology in a dystopian near-future setting, Shadowrun’s popularity has crossed into video games, fiction, and more, but the living, breathing Sixth World role-playing setting has always been its heart.
- Building on the award-winning Shadowrun, Fourth Edition rule set, the new edition brings the game forward while preserving the fun that has made it so enduring. Highlights of the new edition include:
- Grittier & Deadlier: The down-and-dirty Sixth World setting is a place where shadowrunners need to count their bullets carefully and be cautious about whom they trust. Fifth Edition rules reflect that, making players aware of their choices and the price they have to pay to be the best. It also supports deadlier combat, while still making sure the player characters can stay alive long enough to take care of business.
- Streamlined Matrix: Matrix rules have been improved and streamlined, bringing them more in line with the rest of the game and making them more intuitive. Running the Matrix has never been easier.
- Increased Gear Options: Changes in Fifth Edition mean there are more functions for gear, which leads to an increased variety of the toys shadowrunners love!
- Faster Character Creation and More Player Aids: New to Shadowrun and eager to hit the streets as quickly as possible? Fifth Edition’s character creation rules make it faster and easier to create a full-fledged character and dive into the shadows. Additionally, from an expanded gamemaster advice section to pre-generated gear kits, Shadowrun, Fifth Edition has tools and resources to help players quickly get into the game and onto the streets.
“All of the changes in Fifth Edition were made with the strong traditions of Shadowrun in mind, and the key elements of the Sixth World remain—mind-blowing tech, explosive magic, devious Matrix hacking, and of course handfuls of six-sided dice,” said Jason Hardy, Shadowrun Line Developer. “We wanted to make the best edition of Shadowrun ever—and we wanted it to be thoroughly Shadowrun, from top to bottom.”
The next big release for the year occurs with Catalyst’s publication of Shadowrun: Sprawl Gangers, a tactical miniatures game designed by Ross Watson and Randall N. Bills.
Sprawl Gangers is a competitive, skirmish-level miniatures game for 2 players, with everything needed to game right in the box. Players will take on the task of building gangs (Ancients, Halloweeners, First Nation, and so on) following specific point values of a scenario, and modifying the various miniatures based upon what new resources (weapons/gear/magic/tech) a player gained through previous games. Gangs won’t simply fight for the sake of fighting, but will actively building their turfs and resources. Among other things, this will allow for the hiring of the exact right shadowrunner when they need that ace in the hole. All this adds up to the experience of watching your gang grow and expand through exciting play across a swath of games.
Sprawl Gangers will be sculpted and manufactured in conjunction with CoolMiniOrNot, who have run three of the most successful miniatures game Kickstarter projects to date: Zombicide, Relic Knights, and Sedition Wars.
“We could not be more excited to be a part of this new facet of Shadowrun. When we initially started talking about the possibility of doing a Shadowrun miniatures game with Catalyst, I personally jumped for joy. We have some big fans of Shadowrun in the Cool Mini family; so you know Sprawl Gangers will be receiving some major blood, sweat and tears from our staff. Old and new Shadowrun fans alike would do well to expect great things from Sprawl Gangers,” said Kevin Clark, Director of Research and Development at Cool Mini Or Not.
The Year of Shadowrun gets an extension into 2014 as Catalyst will publish Shadowrun: Hostile Takeover, a Euro-style board game with a strong, immersive theme running through every aspect.
In Shadowrun: Hostile Takeover, players assume the role of megacorporations attempting to assert dominance over the city of Seattle.
Hostile Takeover is a game of intrigue, shifting alliances, and secretive schemes in the most famous futuristic megaplex of Shadowrun’s Sixth World. The most wealthy and influential megacorps of the city contend for dominance of Seattle, and they use shady dealings and deniable assets to wage a war in the shadows for supremacy.
“Games such as Lords of Waterdeep have shown you can take elegant Eurogame mechanics and wed them with an immersive world to create a wonderful tabletop experience,” said Randall N. Bills, Managing Developer for Catalyst Game Labs. “Shadowrun is a universe that screams for a host of board games to expand player’s enjoyment of visiting the Sixth World often. Pairing up award-winning designers with Shadowrun is going to be a fantastic combination.”
The Return of Authentic Computer Games
Catalyst Game Labs’ is excited that its revival of the Shadowrun tabletop games coincides with the return of authentic Shadowrun computer games for the first time in over 15 years.
Developed by hit studio Harebrained Schemes for release in Summer 2013, Shadowrun Returns is the brainchild of Jordan Weisman, founder of FASA Corporation and the original creator of Shadowrun.
