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Shadowrun: Digital Tools Box
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/04/2014 06:46:23
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/02/04/tabletop-review-shadowr-
un-digital-tools-box-beginner-box-setrunners-tool-kit-alphaw-
are/

January was an excellent month for tabletop releases. Numenera gave us The Ninth World Bestiary, Castles & Crusades gave us The Book of Familiars and Dungeon Crawl Classics released Intrigue at the Court of Chaos. However, not to be outdone, Catalyst Game Labs has released both the Beginner Box Set and the Runner’s Tool Kit Alphaware as a single PDF. The cost? Only $19.99. That’s a decent price, but made all the better when you realize that the purchase nets you three different coupons: $5 off a physical copy of the Beginner Box Set, $10 off a physical copy of Alphaware or $20 off both! Of course, the preorders for the physical copies haven’t gone live yet, so you still have a long wait for those, but at least the digital copy practically pays for itself if you’re thinking about the physical copy.

Originally, both of these Shadowrun starter kits were meant to be one package and it was supposed to be released in mid to late 2013. Obviously, the dates for the sets were pushed back for various reasons (It’s rare for ANY tabletop product released according to its originally scheduled date.) and I’m not really sure why the two were separated out, as it does feel like they could have stayed one big set. For those curious about how much you’ll have to spend on the physical copies – it looks to be between fifty and eighty dollars. Amazon.com has the Beginner Box Set for $14.12 with a MSRP of $19.99 and Alphaware for $36.05 and a MSRP of $59.99. While eighty dollars sounds like an insane amount of nuyen to be dropping on starter kit when you can get the Fifth Edition Quick Start Rules for free, the only way to be sure is to take a look at the contents, which is the whole point of this review. Remember though, this is a review and recommendation of the digital versions, which are all that are currently available.

First up – The Beginner Box Set

•A one page set of Instructions on how to use the box. Simple and straightforward enough



•Quick Start Rules. These are similar to the set that was released in the summer of 2013 for free (mentioned earlier in this review). This new set has the same amount of pages, but is missing the original set of pregenerated characters and has different artwork (to reflect the separate new pregenerated characters). The pregen pages have been replaced with some DM oriented content and a host of NPCs. It’s also better formatted – at least in my opinion. It also contains a very different “Food Fight” adventure. So don’t worry, you are not paying for something you used to get for free. Just something very similar.


•Five Character Sheets. These are the new pregens and each are two pages long. One page is devoted to stats and one to art and a bio. You have Coydog the Elven Street Shaman (no listing of her totem though), Gentry the Human Decker, Hardpoint the Dwarven Rigger, Sledge the Ork Street Samurai and Ms. Myth the Troll Face. So you get a nice mix of roles and races.


•Ms. Myth Booklet. This eight page document goes into detail about the Troll Face’s background, including who she is, her general tactics and how to play her. I’m of mixed feelings about this part, because players really should be allowed to develop the character themselves, even for a pre-gen. Otherwise you’re just following a script. Although perhaps a good idea for someone completely new to tabletop gaming, the downside is that a booklet of this nature can also give the wrong impression that a player SHOULD/MUST have a multipage dossier on every facet of their character. We’re not talking a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP after all. Even worse, a brand new GM could halt the game and say, “You’re not playing your character right,” which of course is wrong on multiple levels that should be obvious to anyone reading this. It’s a character – there should be no right and wrong. So while the idea behind the booklet is sound and well-intentioned (as well as nicely written), there is the potential for more harm than good to be done with it. The booklet also contains a five stage solo adventure for a DM to run with Ms. Myth. It’s very sparsely detailed, but there’s enough here than both a newbie GM and fledging player can run it and find fun in the piece.


•Edge of Now. A twenty-six page overview of the Sixth World (primarily on Seattle) and a short piece of fiction using the pregenerated characters. Really well done and will help more than anything else in this box to explain Shadowrun‘s mood and themes.


•Fire and Frost Excerpt. This is a forty-two page sample of an upcoming Shadowrun novel. I can’t say I cared for the plot or the writing here, and I usually really like the Shadowrun fiction that has been released. I honestly can say the excerpt ensured I wouldn’t buy the book… but I would review it if a copy came in, you know, like everything else Shadowrun we get. It does sound like Clockwork is going to be a supporting character in the novel, which does tempt me though, because it’s interesting to see him taking center stage. I would have preferred Neat or Another Rainy Night in the set, as they were plugged in it, are better written and are far easier for a newcomer to digest.

So, that was the Beginner Box Set. It’s probably not too impressive to longtime Shadowrun gamers, but what is here is decent enough. I don’t know if I’d pay twenty bucks for the physical copy, as everything here has a free equivalent on the web, either through CGL directly (QSRs and pregens) or can be learned from friends or websites (Edge of Now). Still, if I knew a group of people interested in Shadowrun, perhaps due to the recent video game, Shadowrun Returns, this box might be a better investment than the Core Rulebook for getting one’s feet wet. Now, let’s look at Runner’s Tool Kit Alphaware. For newcomers, be careful, because there is a Runner’s Toolkit out there for Fourth Edition. Make sure you don’t buy the wrong one. The Fifth Edition version has Alphaware in the title, which is why I’m trying to refer to it as such in this review.


•Alphaware Instruction Sheet. A one page briefing of what is in the box.


•Edge of Now. Same as in the Beginner Box Set. The digital version only contains one PDF, but the physical copies of the BB and Alphaware will each contain one.


•Five Character Sheets. These are the same pregenerated characters from the Beginner Box Set, but in a different style. These are more traditional SR character sheets, although whoever chose the fake handwriting font for these needs a good talking to. It’s pretty terrible, and you have to increase the PDF to 150% of its original size for the numbers to fully show up or for the “handwriting” to look legible. Even then, this is pretty terrible. You’d be better off recopying these onto regular paper for new players or using the ones from the Beginner Box Set.


