DriveThruRPG.com
Close
New Account
 
  
 
 
You will lose your chance to get the free product of the week.
One-click unsubscribe later if you don't enjoy the newsletter.
Close
Log In
 
 Forgot password?
 

     or     Log In with your Facebook Account
Browse









Back
Other comments left for this publisher:
Shadowrun: Bullets & Bandages
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/24/2014 00:54:52
‘Bullets & Bandages’ could be the title of most of my Shadowrun campaigns, but it is nice to have a book specifically dedicated to healing and healers for the Sixth World. Even with SR2 books like ‘Missions’ the role of DocWagon, their tactics, and composition have always been a little hazy which is a shame considering how much potential this organisation has to impact any campaign. Likewise, there is a lot material in this book for those with a medical bent, as well as for the GM, so it’s equally useful on both sides of the screen (and at this price, it’s affordable for every interested player/GM to have a copy).
The writing is solid, from the opening fiction to introductory corporate training piece from a DocWagon instructor, to the rules mechanics which make up the lion’s share of the book.
You’ll find new equipment, spells, Adept powers, toxins, medicines and drones – all useful kit for runners interested in staying alive long enough to collect their nuyen at the end of the run. The Qualities are extremely average, and even unnecessary (Did we need the Negative Quality ‘Pregnant’ with accompanying rules? Could we have left this story element to house-ruling? I’d argue that there are better ways to treat the issue) but there is nothing completely unusable about them.
Overall, the book represents good value for good content, and this is a welcome addition to my Shadowrun books. The value is also increased by the addition of dual-statted SR4 and SR5 rules references, so fans of both editions have a reason to pick it up.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Bullets & Bandages
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Shadowrun: Coyotes
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/18/2014 07:45:38
Kojoten sind Schmuggler ganz besonderer Güter: Personenschmuggler. Mit dem Shadowrun 5 Quellenband Coyotes bekommen Spielrunden eine wertvolle Hilfe für den Transport des Runnerteams oder anderer Personen über gesicherte Grenzen an die Hand. Dabei richtet sich das kompakte PDF-Dokument in allererster Linie an den Spielleiter.

Rezension: Shadowrun - Coyotes

Coyotes ist ein kurzer Quellenband zu Shadowrun 5, der im Dezember 2013 als englischsprachiges PDF von Catalyst Game Labs (CGL) veröffentlicht wurde. Seit März 2014 gibt es diesen auch von Pegasus als deutsche Variante, die Rezension bezieht sich allerdings ausschließlich auf die englische Variante.

Inhalt
Ein Kojote ist hier eine besondere Art von Schmuggler. Er hat sich darauf spezialisiert, Personen über Grenzen zu bringen, die sie anderweitig womöglich nicht hätten überwinden können. Im Shadowrun-Universum sind diese Schmuggler demnach wertvolle Helfer bei der Abwicklung von Aufträgen, die eine Gruppe von Shadowrunnern beispielsweise ins Ausland bringen. Das Dokument nimmt sich dabei 30 Seiten Platz für die Beschreibung von Coyotes, ihrer typischen Arbeitsweise und der Opposition. Dazu gibt es noch eine einleitende Kurzgeschichte und ein sieben Seiten umfassendes Abenteuer, das thematisch zu dem Ganzen passt.

Transporter
Die Kurzgeschichte Transporter ist ansprechend geschrieben und lässt den Leser eine kurze Grenzüberschreitungs-Episode aus der Sicht eines Kojoten erleben. Dabei wird deutlich gemacht, welche Rolle der Kojote in einem Shadowrun-Abenteuer übernimmt: Die des NSC als Helfer oder Kontrahent.

The Kojote Life
Passenderweise ist der folgende Text über das Leben und Wirken als Kojote aus der Sicht des Protagonisten der Kurzgeschichte geschrieben und tatsächlich taucht eben diese Figur später auch als ein möglicher archetypischer Kojote mit Werten und Ausrüstung auf.

Der gesamte Text gibt einen knappen, aber alle wichtigen Aspekte beleuchtenden Einblick in die Art und Weise, wie Kojote und Shadowrunner miteinander verknüpft sind. Dabei verarbeitet er im Wesentlichen dabei die Optionen, die ein Spielleiter hat, um einen Grenzübergang für eine Gruppe von Shadowrunnern zu einem spannenden Abenteuer zu machen.

Das ist prinzipiell nichts, was Shadowrunspieler nicht auch ohne den Band durchspielen könnten. Die Art und Weise, wie Coyotes Standards beschreibt, dürfte Spielern und Spielleitern allerdings eine große Hilfe sein. Es wird beschrieben, was der Kojote von den Auftraggebern oder Passagieren (z.B. Shadowrunnern) erwartet und was diese von dem Kojoten erwarten können, wie viel man für seine Dienste springen lassen muss und was er dafür zu leisten in der Lage ist.

So umfassend die Beschreibung der Grenzübergänge in dem Abschnitt daher kommt, sie ist an einigen Stellen etwas holprig. So gibt es zum Beispiel bei der Beschreibung der einzelnen Schwierigkeitsstufen immer wieder ganze Absätze, die sich wiederholen, was den Text unheimlich aufbläht und darin potentiell enthaltene kleinere Änderungen unschön verbirgt. Schuldig bleibt Coyotes zudem eine Beschreibung der Grenzbereiche abseits der kontrollierten Übergänge, schließlich ist es für einen illegalen Transfer nicht ganz unüblich, die schwer bewachten und kontrollierten Übergänge zu meiden.

Interessant ist, dass bei der Definition einer Grenze nicht nur Landesgrenzen gemeint sind, sondern natürlich auch die Grenzen zwischen einer Nation und dem Gelände eines mit einer eigenen Extraterritorialität ausgestatteten Konzerns. Nicht zuletzt dieser Aspekt gibt den im Grundregelwerk beschriebenen potentiellen Sicherheitsmaßnahmen einen greifbaren Rahmen, der für jede Runde von Shadowrunnern eine Bereicherung ist - nicht nur für jene, die von Seattle in den Salish-Sidhe-Rat oder von den ADL nach Polen reisen müssen.

Six Sample Coyotes
Der letzte Abschnitt des Quellenteils beschäftigt sich mit archetypischen Kojoten und beleuchtet dabei unterschiedliche Aspekte und Möglichkeiten. Dabei sind nur zwei der sechs vorgestellten Personen klassische Rigger und so sind die Unterschiede und Schwerpunkte anregend vielfältig. Die NSC sind dabei teilweise bebildert, wobei die Illustrationen gelegentlich von den Beschreibungen abweichen - ein NSC wird beispielsweise mit einem Cyberarm dargestellt, der sich nicht in der Beschreibung findet.

Piping Hot
Das Abenteuer Piping Hot umfasst sieben der 30 verfügbaren Seiten und beschreibt ohne große Details ein kleines Szenario, dass eine Gruppe von Runnern von Seattle in den Salish-Sidhe-Rat und zurück bringen soll. Passenderweise müssen die Runner dabei die Rolle eines Kojoten übernehmen, sich also mit den Problemen bei Grenzübergängen selber auseinander setzen.

