2023 started with me deep in a Shadowrun-shaped rabbit hole, and one of my favorite discoveries was Encounters: Shadowrun, an entertaining Push-Your-Luck dice game that taps into the Sixth World’s wonderful “Cyborgs & Dragons: Heistworld” aesthetic to offer a far more accessible entry to playing in the infamously complex TTRPG’s setting. While it claims to be for 1-8 players, the official solo play tweaks lose the competitive angle and don’t really replace it with anything particularly interesting. It’s still fun but doesn’t really scratch the Shadowrun itch the same way — unless you put your own narrative spin on it.
While I’m a fan of Thomas Manuel’s Yes Indie’d Pod and have been occasionally inspired with random ideas for random games, I’m not an aspiring game designer by any stretch. I have realized a lot of game design is similar to fan fiction, though, and while listening to an old episode of the pod on a cold run this morning, randomly decided to codify my own homebrew version of Encounters: Shadowrun that has kept me playing it off-and-on all year. The main goal was to make it more satisfying for solo play while adding a fun narrative layer to make it more immersive.
With Subversion publishing early next year, and Warhammer currently occupying my nerd brain, Encounters: Shadowrun might be the only thing keeping me connected to the Sixth World in the near future, so this feels like a great way to end the year it played such a big role in making enjoyable.
NOTE: I’ve never done something like this [publicly] before, so I hope I’m not breaking any copyright rules! Proper credits appear at the end.
SOLO PLAY RULES
- You are Mx. Johnson, working for the Sixth World’s largest Megacorporations, hiring and managing a team of Shadowrunners to take control of all 5 Seattle City Districts.
A District is under your control after you’ve earned 10 District Nuyen through Encounters (not including your Operating Budget). Each District must be controlled in six (6) Runs or less. When all 5 Districts are controlled, your Megacorporation controls Seattle and you win the game. Start a new game working for a new Megacorporation, recruit a new team of Shadowrunners, and show Seattle who’s really in control!!
A District is lost if you’ve earned less than 10 Nuyen after six (6) Runs; when you’ve burned all of your Shadowrunners and there are no more in the District left to hire, or your Operating Budget is depleted. Restart the game working for a new Megacorporation and recruit a new team of Shadowrunners. No one else knows you lost before!
- Shuffle and randomly pick one Megacorporation and two Shadowrunners from their respective decks. This represents your employer and starting team.
- Initial Shadowrunners can only cost 2 Nuyen each, per standard rules.
- Put 5 Nuyen alongside your Megacorporation plus an additional Nuyen based on its Ability Cost. (For Aztechnology, roll 1d6 and divide by 2.) This represents your Operating Budget and is separate from the Nuyen you’ll earn in each District.
- Ignore Megacorporation abilities.
- Shuffle and randomly pick one District card, placing the others underneath it. This represents the first District your team will attempt to take control of, and the order for subsequent Districts.
- Put 10 Nuyen on the District card. This represents the District Nuyen you need to earn to control the District.
- Shadowrunners cannot be used to ignore or change Districts.
- Shuffle and deal 10 Shadowrunners, face down, next to the District cards. These are the only available runners for hire throughout the game.
- Ignore Retaining and Datasteal rules, and skip (or remove) the Data Worm and System Identification Number Encounters.
PLAYING THE GAME SOLO
Running the District
- Activate your team and draw the first Encounter.
- If your team loses the first Encounter, you have to burn (Discard) one of your Shadowrunners, or pay 2 Nuyen from your Operating Budget to keep your team intact. Go to Step 2.
- If your team wins the first Encounter, you can end the Run and claim the Nuyen you’ve earned, hire an additional Shadowrunner for its Hire Cost from your Operating Budget, or continue the Run with your existing team.
- You can only hire an additional runner after the first Encounter of each Run, and you cannot have more than 3 runners at any time.
- Shadowrunner abilities can only be used once per Run. Additional uses can be paid for once per Escalation, from your Operating Budget, based on the runner’s Hire Cost.
- Draw additional Encounters.
- If your team loses an Encounter, you have to burn (Discard) one of your Shadowrunners, or pay 2 Nuyen from your Operating Budget to keep your team intact. Either way, this ends the Run.
- If your team defeats the Encounter, you can either end the Run and claim the Nuyen earned, or continue the Run, drawing the next Encounter.
- Standard rules apply, except at the start of each Escalation, you can hire an additional Shadowrunner for its Hire Cost from your Operating Budget, or continue the Run with your existing team.
- Ending a Run.
- You can end a Run after successfully defeating any Encounter, claiming the Nuyen you’ve earned up to that point.
- Before starting the next Run, you can hire an additional Shadowrunner for its Hire Cost from your Operating Budget, or continue the Run with your existing team.
Controlling the District
- If you’ve earned 10 District Nuyen in less than six (6) Runs, you control the District and can move on to the next one, adding 1 additional Nuyen to your Operating Budget.
- Retain two Shadowrunners of your choice, removing the rest from the game, then repeat the Setup steps for the next District, and go back to Step 1.
- When you’ve taken control of all 5 Districts, your Megacorporation controls Seattle and you win the game. Start a new game working for a new Megacorporation, recruit a new team of Shadowrunners, and show Seattle who’s really in control!
Losing the District
- If you haven’t earned 10 Nuyen after six (6) Runs, or you’ve burned all of your Shadowrunners and there are no more in the District left to hire, and you have no Nuyen left in your Operating Budget, you’ve lost the District.
- If you have at least one active Shadowrunner, you can finance one (1) Desperation Run for 3 Nuyen from your Operating Budget. If this Desperation Run fails, you’ve lost the District.
- You can only finance one (1) Desperation Run during the full game. Make it count!
- Restart the game working for a new Megacorporation and recruit a new team of Shadowrunners who have no idea you’ve failed before.
Encounters: Shadowrun is a Push-Your-Luck dice game designed by Randall N. Bills and Brian Knudson, published by Catalyst Game Labs. These solo rules were adapted and modified by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez.