A downloadable game

Buy Now$15.00 USD or more

Runners in the Shadows is a game Forged in the Dark about a group of daring operatives building a criminal enterprise in a fantastical dystopian vision of near-future Earth. There will be dangerous meets, crazy heists, bloody fights, chases, escapes, deceptions, betrayals, successes, and deaths. It's a bit like Blade Runner meets Ocean's Eleven, but there's ghosts and ninjas.

  • Playing this is like a TV show set on Earth, but featuring a flexible mixture of escapism and realism - providing a relaxing way to appreciate and confront issues present in the real world, without being subject to its many burdens (such as reprisal from our fellow humans who live in this world with us). Think of the gaming group you will form as your safehouse, so to speak - a place to discuss and confront these dark reflections about ourselves and the world we live in. For me, it's a place where we can say something about a life of criminality and vice, and laugh at (or revel in) the "rewards" and pitfalls of hypocrisy, anger, and greed.
  • The Man won, the world is haunted, sure... but What about it is too familiar to our own world? What supernatural things are common there that would we find surprising? There is a rich metaplot to explore if you're into that, but you'll also need to make this fantasy Earth your own. The tone is flexible: switching from "black trenchcoat" to "pink mohawk," and options for everything in-between are covered in the expanded Running the Game & Changing the Game sections.

Play to find out if the fledgling crew can thrive amidst the teeming threats of rival crews, powerful gangs, ruthless agents, corrupt law enforcement, and the sweet allure of the future’s many vices.

Plug in, reload, and breathe deep of the cost of becoming a legend in the shadows.


  • A game based on the same robust set of rules that helped win Blades in the Dark its place among the best games of 2015 and 2016. Runners places a heavy focus on the fiction first: to do it, you have to do itThere are new rules too - not like A LOT, but definitely enough to warrant a standalone game.
  • More than a reskin, full conversions of the Blades crew playbooks to cyberpunk themed playbooks are included: AssassinsCouriers, a Cult, (arcane or emergent), Mercenaries, or Shadows. Plus, an all new crew playbook for those Radicals who hope to be the change they want to see in the world.
  • Includes a detailed setting guide for play in the rapidly growing city of Kingston, Jamaica, which feeds off the datasphere surrounding its recent freedom from British rule in an alternate-history Earth. Artifacts recovered from newly discovered mythical cities such as Aztlan in the Caribbean Sea are drawing great interest here from abroad. With entry to the vortex guarded by many supernatural threats, and local waters threatened by pirates and angry spirits, those willing to go fetch a high price on the high seas. Or maybe you set your story in another sprawl of your choosing: guides and play tools for stories set in Hong Kong and the Enclave of Seattle are both included. 
  • Tons of friends & enemies (and frenemies) to make in this game, plus a complete gallery of factions designed to inspire creative play in high custom or pure vanilla sandbox, totally unique to your player group. Don't want magic? Toss it (that part is modular, so you can do that). You do want dwarves and trolls and all that? Grab the option pack for that, and you're golden.
  • Slick teamwork mechanics to get things moving from whatever angle you can come up with. Maybe you want to assist the Muscle by bricking their opponent's gun for a cyberpunk tag team move? No problem: get involved directly to increase their impact or negate some of the risk. Or maybe you just want to hack someone to grant a small benefit for the Muscle in a fight? Easy: spend 1 edge and narrate yourself in, and boom: your teammate gets to roll an extra die to blast 'em! Better hope they roll well though.. you are involved too.