Mit dem restlichen Quellenband (und natürlich dem Grundregelwerk) hat der Spielleiter zwar alles an der Hand, um seine Runde in einen actiongeladenen Run zu stürzen, allerdings kommt das Abenteuer nicht ohne einige Anpassungen aus. Die grobe Geschichte ist dabei einfach und stimmig, die Details sind allerdings eher lieblos ausgearbeitet. So fehlt beispielsweise eine grobe einleitende Handlungsübersicht, die den sich vorbereitenden Spielleiter von Anfang an an die Hand nimmt.

Stattdessen werden wesentliche Aspekte des Runs auch für den Spielleiter nur nach und nach in den Abschnitten aufgedeckt, so dass man unwillkürlich vorherige Abschnitte durchsucht, ob man nicht etwas übersehen hat - zum Beispiel die besondere Natur der zu transportierenden Person. Und während an einigen Stellen die Werte von NSC mit dem üblichen Seitenverweisen auf das Grundregelwerk referenziert werden, haben andere Figuren nur zwei oder drei Werte, die dann nur schwerlich ein dreidimensionales Bild der Figur abgeben oder dem anderweitig Beschriebenen zuwider laufen. Eine nicht unwichtige Figur der Geschichte wird beispielsweise mit wenig mehr Werten beziffert, als einem Charisma von 5 und einem sozialen Limit von 5. Diese beiden Werte würden darauf zurück schließen lassen, dass die Summe aus Essenz und Willenskraft lediglich 5 beträgt, was dieser Figur wahlweise eine besondere Note verpasst, oder sie im Kontext des Runs schwer glaubwürdig erschienen lässt.

Es folgen weitere logische Schwächen und der Spielleiter wird nicht umhin kommen, diese vorweg anzugehen und auszubügeln. Andererseits könnte man behaupten, dass es zum wesentlichen Handwerk eines Spielleiters gehört, ein Abenteuer an seine Runde anzupassen und die Natur der Fehler bedenkend, fällt das Nacharbeiten des Runs eigentlich in genau den Bereich. Die Fehler sind unschön, zerstören dabei aber die eigentliche Geschichte nicht.

Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis
Coyotes hat für meinen Geschmack einen hohen Anteil an in vielen Shadowruns verwertbaren Informationen. Und davon profitieren natürlich vor allem frische Spielleiter, aber auch alte Hasen gehen nicht leer aus. Auf dreißig Seiten finden sich nicht nur viele Ideen, die sich leicht in Abenteuer einbauen lassen oder selber neue Runs ergeben können, sondern auch eine Menge spieltechnischer Dinge in Form von Daten und Werten sowie ein Kurzabenteuer, das Spielleiter wie auch Spieler ins Thema führt. Der Quellenband hat dabei für 7,95 USD einen angenehm kleinen Preis.
Erscheinungsbild
Das PDF-Dokument verfügt über eine saubere Kapitelnavigation und die Abschnitte sind übersichtlich aufgebaut, Tabellen und Bilder lesefreundlich platziert. Die Illustrationen haben eine angemessene Auflösung, die künstlerische Qualität ist allerdings durchwachsen. Dennoch sind die Bilder immer thematisch passend, können aber kleinere logische Unstimmigkeiten enthalten, die man allerdings wohlwollend übersehen kann.

Tatsächlich ist auch der Text nicht völlig ohne Fehler. Mal scheint beim Redigieren ein Wort oder auch ein Halbsatz übersehen worden zu sein, der dann sinnfrei alleine dasteht, mal tauchen bei NSCs Werte auf, die es in Shadowrun 5 nicht mehr gibt (die Fertigkeit Dodge) und dann wieder unterscheidet sich das logische Format der NSC-Beschreibung von einem NSC zum anderen (mal lediglich Fertigkeitsstufen, mal komplette Würfelpools).


Fazit
Ein sehr kompaktes Werk, dicht gepackt mit wertigem Inhalt. Hier macht CGL kaum etwas verkehrt, und liefert Hintergrund, den der Spielleiter schnell in seine Runs einbauen kann, um diese mit Leben und Details zu füllen.

Dabei geht CGL aber gemessen am gesamten Umfang an vielen Stellen auffällig unsauber vor. Ab und an stolpert der Leser über Schreibfehler oder logische Schwächen. Das grundlegende Thema wie auch das Abenteuer hätten dazu deutlich von einer höheren Seitenzahl profitieren können, denn es wirkt an einigen Stellen unnötig kurz gefasst.

Sicherlich wird nicht jeder Leser über die Schwächen hinwegsehen können. Gelingt dies aber, hat man mit Coyotes eine wertvolle Quelle für Informationen und viele Ideen zur Ausgestaltung von passenden Abenteueraspekten.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Coyotes
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Valiant Universe RPG QSR Supplemental: Harbinger Wars: The Harbinger Foundation
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/16/2014 06:33:49
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/06/16/tabletop-review-valiant-
-universe-rpg-qsr-supplemental-harbinger-wars-the-harbinger--
foundation/


Wow, here we are with our fourth free Quick Start Rules preview of the Valiant Universe RPG. The previous two let you view the big Harbinger Wars event from the side of Bloodshot and Generation Zero respectively. Now we’re going to be looking at things from the point of the most powerful man in the world (both fiscally and literally) – Toyo Harada. This isn’t the first time Valiant Universe RPG fans will be able to step into the shoes of the master of the Harbinger Foundation. In the very first QSR, Unity, you could play as Harada, along with Ninjak, Livewire and the Eternal Warrior. This time however, while one person takes up the reigns as Harada, three others will be playing Eggbreakers, some of Harada’s psiot muscle. This is a really interesting choice, as Harada’s side pretty much wears the black hat from the point of view of many Valiant protagonists, even if Harada himself thinks he’s the biggest white hat on the planet. This will let players see how the other half lives, and also flesh out Harada and his lackeys into more than just two dimensional bad guys should the players ever encounter them instead of playing as them.

It’s worth noting that besides Harada, the other three playable characters are very under the radar ones. I mean, I own every issue of this run of Harbinger and I had to try really hard to remember if the other three (Stronghold, Ion, Saturn) were actually mentioned by name or even more than once in the comics. This is both good and bad. The bad is that, depending on your group, EVERYONE will want to play Harada because they know him and he’s crazy powerful. So the Lead Narrator may have to prevent some bouts of immaturity, depending on the age and makeup of the players. The good news is that the other three characters are virtually blank slates, which means you can play them however you want. You won’t get a rules-lawyer style player saying, “That’s not how they were in the comics!” because there really isn’t enough on any of them to truly flesh out their personality. It also means that for gamers who felt the previous QSRs were a bit too “on rails” since they were name characters in situations that already occurred in continuity, this adventure will be the most to their liking. Not only is part of it completely original and not ripped from the pages of four color goodness, but the parts that are from Harbinger Wars will feel very different because B or C – Level characters (and Harada) are getting the spotlight.

The Harbinger Foundation‘s adventure consists of four parts, all of which have multiple scenes (except for Part Two), which should keep your players busy for one to three sessions depending on how long and drawn out things get. Each leg of the adventure is very combat heavy rather than discussion and exploration, so the length of the adventure will depend on how comfortable you are with the mechanics provided in the QSR up to this point. Remember, you’ll need a copy of the Unity QSR to play The Harbinger Foundation as it has all the rules. It’s free as well (heck, all the QSRs for Valiant Universe RPG are free, so get them all!), so remember to pick that up and read it first to minimize any issues you might encounter.