Set in 2054 Seattle, Shadowrun Returns immerses the player in a noir story of betrayal and revenge with control of a dynastic megacorp hanging in the balance. The turn-based computer role-playing game is beautifully presented from an isometric point of view that allows players great tactical control of the character they create and the shadowrunners they hire. The game will be published for PC, Mac, iOS tablets, and Android tablets.
Catalyst had the pleasure of fact checking Jordan’s story (throwing in an idea or two in the process) and is working with Harebrained Schemes on other opportunities to deepen the Shadowrun fan’s experience, such as the launch of Shadowrun.com.
“While I could never have anticipated it 24 years ago when I created the Shadowrun universe, it is oddly appropriate that “The Year of Shadowrun” begins on 12/21/2012. It’s been almost 20 years since I worked in this world and I am very excited to be immersed in it again, bringing an authentic Shadowrun RPG to digital gaming”, said Jordan Weisman, CEO and Creative Director of Harebrained Schemes. “A key element for us was to make sure that the digital RPG provides the same kind of storytelling opportunities as the tabletop version, and thus we are releasing the game’s editor so everyone can create their own stories within the Shadowrun universe. I am so grateful to the fans of Shadowrun that have kept the game alive for almost a quarter-century and gave Harebrained Schemes this unique opportunity.”
In development by Cliffhanger Productions, Shadowrun Online brings the universe to a full cross-platform MMO experience for iOS, PC, Mac, Linux and Ouya. Filled with turn-based action and corporate intrigues, players will be caught in a desperate struggle between several rival megacorps in a frantic race for one of the best kept secrets of the Sixth World. In the end, it will mean the downfall of one of the megas and it will be up to the players to decide which one it is.
Shadowrun Online will bring players from all around the world to one big virtual table, allowing them to collectively shape the future of the Shadowrun universe and share the excitement. Finally, your Shadowrun game will really come to life!
Catalyst is working with Cliffhanger Productions on the Shadowrun Universe Website (www.shadowrun.com) and is coordinating setting and story, so that the game play of the MMO can have a direct impact on the storyline of the RPG.
“Being part of the greatest revival and expansion the world of Shadowrun has ever seen is a dream come true. Working with Catalyst allows us to weave both our stories together and now also create Shadowrun Online as the first Shadowrun 5 ready computer game, so players will feel right at home! Being able to enjoy your game with your friends—or even find new people to play with—is the unique opportunity provided by an online game and we are very excited to be able to do just that for Shadowrun,” said Jan Wagner, Managing Director of Cliffhanger Productions.
JackPoint and Shadowlands
Shadowrun’s immersive and unique universe has always been a living, breathing experience that elevates almost any game to a memorable one. From its dystopian setting to its Awakened races, from conflicts of magic vs. technology to the struggle of unnamed runners in the shadows against the faceless megacorps, Shadowrun presents a vast universe of stories and possibilities, which has kept the game alive and thriving almost twenty-five years after it first was published.
Shadowrun.com has launched two “in universe” pages, with daily tweets and weekly articles written from the point-of-view as though you, the reader, are living within Shadowrun. Shadowlands is set within the 2050s, the original setting for Shadowrun and where Shadowrun Returns resides. JackPoint covers the 2070s, where both Shadowrun Tabletop (the RPG) and Shadowrun Online reside.
Stop on by at Shadowrun.com and live the universe daily!
If you’ve not already done so, feel free to check out Shadowruntabletop.com, which contains a spectacular video announcement of Shadowrun, Fifth Edition.
Additionally, there’s a storm front brewing in Shadowrun … and there could be hidden ways a crafty runner might be able to dig up data on the events roiling the horizon….
Finally, in the near future, a large version of the cover to the coming Shadowrun, Fifth Edition core rulebook will appear there, featuring the work of the masterful Michael Komarck, who was nominated for this year’s Hugo Awards as best professional artist.
The following game designers are contributing to The Year of Shadowrun through Shadowrun: Crossfire and Shadowrun: Sprawl Gangers.
Mike Elliott is a veteran game designer with over 15 years experience in the field. He started his career at Wizards of the Coast, where he worked doing design and development on about 30 Magic expansions and worked on numerous other game lines, including the megahit Pokemon trading card game. After leaving Wizards of the Coast, he worked at WizKids Games as senior designer and worked on a number of popular miniatures product lines.
