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Shadowrun: Sail Away, Sweet Sister (Enhanced Fiction)
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/25/2014 06:21:38
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/04/25/book-review-sail-away-s-
weet-sister-shadowrun/

Sail Away, Sweet Sister is the latest piece of “enhanced fiction” for Shadowrun. Enhanced Fiction simply means that at the end of the short story you get stats for the characters you just read about and maybe a few brief bits of mechanics. Sail Away, Sweet Sister is actually a direct sequel to a previous piece of enhanced fiction, Another Rainy Night, which was released a little over two years ago. That’s a long stretch between stories that are only two dozen pages in length, so I did find I had to re-read Another Rainy Night to remind myself of everything that happened in the previous tale. It’s worth noting that Sail Away, Sweet Sister can be read as a standalone, but it works FAR better if you read them both back to back. Otherwise you’ll miss some details and nuances that only carry over if you are familiar with both tales. The story is written in such a way that assumes you are familiar with Another Rainy Night which may cause a little bit of confusion in those that pick this up first. You’ll see reference to previous events and players that aren’t explained at all here, but were in Another Rainy Night, so just a head’s up there. Unfortunately, Another Rainy Night still has the $4.99 price tag attached to it. I was happy to see that CGL read my review of Another Rainy Night, because I said the sweet spot for a short piece of fiction like this would be $1.99. Lo and behold, that’s the price tag on Sail Away, Sweet Sister. Now if only they could go back and reduce the price on Another Rainy Night, everything would be awesome.

Sail Away, Sweet Sister also plays off another long untouched Shadowrun plot thread, this time from Storm Front, which closed out Shadowrun, Fourth Edition in April of 2013. In this case, we finally get to hear more about how vampires, ghouls and other “undead” are becoming more photosensitive while also suffering from stronger urges and hunger pains. Like Another Rainy Night, I’m glad to see someone over at CGL finally doing something with these dangling plot threads left over from 4e, but unless you’ve read both Another Rainy Night and Storm Front, you probably had no idea about the changes in the HMHVV community, both physically and socially. So for people to Shadowrun Fifth Edition, you’re probably going to feel out of the loop with this story, especially since it happens smack dab during Fourth Edition dates-wise. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it, just that you’re getting a story that is a few years (in-game and real life) behind the current meta-plot currently featured in Shadowrun.

When we last left Dr. Thomas McAllister and Knight Errant copy Lydia Bowen, they had finally put an end to the Mealtime Killer, a notorious serial killer who had killed roughly two dozen people before it was finally put down. In Sail Away, Sweet Sister, we learn that much like Doink the Clown, there is more than one MTK, perhaps many more. While the first MTK was someone obsessed with Thomas McAllister, the revelation of who the second is hits far closer to home with our main character as it is his sister. We also learn more about the Fear the Dark organization, which appears to be either a vampiric terrorist organization or a group of vampire traditionalists who want a return to the pre-Twilight version of vampires who are the natural predators of meta-humanity, which fears and loathes them. Hey, maybe it’s both! We don’t really get enough details on Fear the Dark, which heavily implies this will be continues in either another short story, supplement or sourcebook. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another two years to get the next part.

We get a lot of new characters with Sail Away, Sweet Sister. There is the enigmatic Minotaur, Jericho and the dwarven vampire Seamus, which really makes me think Patrick Goodman (author of the story) is a big wrestling fan as there seems to be a lot of subtle nods to it in his stories (hence the earlier Doink reference). I liked both characters, especially Seamus as he is a good reminder that not all Sixth World vampires are turning into second rate Vampire: The Masquerade wanna-bes. I also liked his fire elemental sidekick. I have a soft spot for friendly fire elementals as one of my own characters from back in the day had one. You’ll also meet Thomas’ ex-wife and of course, his sister Lenore. The cast is really well done in this book and even characters who only show up for a cup of coffee, like the two Lone Star agents, have very fleshed out personalities. There’s more character development in these twenty-four pages than you see in some gaming-licensed novels, which is impressive.