So let’s talk the adventure proper. Part One has students either working cooperatively or against each other (choose the former as teamwork is always better than PvP) in some “Danger Room” like tasks. This is a great start, as it lets players try out their characters and powers, especially those that haven’t had much face time in the comics. It also lets the players test out some strategy, which they will need for the other three parts of the adventure.

Part Two is only one scene long, but it is a doozy. Harada and Ion Vs. Bloodshot. While this battle is going on (and it will most likely unfold differently from the comics), Stronghold and Saturn will be dealing with escapees from project Rising Spirit. It’s nice to see everyone getting to shine in this scene, while in the comics, it really was just a battle between the two big heavy hitters. When one side accomplishes their goal, the other side’s battle will finish up. Make sure your Lead Narrator can effectively run two very different sessions of combat at once, as everything does unfold at the same time.

Part Three has the Eggbreakers and Harada taking the fight directly to Project Rising Spirit, where they will do combat with the Hard C.O.R.P.S. Scene Four has Harada and his Eggbreakers trying to recruit members of Generation Zero to the Harbinger Foundation. This is a short but easy scene that mainly relies on Harada’s die rolling. If it goes good, this is a short and easy affair. If it goes bad, there is a LOT of combat. Unfortunately, there are some issues with Part Four. First up is that the writing, mechanic-wise, is a bit cloudy and I think it will confuse people who are new to gaming. Re-read the opposed roll information at least twice to make sure you know what you’re doing. Second, the text states, “Take the number generated during Scene Three in the previous Event and divide by two (rounded down); treat any result higher than five as five.” I have NO IDEA what they are talking about here. Is the previous event, the previous scene? Because there is no random number generated in Part Three, Scene Three. Did they mean the Generation Zero QSR? Because there is no number generation in that either. In fact, the only random number generation that I could find is in Part Three, Scene Two of this QSR, and it’s in regards to when P.R.S.’ automated defenses come online. So this is really a bit of jargon editorial should have caught. At least it is free, though, right? A decent Lead Narrator can also fudge through his and make it work with no one being the wiser.

So aside from Scene Four somewhat falling apart due to bad editing and writing, The Harbinger Foundation is still a top notch little adventure and a great addition to the ever growing collection of free releases for Valiant Universe RPG. I’d definitely say the game is four for four so far and come Free RPG Day 2014, I’ll definitely be trying to get my hands on a free copy of the physical version of the Quick Start Rules. You definitely should too. Valiant Universe RPG is certainly shaping up to be the best new RPG of 2014, and since everything released for it so far is free you have absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go download all four QSRs immediately.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe RPG QSR Supplemental: Harbinger Wars: The Harbinger Foundation
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Valiant Universe RPG QSR Supplemental: Harbinger Wars: Generation Zero
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/09/2014 09:41:06
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/06/03/tabletop-review-valiant-
-universe-rpg-qsr-supplemental-harbinger-wars-generation-zer-
o/

As promised, Catalyst Game Labs has been releasing free Quick Start Rules for their upcoming Valiant Universe RPG on a clockwork basis. Timeliness is a rare thing in the tabletop industry, but CGL has made it three for three so far, which is pretty impressive. This third PDF continues the trend of looking at the Harbinger Wars event from last year. However, this time the PDF puts you and your friends in the role of Generation Zero – who really hasn’t seen much attention since Harbinger Wars, save for Monica Jim, who was hanging with the Renegades over in Harbinger. Of course, all that is about to change with Armor Hunters, as they’re getting their own mini-series for the event! This means the Harbinger Wars: Generation Zero QSR is perfect for both curious tabletop gamers and longtime Valiant fans, as it gives you a timely chance to reacquaint yourself with characters who are going to get the limelight thrust on them very shortly.

Like the Bloodshot QSR supplement, the Generation Zero PDF does not contain the rules for playing Valiant Universe RPG – this is JUST the adventure and character sheets. If you want to play the game, you also need to download the Unity Quick Start Rules, as everything needed to play a game is in that PDF. Don’t worry – it’s free too. In fact, by this point you should have three free PDFs for Valiant Universe RPG (almost seventy pages of content), and CGL still isn’t done yet. It’s insanely awesome how much free content being given away for this game. Aside from Wizards of the Coast’s upcoming free release of Basic Dungeons & Dragons, this is the most free content I’ve seen released for a game ever. Anyway, make sure you definitely have the Unity QSR, because otherwise this PDF will just be something to read.

The Generation Zero PDF lets you play as four of the characters: The Telic, Little Castle, Animalia and Chronus. There are other members of the team, but they are not provided here statwise, either as PCs or NPCs. It’s also worth noting that previous PDFs contained fairly straightforward powers like Harada’s psychic blast or Bloodshot’s ability to regenerate. In this PDF we get some more esoteric abilities, like Chronus having D8 in leadership and Tactics or Tellic having d10 in Pattern Recognition. It will be interesting to see how players decide these powers will be used. Of course, the full core rulebook will define these for us, but in the meantime, less direct abilities like these and how they work will have to be determined by individual groups. For us, we had Chronus be able to give his Leadership die to an ally and his Tactics die to an enemy instead of the die they would normally roll. Tellic’s Pattern Recognition became the ability to declare what an antagonist was going to do on their next turn. Now, that doesn’t mean your game will use these powers the same way – it’s just how they played out for us. I’m very interested to see the different ways these abilities are used in everyone’s games and whether or not the core rulebook really will lock down powers with tighter definitions.

The adventure in this QSR is pretty different from previous ones. It cuts around a lot in Valiant continuity and even changes it a bit. For example, there’s no Bloodshot to be had in the escape from project Rising Spirit, and he’s the core reason that even happened. This is actually a good thing, because it shows CGL and Valiant are fine with not sticking to the canon script and letting PCs make their own Valiant Universe, and it also lets the adventure be streamlined and focused on the PCs. If Bloodshot was here as an NPC, he’d overshadow the PCs, and if he was playable, everyone would want to be him instead of a G0 kid simply because, well, he’s Bloodshot! This change in storyline really lets the focus be on the Generation Zero kids, which is where it needs to be.

There are four parts to the adventure, each with multiple scenes. Part one is the false promise of escape from Project Rising Spirit. Part two is the real thing. Depending how good your team is (remember everyone takes a turn at Narrating in Valiant Universe RPG), these events might seem a little too repetitive, so absolutely be willing to mix things up and keep them from being a straight dungeon crawl hack and slash type affair. Part three has the Generation Zero team taking over a Las Vegas casino and then defending it from covert ops and psion teams. Part four pits them against some generic Hard C.O.R.P.S. members and ends via an encounter with Toyo Harada… whose stats are not in this packet.