•Four Character Dossiers. These are similar booklets to the Ms. Myth one found in the Beginner Box Set. I’m going to assume the physical copy would have Ms. Myth’s, similar to how it would have the “Edge of Now” booklet as well. If not, that’s another terrible oversight by whoever cut this original project in twain. Again, each of these booklets has some well fleshed out information about the character, some tactics to use, a solo adventure and a character sheet. Again, great intentions and these dossiers are really well done – just make sure new players or GMs know these are guidelines and not hard and fast rules about how you have to play your characters. Newcomers should be encouraged to be creative and create their own backstory if they want to.


•Alphaware Cards. I’m not a fan of print and play products for newcomers, but what else could CGL do to convert this to a digital format without doing one card on a page? Well, that’s EXACTLY what they did, and it was such a smart move on their part. The last thing new gamers need is to see if they have card stock or a double sided printer and other print and play issues. You get 110 cards divided into spells, weapons, armor, comlinks, cyberdecks, cyberwear, programs, gear, vehicles and drones. There are multiples of some cards (the spell ones) which makes sense in case you have more than one Awakened character being played. These cards make for a nice reference set, and even long time Sixth World fans should get a lot of use out of these.



•Sixteen Maps. There are eight different maps, but two versions of each. You have one without any descriptions for players and one with a key code for GMs. Usefulness of these will vary, but it’s always handy to have maps just in case. This is especially true for new players, as they get a visual to work with and an idea of what is around them.


•Poster and Map. Pretty cut and dry here. You get a map of what North America looks like in the 2070s and a Shadowrun poster. I love both, but I do wish that the borders of the different countries had different colours so that newcomers could make things out easier.


•GM Screen. This has rules and character reference pieces. It’s not a double sided stand up piece like most GM screens though.


•Rules of the Street. This is a ninety page document that contains all the Shadowrun rules you need to play the game, save character creation. This is like Quick Start Rules on steroids. This goes into all sorts of details about the different type of sourcebooks you can get, plugs for the card game, board game, video game, MMO, and miniatures skirmish sets. You get a ton of details here with Rules of the Street, and I love everything about it. It will probably intimidate the hell out of people completely new to tabletop games, so give them the QSR first and then give them this. I look at the differences between the Quick Start Rules and “Rules of the Street” similar to the Basic and Advanced versions of TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes RPG. Am I dating myself with that ancient reference? Regardless, “Rules of the Street” is so well written. It’s easy to follow and newcomers should be able to get through it, although there are so many things to keep track of I’d be surprised if they didn’t forget SOMETHING. This is definitely the highlight of the beginner box. There’s just so much content here, it’ll be all newcomers need to run and/or play Shadowrun for some time.


•Plots and Paydata. This is for the Gamemaster only. It’s eighty-two pages on how to run Shadowrun with nice easy handholding steps. You get some nice advice, a breakdown of how a piece of fiction holds up under mechanics and rules (awesome idea!), a fine essay on how to read/run adventures, a reprint of “Food Fight,” a second adventure in “Milk Run,” a third adventure in “Steppin’ Up” a FOURTH adventure in “Workin’ the Streets,” a FIFTH adventure in “Going Inside” and a sixth and final adventure entitled “Snatch and Grab.” Yes, you’re getting a whopping six adventures in this booklet. Holy crap, that’s awesome. All six adventures use the Shadowrun Missions layout, which is a very smart decision. The first four are pretty straight forward linear affairs, while “Going Inside” is a little more free form with room for PCs to explore. “Snatch and Grab” is a direct sequel to “Going Inside” and gives players their first taste of story continuity. After that, you’re given some advice on how to put your own adventures together, how to use all the maps included in Alphaware and whole host of NPCs.

There you go. That’s the Runner’s Toolkit Alphaware. It’s got a lot of great stuff in it, although charging sixty dollars for this as the MSRP is probably going to put too high a dollar mark on something that is meant for newcomers. After all, the price should be cheap enough to entice people to try Shadowrun. God knows in this age of fifty and sixty dollar core rulebooks, sticker shock for tabletop games is common.

So while I’m hesitant to recommend the physical copies of the Beginner Box Set and Alphaware for their MSRP prices, I can’t emphasize enough how amazing of a deal it is to get the digital two pack for only $19.99. You get all the rules you will need to play this game for some time, six adventures, pregenerated characters so new players don’t have to deal with building their own and the entire package is exceptionally newcomer friendly. One of the biggest complaints I hear about Shadowrun is that it’s one of the least newcomer friendly games on the market due to the constant referencing of other books. That and the sometimes indiscernible metaplot that assumes you have read and own every supplement and sourcebook to come out for the system. Well, this one two punch of the Beginner Box Set and Alphaware answer all those problems by making this the most new player friendly set I’ve seen the game since the days of Second Edition. This is a pretty awesome package. Plus it’s 2014, so most new players should be fine with digital copies rather than physical pieces that can get lost, stolen, wet, burned or eaten by pets.

Although long time Shadowrun gamers probably won’t get much use out of either set, guess what? THESE AREN’T MEANT FOR US! These are for either people new to the mechanics and concepts of Shadowrun or, more likely, totally new to tabletop gaming entirely! I would honestly give either of these sets (preferably both, in order) to someone totally new who has shown interest in Shadowrun where in the past, I’d have nothing but my own explanations and walkthroughs to help them out. There was a time when I’d hand someone the Sega Genesis game, as it did a better job of introducing Shadowrun to newcomers than the tabletop game. Now, I can actually give out dollops of the Beginner Box Set or Alphaware based on what their experience with the core product or tabletop games. I honestly think both of these packages are finally going to draw in a lot of new gamers to the Sixth World – although much of it is going to come from people buying the digital version. The physical prices are still a bit too steep for what you are getting. Still, this is a review of the digital two pack, and getting both of these for $19.99 with a twenty dollar coupon towards the physical releases is such an amazing deal I can’t recommend this release highly enough. Interested in Shadowrun even an teeny tiny bit? YOU NEED THIS. Is it perfect? No. Is it awesome? Pretty much, yeah.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Digital Tools Box
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Shadowrun: Digital Tools Box
by Andrew P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2014 16:03:17
(Originally published at http://screenmonkey.blog.com/?p=21)This is the digital version of the upcoming beginner box set for Shadowrun, 5th Edition and the Runners Toolkit: Alphaware set.  Included with the purchase was a coupon set good for $5 off a physical copy of the Beginners Set, $10 of the Runners Toolkit: Alphaware or $20 off both as a preorder from Battlecorps, the Catalyst web store.  So if you are planning on getting both sets you can basically consider this to be a somewhat free preview.