That’s not to say that the story is flawless. I felt it was a little too paint by numbers in that I’ve read several vampires stories with the same basic plot and resolution. The only difference here was that it involved a Shadowrun setting. I had déjà vu for much of the story, knowing exactly how it was going to go down long before I reached the actual pages confirming what I already suspected. The ending also really falls apart for me as it got really cheesy and flew in the face of the character development we’ve seen in not just this story but Another Rainy Night as well. It wasn’t hackneyed, but it was paint by numbers. I also really didn’t like that the story seems to be setting up Sixth World vampires for becoming VERY White Wolfish, complete with a Beast (or Monster as it is referred to here) that can control a vampire’s action when hurt or hungry. I’m really hoping this was a one-time case of schizophrenia (or some other mental derangement equivalent) brought on by being a vampire rather than have it turn out HMHVV is going to cause sufferers to have a more bestial second personality (or god forbid demon or extraplanar entity possession) as that’s not only stupid, but it takes away a lot of the uniqueness of Shadowrun “undead.” If I want angsty vampires fighting themselves over the eventual erosion of their humanity, I have V:TM or V:TR for that…not to mention that old Shadowrun/cyberware guide for V:TM that was published back in the mid 90s. So overall, I’d say I’m happy we got a continuation of Another Rainy Night but that Sail Away, Sweet Sister is nowhere as good or original a read. I’m hoping this was just ring rust after being away from the characters for so long and that the third installment in the series (if there is one) will be back up to the same level of quality we had in Another Rainy Night.

I should end this review by bringing up the “enhanced fiction” part. You get stat blocks for Thomas, Lydia, Lenore, Karla and Colonel Anne Ravenhurst. You’re also getting Fourth AND Fifth Edition stat blocks for each of the aforementioned characters. The 4e stats for Lydia and Thomas are ripped straight from Another Rainy Night, which is a good thing as it shows continuity. If the stats blocks were wildly different, I’d have to wonder what was up. I’m really glad to see stats for the two latest editions of Shadowrun as is helps ease edition wars and lets fans of each game use the characters without having to do any conversion. We also get two new SR5 positive Qualities, a few new weapons and a page of mechanics on drug called Renfield and how it affects those who take it. All in all, there is something for Shadowrun fans who like the fiction and/or the mechanics, so everyone who picks this up should find something to enjoy here.

So if you’re still with me, here’s what you need to know. Is Sail Away, Sweet Sister as good as Another Rainy Night? No. Should you still pick it up? Absolutely. While the story isn’t as good, it is still a fun read and even with the flaws I talked about earlier, you’ll end the tale wanting to know what happens next. That’s a good sign. It’s also a LOT cheaper than Another Rainy Night. The mechanics are well thought out and if that’s all you want from one of these releases, Sail Away, Sweet Sister is definitely the better choice, although Another Rainy Night DOES have some neat vampire hunting ammo. While not great literature by any means, Sail Away, Sweet Sister is entertaining and gives Sixth World fans the continuation of the story they have been waiting over two years for. The price point is perfect too, as even if you don’t like the story, it will only set you back two bucks. Again, let’s hope we don’t have to wait another two years for another installment of the continuing adventures of Thomas McAllister or a year for another slight update on the changes to HMHVV sufferers in the Sixth World.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sail Away, Sweet Sister (Enhanced Fiction)
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Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
by Peter H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2014 09:14:56
This short piece gives an overview of the electronic drugs of the Sixth World with a very brief set of rules for long term drug use and the consequences.
While the informational part is nicely written - from the perspective of an ex-and-now-again-addict - the rules are sparse and not really that much.
In conclusion: Good background info, not much game value. Surely nice to flesh out a part of the Sixth World but not necessary to keep running.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
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Shadowrun: Run & Gun
by Edward K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/23/2014 22:18:27
Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Run & Gun

Originally posted on www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product- Run & Gun
System-Shadowrun 5e
Producer- Catalyst
Price- PDF $25
TL;DR- What fans have been dying for! 93%

Basics- Time for the first hardcover expansion for Shadowrun 5e. This book focuses on physical combat. It starts off covering several new weapons ranging from swords to laser guns. Next, the book presents new armor and clothing options. From here, Run & Gun begins to focus on combat heavily starting with small squad tactics and new teamwork combat maneuvers. After team combat, the book spotlights called shot locations, special attacks with different ammo types, and more combat options. Following general combat, the book introduces martial arts with new combat maneuvers specific to each art. The last two sections of the book focus on environment hazards and demolition.

Fluff or Story- This book is full of stories. Catalyst takes great care to build story in across all the levels of the book. Each section of the book is introduced with a story building the world of Shadowrun. Every weapon is treated with some banter between different characters as they review the items as if they were talking about items in an internet forum. Even major rule sections get snark like summoning fire elementals underwater (spoiler-it's a bad idea!). Every inch of the book builds 2075 America into a living, breathing world. 5/5

Crunch or Mechanics- This book is also full of mechanics. The book introduces armor pieces, new armor/weapon types, martial arts forms, rules for all sorts of things from casting spells in a space suit to explosive decompression underwater. Even better, the book emphasizes and re-presents small rule sections that players and GMs may have forgotten. I really enjoyed quick rule summaries of these important, minor rules in sidebars. Building on this, the book provides examples of how to do the math that makes the game work. And as I said before, the book has lots of fun with its own rules and seriousness. A perfect example is explosive decompression. You fail a little, and it's bad. You fail a lot, and it's really bad. You completely screw-up, and you summon a kraken and die (most likely). It's an excellent way to meld rules, the world, and theme. 5/5