Overall, the Generation Zero QSR is well done, but I think it is the one gamers and Valiant fans will find the least interesting of the three so far. This is mainly because the characters aren’t as well known or defined as the “A-List” characters we’ve seen so far, and because the adventure is mostly running and fighting, but hey – it’s a super hero RPG, right? It’s obviously not going to be as “talky” as Call of Cthulhu or World of Darkness games. I do think it was smart of CGL to highlight some lesser known characters, so that potential purchasers of the final Valiant Universe RPG product won’t feel like they have to play the big guns. The more unusual powers for these character will also either really intrigue or disappoint players, based on how creative they get with their potential usage. So while the Generation Zero QSR still has me personally excited for the eventual full release of Valiant Universe RPG, I think that this one isn’t going to be what some people are looking for. Still, it’s free and it’s definitely worth getting. Just remember that this one is going to play out different from the Unity and Bloodshot releases, so go in expecting some notable differences rather than something more formulaic.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe RPG QSR Supplemental: Harbinger Wars: Generation Zero
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Shadowrun: Bullets & Bandages
by robert l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/08/2014 18:37:57
Compared to the previous underachievers released from Catalyst Game Labs i.e." Stolen Souls"..what we have here is a good basic and solid book that covers a somewhat forgotten area of shadowrun..getting shot. It usually you take damage and bring out the nebulous medkit or stimpatch and voila your back in the game. I like having information that covers this part of the game and speaking as a real life medical lab technician, I kinda like to have this sort of information at hand not to mention it complements well doing the whole extraction deal so now we can actually do something this aspect of the game. I am usually hard and rightfully so for catalyst game labs for there fluff fill and maybe a little useful information at the end of the book, but on this one catalyst finally got it right and I would recommend this e-book even thou be warned the information in this book is considered unofficial where the game conventions are concerned,,none the less I would recommend this e-book for the price as a buy for any player or gm alike for 4th or 5th edition shadowrun

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Bullets & Bandages
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Shadowrun: Bullets & Bandages
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/06/2014 07:18:23
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/06/06/tabletop-review-shadowr-
un-bullets-bandages/

It’s about time DocWagon had the spotlight thrust on it, don’t you think. I’ve played a DocWagon character back in the FASA days of Shadowrun. He was a purely defensive character and the other players grew to love having the equivalent of a D&D cleric on the team. Heck, when my rabbit was sick for over a year with a mystery disease, someone over at Harebrained Schemes (creators of Shadowrun Returns), made him his own DocWagon Platinum card which is still really sweet. Now, we have a supplement for both Fourth and Fifth Edition entitled Bullets & Bandages which gives a modern take on a pure medic character. Everything old is new again!

I’m glad that Bullets & Bandages is designed for the two most recent versions of Shadowrun as it allows more of an audience to make use of this little supplement. Speaking of supplements, this is the first I can remember referred to as “Shadowrun Options.” Now what this means, is that everything in Bullets & Bandages, from the mechanics to the new abilities are NOT not considered official rules. This is a bit odd. Usually it’s third party releases for games that’s aren’t considered canon rules and the like for a system. This is the first I can think of where a first party publisher released something that it’s canon or official and I’m trying to figure out how and why this was released. After all the supplement clearly states, “They will not be used in official products, Missions, or allowed in tournament play.” This of course means you will never see or hear from this piece again making this a truly odd piece indeed since Shadowrun releases LOVE to cross-reference each other. Like I said, I can’t fathom why this was released if CGL is essentially saying, “Well, WE will never use it, but you can.” That really reduces the potential target market for B&B, but makes it no less interesting as a curiosity piece.

Bullets & Bandages starts off in the usual manner – with a piece of JackPoint fiction. You get a nice look at a “Welcome to DocWagon” speech by one David Hill. I found this amusing because of course, David Hill is a writer for multiple RPGs (best known for World of Darkness I would think) and has even contributed to Shadowrun in the past. I’m not sure if this was an intentional in-joke or just a happy coincidence, but there you go. Anyway, the speech takes a look at what a DocWagon employee must go through, and is interspersed with commentary from the runner community at JackPoint. The fiction piece is really well done and it’s a fantastic look at the AA Corp. It’s also been a long time coming.

The rest of the piece (from page 9 through Page 23) are all new mechanics. Fourteen pages of new mechanics just for medics does seem a bit odd and perhaps overdone, which may be why CGL made B&B completely optional. After all, Shadowrun does take the occasional flak for being too mechanics heavy as is. There’s no real reason to add a metric ton of new mechanics when the much lighter version of medicine and healing works just fine. I have to admit I personally wouldn’t some of the rules in this piece, as they are very pedantic, reeks of overkill and will definitely stymie newcomers who are probably overwhelmed by the amount of mechanics the Sixth World is filled with but there are some that might want to use these, so let’s take a look at them.

The mechanics half of B&B starts off with some fantastic advice on “Building a Medic Character.” You’ve given all sorts of suggestions, depending on what type of medic you want to make, what metahuman races work best and how to build a decent Awakened medic. Skills, Qualities and gear are also discussed with some detail. There is some great stuff to be had here and it’s certainly worth a read. The Qualities are sure to raise an eye – especially Pregnancy. I really liked the Skill Rating charts for Biotech and it was fun and interesting to see how different 4e and 5e are in this regard. It’s a great example of how different, and yet similar, the two editions are. This is followed up by a page of “Advanced Biotech Rules.” This page highlights the simple and complex actions your character can take via the Biotech skill. Short and sweet.

“Care Under Fire” makes up a huge part of the mechanics and it is here where the piece falls apart for me. It’s just too much rules and roll-playing over Role-Playing for me personally. The new (thankfully not canon) damage progression rules not only changes the game into constant dice rolling, but also kind of forces your team to have a Medic character on the squad or watch everyone die slowly and horribly. It really feels like trying to shove the idea of a medic character down the game’s throat to the point where people will view the idea with disdain. Generally when you try too hard to put something over, it causes the opposite effect that you were hoping for. It’s just too much dice rolling for every little medical nuance. For the most part these rules replace good old common sense and actually role-playing your characters. Instances where any other game would be, “Well, my character does this” and in turn act out or describe the actions being taken, are boiled down to a dice roll. In essence, it turns the game into D&D/Pathfinder skill checks and I’m not down with that. You shouldn’t have to roll a Cybertech + Logic extended test to freakin’ upgrade your medkit. That’s something that should be acted out and it’s certainly not something you need to roll for. I have to admit, by the time I was done with Bullets & Bandages I was very, VERY thankful these rules will never been seen again outside of this piece and some homebrew games I am not a part of.

After “Care Under Fire,” the piece goes back to being a pretty good. You have a whole host of new “Drugs, Toxins and Pathogens,” (Six, four and three respectively) which I’m sure you and your team will be able to find very creative uses for. There are also two new spells and three adept powers worth mentioning. Death Replay will be very helpful for any investigative type missions, although it might be a tad too powerful in that regard. Incision is obviously for medical uses, but there can be a sadistic side to it too, such as constantly opening and reopening cuts for abuse or torture. The new Adept Powers are Feign Illness, Feign Death and Transmit Damage. The latter two will find the most use in play. This is followed up by some new gear, armor and drones. That’s your supplement chummers.

Overall Bullets & Bandages is an interesting piece. Aside from “Care Under Fire”, the piece is really well done and thought out. A lot of the new mechanics won’t be of interest save to gamers whose sessions are more die-rolling than role-playing, but even then as nothing in this piece is canon or will be used in further supplements or any official products, it’s hard to recommend this piece, even at five dollars simply because it’s more a curiosity than anything else. That said, B&B does have some well written pieces outside of the mechanics part and it’s great to see medics and DocWagon getting some spotlight time. Aside from the one section I couldn’t stand, B&B is fine for those us who shy away from a 100% canon and metaplot oriented game. Just remember not to get too comfy with these ideas, rules or abilities outside your own game though, as if you play with someone else or go to a convention or a Shadowrun Missions, you won’t be able to use these and perhaps even your character. Overall, the good outweighs the bad here and it’s always nice to have more options.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Bullets & Bandages
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2014 10:06:17
Sometimes (always?) a shadowrun doesn't go quite as smoothly as you might like. Sometimes, you'll get hurt. What then?