Except for the dice, these two box sets contain everything you should be getting in the boxed sets.  The Beginner Box includes The Edge of Now, an excerpt from the 'Life in the Sixth World' chapter from the core book, fronted by a new piece of short fiction.  It also contains the already freely available quick start rules and five complete sample characters, as well as an excerpt from an upcoming Shadowrun novel, Fire and Frost.  The last piece of content is the booklet for Ms Myth, one of the sample characters.  It contains basic information on how to run the Troll Face, how she would normally react, what's important to her, and how she would normally do her job.  For someone new to Shadowrun this last part might be the most valuable thing in the box.  Anyone can figure out how to run a combat specialist or mage based on previous experience with RPG's, but running a face might be a little difficult to get a handle on right at the beginning.  The booklet is partially player resource, part GM, as it also includes the bones of a solo run geared towards the characters particular skill set.  In this case, it's a basic extraction, something else a lot of people are not going to have experience with outside of Shadowrun.  The solo run is incredibly basic and shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to run, but can be a good basic intro to the basics of Shadowrun.

The second part of the toolkit is the Alphaware section.  This includes regular character sheets for all five sample characters from the basic box as well as four more booklets with everything that was in the Ms Myth booklet from the basic set, including the sample beginning runs customized to each character.  In general, each framework puts the individual characters through the paces of their chosen archetype, including such tests as repairing drones for the Rigger, Hacking for the Decker and of course some combat for the Street Samurai.

There is also a map of the sixth world version of North American and a poster, A GM screen insert with some useful tables and summaries of the sample characters, as well as two other Booklets.  These are the Rules of the Streets and Plots and Paydata.

The Map is useful to show newer players how the world is divided up at this point, although it could have benefited from being color coded to allow an easier time of explaining the political boundaries.  The GM screen is really just two pages, one the character summery (something I plan to steal for my own games) and a page of tables from the core rulebook.  These tables are the Ranged and Melee combat modifiers, including visibility and defense modifiers, Perception tests and basic testing thresholds.  Also included are a list of the most common actions and spellcasting summary and a combat turn summary.  In all, it's a useful item, but I hope the full GM screen is a little more thorough (I know it's already out, but I don't have a copy yet).

The Rules of the Street booklet is the one I was most looking forward to, and the main reason I'm thinking of picking up a physical copy of the box sets.  It condenses all the info from the core book down to a 90 page booklet.  It removes character creation, fiction and a lot of details about the setting, but has all the core rules laid out in an easy to reference fashion.  It even includes a full gear section, something that many booklets of this type neglect.  Since one of the parts of character creation that always takes the longest is gearing up, it would be nice to have a second copy of this part of the core book at the table.  I'll probably still bring my core book to the table, but this will be what I actually reference. 

The next item in the box is the Plots and Paydata booklet for GM's.  This includes advice for game mastering Shadowrun and six different adventures fleshed out to show the basic concepts and run types the characters will normally face, from combat and surveillance to infiltration and extraction.  These are all fairly basic and should be able to be run in a single session, but can easily be beefed up to run over several sessions.  The booklet also includes NPC's and descriptions of the maps that are also part of the set. 

Speaking of maps, these are fairly detailed single page maps that have both GM and non-GM versions of each of the eight maps.  Some of these are reprinted from Sprawl Sites: North America, but others are new to me (or are in a book I never got, which is quite possible)Nothing really remarkable, but they make good generic maps and play aids.  The included maps from sprawl sites are  Low Income Tenement Housing, Train Station, Barrens Block, and Gambling Den, with the ones I haven't seen being Luxury Hotel, Dowd Street, Parkview Advance Research Complex and Kondorchid Facility

The last real piece of the box, and the one I am most disappointed in, was the cards.  There are 110 individual cards in the box set, but several repeats.  The spells are nice to have, as long as you already know what they do, as they only include Type, range, damage, duration and drain.  There are basic descriptions of each spell, but the full game rules normally wouldn't have taken much more space.  You get two of each spell card, of which there are 16.  As far as weapons, there are 19, three of which are the Ares Predator V.  Two of the weapon cards, the sword and Browning Ultra Power are also day-glow yellow, although I think this was an error, hopefully one that will be corrected before final printing.  There are four firearm accessory cards, 9 armor card (3 each of the lined coat and armor jacket) and one armor mod, 6 Commlinks (Including a double of the Renraku Sensei).  There are also 4 decks (nice to see pictures of these),12 programs (I'd like to see a complete deck of these actually, as they are one thing that can be switched around a lot on a run), 2 drones the Rotodrone again being that hideous day-glow yellow, 4 vehicles, again with the bulldog van being day-glow.  There are also 7 other pieces of common equipment, including slap patches, goggles and ear buds.  The med kit is once again day-glow.  The last ten cards are cyberware, including arms, legs eyes and ears with various mods loaded to them. These ones I really think are hard because they are so individual, but they did a nice job of giving the standard options a lot of people choose.