Execution- I'm reviewing a digital copy. What I saw, I liked. The text is nicely divided so you don't have solid pages of block text. The whitespace, side bars, tables, and pictures makes this a pleasure to read. The book has lots of pictures, but could use a bit more. In Gun H(e)aven 3, each gun got its own picture. This book doesn't have the space for that, but I think more pictures of the items would have helped me with my mental pictures of the game. Also, this is the first printing/release of the book, so there are a few errors that are being compiled to help with future releases of the book. Honestly, it's a fun read, but I felt like I wanted more to see and a bit fewer errors. The faults are by no grind them to a halt, but they are noticeable as you dig deeper into the book and system. 4/5

Summary- This isn't the book I thought it would be. That is not a bad thing, but I don't know if this was what I thought I was going to get. But, I am happy with the end product. I feel like I've learned a bit more about the world of Shadowrun. I love the new abilities that were carried over from forth edition or created for fifth. The last two section of the book are not as useful if you just play in the urban sprawls and want to gun down any go-gangers you see, but if you ever need to blow up a space station, there are well-done rules that will help you and your GM carry out whatever pyromaniac dreams you may have. Yes, plan B can be twice as much explosive as plan A. The Shadowrun community has been dying for some new Shadowrun 5e content, and this product delivers. While this product has a few flaws, if this is the quality of the next books, then I will happily buy each and every one. 93%

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Run & Gun
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Shadowrun: Run & Gun
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/16/2014 06:32:12
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/04/16/tabletop-review-shadowr-
un-run-gun/

Run & Gun is our second major Shadowrun release of 2014, with the first being the awesome Digital Tools Box. Usually Shadowrun has several small PDF releases a month, but Catalyst Game Labs has really cut back on that with the release of Shadowrun, Fifth Edition. For those that miss all those little one to two dozen page PDF stat block collections like Gun H(e)aven 3, Parazoology 2, Used Car Lot and others like them, you’ll be happy to know that a huge chunk of Run & Gun reads and feels like an omnibus of those pieces. There are roughly seventy pages of new armor and weapons in this this sourcebook! That should keep you busy well… until Sixth Edition rears its ugly head. Seriously, this book is a one stop shop for things to murder (or be murdered) with. Best of all those thirty page stat blocks tend to cost $7.95 EACH. So for Run & Gun, you’re getting the equivalent of a little more than two of those supplements (which would run you $16), but you’re also getting another 148 pages of content as well. Hopefully this knowledge upfront helps ease the sticker price of this sourcebook. I know my first instinct was, “THIRTY DOLLARS FOR THIS? WHAT THE HECK???” Once the shock wears off however, you can see that you’re getting a much better deal cost-wise with Run & Gun than with all those little (overpriced?) PDF supplements. So for some of you, the lack of prolific releases for Shadowrun 5e will be made up by the sheer value of this weighty tome.

Of course, there is so much more to Run & Gun than exotic items like space armor, harpoon guns and monofilament garrotes. The format of Run & Gun follows the usual Shadowrun motif we have come to expect from CGL. You get short pieces of fiction interspersed with metaplot told from the point of view of JackPoint (a Shadowrun Matrix group for those of you who are new to the game with 5e) and a bunch of mechanics. It’s worth noting that unlike a lot of Shadowrun books, Run & Gun breaks from the Jackpoint POV to straight rules and back with little or no warning. That might make the book seem like a chaotic mess at first as you’ll wonder why the speaker du jour suddenly started talking in mechanics, but you’ll get used to it. Perhaps my biggest complaint about the book is this constant narrative style shift. It could have been a lot more seamless. While long time Sixth World fans are going to find the constant flipping back and forth weird but navigable, newcomers will be confused more often than not. Considering this is the first sourcebook for a new edition, Run & Gun should have been more newcomer friendly than this. Still, the book is very easy to navigate, ESPECIALLY if you get the PDF version so you can quickly turn to bookmarks and the like. Due to the twenty dollar difference and the power of CTRL+F, I’d definitely say the electronic version of Run & Gun will be a lot easier to use in your Shadowrun, Fifth Edition games. It’ll be easier on your wallet and take up less space/weight to boot!