This is an optional extra to the core rules that takes a closer look at the whole area of combat medicine, Shadowrun style. It will suit groups who are interested in bringing the after-effects of being injured into centre stage within their game, rather than leaving treatment and healing as downtime activities that are handled 'off screen' between gaming sessions.

Opening with a piece of fiction describing an injured 'runner seeking help, the work is filled with atmospheric in-character snippets including a run-down of the DocWagon organisation... and even a portion of DocWagon's introductory training module for armed medical response operators. This gives a good run-down of what they do, the personnel that make up their 'High Threat Response' teams and a genral overview of the entire operation. Armed with this information, the next encounter with one should be interesting for the party (and, of course, potentially life-saving if it is a party member who is in need of aid).

Next is an article on creating a 'combat medic' character for Shadowrun. Naturally a group interested enough to start using this supplement might feel the need of one for their team, there is even potential given the previous article for a whole campaign to be developed around a DocWagon team. In the past I ran a campaign which was based on a turf war between DocWagon and CrashCart, and have played a combat medic character attached to a team akin to an FBI Hostage Rescue Team under Shadowrun rules... both concepts worked well, and are worth considering if you want a slightly different slant on your game from regular shadowrunning.

The suggestions made give some good indications as to how to build a 'combat medic' character and the notes cover both Shadowrun Anniversary Edition and Fifth Edition, making this supplement useable with both rulesets. A medic can rely on technical training in emergeny medicine or on magical healing by a variety of routes, or an extremely potent healer could br built by combining both scientific and magical medical techniques and training. There are also notes on the specialist equipment such a character might need and even a range of Qualties that are not just for the potential medic but for any character in a game where ongoing health is intended to be a feature in play rather than a background thing dealt with in downtime between missions. There are even options for female characters to be pregnant or for anyone to have a chronic illness or be suffering the effects of advancing years.

Next come some advanced biotech rules to cover the actions of a skilled medic in diagnosing and treating whatever injuries or illnesses might present themselves. There are also rules to cover the delivery of medical care under fire. There is a lot of detailed information here but it all flows in a surprisingly clear manner once you get your head around it. Both GMs and players with medic characters ought to study this before the game begins, so that gameplay does not stall whilst rules are consulted.

Finally there are rules relating to medkits and a selection of new drugs... also toxins and pathogens, complete with their effects. There are also some new medical-related spells, adept powers and equipment.

If you want to make medicine - particularly emergency field medicine - to feature in your games, this will equip you with all you need to make it happen.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Stolen Souls
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/26/2014 08:41:05
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/05/26/tabletop-review-shadowr-
un-stolen-souls/

Throughout Shadowrun, Fourth Edition, we saw hints and teases that something wasn’t right with FastJack, and perhaps a few other major players in the Sixth World, but it wasn’t until Storm Front where we got some definite confirmation as to what was going on. Apparently FastJack, Riser, Plan 9, Miles Lanier and several other metaplot characters picked up a disease that was somewhat reminiscent of developing Dissociative Identity Disorder. Except that this second personality appeared to be a second individual inhabiting the same body and slowly taking it over. Stranger yet, it wasn’t a disease as we know it, but something that appears to have been transmitted via technological means. Since then, Riser and Fastjack have all but disappeared, while Plan 9… seems to have his/her/whatever’s act together due to the rampant paranoia it has always lived with. Still, this vague threat of body snatching remained even more in the shadows than most runners. Characters and players alike were in the dark as to what was going on – until now.

Stolen Souls is our first real look at not only Cognitive Fragmentation Disorder (CFD for short), but also our first real major plot line for Shadowrun, Fifth Edition. Although I liked the idea, I’m torn on the follow-through. You get roughly ninety-five pages of Jackpoint metaplot fiction on CFD, its possible origins and the many failed attempts to cure it. What, you thought they could fill two hundred pages on a single topic like this? Not hardly. The rest of the pages are on two very different topics. The first is a very nice look at Manhattan and some attempts to tie it into CFD by the very random decision of having a ton of CFD research occurring on the island, which makes absolutely no sense in or out of game because obviously you’d want to have an easily spread, incurable disease concentrated in the most densely populated area in North America. That makes SO MUCH SENSE! I loved the write-up of Manhattan proper, although this piece would have been better two Shadowrun Missions seasons ago, when the focus there was on New York. What’s here is really well written, except for the bad attempts to tie CFD research into Manhattan, because it is flimsy and nonsensical. Otherwise, the Manhattan piece is fantastic. It’s got a great travel guide, all sorts of extremely useful sidebars and it’s one of the better city guides CGL has put out for a location. Now, it could have been better with some maps or if the CFD bit had been excised. Manhattan’s guide would have stood out more (and possibly sold better) had it been a supplement on its own. I’d have rather seen this space go to the Sioux Nation, which would have fit in a lot better with the previous CFD information (no spoilers as to why) and so things would have flowed better thematically instead of feeling like you had three very different supplements crammed into one sourcebook. So, mostly positive thoughts to the forty pages given to Manhattan, and if you’ve ever wanted to run a Shadowrun campaign there, this section alone might be worth the large price tag associated with this. Although it is a hard sell if all you want are forty of the two hundred pages in this collection.

The third section (I know we haven’t covered the first, bear with me) is roughly fifty pages on how to extract someone, be they willing or unwilling. This is divided into two chapters, “Stealing Living Goods” and “The Extractor’s Toolkit.” Now, both sections are really well written, but again, they have next to nothing to do with CFD, and thus they would have been better off as their own supplement instead of creating a patchwork sourcebook like this. Long time veterans of Shadowrun probably won’t find this section very useful at all, but only because they’ve been doing runs so long, all of this is old hat to them. Still, it’s very well written, and even if you “know it all” already, it’s a fun read for the fiction and Jackpoint commentary. Who knows – you might also learn something after all!

Where the extractor bits are really useful are for people new to Shadowrun. Fifth Edition is less than a year old after all, and in theory, it plus the video game that was released in 2013 SHOULD have brought in a lot of new players or returned some out of touch veterans back to the fold. It is for these gamers that the third part of Stolen Souls is written, and it’s something they definitely should read. It’s a great way to learn HOW to do various types of extraction runs, and you even get specific looks at poisons, chemicals, powers, spells and techniques that will help an extraction go a lot smoother than just busting into a joint and shooting anything that moves. Again, these two chapters on extraction are wonderful, and I’d highly recommend them to anyone new to Shadowrun. Again, if the price for this piece wasn’t so high, I’d say newcomers almost NEED this. So once more, we see that Stolen Souls would have been better off as a set of three smaller supplements rather than one large disconnected sourcebook. I honestly think CGL would have made more money going this route, and Shadowrun fans would be a lot happier, as they could have picked one or more that the needed/wanted instead of being saddled with three very different pieces merged into one expensive book.