Overall, I liked the presentation of most of the box sets, and will probably use my coupon for Alphaware at least, although I might spring for both.  The low spot was the cards included, So I will probably make my own rather than use the provided ones, but the starter characters and the rules summary books I think are a really good value for someone trying to get their friends to play.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Digital Tools Box
by Alonso R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/31/2014 03:46:54
Is this purchase worth your money? That depends on a number of things. If you are planning on purchasing both box sets then the $20 off coupon for both box sets pays for this purchase. If you only end up getting the Alphaware, then you only get a $10 coupon.

What about the content?

Edge of Now will be included in both box sets, but for digital distribution is only in the Beginner Box Set. This PDF is a rough re-layed-out chunk of the chapter Everything Has a Price (section 1.0) of the 5th edition corebook. If you already own the corebook, most of it will be material you have already read, with just over 2 pages worth of Seattle content that I don't think is in the corebook. It is a solid introduction to the setting of Shadowrun for those who don’t have access to the corebook though.

Beginner Box:

This is intended for those who do not have the corebook. The Quick-Start Rules are the same Quick-Start Rules which are offered for free already on the website, but the character's have been replaced with new premade characters, which fill out the rest of the PDFs in this box. The character sheets do have beautiful art and are more fleshed out than the ones included in the free version of the Quick-Start Rules and there is also a single page which includes all the character's stats for easy reference for the GM. One of the characters includes a booklet that fleshes her out and includes a premade solo adventure. This is a taste of what’s in the Alphaware toolkit for those who enjoy it.

I wish the Quick-Start Rules would have included a new adventure they didn't already give away, but the value of this bundle is not in the Beginner's Box.

Alphaware Content:

This is the real meat of this product, with real character sheets of the premade characters from the Beginners Box. I want to emphasize that the Sheets in the Beginner's Box have all the stats compressed to make room for the art while the sheets that come in the Alphaware Content allow for character growth and XP (aka, Karma) expenditure. Having the PDFs to reprint premade characters for future groups is a plus.

Each premade character also has their own booklet which fleshes out their story and includes their own solo adventures, like the one in the Beginner's Box.

Rule of the Street appeals to me since it helps me teach others the core mechanics without them getting lost in the catalog of spells, abilities, & equipment cluttering the corebook. It covers the core mechanics in 90 pages. I wish this book was a Print on Demand since I would like each of my players to have a copy at the gaming table.

The Alphaware cards are nice but make me eager for owning the physical product, since just having a PDF of the cards doesn't help much. If you happen to be a PDF guru though, the PDFs are DRM free, so you can extract the ones you need for easy player access.

Plots and Paydata is going to be the most valuable PDF for the GM next to the Rules of the Street. It offers many adventures, Sprawls, and NPCs to use for many game sessions. I am certain that players will have made up their minds about purchasing the corebook long before the material in this PDF runs out.

Conclusion:
These box sets are designed for those who want try Shadowrun or introduce Shadowrun to new players without intimidating anyone with a massive neigh 500 page corebook. The learning curve is easier to approach in partitioned chunks presented within.

For anybody interested in the Alphaware content or those who are going to purchase the physical boxes, I think the product is worth it. The best way to view this purchase is as the Alphaware Content with the Beginner's Box Set as a dollar add-on. For those who are not certain if Shadowrun is for them and are just interested in the Beginner's Box Set, I still recommend the free Quick-Start Rules.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Jason W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/29/2014 17:45:27
This book is hard to use. Hard to find anything in. You have to go to two or three different locations to get the information on any one thing. It is terrible. I love the Shadowrun setting, but I hate the material.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Storm Front
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/22/2014 08:37:28
http://www.teilzeithelden.de/2014/01/20/rezension-shadowrun--
storm-front/

Eine durch und durch über­ra­schende und fes­selnde Lek­türe wurde mir da von Cata­lyst prä­sen­tiert. Die ein­lei­ten­den Worte von Fast­Jack, in denen er kurz auf die fol­gen­den zwei­hun­dert Sei­ten ein­geht, berich­ten von gefal­le­nen Freun­den, gro­ßen Ver­än­de­run­gen und enden mit der Bitte, man möge am Leben blei­ben. Wie sehr er mit der Ansage Recht hatte, konnte ich gleich dar­auf lesen, als es um und in den Krieg von Ama­zo­nien gegen Azt­lan ging.

Aus der Sicht eines Shado­wrun­ners lässt Storm­front einen epi­schen Ein­druck zurück und führt dazu, dass die Akti­vi­tä­ten und die schein­bar große Macht eines Spie­ler­cha­rak­ters plötz­lich nur noch win­zig wirken.

Inhalt

Die bekann­ten Gestal­ten aus dem Shadownet/Jackpoint, allen voran Fast­Jack und Suns­hine, lie­fern eine Zusam­men­fas­sung von ver­schie­dens­ten Daten und aus­ge­bud­del­ten Fak­ten zu den größ­ten Ereig­nis­sen der Welt­ge­schichte. Dabei wird auf unter­schied­li­che und teil­weise auch schon meh­rere Edi­tio­nen lau­fende Plots ein­ge­gan­gen. Einige sehr wich­tige Cha­rak­tere und sogar ganze Städte fin­den im Zuge der Umwäl­zun­gen ihr Ende. Es reicht von Atten­ta­ten über orbi­tal gesteu­erte Angriffe, bis hin zu spon­ta­nem Selbstmord.

