Shadowrun Sixth World Beginner Box

What is Shadowrun?

Dm Bork picked this up in hopes of finding an additional game to run. This box was created by Catalyst Game Labs under license from Topps. Shadowrun is a futuristic game and is labeled as a science fiction/cyberpunk ttrpg. The sixth edition, which is the edition of this box set, came out in 2019. The original Shadowrun came out in 1989.

Unlike other ttrpg games that I have talked about here on the blog, Shadowrun uses a series of d6s to see if Pcs are successful or not. The game master still sets the scene and the players still roll after describing their action to see if the outcome is successful.

What's in the Box?

  • Quick start rules booklet (and four page instant guide)

There are 12d6 with different patterns in purple.

The Shadowrun Beginner Box comes with a stack of 55 tool cards. Cards 1-32 give stats and rules for different equipment that the players may come across. Cards 33- 46 give stats and rules for spells. The last nine cards are about people with their attributes, character information and their gear.

  • Battle Royale Adventure booklet

  • A large laminated map for the Battle Royal adventure

  • Four character booklets

Quick Start Rules & Four page “Instant Guide”

This box was my first look into Shadowrun, where we play criminals and gangsters running heists to make money while the world is controlled by big corporations. In the instant guide the first page is a copy of the first page of the quick start rule book.

The guide then talks about augmentations that can bring improvements to your character for a cost. Besides costing money, putting technology and artificial parts into your body in large amounts also puts you at risk of losing who your character was. The "Instant Guide" also introduces the megacorporations who want to put the entire world under their thumbs. The idea of Shadowrun is your players are not the sheep that the megacorporations push around in the world they literally own. Fight the corporation or take up jobs. Just know that no one in this world is your friend and you will have a target on your back.

The back page of the Instant Guide gives you the Big Ten that your players will come into contact with to help make them more familiar to new players. It gives the following information for each: Their Corporate Court Rank, status and slogan, where their world headquarters are, who is the president and what they are known for.

The Quick Start Rules is a 24 page booklet with important information to learn how to play Shadowrun in the dystopian future where you are criminals running heists. This manual introduces the basic play of the game, talking about characters and a break down of the characters (attributes and skills), a basic how do dice and thresholds work, a walk through of combat/"Getting Into the Action" and the special rules with Shadowrun (using edge). Page 11 starts going over the Matrix followed by a section on rigging and vehicles. The world of Shadowrun also has magic where mana is something that blesses some of the "Awakened" players. The explanation of magic, mixing magic an tech, casting spells can be found from pages 17-20. The last four pages of the Quick Start Rules is Game Master Reference Tables.

How to Play the game

Players create a character (or use a premade character) while the Gamemaster describes the encounters and run them through heists. There are lots of things your characters could get put through. Maybe you’re asked to do a high profile heist, perhaps gang activity is something that your player is asked to take care of. No matter what the GM sets before you your dice will tell you if you are successful or not.

A session can be anywhere from a few hours to long playing over years.

The Very Basics of Play

  1. The GM describes everything from what you are seeing and hearing, to what is going on around you and what the scene looks like.

  2. The players decide what they want to do by describing their actions to the gm and rolling their dice for an outcome

  3. The Gamemaster describes the outcome based on your dice rolls

Players use six sided dice to see if their actions are successful or not. Basic routine things (walking, talking, breathing) don't require tests.

A test is a roll of dice to try to get enough hits to meet or exceeded the actions threshold.

A hit is a 5 or a 6 on the die.

The number of dice you roll is is determined by your skills and attributes that can be found on your character sheets.

Combat, spellcasting, an other complex or difficult actions will require dice rolls to determine outcomes.

As someone who loves learning about and exploring new ttrpgs it can be a little stressful trying to figure out what all the information above truly means. If you are familiar with the terms above you can go ahead and skip down to the next section; otherwise here is a bit more about the things on the character sheet. Taking some time with the quick-start rule book next to your player dossier with your GM is another great way to get to know the game.

When it is time to roll the dice in the game there is either an attribute (in labeled box 3) or skill (in labeled box 7) that it goes with. If you are rolling to see where you are in the lineup for combat, you roll initiative which is labeled 4 on the character sheets. Depending on how hard a task is will determine what number of dice you need to roll for specialization and expertise. There are 10 attributes for Shadowrun; 8 that are classified as normal and 2-3 special. Of the four normal they are split 4 by 4 for physical and mental attributes.

When you roll your dice you make note of any 5’s and 6’s that you roll for these are called hits and need to be equal or greater than the threshold to be a successful attempt for your character. Less than the threshold is a fail. The quirkiness and rules about tests can be found on page 5 of the quick start guide.

Glitches happen when more than half the results are 1’s on the dice. The GM will describe what happens when there is a glitch. A glitch means that something unexpected (and most likely a failure) happens.

