Early in 2012 I suggested that Cataylst needed to capitalize on the end of the Mayan calendar and the significance this has in Shadowrun. In particular I felt that Catalyst needed to release a new edition to grow the SR community and as the internet often does it appears Catalyst listened. Next year Catalyst will be releasing SR branded card games (Spring), 5th edition RPG (Summer), tactical miniatures (Fall-Winter), and a boardgame (Spring 2014). On top of all of this there will also be Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun Online making 2013 the year of Shadowrun. With everything but the RPG being a new product line, what can the RPG players take away from this announcement?
Firstly lets get the obvious out of the way. This logo
is not this logo
Which means the second edition logo that encapsulated what Shadowrun was about through archaic goat skulls and decayed circuitry diagrams won’t be appearing on any 5th edition products. Instead RPG players will be settling for a distinctly less metal logo with a weird font but people who pick up Shadowrun Returns get the awesome logo. This makes me wonder why Catalyst and Harebrained Schemes couldn’t agree to use the same branding despite the Shadowrun RPG and CRPG licenses being held by two different companies.
In addition to the announcement Catalyst also released a teaser-trailer for the fifth edition rpg which at first appearance was all fluff and no crunch. However on a second run through I think there are two things to take away that hint at what 5th edition might be about. Firstly you have the tagline of “everything has a cost” and secondly the theme of the teaser trailer is very dark. These two points to me suggest a gritty reboot for Shadowrun might be on the cards in 2013. So can we expect cyberpsychosis and magical burnout to return to the core rules along with a more focus on street-level campaigns and less on global agendas a la War! and Spy Games? Only time will tell.