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Shadowrun, Sixth World Developer's Notes

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Cubby

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« on: (13:01:36/05-15-19) »
From Jason Hardy, Shadowrun Line Developer:

Shadowrun, Sixth World is coming soon!

Wait, Shadowrun, Sixth World isn’t out yet? But I’ve been thinking about it for years! Playing it for more than a year! How are other people not playing it? Development time can be so disorienting.



There was a time—six years ago, to be specific—when I threatened physical violence to anyone who said the words “sixth edition” in my presence. (The threats didn’t work. No one is ever scared of me. But I digress). Fifth Edition took a lot of effort to produce, and I didn’t want to think about starting that whole process again. But then there were a few years where I didn’t have to think about a new edition, and I could recharge. Actually, that’s not entirely true, because every time I play a game—whether it’s one I worked on or not—I’m kind of thinking of a new edition. I’m looking at what works well, what works differently than intended, and what possibilities might open up with a tweak here and there. So when the time came to envision the next edition of Shadowrun, I had a few ideas, as did the excellent roster of Shadowrun writers and gamemasters I could tap into.

All those ideas needed a framework, of course. As we started our work, we decided the sixth edition of Shadowrun needed to possess three main qualities:

1.   Be no more than 300 pages long;
2.   Use D6 dice pools; and
3.   Feel like Shadowrun.

Those last two points are related, because it’s tough for a game to feel like Shadowrun if you’re not rolling a healthy handful of D6s. But there’s more to it than that. Combat specialists, spellcasters, conjurers, adepts, faces, deckers, technomancers, riggers, enchanters, weapon specialists, and more all need to exist, and they all must have different and meaningful ways to contribute to a run.

In this edition, all that had to happen within 300 pages. Which is a trick. Fifth Edition, not counting the index, is 466 pages; the anniversary edition of Fourth Edition was 351 pages, and Third Edition was 325 pages (minus the sample record sheets). Second Edition is a lean 284 pages, but it had no bioware, no technomancers, no alchemy, and no qualities, to name a few things that have changed in the intervening years. The book that started it all is an even leaner 207 pages, but along with the elements Second Edition didn’t have, it lacks things such as adepts and foci, and it offers only twenty guns—heresy! (Fifth Edition has 52, while Shadowrun, Sixth World will offer 53–we didn’t cut back much on those options!) All this is to say that streamlining the core rulebook back to 300 pages was not going to be easy.

It’s important to note that simply making the book shorter doesn’t, by itself, do any good. You can make any book shorter by simply ripping every third page out, but you end up with a book that makes no sense. Making the book shorter only is useful if the game also becomes smoother to play. In other words, we didn’t just want a shorter game—we wanted one that moved faster and was easier to get into, while still offering lots of meaningful options. We also didn’t want this to be Shadowrun: Anarchy for the simple reason that Anarchy already exists. Anarchy represents a more extreme end of the rules-light spectrum than Shadowrun, Sixth World–one way to understand the difference between the two is that the gear rules and listings take up about seven or eight pages in Anarchy, compared to fifty pages in Sixth World. Did I mention we wanted to offer lots of options?

Anyway, this means that if the rules were changed, they needed to be changed with an eye toward enabling players to do the things that they wanted to do more quickly. Combat should be faster. Hacking should be smoother and more intuitive. Magic should adapt to be just what the caster wants it to be. And so on. So what, specifically, did we do? Here’s a sample:

•   Expanded Edge: Yes, one of the things we did to streamline the game was to make one function much more detailed. But stay with me for a second. The definition of Edge has shifted—rather than being that undefinable something extra you reach for in a tough spot to help put you over the top, Edge now represents the accumulated advantage you get in opposed situations. Whether you’re fighting, spellcasting, hacking, or negotiating, you’ll have a chance to earn and spend bonus Edge. And you should spend it—if you’re not gaining and spending Edge regularly in Shadowrun, Sixth World, it might be time to rethink your tactics. Or find less formidable opposition. Gaining and spending Edge replaces a lot of other functions in the game, like calculating situational modifiers, dealing with recoil and armor piercing, and environmental modifiers. Edge also provides a chance for a character to really have an impact when it’s time to spend it.
•   Fewer action types: There are two, Minor and Major. That’s it! You get one Minor and one Major per turn, with an additional Minor for various circumstances, such as reaction-enhancing augmentations or spells. One Major Action may be traded for four Minor Actions, or four Minor for one Major.
•   Simplified initiative: You roll initiative at the start of an encounter and then don’t re-roll it. Certain actions or effects may change your initiative score, though.
•   No limits: Limits served a valuable function of balancing attributes and providing different opportunities for rule effects, but in a streamlined ruleset, they are not needed. Limits on most tests and Force for spells have all been removed.
•   Skill list narrowed: Fifth Edition has 80 skills, while Sixth World has 19. That’s a big difference. There’s definite streamlining there, but it comes at the risk of characters not being distinct from each other. To deal with that, players can still select specializations but can also upgrade a specialization to an expertise, giving their character +3 bonus dice instead of +2, and once they  have an expertise they can select an additional specialization. This will provide characters with chances to become truly distinct.
•   More intuitive Matrix: This is an ongoing goal, and it’s always fun to try to make Matrix activities happen alongside and in parallel with the other actions. Deckers will have meaningful things to do and ways to get in, make things happen, and get out—all while trying to avoid the watchful eyes of the Grid Overwatch Division, of course.



Those are some of the major changes, but far from the only ones. We haven’t talked about Attack Ratings, the uses of armor, changes to Knowledge skills, revamped spell design, new vehicle stats, cyberjacks, and more. I hope this gives you a taste of the upcoming changes, and I look forward to you all playing Shadowrun, Sixth World as much as I have and will! And look for more information on this blog each Wednesday in May!

•   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

mbisber

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« Reply #1 on: (13:14:07/05-15-19) »
•   Skill list narrowed: Fifth Edition has 80 skills, while Sixth World has 19. That’s a big difference.
Is this going to be like the change from D&D 3.5 to 4.0?

adzling

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« Reply #2 on: (13:20:06/05-15-19) »
it's definitely a simplification in many areas.

hard to tell if it will be catastrophic like D&D 4e until we get some play time in...

Jack_Spade

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« Reply #3 on: (14:15:54/05-15-19) »
There is nothing wrong with simple - as long as it's elegant.
If we lived in the best timeline, that would mean SR6 kept a clear segregation of fluff and crunch, used consistent terminology in said crunch and used robust core mechanics without feeling the need to add special rules every which way.
Let's see what we get  :)
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Hobbes

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« Reply #4 on: (14:47:18/05-15-19) »
19 Skills is a significant step in reducing the Skills A trap.  Presuming starting characters are still getting 18 to 30-odd skill points in Priority gen. 

Also presuming the game explicitly states stats of 1 are low but not crippled the "Floor" of starting character Dice Pools might actually be high enough that the ceiling of optimized characters doesn't matter (as much). 

It would be keen if a viable character was as easy as "Pick Logic, Agility, or Charisma, put a 6 in it.  Pick three skills that normally use that stat and put 6s in them.  Buy some stuff.  Do whatever you want with the rest.  Done."   

What would be really cool is if Priority gen used a system of increasing costs during chargen.  Or Post-chargen used flat costs.  Either way.  Probably going to be 8th edition before we see either of those though...

Ghost Rigger

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« Reply #5 on: (15:17:48/05-15-19) »
•   Skill list narrowed: Fifth Edition has 80 skills, while Sixth World has 19.
And how many of those were just exotic weapon skills? I honestly don't see how you got to a count of 80.
After all you don't send an electrician to fix your leaking toilet.