Alles in allem eine scho­ckie­rende Mischung aus alt­be­kann­ten Ver­schwö­run­gen und deren bru­tale Aus­wir­kun­gen auf die Bevöl­ke­rung. Die Macht der Dra­chen und deren Ein­fluss auf die sechste Welt wer­den mehr als deut­lich her­vor­ge­ho­ben und ein­drucks­voll aus unter­schied­lichs­ten Blick­win­keln dar­ge­stellt. Viele Info-Schnipsel, Dis­kus­sio­nen und Erzäh­lun­gen von Augen­zeu­gen wich­ti­ger Ereig­nisse, lie­fern einen detail­lier­ten Blick hin­ter den Vor­hang. Diese wer­den im letz­ten Kapi­tel: Game Infor­ma­tion, abge­run­det durch Abenteuer-Ideen in Form von Auf­trä­gen, die sogar mit einer vor­ge­schla­ge­nen Bezah­lung ver­se­hen wur­den. Auch wer­den die Spiel­werte von wich­ti­gen Per­so­nen dort gezeigt – sogar die des gro­ßen Dra­chen Sirr­urg selbst!

The Tri­umph of Aztlan

Storm­front behan­delt der Reihe nach zunächst die Gescheh­nisse im vier­jäh­ri­gen Krieg zwi­schen Ama­zo­nien und Azt­lan. Die mäch­tige süd­ame­ri­ka­ni­sche Nation und einer der größ­ten Kon­zerne des Pla­ne­ten: Aztech­no­logy ver­bün­den sich und stür­zen sich in einen Guerilla-Konflikt. Die poli­ti­schen Tak­ti­ken und unfass­bar mäch­ti­gen Ver­bün­de­ten Ama­zo­ni­ens ver­lan­gen Azt­lan alles ab, was sie ins Feld füh­ren kön­nen. Diese epi­sche Schlacht zwi­schen Sirr­urg und dem azt­la­ni­schen Mili­tär ist defi­ni­tiv atem­be­rau­bend. Die Erzähl­art des Buches macht Lust auf mehr. Nach dem Lesen der voran gestell­ten und kur­siv gedruck­ten Kurz­ge­schichte, ist man sehr gespannt deren Hin­ter­gründe zu erfah­ren. Die Art wie diese prä­sen­tiert wur­den, über­zeugt durch ihre Vielfalt.

Mal als Top­story einer – ver­mut­lich durch­ge­knall­ten – Repor­te­rin, mal als Zusam­men­fas­sung eines auf­ge­stie­ge­nen Fixers. Immer wie­der unter­bro­chen von den chat­ten­den Ver­schwö­rungs­theo­re­ti­kern und Hackern im „Chat­ka­nal“. Posi­tiv sind zudem auch die abwei­chen­den Schreib­ar­ten der ein­zel­nen Cha­rak­tere, die den Ein­druck unter­schied­li­cher Indi­vi­duen noch ein­mal unter­strei­chen und authen­tisch wir­ken. Die zahl­rei­chen Auto­ren des Werks haben an die­ser Stelle her­vor­ra­gend zusam­men gearbeitet.

Wei­ter­hin befasst sich Storm­front mit dem Bür­ger­krieg der Dra­chen und ver­mit­telt das Gefühl, dass die Mensch­heit nur knapp einer welt­wei­ten Dra­chen­dik­ta­tur ent­kom­men ist. Die Gescheh­nisse im ita­lie­ni­schen GeMiTo Sprawl, in denen der Dra­che Ala­mais und seine Anhän­ger die ganze Stadt zum Fut­ter­platz erklär­ten, trie­fen nur so vor Hor­ror und Aus­weg­lo­sig­keit. Dazu wer­den die Ansich­ten der unter­schied­li­chen Dra­chen und deren Beweg­gründe beleuch­tet. Als Lofwyr, der amtie­ren­der Lore­mas­ter, am Ende gezwun­gen wird ein­zu­grei­fen, ent­brennt ein wei­te­rer epi­scher Kon­flikt, bei dem bei­nahe hun­dert­tau­send Meta­men­schen und ein gro­ßer Dra­che ihr Ende finden.

Seat­tle shakes

In die­sem Kapi­tel wech­selt das Gesche­hen von einem Kriegs­schau­platz zu den gewohn­ten poli­ti­schen Rän­ke­spie­len der Mega-Metropole. Im Ver­gleich zu einem der­ar­ti­gen Schau­platz wirkt es daher, trotz sei­ner Bri­sanz, eher pro­fan. Im Mit­tel­punkt der Gescheh­nisse in Seat­tle steht der amtie­rende Gou­ver­neur Brack­ha­ven. Seine anti-metamenschliche Kam­pa­gne sowie sein ver­such­ter Wahl­be­trug wir­beln viel Staub auf und kos­ten auch eini­gen wich­ti­gen Cha­rak­te­ren das Leben. Als er jedoch ver­sucht den kom­plet­ten Stab sei­ner Kon­kur­renz ermor­den zu las­sen kommt er ins Strau­cheln, da sein Kom­plott nicht ganz aufgeht.

Die Über­le­bende Dana Oaks schafft es dann mit Hilfe der Knight Errand Poli­zei und dem Schat­ten­volk nicht nur Brack­ha­vens Kar­riere und die sei­nes Pres­se­spre­chers Edmund Jef­fries zu been­den, son­dern dar­über hin­aus sogar die Pro­kla­ma­tion 23 zum Gesetz wer­den zu las­sen. Das bedeu­tet nichts weni­ger, als dass der berüch­tigte Ork-Untergrund letzt­end­lich zu einem Distrikt der Stadt Seat­tle erklärt wird. Diese uner­war­tete Wen­dung bie­tet den Stoff für man­nig­fal­tige Folge-Geschichten.

Light­ning in Denver

Die­ses Kapi­tel behan­delt die Gescheh­nisse in Den­ver und die Schläge gegen den gro­ßen Dra­chen Ghost­wal­ker. Diese Erzäh­lung ist noch inten­si­ver geschil­dert als die vor­he­ri­gen und ist ebenso episch wie der Drachen-Bürgerkrieg. Der Grund dafür ist, dass der Nexus, also das Herz des Shadow­net, wel­ches in Den­ver steht, direkt betrof­fen ist. Die Cha­rak­tere, wel­che die Geschich­ten bis­her nur berich­tet haben und immer die Dis­tanz der Matrix zu den Gescheh­nis­sen hat­ten, sind nun plötz­lich selbst im Faden­kreuz. Man fühlt sich direkt betrof­fen, wenn Ghost­wal­ker den Ste­cker zieht und die Logout-Meldungen der Netrun­ner zu sehen sind.