The first third of Run & Gun are the weapons and armor stats blocks mentioned earlier. This is probably the section that will get the most use by players and GMs alike. After all, if you want to make an arctic saboteur, you’ll want the Ares Polar Sneak or Coldsuit. (Actually the art for Ares Arctic Survival Suit is a direct rip-off/homage to the Snow Serpents from G.I. Joe. I’m not sure if that is intentional or not, but it is awesome). If you want to relieve Games Workshop’s Chainsaw Warrior board game, you can do it in style with an Ash Arms Combat Chainsaw. So on and so forth. There is something for everyone in these two areas. Now that doesn’t mean ANYONE should buy a full sourcebook if all they want is a single weapon or piece of armor from it. A GM however, can really get use out of Run & Gun if only by throwing new weapons and armor at the PCs. Tired of the same old mooks and grunts? >Spiffy them up with a new machine pistol or give that gang some bike racing armor. This is especially good if you have players that have all the items in the core rulebook memorized and love to rules-laywer.

The other two thirds of Run & Gun are all new tactics and options that can be done during combat. It’s always great to see some new options in combat, but Run & Gun gives you an incredible amount. So many that there is no way even the most anal retentive player is going to memorize all, or even HALF of the options in this book. As such, even veteran players may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options and eventually a group is going to be split on what they want to allow and what they won’t. In a worst case scenario a bad group will want to use all of these and pressure a player into feeling like they MUST purchase Run & Gun. A good group will realize this is not a mandatory Player’s Handbook 2 set of canon rules ala what you see in D&D 3.0 or Pathfinder. If you think forty+ different Martial Arts (Yet the options are still missing Savate, Sumo, Sambo, and a ton of others) is too much for everyone, trim it back to what is workable for your group. The key thing to remember with Run & Gun is that the book is more New World of Darkness where you have a buffet you can pick and choose from than Classic World of Darkness where the books are written in a way where everything is canon and woe to you that can’t afford the latest release or who lack a set on index cards cross referencing everything. Yes the sheer amount of options are INSANE, but remember the focus should never be rules and mechanics first. It’s fun first, so if any of these optional rules don’t work for you or some players don’t have access to them, DON’T USE THEM! It’s that simple.

Our first section in this area is entitled “Sixth World Combat Tactics.” You get an overview of the basic tactics players and their characters know after spending a little bit of time in the Sixth World. “Geek the Mage First” and “kill the Decker second” sort of things. It also talks about the importance of team tactics similar to what you would see in a video game ala X-Com or Shining Force. There’s some really good commentary about how to work as a team and make sure everyone has a specific function or role when drek hits the fan. I’m actually surprised this piece wasn’t in the core rulebook because it’s advice Shadowrun players of all experience levels should read. This section also gives you eleven combat maneuvers which allow two or more characters to tactical options which will give them slight bonuses in specific situations. Case in point, you have a four player team that wants to attempt the “diamond maneuver.” This characters in the shape of a diamond moving in the same direction, thus giving them 360 degrees of sight. If you get four successes on this team attempt, all members doing the diamond maneuver get a +1 bonus to surprise/ambush checks and +2 to their Initiative rolls. This is nice. You get a small, non-game breaking reward for actually performing and moving as a team. Although there are only eleven of these options, an enterprising or creative GM can easily think of more. This section then ends with odd little tools like pain grenades (suck it invisibility spells!) and battering rams.

“KIllshots and More” is where things really start to get intense. You get six different OPTIONS for combat. These range from no action phase limits for simple actions to armor piercing options. My personal favorite is the alternative initiative where characters get rewarded for extremely high rolls and their quickness. Instead of getting one action per round, each player rolls their initiative and then goes in the usual highest to lowest order. Then everyone subtracts 10 from their roll. If they have a roll above 0, they get to go again. Repeat until everyone is down to 0 initiative and start again. I know I already made a World of Darkness comparison to this already, but in many ways this initiative option, gives extremely quick players something akin to Vampire: The Masquerade‘s celerity and I like that. Previously a high initiative “just” let you go first. Now you might be able to go first and get a couple extra attacks in to boot. This option also really lets mages get more out of slow and haste style spells. Of course, just because *I* like it doesn’t mean *you* have to. These are all optional rules; I can’t stress that enough. More options are always welcome while more forced canon rules appearing outside the core rulebook are rarely welcome.

This section continues with even more new combat options a character can take when his or her turn comes up. “More Called Shots” gives you twelve attacks that are more about style or positioning instead of damage. “Location, Location, Location” lets you take aim at sixteen different body parts (Yes, including genitals). “Ammo Whammy” gives you special actions to take with uncommon round types. For example, you can try to aim your Toxic round into a part of the body that will absorb the poison faster. You can’t obviously use an EX-Explosive round for an action designed only for a tracker however.

From there we get to one of the low points in the book. “More Actions” gives you over forty NON-optional actions. These are canon and are now part of the permanent action options so no doubt you’ll see them pop up in adventure with only a reference to Run & Gun, meaning you will have light pressure to buy this book to properly understand the published piece. That’s not cool, and although 4e was REALLY guilty of this, I was hoping 5e wouldn’t start off with it right away. Why these half dozen pages weren’t in the core rulebook for 5e is beyond me. They either should have made this a separate addendum, put them in the core rulebook or not done them. Most of these are common bits to begin with, so it’s more than a little inexcusable to have them in Run & Gun.

After that you have five new ways to spend Edge, seven new positive Qualities and one negative one. Then it’s the plethora of martial arts options I mentioned previously in the review. Besides all the martial art styles I mentioned, you also have techniques, which are the equivalent of called shots for martial artists. All of this is great if you are a physical adept, but these fifteen pages might have been better off as their own separate PDF so that more detail could have been added. As it stands, it’s a lot of options, but none of them have enough depth or detail. Basically this was a great idea on paper, but not enough follow through.

Can you believe there is STILL MORE CONTENT to talk about? At this point we’re only 145 pages into the 218 page PDF. The last third of the book is pretty much two chapters, “Staying Alive” and “Blow Up Good.” “Staying Alive” talks about real world hazards characters can face. After all, it’s not just bullets, dragons and magic that will kill you in the Sixth World. Here you are given mechanics for dealing with extreme heat, cold, radiation, pollution and more. Each of these topics only gets between one and three pages of content, but Space Combat gets about seven. How does magic work in space? How do laser or bullets? What happens if your character specialized in flame magic and he’s out in a vacuum? What happens when your suit starts to leak or the hull of your craft is breached? All of these are covered here. This is great stuff, especially with the earlier space suit bits in the armor section towards the front of the book. There are also two positive and three negative qualities in this section for characters to take as well.

The last real chapter in the book is “Blow up Good.” After that, it’s some short fiction and metric ton of tables. “Blow Up Good,” as you might have surmised, is all about explosives and/or things that explode. This is a pretty detailed chapter covering various types of explosives, different detonators, accessories, rules for cutting charges and even how to blow things up via your rigger’s drone. This is really well done for people that are interesting in sabotage or whose characters go around saying, “And so he says to me, he says, ‘You want to be a baaaaad guy?!’ and I say, ‘Yeah, baby! I want to be bad!’ I says, ‘Surf’s up, Space Ponies! I’m making gravy without the lumps!’ Ah ha ha ha ha haaaaa! ” Oh god. Now I want to make THE EVIL MIDNIGHT TROLL STREET SAM WHAT BOMBS AT MIDNIGHT. If however this isn’t your cup of tea, that’s thirty pages you can just skip over. “Bad is good, baby! Down with government!”

Overall, Run & Gun is well done, but it feels like a hodge podge of small PDFS supplements thrown together until they had enough of a page count to sell it as a physical release. This means that most gamers will only use a portion of the book and excise the rest from their Shadowrun, Fifth Edition campaign. Although it’s a lot cheaper to get the weapons, armor, tactics, actions, martial arts, explosives and environmental hazards as one big bundle rather than as seven or eight supplemental PDFs, the pieces in the book aren’t for everyone. A Physical Adept fan will enjoy the martial arts and action bits but not have a lot of use for the rest. Street Samurari’s will make great use out of the weapons and armor. Mages and Decker players don’t have a lot of use for this book at all. So the amount of use you’ll get out of Run & Gun really depends on what type of character you play and how much of a Shadowrun completionist you are. Remember, those supplemental PDFs tend to run eight bucks a pop, so purchased separately, the wildly divergent sections of this book would cost you between $56-$64 bucks. Instead you’re getting them bundled for $29.99. That’s a great deal price wise. However, if all you wanted were the weapons and armor, you’re stuck paying twice as much as you would have if you could buy each section separately. So the value for Run & Gun will vary greatly depending on your play style and how much of a Sixth World junkie you are.

Can I recommend Run & Gun? Most definitely! It’s not for everyone and the very different topics at hand make the sourcebook feel like more like a Frankenstein’s Monster type of deal rather than a cohesive collection, but the content is all quality stuff. In the end, no one gamer is going to make use of every aspect of this book, but there will be at least one section you’ll really enjoy – if not more. I’d definitely suggest going electronic over physical and remind gamers that if you look at Run & Gun as a bundle instead of sourcebook, the price tag on this thing looks a lot better. Whether or not it’s worth the full thirty dollars is really going to be up to each of you reading this and if you like the wide range of content we’ve looked at today.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Run & Gun
by Ryan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/15/2014 20:40:47
Run & Gun is the first 5th edition Shadowrun book in almost a year, and in many ways, it is a disappointment. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt that it is trying to be more like the classic 'State of the Art' and 'Gun Heaven' books with it's gear presentation, with sales blurb and commentary, but you end up feeling like this is done to fill space. There are far fewer weapons, armors and cool toys than Arsenal but it must be noted that many of them are new or significantly updated. There is also a good deal of artwork, all full color and large, giving it points over Arsenal. However, the lack of quantity really needs to be emphasized. As a point of comparison, Arsenal featured 17 different new melee weapons, while Run & Gun features 5, including the Monofilament Sword that was left out of the core book.

Most categories have 2 to 4 entries, and while I can understand wanting to offer viable, balanced choices instead of one or two good choices and a bunch of mediocre fillers, I feel like this does not take advantage of the games new accuracy system and expanded damage ratings. This is really driven home by the armor section, which has just as many options as Arsenal, many of which have great flavor and neat bonuses that help make them feel unique. There are some runner tools and goodies buried in the tactics section, but they're mostly for combat situations. It should also be noted here that this book /DOES NOT/ contain any rules for vehicles, drones or (most jarringly) gear customization, which was present in the 'combat' books for 3rd and 4th (Cannon Companion and Arsenal).

The rest of the book is taken up, instead, by complex combat systems for tactics, called and trick shots, martial arts, demolitions, hostile environment rules and optional rules hacks for reducing the deadliness of combat. The tactics section outlines the rules for performing things like room sweeps, formations, and other tactics, which now require tactics rolls from team members to perform. The called shots and trick shots sections are walls of numbers and status effects, but do not have rules for headshots. It's a decent system, but the layout makes it look confusing. The other sections are pretty much what we've seen before.

Overall, I'm mixed on the book. There's lots of interesting systems, but the problem I keep coming back to is they feel too complex. For example, combat manuevers that were explained in two sentences in 4th ed, now have two paragraphs explaining how the work and interact with other actions. The gear sections are very uneven and downright weird in some places, such as the choice to have a single new holdout pistol but 4 different types of battering rams. The lack of a gear customization section really makes this book feel like it's missing something. Overall, it just feels very uneven and disappointing for a book that's the first offering in over half a year.

Summing it up:

Pros: New tactical options and systems, good artwork, especially of new gear,
Cons: Layout varies from too much white space to walls of text, new positive and negative qualities are scattered throughout book, poor selection of gear aside from armor, lack of customization rules, new rules are difficult to understand at first.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Run & Gun
by Joanna N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/10/2014 23:45:21
Bought this PDF since I'm playing a CQC focused adept. For anyone who wants to roll a martial arts character, this is an excellent book to expand your repertoire of called shots and techniques, plus new ways to spend your edge in combat. There's also an expansion of things to do with Leadership. And that's not even touching all the new gear, which might not all be practical but it definitely is flavourful. The huge number of called shots with specific crippling effects is also wiz.

If you're rolling an adept, street sam, covert ops, or any of their ilk, this book is aces.

If you rolled a decker, techno, rigger, or mage, this book is probably not for you aside from some fancy new duds.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Run & Gun
by Alex P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/10/2014 15:54:19
I had eagerly anticipated Run & Gun. I bought it as soon as it was available. I was surprised upon reading the book. Somehow, we have been delivered a book with half the content of Arsenal for 4th edition, with no new chems, drugs, or toxins and a modifications list lacking basic modifications. Extended magazines are missing. Electronic firing is missing. Foregrips are missing. Barrel mods are missing. A simple copy-and-paste job would have sufficed-- these modifications can in many cases be used directly from 4E Arsenal with no rebalancing, but we didn't even get that. There are no new drugs or chems or toxins at all. Tacnets, while present, did not undergo the redesign many had hoped for, with the lowest level tacnet being 18F, even though it's marketed for civilian use according to the fluff. The fluff says that tacnets are available for civilian purchase once they have passed a BG check and been issued a permit. Fifth Edition core states that you can never be issued a license for a forbidden item. I didn't mention the price, did I? That's because it costs half a million nuyen for a modest boost to perception tests. Martial arts are similarly useless, with an Ares Firewatch style that costs 37 Karma and 2 1/2 months of training to learn fully, and provides benefits that are marginally useful at best, even in their intended use.

One of the high points of the book is the fashion section, and the weapons arsenal. While modification is limited, the stock guns are interesting and useful. Each gun has its own role, which I can easily identify, and they'll be a fixture in my weekly games. Similarly, fashions are realistic and have immediate utility. The book is full color as well, which is a nice change from 4E Arsenal. There's a lot more art, which I definitely appreciate. Demolitions have been given their own chapter, and it is one of the better decisions made in this production. The demolitions chapter almost makes up for the rest of the book's failings.

