Check out this new article FanPro posted on Fri, 03 Aug 2007 16:17:10 +0000:

Gen Con Indy & Shadowrun Quick-Start Rules

Rob is on a well-deserved vacation this week, and Peter has buried himself under a stack of Corporate Enclaves drafts, so it looks like it’s my turn [again …] to sum up the last week in the worlf of Shadowrun Development and Production.
Augmentation has been available in PDF for about a week — sales have been really strong, and the reviews generally positive as well! Peter Taylor will be along next week to talk a bit more about the development of Augmentation.
Forefront on our minds right now is Gen Con Indy, August 16th-19th in Indianapolis, Indiana. “The Best Four Days in Gaming” is less than two weeks away now, so if you haven’t made plans to attend, you better hurry up!
Catalyst Game Labs will have ten booths at Gen Con, the block numbered from 1309 to 1318, near the front of the hall. Our miniature-making pals Iron Wind Metals will be right next door at 1417. Check us out for the latest in Shadowrun and Classic BattleTech books, plus some ancillary gear and maybe a surprise or two.
We’ll be running a ton of games this year at Gen Con, and the rooms they were hosted in recently got shifted around. Next week we’ll be posting the most recent room list for everyone to download. If you’ve registered for games or plan on trying to sneak into them with generic tickets, keep your eyes peeled for the list so you don’t get lost.
We look forward to seeing and catching up with our fans at the con — see you there!
I’ve spent most of the last week working on the Shadowrun Quick-Start Rules, a project that has been long delayed and little talked about. Work on them originally started in 2004, just after Shadowrun, Fourth Edition was released. Davidson Cole did a great job on distilling Shadowrun down to the core concepts and on writing some really approachable examples — not to mention a fun update to the classic Food Fight encounter.
When I got around to hacking up the sample characters for use with the pared-down rules, though, I found more and more cases where I wanted to cut down the rules ever further. Is it really necessary to use a fully-automatic weapon inside a Stuffer Shack? Is the character even likely to bring it inside? Not really; so cut it off the character sheet and cut out all the rules that relate to full auto fire. I continued to hack and slash at the manuscript — mostly in my free time, as the project rarely had a high priority … a mistake — but I still wasn’t satisfied with it. Even when further cut down, it just felt like a cut-down version of Shadowurn; suitable for playing quickly but not any better than the core rules at introducing people to the game and setting.
There are two major events in the North American gaming scene that releases are based around: the GAMA Trade Show in March, and Gen Con Indy in August. Releasing the Quick-Start Rules at one of those shows was always the goal, but it didn’t happen in 2005 or 2006. When Catalyst took over the Shadowrun license I pulled the dusty manuscript back up to the forefont, sat down on the couch with my notebook, and began sketching out different ways to present the information. I didn’t want to break completely with the design of Shadowrun, Fourth Edition, but I wanted more options for presenting “asides” … little hints, tips, shortcuts, and other such small pieces of text that might help further explain the main text, provide a cross-reference, summarize a formula, or add flavor. I also wanted big bold text on every page indicating what the content of that page was, to make it drop-dead easy to flip through to find what you’re looking for.
In the end I came up with a landscape layout with four columns — two for the main text, and two sidebars for the asides. The examples ended up in pullout boxes with an image for the relevant character, instead of the usual block-indented italic examples from other Shadowrun books. When Randall Bills and I were working on the new Classic BattleTech Quick-Start Rules for the Classic BattleTech Introductory Box Set earlier this year, I decided to put a little icon of two dice next to the text that called for rolls; in the Shadowrun Quick-Start Rules, there’s a more appropriate (six!) number of dice next to text when it requiers a roll.
After working up a “proof of concept” layout I sent it off to everyone at Catalyst, and Randall stepped up, taking a close look at the text and revising it even tighter. Since we’re giving out the Quick-Start Rules for free, the page count needs to be as low as possible, but we ended up settling on 24 pages: four pages of character sheets, four pages for the Food Fight 4.0 encounter, 13 pages of rules, a 1 page Gamemaster’s Screen, and front and back covers.
The character sheets — 5.5×8.5, front and back — pull out of the middle of the booklet, and they have everything the player will need: Attributes, Skills, Gear [with all the stats for the gear right on the sheet], Spells, Condition Monitors, and the list of free/simple/complex actions. And of course, art and a brief description of the character type.
I’m digging through the last editorial notes on the Quick-Start Rules over the weekend, and if all goes to plan we’ll have copies available at Gen Con, and they’ll be available free on our website at about the same time. Even if you’re a Shadowrun veteran, they’ll come in handy for introducing new players to the game.
Okay, that’s enough rambles for one day — back to work for me. Have a great weekend, everyone!