Den­ver wird von ver­schie­de­nen Hacker–Grup­pen ange­grif­fen und der per­sön­li­che Daten­spei­cher des Dra­chen wird ver­öf­fent­licht. Gleich­zei­tig gibt es gewalt­same Pro­teste gegen die Herr­schaft des Dra­chen, das Ver­kehrs­leit­sys­tem für Boden– und Luft­ver­kehr wird zer­stört, ein Flug­zeug stürzt in die Stadt und es naht ein dop­pel­ter Schnee­sturm heran. Ghost­wal­ker wird also von allen Ecken und Enden ange­grif­fen, bis er letzt­end­lich phy­sisch her­aus­ge­for­dert wird. Nie­mand gerin­ge­rer als Har­le­kin, der letzte Rit­ter der wei­nen­den Zinne selbst steht ihm gegen­über, in der Rüs­tung von Richard Löwen­herz und bewaff­net mit dem Schwert Exca­li­bur. Har­le­kin ist ein unsterb­li­cher Elf der in der vier­ten Welt vor über sie­ben­tau­send Jah­ren gebo­ren wurde. Dem lang­jäh­ri­gen Ver­fol­ger der Geschich­ten um den Elfen­rit­ter wird an die­ser Stelle die epi­sche Kon­klu­sion einer lange ange­kün­dig­ten Rache gelie­fert. Zebu­lon, der zusam­men­ge­fügte Geist Den­vers und Ehran der Gelehrte tau­chen am Ende eben­falls auf und lösen Dra­chen und Rit­ter aus ihrem Kampf, um schlim­me­res zu verhindern.

Ares trem­bles

Die Kon­ti­nente und Städte wer­den erschüt­tert, die poli­ti­sche Bühne emp­fängt neue Dar­stel­ler und der Vor­hang senkt sich über eini­gen alten. Die nächste Erschüt­te­rung trifft den all­seits belieb­ten und wahr­schein­lich best­be­kann­ten AAA–Kon­zern des Shado­wrun–Uni­ver­sums: Ares.

Ares Trem­bles ist defi­ni­tiv das lang­wei­ligste Kapi­tel des Buches, aber den­noch rand­voll mit Andeu­tun­gen, die eine Idee zum Shado­wrun gera­dezu her­aus­schreien. Den­noch wir­ken die Erklä­run­gen und Spe­ku­la­tio­nen lang gezo­gen und wenn man mehr auf die Rolle von Ares im Kampf gegen die Insek­ten­geis­ter ein­ge­gan­gen wäre, hätte es inter­es­san­ter wer­den kön­nen. Im Prin­zip han­delt es davon, dass Ares das Release eines Sturm­ge­wehrs namens Exca­li­bur phä­no­me­nal in den Sand setzt und ein furcht­bar feh­ler­haf­tes Pro­dukt auf den Markt bringt, das so eini­gen Kun­den ihr Leben – oder Kör­per­teile – kos­tet. Der PR-Schaden ist dadurch so hef­tig, dass die Aktien und der Umsatz ins Boden­lose sin­ken. Unsere lie­ben Netrun­ner dis­ku­tie­ren dar­über wer sich dafür ver­ant­wort­lich zeich­net und warum ein nur feh­ler­haf­tes Pro­dukt so gro­ßen Scha­den anrich­ten kann. Das inter­es­san­teste an dem Kapi­tel ist der spon­tane Tod von Niko­las Aure­lius durch einen Sprung aus zehn­tau­send Fuß Höhe – ohne Fall­schirm und ohne Ankün­di­gung. Niko­las Aure­lius ist direk­tes Mit­glied des ver­ein­ten Kon­zern Kon­zils und somit einer der wich­tigs­ten Figu­ren in der AAA–Kon­zern­ebene.

Shadow Net­work – First among equals

Nun fol­gen klei­nere Abschnitte über ver­schie­dene Frak­tio­nen, wie zum Bei­spiel die Elfen­na­tion Tír Tairn­gire und ihre Wah­len. Selbst­ver­ständ­lich lie­fern sich die Prin­zen und Rats­mit­glie­der kei­nen nor­ma­len Wahl­kampf, son­dern eher eine Reihe von sünd­haft teu­ren Kam­pa­gnen, Intri­gen und Ver­su­chen sich gegen­sei­tig auszuschalten.

The art­ful dodger

Ein wei­te­rer Abschnitt han­delt von Dod­ger, einem bekann­ten Netrun­ner aus zahl­rei­chen Roma­nen und eine wich­tige Figur im Zusam­men­hang mit der Matrix und den künst­li­chen Intel­li­gen­zen. Seine Wege und Taten der letz­ten Jahre wer­den hier grob nach­ge­zeich­net und als flei­ßi­ger Roman­le­ser wird man so einige Andeu­tun­gen wie­der­er­ken­nen. Seine Jagd nach Lady Mor­gana – eine KI und seine große Liebe – treibt ihn auch wei­ter­hin an und hat ihn zu einer Legende wer­den lassen.

Sleeping with the enemy

Auch die „Unto­ten“ wer­den nicht ver­ges­sen. Die Meta­men­schen mit dem Vam­pir­vi­rus haben Schwie­rig­kei­ten, da ihre leichte Son­nen­all­er­gie nun all­mäh­lich schwere Aus­maße annimmt und auch ihr Hun­ger auf Men­schen­fleisch um ein Viel­fa­ches stär­ker wird. Eine coole Epi­sode beschreibt wie Mar­tin De Vries auf einer sei­ner Buch­le­sun­gen ange­grif­fen wird und somit öffent­lich bekannt wurde, dass der berüch­tigte Vam­pir­jä­ger und Autor selbst ein Vam­pir ist. Eine Tat­sa­che die in den Schat­ten bereits län­ger bekannt war.

