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Catalyst Game Labs Previews Magic in Shadowrun 6th Edition

July 12, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Shadowrun 6th Edition

Shadowrun Sixth Edition is less than four weeks away with its debut at Gen Con, and a new preview takes a look at the game’s magic system. Shadowrun line developer Jason Hardy has written up a blog entry looking at what revisions have been made to magic, a core element of the game, in the latest edition.

Hardy notes that changing up the magic system was tricky, as he likes Shadowrun’s magic in terms of spellcasting “in that it gives spellcasters the chance to do big things, do small things, and think about what it’s going to cost them.” He says that the goal in 6E is to eventually fulfill a common request: come up with a system that will eventually allow spellcasters to make their own spells. In order to do that, SR6 spellcasting is described thusly:

So that’s what SR6 spellcasting is–it’s designed from the ground up to (eventually) allow spellcasters to make their own spells. It treats spells in a modular way, so that each spell is a combination of modules, at that combination tells you how much its basic drain will be. For example, the modules that go into Fireball are Combat + Affect living things + Fire + Area effect + Ranged.

Hardy notes that spell design won’t be available immediately in SR6 due to the spatial limitations of the corebook, but that it is on the way. In the meantime, he gave a preview of some aspects of magic directly from the corebook:

* Force is not declared before casting. With everything being modular, some of the main things you’d use Force for—namely, increasing the area of effect and increasing combat damage—are built into separate modules. Plus, with limits being removed across the board in SR6, it made sense to change the way the rules work in Magic, too. I’d seen many new players struggle with knowing just what Force to use for a spell, so changing this is a way of making it a little easier. You can ramp up the power if you want to, but you can also charge ahead and cast the basic spell without having to worry about it too much.
* Elemental effects can come in more often. The modular system allows for a great range of elemental effects, and it also allows them to come into play in a variety of circumstances. Cooling Heal, Warming Heal, and Elemental Armor Are particular examples of this.
* Drain should feel consistent. Since all drain calculations are based on the same modules, it should feel consistent across the line of spells.
* Of course, spellcasting is only one area of magic. Adept powers, alchemy, conjuring, reagents, ritual spellcasting, and astral traveling/combat are in there, too. In those areas, a large amount of the changes that were made were to take advantage of the expanded Edge system, as discussed in the Shadowrun, Sixth World Developer Overview post. Various aspects of magic needed to be adjusted and tweaked to fit into the Edge paradigm, which should mean less calculating of modifiers so that you can get to the cool parts of a role-playing game. Spirits, unlike spells, still have Force, since it’s a handy way to measure the power of the individual entities, but Force does not act as a limit on Conjuring dice rolls. Enchanting needed a decent amount of tweaking, since many of its elements were based on the Force of the spell, which no longer exists, so other measures, including base drain value, were used instead. Reagents was one of those areas where good feedback during the development process led to rules that worked well with the larger system.

Shadowrun 6th Edition goes on sale on August 1st at Gen Con. Catalyst is releasing more blog posts about the game each week of this month leading up to Gen Con, including a look at a look at the combat mechanics, the Matrix in SR6 and more.

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Shadowrun, Jeremy Thomas