On the whole, I'm disappointed. I thought I was getting the personal combat parts of Arsenal, updated and rebalanced for 5th Edition, with a smattering of new equipment and rules. Instead, I got two thirds of the personal combat parts from Arsenal, with a side dish of 5E. I wouldn't buy it again knowing what I know now, but the good parts are good enough that I'm not going to ask for a refund. I'm definitely going to be waiting for the hivemind's opinion on all future supplements.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3
by Alexander W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/01/2014 07:11:05
A very disappointing first "crunch" product for SR5, Gun Heaven 3 combines possibly the three worst things one could in a "gun book" - boring weapons, many of which seem to serve no definable purpose (not even in world-building), inconsistent, frequently poor art (much of it barely counting as art - i.e. basically lazy photoshops of photographs of real world guns, which look wildly out-of-place - one could at least photoshop an 2075-era scope onto them!), and to cap everything off, awful balance, with some weapons just ridiculously all-round better than others for no apparent reason (their prices are higher but gun prices in SR are so low that's not a balance factor - especially when they have a very easy availability rating). Some of the ideas, like modernized versions of classic guns, are fine, but the implementation and art are deeply uninspiring.

Bonus annoyance points for including modifications which aren't described but allegedly will be in Run & Gun, so which serve no function at this time.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3
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Shadowrun: Run & Gun, Preview #3
by Duncan M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2014 12:42:17
This preview is entirely full of optional combat rules. I glossed over it in search of anything that would not be immediately excluded from Catalyst's own mass play campaign and, failing to find anything, didn't bother to read it. My regular game chose to return to Shadowrun 4A after 4 months of playing 5th edition, so my only contact with SR5 is through Shadowrun Missions. I do still intend to purchase the PDF of Run and Gun when it is released, though Catalyst's abysmal record of quality control and incorporating proofreader feedback means I am no longer among the crowd who purchase every Shadowrun product as soon as it is announced as being on sale.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Run & Gun, Preview #3
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Shadowrun: Coyotes
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/27/2014 19:05:27
Whilst designed more for the GM than the player, 'Coyotes' is a solid addition to the Shadowrun product line in an appropriate price bracket.
I came across the term during Season 4 of Shadowrun Missions, as Coyotes were integral to the border crossings in Denver. Generally, I winged any scene involving this profession, and always lamented the lack of additional story information. This book addresses my needs admirably, and will be folded into my next game with great enthusiasm.

So what do you get?

- Short fiction at the beginning that is decently written and shows a sample 'run from a Coyotes' point-of-view (as well as the inherent dangers)
- an overview of the role of the Coyote, what you can expect when dealing with them, how they calculate fees, and where the money goes, and why Coyotes can be downright distrustful of 'runners
- a section detailing the hierarchy of borders, how to cross them, what resistance you can expect and the stats for any likely security. This section is well-detailed, and should provide any GM with enough information to add a border crossing to their game.
- the book finishes off with some example Coyotes and a module. The characters are diverse in terms of (meta)humanity, preferred transports, and locations, and this creativity is well-expressed. The module is a one-shot that has the 'runners taking on the role of a Coyote for a night. The basic premise is sound, the pacing is good, and there is plenty of scope to personalise the module for individual groups.

In all, it's an extremely handy resource - especially if you're intending to take your Shadowrun game on the road and expose characters to some new locations. It's well worth the cover price.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Coyotes
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Shadowrun: Run & Gun, Preview #1
by scott s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2014 01:46:04
Does what any good preview does: make you say "TAKE MY MONEY!"
This preview is focused on armors, and particularly armored suits, so your Runner won't look like a Runner if caught on camera in any of those locales that aren't in the slums or active battlegrounds. (Though if you get caught on camera, someone didn't do their job right) The catalog style write-up is similar to previous books, with runner commentary thrown in, so you know more about the flavor of the pieces or collections, which may help you choose an outfit if you're going anywhere other than a known corp subsidiary.
And for those among you who are planning an assault, with no concern for standing out, the "Hardened Mil-Spec Battle Armor" is right up your alley, but give yourself time for delivery, because at a 22F availability, that 20 Armor Rating Heavy Battle Armor is going to take some time to deliver.
Speaking of time to deliver, my only gripe is that the "Coming Soon" page only says that, so while the preview is AWESOME, and I intend to use the content immediately, I had been hoping for a concrete street-date.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Run & Gun, Preview #1
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Shadowrun: Digital Tools Box
by Richard B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2014 12:19:56
Felt expensive for what i got out of it, very thin in terms of content and the quality was ok, but not exceptional. Some very useable stuff out of what you get, but I would've felt a lot more comfortable and happy if this had been priced at between 7.99 to 12.99. Having it priced at 19.99 felt a bit of a rip off.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Digital Tools Box
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Shadowrun: Sprawl Wilds
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/15/2014 22:06:43
Shadowrun: Sprawl Wilds contains four short adventures for SR4A or SR5, converted from tournament adventure:

Manhunt, finds the runners in a barrens defending a farm and investigating a series of odd attack.
Carbon Copy, pits them against the latest version of a serial killer.
Ashes, which finds the runners in the Ork Underground in the middle of an arson spree.
Humanitarian Aid, finds the runners hunting for stolen medicine in a small town.