Esca­ping the ghost decade

Auch an Japan sind die Gescheh­nisse der letz­ten Jahre nicht spur­los vor­über gegan­gen. Wenn frü­her fünf von acht der gro­ßen AAA–Kon­zerne aus Japan kamen sind es heute weit weni­ger. Viele der Gro­ßen haben Rück­schläge erlit­ten oder wur­den schlicht und ein­fach von der Kon­kur­renz über­trumpft. Shia­wase aller­dings hat seine Kar­ten gut gespielt und sich mit der Fami­lie des Kai­sers liiert. Nach außen hin arbei­ten die japa­ni­schen Kon­zerne nun mehr zusam­men als je zuvor, wenn sie sich in Japan auch trotz­dem noch strei­ten mögen. Auch eine lang­same Wie­der­ge­burt von Ren­raku kün­digt sich an. Tot­ge­glaubte leben tat­säch­lich länger.

Frac­tures – The cracks inside

Im letz­ten erzäh­le­ri­schen Abschnitt behan­delt Storm­front die „neue“ Matrix. Eine Initia­tive der Matrix–Sicher­heit Gri­dO­ver­watch­Di­vi­sion [GOD], die eine Umstruk­tu­rie­rung des kom­plet­ten Grids vor­sieht. Die Geschich­ten wer­den jetzt per­sön­li­cher und die Jack­Point–Mit­glie­der tra­gen alle ihren Teil dazu bei. Die Umstruk­tu­rie­rung ver­passt der Matrix ein altes und zen­tra­li­sier­tes Gewand. GOD wacht über alles und jeder große Kon­zern sitzt mit im Boot. Fins­tere Zei­ten also für die Netrun­ner. Doch damit nicht genug, eine wahr­haft chao­ti­sche Ansamm­lung von Andeu­tun­gen, Posts, abge­fan­ge­nen Mails und Ähn­li­chem, deu­tet eine reich­hal­tige fünfte Edi­tion an! Vie­les davon ist nur schwer zusam­men­zu­fas­sen, aber das Wich­tigste dürfte der Kampf von Fast­Jack gegen sich selbst sein. Alles was er erdul­den musste und eine mys­te­riöse Soft­ware sor­gen dafür, dass er lang­sam den Ver­stand ver­liert. Doch bevor er end­gül­tig den Kampf ver­liert, gibt der alte Mann seine Rechte und Pflich­ten beim Jack­point an drei sei­ner Kol­le­gen ab und zieht sich zurück.

Game infor­ma­tion

Danach fol­gen die Spiel­werte der wich­tigs­ten Cha­rak­tere und einige sehr gute Aben­teu­er­an­sätze. Dabei han­delt es sich aber nur um einige wenige Sätze aus denen sich, mit Hilfe der reich­hal­ti­gen Infos aus den vor­he­ri­gen Kapi­teln und etwas Arbeit, dann doch sehr gute Aben­teuer stri­cken las­sen. Die Spiel­werte von Har­le­kin und Sirr­urg sind bei­spiels­weise schön anzu­se­hen, aber fal­len für mich nicht wirk­lich ins Gewicht. Wenn ein Spie­ler­cha­rak­ter mit einer sol­chen Legende kon­fron­tiert wird, haben Wür­fel mei­nes Erach­tens nach dort nichts verloren.

Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis

Die zahl­lo­sen Ideen, die gute Auf­ma­chung und die schö­nen Geschich­ten sor­gen dafür, dass man die fünf­und­zwan­zig Euro, die das Werk in PDF-Form der­zeit kos­tet auf kei­nen Fall bereut. Viel­leicht ärgern sich die Käu­fer ver­schie­de­ner Aben­teuer dar­über, dass Mate­rial wie­der­ver­wen­det wurde, aber in einer der­ar­ti­gen Zusam­men­fas­sung bleibt das wohl nicht aus.

Erschei­nungs­bild

Storm Front CoverDie Gra­fi­ken und das Lay­out sind von guter Qua­li­tät und nur auf mei­nem Nexus 7 (grou­per) mit dem Moon+ Rea­der App gab es bei dem far­bi­gen Ein­band ein paar Gra­fik­feh­ler. Da diese aber nir­gendwo sonst auf­tra­ten, kann man dies dem PDF wohl kaum anlas­ten. Die Auf­ma­chung ist natür­lich, wie bei den meis­ten Quel­len­bü­chern üblich, auf DINA4 Größe opti­miert und des­halb muss man auf klei­ne­ren Rea­dern oder Tablets her­an­zoo­men, um ordent­lich lesen zu können.

Die Auf­lö­sung der Texte und auch der Gra­fi­ken machen dies jedoch pro­blem­los mit. Das Schrift­bild wird immer wie­der durch Illus­tra­tio­nen guter Qua­li­tät auf­ge­lo­ckert und ist gut les­bar. Außer­dem sorgt das Design der meis­ten Pas­sa­gen als Chat­fens­ter sowie die ein­ge­scho­be­nen „Info­da­teien“ dafür, dass dem Auge nicht lang­wei­lig wird, ohne aber zu viel abzulenken.


Fazit

Storm­front begeis­tert durch seine Schreib­weise, die klas­si­sche Auf­ma­chung und die epi­schen Geschich­ten. Für die meis­ten wich­ti­gen Geschich­ten der vier­ten Edi­tion wer­den Abschlüsse gefun­den und mög­li­che Ein­flüsse auf­ge­zeigt. Der Schreib­stil ist auf­grund der zahl­rei­chen Auto­ren sehr gemischt, was aber zu dem Kon­glo­me­rat aus zusam­men­ge­tra­ge­nen Infor­ma­tio­nen im Jack­Point–Stil sehr gut passt. Beson­ders auf­ge­fal­len sind vor allem zwei Stil­blü­ten die anschei­nend unter allen Auto­ren extrem beliebt waren: „The shit hits the fan“ und „to add insult to injury“. Es ließ mich einige Male lächeln das immer wie­der zu lesen, aber es hat dem Gesamt­werk kei­nen Abbruch getan.