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Hobbes

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« Reply #6 on: (16:11:41/05-15-19) »
60 some odd Active skills I think, not counting Exotic Weapons.  Could hit 80 with Exotic Weapons and rounding up a bit.   :P


Beta

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« Reply #7 on: (16:33:59/05-15-19) »
Not counting the exotics, but including TM and magic skills I come up with 77.

It is kind of cool in concept to be do something like "the character's background was as a deep sea diver, so they have diving and swimming at high levels, as well as survival (aquatic) and pilot watercraft.  But then you realize that instead you could drop those skills, reduce your skills priority by 1, and be stronger overall.

I think detailed skills will always be a problem in a system that lets you trade off depth of skills for other useful things like attributes or resources.  So I'm already happy to essentially dropping down to skill groups.  It is a better fit for the style of character creation IMO.

edit: I am intrigued by the note that there is a change to how knowledge skills work, and am eager to hear more.  I'm a big fan of knowledge skills, including 'professional' skills, so both worried and excited.
« Last Edit: (16:43:47/05-15-19) by Beta »
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Shinobi Killfist

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« Reply #8 on: (17:24:37/05-15-19) »
19 Skills is a significant step in reducing the Skills A trap.  Presuming starting characters are still getting 18 to 30-odd skill points in Priority gen. 

Also presuming the game explicitly states stats of 1 are low but not crippled the "Floor" of starting character Dice Pools might actually be high enough that the ceiling of optimized characters doesn't matter (as much). 

It would be keen if a viable character was as easy as "Pick Logic, Agility, or Charisma, put a 6 in it.  Pick three skills that normally use that stat and put 6s in them.  Buy some stuff.  Do whatever you want with the rest.  Done."   

What would be really cool is if Priority gen used a system of increasing costs during chargen.  Or Post-chargen used flat costs.  Either way.  Probably going to be 8th edition before we see either of those though...

We will have to see.  If it is down to 19 skills you may only need 2-3 skills to have a fleshed out character, making any focus on skills pointless. The core mechanic of attribute+skill will most likely always make attributes the far better option in focus.

Hobbes

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« Reply #9 on: (10:21:01/05-16-19) »

We will have to see.  If it is down to 19 skills you may only need 2-3 skills to have a fleshed out character, making any focus on skills pointless. The core mechanic of attribute+skill will most likely always make attributes the far better option in focus.

'Runners will always need Perception, Sneaking, and moderate levels of lying and blending in.  Most will want some level of Climbing, Driving and probably a legwork skill.  Then whatever skills they need to do whatever it is they actually do. 

In 5e a single point of Logic, Charisma or Agility was worth many, many skill points.  By cutting down on the number of skills each individual skill point becomes much more valuable.  Which is probably a good thing, we'll have to see the CRB and look at the maths...

Banshee

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« Reply #10 on: (10:40:57/05-16-19) »

We will have to see.  If it is down to 19 skills you may only need 2-3 skills to have a fleshed out character, making any focus on skills pointless. The core mechanic of attribute+skill will most likely always make attributes the far better option in focus.

'Runners will always need Perception, Sneaking, and moderate levels of lying and blending in.  Most will want some level of Climbing, Driving and probably a legwork skill.  Then whatever skills they need to do whatever it is they actually do. 

In 5e a single point of Logic, Charisma or Agility was worth many, many skill points.  By cutting down on the number of skills each individual skill point becomes much more valuable.  Which is probably a good thing, we'll have to see the CRB and look at the maths...

well here is teaser for you then ...
Sixth World Priority A is 24 attribute points and 32 skill points
5E is 24 attribute and 46/10 for skills
Robert "Banshee" Volbrecht
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Shinobi Killfist

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« Reply #11 on: (11:11:10/05-16-19) »

We will have to see.  If it is down to 19 skills you may only need 2-3 skills to have a fleshed out character, making any focus on skills pointless. The core mechanic of attribute+skill will most likely always make attributes the far better option in focus.