He now has his own design company, which has done design and consulting work for companies including Topps, Disney, Bandai, and Queen Games among others. In addition to doing design work for existing brands such as Magic the Gathering and Heroclix, Mike has had over 30 of his own designs published. He has done extensive work in the trading card game field, with over a dozen published designs. Currently, two of his original designs, Duel Masters and Battle Spirits, are two of the top three best selling trading card games in the Japan market. Products Mike has done design work on have generated over 1 billion in revenue for the companies publishing them. Mike also designed the Cardjitsu game for the Disney Club Penguin website, which broke usage records for the site for users and plays.
Mike has published patents for toys and casino games and has worked in the areas of trading card games, computer games, miniatures games, and board games. Recently Mike has worked on a number of popular board game series, including Thunderstone and Quarriors, as well as several toy and computer game projects.
Jay Schneider brings over 20 years of experience leading game design and software development teams. Jay is best known in the gaming industry for his work at Wizards of the Coast where he produced and was a designer on the Xbox LIVE megahit Duels of the Planeswalkers. As a Wearable Computing Researcher at the University of Oregon, Jay was responsible for developing a social-space game-theoretical approach in Wearable Communities. This research led to Jay leading the implementation of mobile knowledge capture systems for the University of Oregon and Fort Lewis via a Northrop Grumman contract.
Previous game designs include the original game design for the SOLAR and NERO Atlanta family of LARPs, the source material for the Championship Chess line of Chess books and Pervasive Clue a Wearable Computing live-action translation of the traditional board game “Clue”.
Jay holds a BS in Computer Science from Georgia State University and a Masters in Computer Information Science from the University of Oregon, Eugene. Jay teaches game design in the evenings at the University of Washington’s Center for Serious Play.
Rob Heinsoo designs games. Having created dozens of role-playing games, card games, miniatures games and board games he led the design of the Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons and wrote or led the design of many 4e sourcebooks.
Other game designs include Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre, Three-Dragon Ante, Three-Dragon Ante: Emperor’s Gambit, Inn-Fighting, Dreamblade, and the first nine sets of D&D Miniatures. Rob blogs at robheinsoo.blogspot.com
Gregory brings his experience as a game designer and product developer to every new project with a fiery passion. He has experience leading both IP-driven and new-brand designs. He was game designer and lead writer for the critically acclaimed Facebook game Dungeons and Dragons: Tiny Adventures. His recent design credits also include multiple expansions to Magic: The Gathering, Duel Masters and Heralds of Chaos. Combining his natural intuition for games with experience on a variety of platforms is evidenced in his successes at Big Huge Games, Score Entertainment, Upper Deck, Wizards of the Coast, Gamehouse and 6Waves.
Gregory holds a BA in Biology and Chemistry from Cornell University and a Masters in Biology from Johns Hopkins. He blogs at www.designsideout.com.
James “Jim” Lin
James Lin worked at Wizards of the Coast from 1993-2002. He was one of the initial designers working with Richard Garfield on the creation of Magic: The Gathering, and was involved in design and development of all Magic sets through Alliances. Starting in 1995, he led design and development efforts at Wizards for all trading card games other than Magic. In this role, he served on an advisory council guiding product launches and strategies, and played a key role in developing Wizards’ strategy for its launch of the Pokémon trading card game. Starting in 1999, James became the Senior VP of R&D at Wizards with responsibility for design and development work on all Wizards’ products, and served on an advisory council guiding all product strategies and launches within Wizards. Since leaving Wizards, he has served as VP of Game Design at Electronic Ballpark, along with freelance design and development projects for various Seattle area game companies.
Former Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour player and world-champion of Dungeons and Dragons, Rob Watkins is an award winning game designer of board games, card games, computer games, miniatures games and roleplaying games. Games he has worked on include Dreamblade, Duel For the Stars (precursor to Race For the Galaxy), Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and 4th editions, Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures, Neopets Trading Card Game, Odyssey, Star Wars Miniatures, and Throne World.
Ross Watson is a professional game designer, writer, and game consultant with over 12 years of experience as a professional in the industry. Ross has a background that spans wildly different genres and types of games, from video games to card games to board games and quite a few RPGs. In fact, Ross has very rarely met a game that he wouldn’t play, and has been a gamer himself since a very young age.
Ross has worked for Games Workshop, Fantasy Flight Games, and Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast and has created content for a variety of well-known IPs from Warhammer 40,000 to Star Wars. At Fantasy Flight Games, Ross was the lead developer for the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay line spanning over 60 products including Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, and Black Crusade.
Ongoing projects include content for Through the Breach, the Malifaux RPG, the Iron Kingdoms RPG, Darksiders II (a video game for PC, XBOX, PS3 and the WiiU), the Dust Warfare miniature game, and numerous other game products.