  • Rules to create your runner using seven futuristic criminal packages of abilities and accompanying fiction that you can mix and match to your heart's content: the FaceHacker, Muscle, Punk, RiggerSnake, & Trigger. Plus three optional, supernatural playbooks. These are mutually-exclusive and quite unique from one another: the AdeptMage, & TechnoThese are also built with their optionality in mind, to support so--called "vanilla" or magic-free cyberpunk stories. Obviously I am biased: but I think you should keep them in, so you have to fill your kitchen sink with even higher-flying stuff.
  • All runners are not created equal.. the rules for permutations let you trade out gear for dice, or take on more rivals to get more cool stuff or whateverDozens of new special items to satiate the GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) in all of you. High-flying drones, killer attack pets, and street drugs: oh my.
  • A complete character story system. Get rich (or die trying) so you can retire to a comfy spot with a side income you can rely upon. Or don't... and end up awash in vice, misery, and poverty. If you do happen to die, maybe keep playing as a Free Spirit. Or I don't know.. get infected instead, so you'll become a biological vampire with heightened magical powers (not the ones of Victorian myth). Or heck, throw your brain into a capsule to become a shell, so you can transcend your silly mortal coil. Cyberpunk story generator: FULLY ENGAGED.
  • Bonuses galore: a veritable cornucopia of gameplay options, as well as advanced permissions & abilities to change and expand the game to suit your tastes. Gun-Fu. Initiation. Forgotten Mentors & Emergent Paragons. Ley Lines & Geomancy. War Machines. Centaurs. Pixies. Aliens!? Pretty much the whole kitchen sink..  
  • A detailed chapter on Kingston, complete with accompanying handouts: a district map, faction trackers, and all the NPCs, schemes, and rumors you need to run an exciting sandbox game. Plus, a tense starting situation involving a murderous crime family & their hit squads, brutal go-gangers, and a squad of former pilots turned mercenary-smugglers. 


Number of players: 3-6. 
Age of players: 13+ (18+ suggested)
Length: 2-5 hours per session. 
Page Count: 379 (full game). The Sheets PDF is also included and features 45 pages of handouts and playbooks you absolutely need to create characters and play. However, the full game is recommended for the best experience - especially GMs planning to run the game. Either way, use the included Extra Materials and Online Keeper linked on this page to facilitate online play, and be sure to get hooked up with the community via the fan Discord (scroll to and expand the Additional Info to see all the Links).


Also included is a one-shot-friendly, brochure-style version of the character sheet (Runners Lite) to get a game started super quickly!


The black & white version of the Sheets is available as a pay-what-you-want item.


The number of pages means this book is estimated to cost at least $40 to print. The costs and availability of the game in print can be accurately reassessed after going final with page count and printing options. All purchasers of the early release of Runners in the Shadows will receive full credit for what they spent on their purchase here, applied towards their future purchase of the "print + PDF bundle" of this game - options are being considered and I look forward to making a more substantial announcement.


Buy Now$15.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $15 USD. You will get access to the following files:

Runners in the Shadows core.pdf 9 MB
Runners Sheets 4 MB

Exclusive content

Support this game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Community Copy

When someone supports at or above a certain amount they gift a copy to the community (prior to printing, one community digital copy of the game is generated per $5 donated which exceeds the base amount).

Claim this reward to get the full game for no charge.

Note: Community copies for prior purchases are counted and issued no more than once a month. Follow here or on Twitter for immediate updates. I also post more information in the community Discord under #server-news and discuss the game there. Requires your itch.io login (with valid associated email) to claim this. EZPZ lemon squeezy. 

Download demo

Runners Sheets b+w.pdf 2 MB
trifold.pdf 718 kB

Development log

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So, what's with these blank images?  The game's been out for years, so shouldn't these be filled in by now, or am I missing something? 


It's a fine pice of work. Thank you very much! A physical print option would be nice! :-)


Purchased. I look forward to a physical print option!! Keep us posted on the progress toward that option :) 


is there any hardcover or sofcover print on demand on this?

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The sheet for the Hacker is missing the RitS logo. Has there been any update about getting a printed version of the rules?


Will you add anymore community copies?

Can't seem to find the Extra Materials folder anywhere.


Hi Mark!

I was just wondering if you still put up community copies here and there? Super interested in this from what I've heard about it!


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Hey Mark!

Thanks for the amazing game. It looks like the perfect fit to my needs. I love BitD and this engine builds upon solid foundations while adding a bunch of flavor!