While a mixed bag, Manhunt seems exceptionally strong providing a good mix of roleplaying and problem solving, with some combat as well. Carbon Copy requires investigation skill and can provide the runners with a set of valuable contacts, if they succeed. Ashes but the character in a position to make a difference, a big difference, in the future of the Ork Underground, GMs should be very careful with this adventure, it is likely to have serious long term impact on a campaign. Humanitarian Aid is a solid horror scenario and is the lead in to the Romero and Juliet adventure. Pretty close to something here for every campaign.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sprawl Wilds
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Shadowrun: Splintered State
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/15/2014 22:05:42
Shadowrun: Splintered State is an introductory adventure for SR5, designed as the launching point for a campaign. While I admire that ambition, the scenario drops the characters into the deep end of a very dangerous political game, and it would be very easy for the entire team to get wiped out in some of the early encounters especially if the NPCs are played as competently as they are implied to be. It also seems to assume that the players will have a strong grasp on the setting as they are thrown between no less than four rival factions for what they possess. My fear is that it is aiming for too complex and too political of a story to serve as an easy introduction for new players, now for players experienced with the setting but not the new rules, it may be an ideal starting point, but I think it fails as a solid entry for new players and GMs.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Splintered State
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Shadowrun: Digital Tools Box
by Kyle W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/12/2014 21:18:18
Long story short, I lost a very lengthy review because of having a web browser back on my mouse, so I'll summarize:

Digital Tools Box contains what would be two physical boxes. Each contains a lot of interesting content, though Alphaware is far more fleshed out and approaches the size and complexity of the 5th Edition core rulebook, while the Beginner Box is a quick start guide with an attached setting guide and novel excerpt.

The Beginner Box has a lot of stuff that's good. The Quick Start Guide is included here, but it would obviously be in print in a physical box. There's also the Edge of Now introductory setting guide, which is a lot less intimidating but should still give people a pretty good idea of Shadowrun's feel and setting. There's a few pre-made characters, one of whom has a solo adventure to allow you to get acquainted with play (and teach players one-on-one). There's also an excerpt from a Shadowrun novel that is both a great way to have another book on your to-buy list but also serves as an extended immersion in the setting (and covers a run from mostly-start to finish, which could be a great asset to a novice GM).

Alphaware is much more complex, and is essentially the big brother of the Beginner Box. It's also substantially more complex, sometimes in accessible ways (the reference cards could be really useful) and other times in intimidating ways (the adventures included, both solo ones for each character and in the Plots and Paydata booklet, are pretty much frameworks rather than fleshed out adventures, which may overwhelm novice GM's). Still, if you wanted to move up to the big leagues, you could do worse than Alphaware.

My largest gripe with Alphaware is that it's essentially the core rulebook cut up and shortened a little. There's nothing particularly wrong with this, but some of the excisions are pretty crippling. You won't be making any characters using Rules of the Street, though you can at least upgrade the pre-mades. Fortunately, Alphaware may consist of mostly copied page count, but what is new is pretty good for both new and returning Shadowrunners.

Each character (barring Ms. Myth, who had her day in the Beginner Box) has a solo adventure and a play-style guide, which could greatly help with novices who want to learn the game, as well as a more modification-friendly character sheet. Combine this with the reference cards, and players have no excuse for not being able to figure out how to play their character. Rules of the Street is still pretty intimidating, but being in Alphaware instead of the Beginner Box points out that it's really the first step into more advanced Shadowrun rules; rules that leave out technomancers, a good chunk of the spells and gear, and a variety of other things that you wouldn't necessarily notice without having seen the originals but that feel a little painful.

Still, I actually really liked Plots and Paydata; I ran an adventure from it with my street-leve group and they liked it, though they were a little frustrated that they got caught in one of the pre-written plot twists. It's also filled to the brim with great little GM advice snippets, and I'd suggest it for any of my friends who wanted to get into GM'ing Shadowrun.

Alphaware also contains a few maps of locations, as well as a geopolitical map of Shadowrun's North America and a poster for Shadowrun.

In short, the Digital Tools Box, which contains both Alphaware and the Beginner Box for the Shadowrun introductory set is something that does not contain a lot to revisit to veterans of Shadowrun, but for those looking to transition from pre-4th Edition Shadowrun or looking to take up tabletop gaming as a hobby, it's got a lot of appeal and charm. Unfortunately, there are a few decisions to cut things that I don't find agreeable; I find the lack of character creation to be rather stifling, despite the fact that it was probably cut for space constraints.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Digital Tools Box
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