Shadowrun: Anarchy is an alternative rules system for playing games and telling stories in the Shadowrun Universe. Shadowrun has the distinction of being the 2nd role-playing game i’d ever played, and is one of the oldest of its kind still in publication. Across the last five editions, Shadowrun has pushed the boundaries of the cyberpunk trope and thrown in some old world black magic for fun. It’s a world where elven wizards take tea with ork hackers while plotting their next move against the Dragon sitting atop the corporate throne. You can tell so many different stories in the Shadowrun Universe and make flavorful, neat characters that can do a lot of things.
Until you hit the wall of rules. Don’t get me wrong, Shadowrun’s RPG rules are interesting, and you can have a ball, but you’re going to need to bring a lot of different resources to the table and enough D6s to kill a small donkey. I played Warhammer 40,000 for years, and i still don’t think i have enough D6s for a regular Shadowrun game. It can be a very tough game to get into, and as a player who loves off the wall concepts, Shadowrun’s rules can get in the way of telling cool stories and having fun.
Anarchy takes those rules and the complexities in the system and turns them on their head. Want to make the trendiest Corporate wage-slave that moonlights as a Shadowrunning Street Samurai? Cool. Want to make a biker with a heart of gold who’s got a blood feud with Lowfyr (the aforementioned dragon sitting on his corporate throne)? Neat, i’ve got just the thing for you. Want to make the secret love child of a Corporate bigwig and his elven mistress? Come on Down, we’ve got your spot ready. These are characters that would normally be very difficult to express in the mainline Shadowrun rules, but Anarchy takes them at face value and gives an enterprising player the option to play something that doesn’t fit very well.
Using the same Cue system that drives the Valiant RPG line that Catalyst produces, Shadowrun Anarchy is a storytelling experience that bleeds the Shadowrun setting while keeping the improvisational pace of lunatics. Everyone has an element of control within the storytelling experience, and all of the players are working together to create the most awesome epic over the top Cyberpunk rampage they can come up with. (From my limited experience with it so far, this a game that feels much more pink mohawk than black trench coat, so plan ahead).
This is not a replacement for the Shadowrun RPG. I think it makes an excellent counterpoint to that rules system. If you’ve ever had a friend who wanted to get into gaming, but their eyes glazed over when you started going through the number crunching side of making a character or playing the game, then this might the best introduction for a new player. It’s got all of the style of Shadowrun while maintaining the substance of a shared storytellng experience. We think it’s pretty fantastic, and will hopefully be able to take a closer look at it in the coming months.
Game on, Game Fans