I am about to start the campaign in mid July, we will have the "system switch session zero" where we rebuild characters and define the crew. We have already been running it using BESM 4th and then Fate Condensed. Most of the characters followed tropes and genre-appropriate conventions that are easily ported to RitS. But one is a half hacker, half infiltrator type who uses a cloaking device and is really good at taking the first silenced pistol shot (then the rest of the shots are poor during a prolonged combat).

I was wondering if there was any way to have personal cloaking devices à la Ghost in the Shell.

Did I miss anything in the equipment list?

I did notice an invisibility spell.

I am thinking that maybe a playbook ability could grant the ability to activate the field for 1 edge, spending additional edge to make it last longer. Perhaps it could also allow Special Armor to be spent to activate it once per run at no edge cost, something along those lines.

How would you stat such devices if they were high tier equipment that "anyone could get" with the right contacts/money? 


-Olivier, about to port some FATE characters to RitS.

Hi Olivier, and thanks for your questions!

Re: cloaking device and other items. Remember that any PC might have any item. At any time. The players get final say on what they want to achieve with their characters action; now, or in the past. And what specific action they think can pull that off. 

That's one of the only rules of the game that should be held close (so much so, it's one of the few Core Rules). Anyways if that's rule one, then rule two is: the GM gets final say how much a description of a PC can achieve, given a particular goal and course of action. Rule 3 is that the GM decides whether a roll is needed and which type. And rule 4 is the players decide how many Karma they earn at the end of the session.

It's also up to the GM whatever else happens in the world as a result of a given action.

Given this, your questions are making it tough to answer. It's best not to set an edge cost for permission to take a particular action. You could set a cost for a flashback that's particularly outlandish, but it might be better to let them attempt that for free, and make a roll instead.

The additional questions that arise from trying to answer your questions indicate the need to discuss your experience and group in more detail. And quite frankly, the best answer for one situation for one group is almost never the best one for another situation, let alone another group. You sound like a conscientious player, with a desire to learn and impress your players! so I implore you to accept the Community Discord server invite included with your download, to better tap into the hive mind and get the help you deserve.

If that's Not possible, do respond here so I can better assist you




I've been in love with Shadowrun since the first edition came out, but the rules are just too crunchy for how I play now. It is the perfect fit for FitD and this is a fantastic conversion. I've been running RitS for my table for several months now and it has really delivered. 

This is my first extended time running any FitD game and the first one that took with my group. I really enjoy getting some system mastery over the whole FitD genre. 

So, hey thanks for writing a great game! It looks bad ass hardcover printed from lulu as well. I hope you finish the interior art sometime.

Wow! Thank you so much for your success story. You're so welcome 

And I do have interior art to share, but I'm currently reviewing how best to present that in a printed form. Stay tuned please and thanks for your praise!

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Some interior arts would be awesome, Mark. I'm looking forward to it too.


Hi there. I'm a long time storyteller/gamemaster of all dark future roleplaying games and I just wanted to drop in here and let you know how impressed I was by this rulebook. I'm absolutely loving it. I've always said I love the Shadowrun world but want a better ruleset for it. Anarchy was a step in the right direction in some ways, but this is most definitely what I've been looking forward to. Thanks much!

I did want to ask. Is there any update on a print version of these rules? I'd rather have that than a PDF for use at the table.


I expected to get a small guide to using a Blades in the Dark system in a Shadowrun setting.  This is so much more than that.  It is a full book-length conversion of Blades in the Dark.  I own the the Scum and Villainy sci-fi book for Blades in the Dark,  which is also fantastic, and this book is at least its equal.  I'm amazed to see how much work and care has gone into Runners in the Shadows.  If you love the Shadowrun world, but not it's convoluted, slow-playing rule set, this is the book for you.

Wow such praise! You're why I worked so hard! Also the others who want a different but equally-weird fantasy-future Earth. But yea, I am always so thankful and humbled to have readers like you among my fans. And I can't wait to show you all my other fantasy mash-ups using this same framework later! Which I'm definitely taking more chances with the Forged system than I did here..