So now let’s go back to CFD. You’re probably wondering why I covered the other two parts of the book first, rather than the beginning part, which also happens to be the title attraction. Well, the previous two bits are shorter and thus easier to talk about. The commentary is also mostly positive, and I’d rather begin a review on a high note. Which obviously means I’m not quite happy with the CFD section. There are a lot of reasons for this. The first is that CFD is pushed too hard, too fast. From the writing, you know that the disease is unstoppable, incurable and will plow through its victim like Goldberg in an old episode of Monday Nitro. There is no hope. Also, it’s spreading incredibly quickly, no one knows how, and there are huge infirmaries filled with nothing but CFD sufferers. From the text, it’s easy to assume that the disease is so big, like one out of ten or a hundred people has it and it’s only going to get worse. Yet SOMEHOW, the governments and megacorps are hiding it from the general population. The writing, while excellent in style and tone, just isn’t believable. CFD is like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the superflu, Ebola, HIV and the Black Plague rolled up into one massive pandemic. The problem is you can’t actually hide a pandemic. CGL wants to have it both ways – a crazy unstoppable disease plowing through metahumanity, yet the general populace is woefully ignorant of it. It just doesn’t work the way it is written. It’s totally unbelievable, and when this is the thing that, after five editions of playing Shadowrun, breaks my suspension of disbelief, you know something is wrong here.

Now, the idea of CFD is solid, and the original build up to Stolen Souls was really well done, but this was a cluster of immense proportions. If you’re going to devote a hundred or so pages to the idea and then tell GMs “Oh, there is no canon known cure yet, so don’t infect PCs with it unless they specifically ask for it,” you know the idea has not been thought out in terms of actually PLAYING through this sub-plot. This is a regular problem with Shadowrun, and aside from the heavy mechanics, this focus on writing the metaplot over people actually playing the game really is the system’s big Achilles Heel. I don’t think anything showcases this underlying issue with Shadowrun more than the CFD section of Stolen Souls. This could have been done so much better in a myriad of different ways. They should have kept the build slow and subtle. A slow burn on the rise of CFD throughout many sourcebooks, with little hints both in metaplot and mechanics on how to deal with it. Then they should have done the massive sourcebook on it, but also provided GM only information on possible cures and/or fixes. By not providing this information right away, CGL has committed multiple grievous errors. The first is that they are fleecing gamers, who will now have to purchase one or more books to get the canon cure. That is not going to set well with a large percentage of Shadowrun players. They’re going to look at this as bait and switch, more or less. The second is that some GM is going to ignore the books strongly worded advice about not infecting players with CFD and thus screw over a character because they will play it to the letter that THERE IS NO CURE and cite all the possible examples in the book and how they have failed. CGL has forgotten that there are a lot of BAD GMs out there that view a game as Players Vs GM (as some players do) and/or that a game is something to win. By not providing a back door out of CFD immediately, there will be some games torn apart and some players left with a bad taste in their mouth regarding Shadowrun – perhaps bad enough that they stop playing altogether. Finally, vry few gamers are going to even want to touch the concept of CFD and put it into their game since Stolen Souls offers a comprehensive but ultimately incomplete look at the disease. A decent amount of Shadowrun gamers follow the metaplot extensively and tailor their games around it. As such, they won’t want to touch CFD until it is fully fleshed out and defined, because otherwise their group will come up with a solution that doesn’t fit canon and OH NO! More than any other system I have ever encountered, Shadowrun gamers seem afraid to go off the beaten path and not follow the canon metaplot provided. Not this isn’t all Shadowrun gamers. It’s just there is a noticeably higher proportion here than with other systems I talk to people about or play. This is mainly because Shadowrun puts the metaplot over playing the actual game and regularly drives this perception home with nearly every release done for it in the past few years. Sticking to the metaplot isn’t bad, but when you know your players are wont to do that, you can’t just trail off and go “Nanite Boogeymen are going to get you. Pay $25-45 now and more down the road if you want closure!” as this is absolutely the wrong way to do things if you want to keep fans of your product happy. Still, there has never been a better impetus for homebrewing your Shadowrun world than CFD as it is presented here.

What changes needed to be made with the disease? Well, a lot. It shouldn’t be able to pretty much do anything and infect this many people so quickly. The disease should take longer than 30-60 days to fully subdue the original personality of the meatbag it now inhabits. The disease shouldn’t infect some people other than the “undead” of the Sixth World. It would have been nice if it only infected those with Cyberware, making it a better disease metaphor. Sure, you don’t get the enhancements, but you don’t risk CFD. The fact that the disease can infect mages and especially physical adepts (and then use those powers after it has taken control of the body) just makes it too insanely powerful for most people to even think about using. It definitely should be a far slower burn, with less people infected than the text indicates. As I’ve said, you can hide a disease when it first occurs – you can’t hide a freaking pandemic. As the CFD bits go on, the disease goes from a fun concept to creep players out into something that feels like something a bunch of gamers came up with when high or drunk. “Dude, you know what would be cool? If there was X that did Y and Z.” Concepts like blinder, balance and how the end product might actually effect things rather than sound cool are definitely missing here. It would be one thing if this was a brief, cheap supplement that merely highlighted a growing problem starting to reveal itself in the Sixth World. It’s another thing entirely to throw all this at an audience at once without any true insights, ways to really use the concept in an actual game or some sort of end game resolution.

So how could this be salvaged? Well, I’m not sure. Unless you pick up Shadowrun releases just to read rather than implement, the only way to do so is to utterly ignore CFD until CGL has completed the storyline and then go from there. However, this is some pretty pricey fiction if you go that route, and as we’ve seen with things like the Vampire subplots, they can drag out for years without being touched again. Is there another way to CFD could have been tackled in a way that Shadowrun fans of all walks could have used and even enjoyed this information? There certainly is, although I’m not sure if it can work now. That would be to go the artifact collection route. Remember a few years ago when Shadowrun had a series of interconnected adventures about collected ancient magical artifacts and then followed it up with Artifacts Unbound? That’s what they should have done here. With each adventure, the CFD outbreak would grow noticeably worse. Leaving players hanging regarding a cure would have been more acceptable (and perhaps even fun) as readers and players alike would know resolution was coming quickly and that they could actually take active part in the storyline if they chose. Hell, players could even get infected with CFD and not feel like they have been screwed without a lifeline. They would know a fix would be coming in a soon to be published sequel. GMs could actually USE CFD in their campaign without players worrying about contracting it, or conversely, going “Meh. I know I’m NOT going to get this because I’ve read Stolen Souls.” What we have now is a juggernaut of a disease that takes only a month or two to wipe out a person, and that you can only interact with it in your game via NPCs, thus making the PCs little more than window dressing to the entire concept. What we could have had was a whole host of ways to integrate CFD into a subplot or even focal point of a campaign, while still being an entertaining metaplot read. CGL could have printed money hand over fist and reception would have been a lot kinder than what Stolen Souls is getting. This was a great idea, badly damaged by poor execution and follow through, and it will be interesting to see how/if CGL can salvage this or if we have another Amazonia/Aztlan War dud on our hands. Of course, all that said, Artifacts Unbound dropped the ball in some ways too, which leads me to believe that perhaps we have a larger problem at CGL – where ideas are thrown out and partially developed, but no one thinks out a conclusive ending or solution at the very beginning (which can evolve organically over writing and releases) and thus things fall apart big time at the end like this. This no real canon solution or explanation with CGL products would be fine if, like other games that did this, the metaplot wasn’t pushed as hard or as if it was the crown jewel of the system. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case here. So either Shadowrun has to start coming up with decent (or better) endings to their pretty awesome beginnings, or they need to really loosen the grip the metaplot has on the game. It’s one or the other people.