Edge is a special attribute that Shadowrun has that “measures the undefinable combination of luck, risk, fate, and ignorance of danger” (quick start rules pg 3). A player can get up to 7 edge points and can only use one edge point per action if they choose. Edge is gained in combat or when your character gets an attack or defense rating 4 higher than an opponent. It can be given when a player has a clear advantage in a social situation or awarded by the GM if they think it is right. Page 6 of the quick start rules talks about edge boosts.

Combat is a big piece with Shadowrun as you go through heists and fight rival gangs and companies. All about combat will be pages 6-10. What I love about this beginner box is there are tool cards that can be handed out to players to tell them about the weapon characteristics that are on their character sheet. Each player gets one major action and one minor action per turn. A basic combat round in Shadowrun is 3 seconds.

On the character sheets the box labeled 12 is your condition monitor that allows you to see what dice pool penalty you get when your character loses health. When you make it all the way to the bottom your character goes unconscious.

In Shadowrun lore in 2080 the world became connected through the matrix. The step by step matrix can be found on pg 11 of the quick start guide. Every matrix user has four matrix attributes: attack, sleaze, data processing and firewall.

Battle Royal Adventure (no spoilers)

Right in the beginning of the scenario booklet it talks about how this module was made to help "drag the player s into someone else's problems." The setting starts with the players shopping at a store which leads them into an encounter with gangsters.

The booklet starts out with information for the Gamemaster (GM is the official title for the people who run the games). The Adventure Synopsis starts on page 4 and brings us up to date a little bit with 2080 and the UCAS. The adventure itself is made of Three scenes (pgs. 4-12).

After pg 13 the information is things to help the GM run the game. First is the "Cast of Characters", followed by pages with information about the "Setting." Pages 20-22 are all about the Seattle Metroplex with the last two pages being a list of downtown locations with names, addresses and descriptions.

Player Character Booklets

Each character has a seven page character portfolio to explain characters in the world of Shadowrun. On the cover of each are some quotes of your character, a name and character art along with a little bit of "Play this Character if..." to help you choose the right character for you.

Character Sheet Breakdown

The first two pages of the character portfolio is the Shadowrun Character Sheet with breakdown of what each item means in detail. The extra pages are more information to help bring the character to life off the pages. The second parts include your character's background, preferred tactics, some roleplaying tips and an example run with your character as the focus.

The top portion is the Personal Data (name, age, etc.) of the character. Next is the Attributes section which is important as the base foundation of your character and effects all of the actions. The main attributes of Shadow Run include: body, agility, reaction, strength, will power, logic, intuition, charisma and edge. Your character’s attributes section on the character sheet will also have your edge points, unarmed number, Essenes and tell if your character has magic/resonance. The composure, judge, intentions, memory, life/carry, movement and defense radiation is there too.

Initiative is a number listed on your sheet plus what you roll on a 1d6.

The next box on the character sheet breakdown talks about skills, followed by a box telling if your character has any augmentations or magic skills. Not every character has augmentations and not every has magic skills. The 10th box is titled ID’s/Lifestyles/currencies.

On the right hand side of the character sheet, starting at the top there is the core combat information, condition monitor tracking boxes, qualities, contacts and at the very bottom a box of your gear.

Rude: The Troll Street Samurai

He has the strongest unarmed ability. Is huge and has horns.

Frostburn: Ork Combat Mage

The only character that has magic/resonance. They also have the highest will power. Orcs are big, powerful and have tusks. This race is seen as an outsider. As a mage you will want to read the magic basics (pgs 17&18) of the quick start guide. She uses magic to turn the tide of a battle and prefers illusionary spells. She also has a fire and ice for a last resort.

Yu: Elf Covert Ops Specialist/Face

Yu has the highest composure and judge intentions score of the four characters provided. Elves are known for being the attractive race.

Zipfile: Dwarf Decker

They have the highest defense rating of the 4 characters provided. Dwarves are known for perseverance.

Last Thoughts of the Fox

As a beginner box I was overall happy with it. This is one game system that I would say a session zero is important to have with your GM to make sure you understand everything from the quick-start rules and understand your character sheet.

Remember, as with any table top role playing game, it doesn't matter if your group always complete their tasks or objectives. What matters is if everyone (gm included) had fun with the game.

I was very impressed by the character portfolio pages. As a DM I liked that there was a lot to help new players understand what each piece in the character sheet is, examples but what impressed me most of all was tips for roleplaying that characters. Most people go with voices to be the roleplay that a person puts into the character. i feel that having a section dedicated to learning about your person and figuring out what role play is is amazing to have in a beginners box and this is the first ttrpg beginner/starter box that has something about detailed character roleplay in it.

Where to go to next?

Did you enjoy the Beginner Box? More information comes form the core rulebook and lots of supplemental materials to help expand your understanding an play time within the Sixth World Shadowrun.