'Runners will always need Perception, Sneaking, and moderate levels of lying and blending in.  Most will want some level of Climbing, Driving and probably a legwork skill.  Then whatever skills they need to do whatever it is they actually do. 

In 5e a single point of Logic, Charisma or Agility was worth many, many skill points.  By cutting down on the number of skills each individual skill point becomes much more valuable.  Which is probably a good thing, we'll have to see the CRB and look at the maths...

I agree in premise but 19 skills. I’m like magic probably has 2-3. Decker 2?  Technomancer another 1-2. Fixing shit 1. Driving 1. Shooting. Melee. How many are actually needed skills when they get super broad.

Is there even a perception skill. With it being a specialization thing. Some giant stealth skill bought at a fairy low level focussed down to sneaking. Same for fast talk.

So firearms, stealth, influence. 3 skills 2 focussed down maybe specialized. 12ish skill points. I mean yeah maybe that’s b skills or something.

In play I think you will have more motivation to increase a skill. At char gen it really depends on how stingy the priorities are. And how broad the skills are.

Like is a hypothetical piloting skill all vehicles. Or is it a bit a bit more narrow. Seems crazy that 1 point in a skill might make you trained in very vehicle. But aircraft seems kind of narrow to whatcis effectively skill group sorcery.

Given the teaser that popped up while I was typing I still think they too stingy on attributes. As it costs too much priority just to get to human average. And I doubt anyone other than people like me will want A skills. It will still be much less effective than A attributes but it fits many of my characters. 

Edit to add. I’m jumping the gun maybe. We don’t know b-e attributes. But the top being the same makes me think the progression is similar.
« Last Edit: (11:14:12/05-16-19) by Shinobi Killfist »

Banshee

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« Reply #12 on: (11:34:04/05-16-19) »

Given the teaser that popped up while I was typing I still think they too stingy on attributes. As it costs too much priority just to get to human average. And I doubt anyone other than people like me will want A skills. It will still be much less effective than A attributes but it fits many of my characters. 

Edit to add. I’m jumping the gun maybe. We don’t know b-e attributes. But the top being the same makes me think the progression is similar.

We honestly played around with making Perception an attribute because of how mandatory it is for a good runner but at the same time it didn't fit in there either ... so yes it is still a skill and it is definitely the most narrow of all the skills I think.
As for the attributes you also get attribute points from your metatype but there are restrictions on what you can spend them on. All metatypes can do Edge, Magic, and Resonance with them, but then for example a Troll can also spend them on Body and Strength while an Elf can do Agility and Charisma. The amount of points are hard to explain without giving away the full priority chart which I can't do ... but if you went troll and focused purely on getting the most attributes you can get without regard to any other priority you would have 35 points to spend and everything starts at 1 for free
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Shinobi Killfist

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« Reply #13 on: (11:48:36/05-16-19) »
The high end of attributes never bother me too much but I see it as a bit stingy.

While I get the symmetry of c average c is a pretty big investment IMO to get human average stats, races provide attribute boost potential but I’m using human as my baseline. C gets Solid adept power, full mage aceess. but only human normal stats. Weird.

Maybe I’ve played to many games where you start as average in all stats but it just feels weird to invest that much just to be average. And given the scaling karma costs motivates really weird characters with a couple high stats and borderline non functional in the rest. In4e they went up to 8 stats. 5e priority but with numbers like 6stat1-3e.  And stats are hugely more important

Banshee

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« Reply #14 on: (12:21:06/05-16-19) »
I agree with you for the most part, I didn't write that section so I am not super familiar with it but I do remember there was a formula used to  mathematically "balance" things out and it was based around the karma equivalent cost of advancement ... so hopefully you find it to not be too hateful

As for my personal experience and preferences I have always went higher priority on attributes and skills when building mundanes at least because gear and ware is to easy to advance once your in play
Robert "Banshee" Volbrecht
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Former RPG Lead Agent
Catalyst Demo Team