So yeah, instead of pushing CFD slowly in an entertaining fashion that any fan could enjoy on some level, we’ve been given a massive tome that is naught but Jackpoint metafiction, which reinforces the idea that Shadowrun is to be read and not played, and I can’t think of a bigger disservice done to gamers than what we’ve been given here. This is all the more unfortunate considering how good the Manhattan and Extraction bits were. As good as they were though, the execution of CFD just kind of ruins the overall quality of Stolen Souls; perhaps more so when you remember that this was the marquee of the piece. Am I pretty unhappy with the CFD section? Yes and no. The writing is top notch, and I enjoyed it as a fiction piece, but as a player the believability, brief mechanics, development of the idea and the corner CHL has backed themselves (and players) into is total crap. Can the idea of CFD be fixed and perhaps even made enjoyable as a playable component of Shadowrun after Stolen Souls? I’d like to think to so, but I think this was absolutely the wrong way to showcase CFD as well as write about it.

I do want to say that the CFD bit is not ALL horrible. The writing is pretty good, as if the author(s) is making the best of a bad situation left for them to clean up, and if this was straight up Shadowrun fiction like Another Rainy Night or Neat, I’d have been much happier. Novellas don’t change the face of a game I’m playing after all. I really liked how comprehensive things would start out, such as all the tests for cures, Clockwork’s attempt to find Patient Zero and Butch’s commentary on the disease. But then a pattern of dropping the ball begins to emerge. No cure even begins to appear to work. It just kills the victim dead. No patient zero is found. No conclusive leads to any Megacorp is given (However the GM only text at the back of the book names the two corps the canon metaplot will be leaning towards, which is a rather bizarre aside to give after all this page count devoted to a lack of credible findings) and so on. Again, there are so many ways this could have been done better, with plot threads dropped or some quality foreshadowing provided. We didn’t get that though. Instead, we got a concept pushed down our throats so far, that it is impossible to swallow.

Overall, Stolen Souls gets a thumbs in the middle. There are two great sections and one really poorly done one. It sucks that all three are thrown together into one big hodge podge of a book with a pretty high price tag instead of being released as three separate supplements that would have found a larger (and more receptive) audience overall. I can’t really recommend this as a whole, and I can’t think of an aspect of Shadowrun I’ve been this disappointed by, save for bits of Storm Front. I’m really hoping CGL can surprise me, turn the CFD concept around and save it, because right now it’s basically radioactive in a way the majority of Sixth World gamers won’t want to put it into their game until it’s been thoroughly cleaned up. At least the Manhattan and extraction bits are really well done. It’s just too bad they are lumped together with the CFD bit.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Stolen Souls
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Shadowrun: Stolen Souls
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/24/2014 17:30:52
Stolen Souls picks up the metaplot threads from 4th-edition's Storm Front and brings them into the current 5th edition. Once again, there is something weird and creepy happening in the Sixth World (a nanite-carried virus that overrides your personality), which might be bad news for your Shadowrunner down the road, but will certainly offer ample opportunity for profit in the meantime. This book is mostly fluff, but in my opinion it's the fluff that makes the Shadowrun universe so appealing, so that's a good thing.

The book covers what's going on with the nanite-virus (and it's Shadowrun, so theories abound!), but also serves as part settings book and part deep shadows book. The settings chapters focus on Manhattan, whose power structures are in flux. Players who ran through season 3 of Missions will recognize callouts to various runs, which I thought was a nice touch. Additionally, there are various ideas and rules for extractions, which are probably the second-most common type of run out there, after simple theft. The usefulness of this section is probably campaign-dependent, but if you run the "standard" array of Shadowruns, extractions will certainly come up at some point.

The crunch that is in the book (a few drones, some new vehicles and vehicle mods, and drugs/toxins) is handy, but no one would mistake the level of crunch is this book with the 5th edition's Street Samurai Catalog.

Overall, the writing is very good, probably the best writing I've seen in a 5th-edition product. The mood of Jackpoint (a loosely affiliated group of successful Shadowrunners) is dark, sometimes panicky, and it's conveyed very well.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Stolen Souls
by robert l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/22/2014 23:21:55
overall its not a bad product that is rich in idea but thin, very thin any actually useful material to player and gm alike. The layout for new york was not bad but with only 1 map, it can not be considered a worthwhile source, its lack of source material on utilizing the cfd nanovirus is ridiculously thin and makes many veiled references back to the augmented book in 4th edition without providing any relevant material on nanotech in this book its not worth the money to purchase, just stick with 4th edition shadowrun augmented book and transpose as necessary an save your money. The book is 3/4 filler material that belong in a novelette and some source material for new york without any maps to make it useful and only 2 pages out of 202 pages of the that actually refer to the cfd nanovirus in any sort of way. End result is this product is not ready for prime time. Save your money and DO NOT BUY!!

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe RPG QSR Supplemental: Harbinger Wars: Bloodshot
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/19/2014 08:08:04
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/05/19/tabletop-review-valiant-
-universe-rpg-qsr-supplemental-harbinger-wars-bloodshot/

At the end of April, Catalyst Game Labs released the first of many free Quick Start rules sets for their upcoming Valiant Universe RPG. I reviewed it two weeks ago and liked what I saw. It took aspects of Savage Worlds and the few good things that exist about the Cortex engine and blended them together in what seems like it will be a fun game. The rules gave a quick overview of how to play, provided some PCs to try out and a full adventure comprising the first arc of the Unity comic. Now the second QSR has been released, and this time it focuses on one of the first four characters from the New Valiant – Bloodshot.

This twenty page PDF focuses on the Harbinger Wars event Valiant had last summer, which pitted Bloodshot, The Harbinger Foundation, the Renegades and the Hard C.O.R.P.S. against each other in an ECW style four way dance. There was a lot of death and violence to be had, but in the end, the Harbinger Foundation won. With the included adventure in this PDF, you and your friends can play as Bloodshot and the psiot children he is guarding in an attempt to either rewrite Valiant history or watch the events unfold in the same tragic way.

One thing worth noting is that the basic rules presented in the Unity Quick Start rules are not in the Harbinger Wars: Bloodshot release. So you will need to download BOTH PDFs to play the adventure provided here. Now, that shouldn’t be a big deal as both sets are FREE after all, but it does mean that if you download the Bloodshot set first, you might be left wondering how to play the included adventure.

While we are on the topic of the Quick Start Rules, I should point out that the mechanics in the Unity PDF are definitely less detailed that what you will see in the eventual core rulebook release. I mean, these are QSR sets after all, so don’t go looking for character creation sets or extremely detailed character sheets. What’s here is simply meant to give you a taste of the game and some idea about how the mechanics will work in the end product.

So what do we get in the Harbinger Wars: Bloodshot? Well we substitute out the rules for a longer adventure and more character stats! You get a brief overview of the Harbinger Wars event followed by a half page of commentary by Bloodshot describing his history (or what little he knows of his) and his goals. The adventure is then broken into four pieces, each of which could technically be an adventure on their own. This essentially makes this PDF a mini-campaign depending on how draw-out each of the four sections are. It’s also worth noting that the adventure is designed for four players, which means with four parts, each one will have a chance to play the Lead Narrator in addition to their character. The fact everyone takes turns running the game is one of the more unusual and potentially interesting aspects of the Valiant Universe RPG, so you may want to decide ahead of time the order each of you will run parts. Of course, as always, you can have one set Narrator. It’s totally your call.