Randall N. Bills
Randall Bills has worked in the Adventure Gaming industry for over a decade and a half, working on such lines as BattleTech, Shadowrun, Earthdawn, Crimson Skies, Vor: The Maelstrom, Eclipse Phase, Cosmic Patrol, and MechWarrior: Dark Age.
With numerous Origins and EN World Awards to his credit, he’s lead the development and publication of well over a hundred sourcebooks, rulebooks, box sets, game aides and more. In an addition to writing eight novels and a host of on-line fiction, he’s been the continuity editor for over fifty novels—as well as a half million words of online fiction—set in the sprawling, dynamic BattleTech universe.
He’s currently the Managing Line Developer for Catalyst Game Labs, overseeing the strategic development of the perennial BattleTech and Shadowrun properties. Randall is also managing the rollout of Catalyst Game Labs’ new line of table top games such as Hex-A-Gon, Balance of Power and Linear. He’s also working as the Continuity Editor and Fiction Content Manager for the hugely anticipated MechWarrior Online and MechWarrior Tactics computer games currently in development.
In addition, Randall is the game designer and developer behind the hotly anticipated Leviathans; an alternate history, steampunk-esk miniatures game which just released and sold out of its first print run almost immediately.
Catalyst Game Labs
Catalyst Game Labs is dedicated to producing high quality games and fiction that mesh sophisticated game mechanics with dynamic universes-all presented in a form that allows beginning players and long-time veterans to easily jump into our games and fiction readers to enjoy our stories even if they don’t know the games.
Catalyst Game Labs is an imprint of InMediaRes Productions, LLC, which specializes in electronic publishing of professional fiction. This allows Catalyst to participate in a synergy that melds printed gaming material and fiction with all the benefits of electronic interfaces and online communities, creating a whole-package experience for any type of player or reader. Find Catalyst Game Labs online at www.catalystgamelabs.com.
Fire Opal Media
Fire Opal Media is a game design and development company bringing together some the very best designers and professionals in the gaming industry for a single purpose: to make great games.
The industry ecosystem is home to literally hundreds of game companies. What differentiates Fire Opal is our multistage design and development process that turns your vision into a compelling game solution. This process aligns our core team of well-known, top-tier game designers with skilled software developers and experienced testers that code your game solution to platforms that include Web, Social, Mobile and Xbox Live®.
Cool Mini Or Not
Opening its digitally-based doors in 2001, Cool Mini or Not has evolved and grown into one of the industry’s leading producers, publishers and distribution sources for miniature, board and card games worldwide. What began as a miniature artists’ gallery for community-based judging has become one of the “go to” names in Kickstarter successes, fantastic wargames, and beautiful miniatures from various studios around the globe. From the undeniable success of Zombicide, Super Dungeon Explore and Sedition Wars; to the rousing rise of Relic Knights, Dark Age and the upcoming Wrath of Kings… Cool Mini or Not knows the gaming industry from every angle.
Also known for their annual Crystal Brush Awards, one of the most prestigious miniature artistry competitions in the world, Cool Mini or Not believes in rewarding the members of the gaming industry through hard-earned prizes, producing the best Kickstarter campaigns they believe in, and publishing only the kinds of games that their award-winning staff of professional industry gamers feel good supporting. Where Cool Mini or Not feels confident putting its name and attentions to, gamers everywhere can rest assured it will be a product worth looking into! Find Cool Mini Or Not online at www.coolminiornot.com.
Harebrained Schemes is a small group of wildly talented people, crammed into a closet, making whatever cool thing inspires them next. Lead by serial entrepreneur Jordan Weisman—founder of FASA, Virtual World Entertainment, FASA Interactive, Wizkids, 42 Entertainment, Smith & Tinker, and creator of BattleTech / MechWarrior, Shadowrun, and Crimson Skies—the Harebrained team is a combination of seasoned veterans and fresh talent. Harebrained Schemes’ first game, called Crimson Steam Pirates, was published by Bungie Aerospace last year and remains one of Apple’s benchmark games for iOS. Their latest hit is the critically acclaimed STRIKEFLEET OMEGA, available on Apple and Android tablets and phones. Find Harebrained Schemes online at www.harebrained-schemes.com
Cliffhanger Productions is an interactive entertainment company that creates free-to-play games for a new generation of players. Cliffhanger games combine the accessibility of social and browser games with the depth and excitement of traditional games. We care about graphics and immersion. We care about story. We care about deep and satisfying gameplay. We care about what gamers want. Our first online product Jagged Alliance Online was critically acclaimed for raising bar for the quality of browser games and we aim to do even better on Shadowrun Online. Find our more at www.shadowrun.com or visit www.cliffhanger-productions.com