Thanks again for your review, you rock


Hey there Mark, just letting you know that I added full support for both Crew and Runner sheets (except for the more complex shell, spirit, and infected sheets) to the "Character sheet for Any RPG" app via community contribution. I hope that brings you joy.

App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.shustoff.charactersheet

it does! Please join the discord if you haven't already too. Updates incoming. Thanks!


Encountered a 10 page blank area in my core rulebook, pages 49 - 59 are blank. It looks low I am missing the entire character creation section. Am I missing something? 

Thanks for mentioning this! You shouldn't actually be missing any pages though: scroll past those ten blank pages to find Character Creation as expected (but with wrong pagination). Alternatively, download the game again  (and replace the one you have). 

To explain a bit: The issue you mention was reported privately almost immediately after that 0.998 went out, so I uploaded a hotfix of the PDF almost immediately afterwards, with the pagination fixed (and a weird device specific issue I have to work around from now on as well!) - but to be clear, it was just pagination, not missing pages as it appears.


I cannot find the patched version :/

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AH: It does confusingly have the exact same version number! (again, this was not a significant change to the rules, but a repair of an export with Extra blank pages, which caused the page references to break)

Download again for best results

Hope this helps!

Also sorry about that!


Oh great, as long as I'm not missing anything it's fine! Thanks for the quick reply, I'm loving this system already! 

That IS good news :) can't wait for you to see the finished thing


I gotta say this too. I love the Recovery and Healing mechanics in Runners In The Shadows, it's closer to Scum and Villainy's rather than Blades In The Dark's.

Thank you so much for this Mark.

I highly highly recommend Runners In The Shadows game guys, cool refinement of the Forged In The Dark system and one of the coolest ones.

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aw well shucks - thanks for your glowing review of that bit zerodan! 

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Is there any update regarding a print version becoming available in the future? I'm all for PDF's but find them harder to use at the table than dead trees. If plans for a print version get dropped, is there a possibility of going print-on-demand, instead? I really would like to get this game, but again, I'm all about having dead-tree editions, if possible. Should print or POD still be on the table, I have no issue dropping some cash now on the PDF.

I know: it's been way too long! Best info I have now is this is about to be top priority, but things got delayed for important business: IE the first annual the online Forged in the Dark convention we are planning to hold in less than a week! And I promised by now-dead-friend that inspired me to finish it that I would indeed print it.. So stay tuned please, I've just been busy working on this goodness


Will there be Community Copies added again in the future?

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Yes, some became available just a couple hours ago. 

PS My fault for missing last month, I just got sidetracked and the month ran away from me while I was waiting for proofing of this major update to finish. Stay tuned on the blog here to get immediate notifications in the future, and thanks for asking


Thank you so much! I’m so excited!

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Me too! I actually wondered if you'd tell me how you liked it, and if you got into a game? I didnt see you join the Discord, but I appreciate you just the same :>


Is there any Community Copy update for this month? The demo sheets have really intrigued me and I'm very interested in seeing the full PDF but money is a bit tight right now.

Oh, dang: Sorry I missed This! I got you though: I just counted them up again and a bunch came out yesterday and today. Hopefully can get one if you are still strapped or whatever :> cheers

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This is clearly a labor love by Mark. The writings and languages are clear, being a fully stand alone Forged In The Dark  that can often be a hefty tome. Runners in the Shadows is really easy to understand. The playbooks and crewbooks are also easy to understand and suits the setting really well. The explanations on both augmentations and magic are also really well explained.

Great work Mark, thank you so much for making this awesome game. I am eagerly waiting the game's awesome final form haha.  Best regards Mark.


Thank you kindly.

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thanks for the feedback. Additional visuals are being prepared. Perhaps I should do some more than Blades did in this case. An illustration of the factors (potency, scale, and quality/tier) seems do-able. What do you wish it showed?

Anything else you thought needed an illustration?

Edit: Also I'm curious if you are a player or GM?

Deleted 362 days ago

I detected a little harshness, but I'm nonetheless interested in helping remedy whatever is unclear.  Maybe something like this helps?  Not sure what else about the factors can be communicated with a diagram to be honest. Trying :)