The first part “Forced Entry” (like most of the scenes in this adventure) actually takes place before Harbinger Wars proper, and is when Bloodshot tries to save the Generation Zero kids from Project Rising Spirit (Who in the comics…he eventually ends up working for again. It’s a long story). This scene is interesting as the PCs are in two different groups – you have three PCs playing psiot children. (only the selected three are given stats here. The others will probably be in later PDFs) and one playing as Bloodshot. The kids know Bloodshot as a soulless killer and so have a flee or fight response to him. Meanwhile Bloodshot has to convince them he is there to help rather than murder them…as he did their families when he was under P.R.S.’ control. This does mean things can boil down to PvP and leave one side dead, thus preventing the other three scenes from being played. That’s not a bad thing though. You don’t have to replicate the events of the comic.

Part Two is “The Harada Protocol” where the kids and Bloodshot have to deal with the big bad of the Valiant Universe Toyo Harada. Of course, Harada seems himself as a hero, but that’s a story for another time. This is almost pure combat and gives players a great chance to see the battle mechanics in action. Savvy readers will notice the stats for Toyo Harada as a NPC antagonist are ever so slightly different from his stats in the Unity PDF where he was a PC. It’s simply to make running the game easier as NPCs have truncated stats from the core characters. The only real difference is he is missing the Luck stat, but that’s only for PCs anyway. Since you’ll have both PDFs, if someone really wants to play Harada in a PvP situation, just pull out that character sheet and use it instead.

Part Three is entitled “Promises Broken,” and it has the characters looking for an appropriate source of protein to refuel Bloodshot’s nanites. It’s combat heavy, but it’s also very quick. In our test run, Bloodshot got his nanites back by EATING THE CORPSES OF THE FALLEN OPPONENTS. Which is totally a way to get protein. Just a head’s up.

The final part of the adventure is “Showdown on the Steps” is the one piece that actually takes place in the mini-series. Here you again have Bloodshot Vs Harada, but Harbinger students come into play as well. These are generic students rather than the Eggbreakers from the comic. This is done for simplicity’s sake, although you could get Livewire from the previous QSR and have her as one of the Harbinger Foundation members if you choose. Overall, it’s a fun adventure that sticks closely enough to the Bloodshot side of Harbinger Wars while still being loose enough that players won’t feel they are on rails replicating the comics exactly. Another fun adventure as well as a fine way to continue building hype for the eventual Valiant Universe RPG release.

Again, these PDFs are free, so there is no reason not to pick them up. With each release I’m getting more and more excited for the eventual game and this will be the first super hero game I’m considering purchasing a physical copy of since Mayfair’s old DC line. I’ll be back in two weeks to cover the second of the five Harbinger Wars Quick Start releases. This release will focus on Generation Zero and when it hits on May 31st, it will be as free as all the others, so start making a folder on your computer for all these free Quick Start Rules sets!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe RPG QSR Supplemental: Harbinger Wars: Bloodshot
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Valiant Universe RPG Quick Start Rules: Featuring Unity
by Matt L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/15/2014 11:02:14
Have you seen the new quick start rules for Valiant Universe RPG? I have. They made me reminisce on some of my early RPG days. In high school we role-played like it was our life. I can't tell you how much D&D we played. We also played Marvel Super Heroes, Rifts, and even a little bit of DC mingled its way in. We had countless night where we would sneak out of our respective houses and meet up to play in a tent. Yes, I said a tent. Which didn't do so well in the winter, but we managed to find a barn. There wasn't any heat at first but we made it work.

Valiant Universe RPG isn't storytelling, it's more like dating the story.

Read the full review here http://gamer-goggles.com/?p=8207

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe RPG Quick Start Rules: Featuring Unity
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Shadowrun: Run & Gun
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/09/2014 16:21:57
Shadowrun: Run and Gun provides tools and tricks for the working shadowrunner. Do you need this book? Unless you are running a very combat oriented game, probably not, but it sure has a lot of fun toys and options in it. The rule options can be extremely detailed and are not going to be needed for most games and styles of play, but they are an interesting reference and provide interesting ideas and adventure seeds. As a GM, I would definitely put this book on the list of things to have to scare players with.

Shadowrun: Run and Gun, is the first major sourcebook for the 5th edition of Shadowrun providing more toys for the players (and GMs), not just guns but armor, explosives, tactics, martial arts and hazardous environments all get explored in this book. There should be something for just about everyone (but especially the GM).

The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then a (in game world) discussion on weapons followed by the weapons themselves, this section is call Arsenal naturally, everything from chainsaws to flamethrowers, crossbows to lasers, something for everyone. Additionally there are rules for customization of weapon and new things to customize them with. Overall, a good expansion of the available options for weaponry including more nonlethal choices.

Followed by a section on Armor & Protection, to keep you from being killed by all the new weapons . . . Much of it is armored fashion which provides some interesting insight into the Shadowrun world with some in game world discussion on how best to use armor and style to your best advantage. Also included are various forms of unusual environment protection (including space suits) and new options for armor. Again, a nice broadening of options.

Next, there is Tactics & Tools, which discussion the place of combat tactics with a basic overview of small unit tactics, how various groups apply them and some rules to give mechanical advantages to those groups that follow trained tactics. Additionally some gear to enhance tactical options, including tactical communications networks is provided. Killshots & More provides options to adjust the combat rules for greater or lesser lethality, expanding rules for called shots and combat actions and new qualities. Rule for martial art styles are provided which in turn allow access to additional types of combat actions and other coolness.

Staying Alive is all about environmental hazards and how to survive them (or not) from extreme heat to bone chilling cold, radiation to vacuum with appropriate new qualities to help runners do one or the other. Then, Blow Up Good provides advanced demolition rules for blowing up everything from people to building as well as rules for making your own explosives (don’t glitch!).

It ends as it began with another fiction piece and then tables, lots of them, covering everything from the earlier chapters and the core book as well. All of the weapons! And a handy cheat sheet for the new combat options.

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: Run & Gun
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Shadowrun: Run & Gun
by David C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/08/2014 06:30:19
Run and Gun contains many of the same ideas that Augmentation provided in the previous edition. Players always appreciate new gear to use, and the rules for explosives seem appropriate given the setting. I feel, however, that too much space is used on rare scenarios like extreme pollution or radiation poisoning. The book even expresses that these scenarios are rare, so why is it taking the time to explore them? Of course, more material is always better than less, but I think more time spent detailing the particulars of how small-unit tactics function and less on the damage of inhaling toxic smoke would be more appropriate.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sail Away, Sweet Sister (Enhanced Fiction)
by Adrian J. C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/05/2014 08:38:13
As it had been a while, I took the opportunity to re-read Another Rainy Night (if you haven't done so, do it) first, to refresh my memory and set the stage for SASS. I think that SASS is an excellent continuation of the story and I'm quite looking forward to the next installment. I really enjoyed how the author has integrated the presence of magic with a sense of the unknown. Despite magic being a pervasive element with the Shadowrun universe, there is still a sense of unknown...something that is truly alien to most people. There were a couple of "logic leaps" that I felt could have been better detailed, but given the size constraints of the story, understood. Character development was solid (though not as strong as ANR) and the stage has been nicely set for the finale. Overall an excellent read and a great addition to the setting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sail Away, Sweet Sister (Enhanced Fiction)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Displaying 46 to 60 (of 707 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
0 items
 Hottest Titles
 Gift Certificates