Auch wenn man über die Art der Abschlüsse geteil­ter Mei­nung sein kann, so ist doch die Art der Dar­stel­lung in Storm­front sehr gut. Fes­selnd an den rich­ti­gen Stel­len, aber durch­aus auch manch­mal zu nüch­tern an ande­ren. Eine acht­zehn Sei­ten lange Abhand­lung über Ares‘ Fehl­pro­duk­tion war nicht ganz so inter­es­sant und doch hat mich jeder zweite Satz gedank­lich einen Shado­wrun sehen las­sen, der für die eine oder andere Situa­tion ver­ant­wort­lich gewe­sen sein könnte.

Auch ist es eine gute Ent­schei­dung die Matrix der ver­gan­ge­nen Tage wie­der her­auf­zu­be­schwö­ren und die Hacker von der hei­mi­schen Toi­lette zu scheu­chen. Alles in allem eine zufrie­den­stel­lende Lek­türe, die einem Ver­fol­ger des Plots nur emp­foh­len wer­den kann. Für alle Neu­ein­stei­ger ist es emp­feh­lens­wert, um Hin­ter­gründe aus ver­gan­ge­nen Zei­ten zu erfah­ren. Auch wenn einige Per­so­nen oder Orte nach­ge­schla­gen wer­den müs­sen ist das Buch ins­ge­samt eine auf­schluss­rei­che Lektüre.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Storm Front
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Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3 Weapon Cards (SR5 Stats)
by riccardo b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/20/2014 03:09:28
Nice and useful supplement for every shadowrunner, at reasonable cost!
Good weapon pictures and very clear stats tab.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3 Weapon Cards (SR5 Stats)
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Shadowrun: Coyotes
by Edward K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/18/2014 14:17:07
Product- Coyotes
Producer- Catalyst Game Labs
Price- $8
TL;DR- Good add for GMs looking to add international tension to a game. 90%

Basics-You need a ride? Coyotes are specialist smugglers who get people across borders. This supplement covers what to expect when you cross different kinds of borders ranging from the simple guarded gate to countries at war. The book is mostly told through a web post by a professional Coyote near Seattle. Near the end of the book, different example Coyotes are presented. The last section of the book is a complete adventure any GM can run where the players are hired Coyotes.

Fluff/Story- Most of this book is fluff. The book focus on how different border crossings will occur as well as giving runners hints on how to cross these borders. The stories are well written and an interesting read. I enjoyed it. 5/5

Crunch/Mechanics- This is not a numbers book. Make no mistake, the book does give statistics, but this isn't a general spat book for everyone. The book outlines what to expect at different borders and give what defenses the guards will have on hand. I would have liked a few example drawings as some border crossings are referenced, but never shown. The inclusion of the adventure really makes this awesome. 4.5/5

Execution- The book is well laid out. It's a bit expensive for $8 bucks for 30 pages, but I didn't hate reading this. 4/5

Art- The art in this book is pretty good. Some art is recycled from previous stuff which I don't like but most of the referenced characters get their own picture. That makes me happy. I would have liked pictures/maps of a few things, but I do like what I see. 4.5/5

Summary- This is a good book. It's not something everyone at the tables needs, but if you want to be a coyote, this is the book for you. If you are a GM and you want either a quick adventure for the next game, or you want to add tension when most players assume their safe like on a highway between places/adventures, this is an excellent addition to your library. 90%

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Coyotes
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Andrew P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2014 16:43:07
Originally published at http://screenmonkey.blog.com/2014/01/15/review-shadowrun-5th-
-edition/

Shadowrun was my first cyberpunk game I ever heard of. Before that, I didn't even know the genre existed. It was in Second edition when I first heard about it, and I have been following every edition since then. So it's no surprise that as soon as I heard that they were making a new edition I was hooked.

This review is of the PDF version mainly, although I have not yet found any discrepancies with the my physical copy.

The PDF clocks in at 489 pages, including a 5 pages table of contents, 6 page index, covers, art pages and some consolidated tables and character sheet at the end for another 14 pages, and 3 pages of adds for tie in video games. This leaves a total of 461 pages of content. Bookmarks are well done and pretty complete, and the ToC is hyper-linked to every subheading I tried.

The artwork ranges from decent to good, with a few full page pieces and quite a number of half page pieces as well. The art rarely detracts from the book other than in a few places where it doesn't reflect what is written on the page (Two notable exceptions are the Combat Mage Archetype, where the picture is of a troll but the metatype says human, And the splash art for the Rigger fiction, which shows an Ork driving and the rigger in the passenger seat).

Speaking of the fiction, there's some at the start of every chapter. These are short pieces that highlight what the section is about, and are pretty well written. They evoke the setting as much as the individual sections, and will hopefully get any prospective GM thinking about situations to put their players in.

The game system itself is well explained, with good examples in sidebars. You do have to hunt around for some things that could have been better organized though. Limits and drain resistance tests are two of the things that should have been better organized, as the only place I've found where the calculations for them are not where you'd expect them to be. The limit calculation is at the end of character creation when filling in the last little fiddly bits, and the drain resistance stats are sidebars in the magic section, where traditions are explained. Not deal breakers, but both could have also been explained in the appropriate sections of the text for redundancy without hurting the overall document.

The section on the state of the world at the beginning of the book is relatively short, only 23 pages. But it covers a wide variety of topics and gives the broad strokes of the world without spending a lot of time on it. It's missing a lot of the history that came through in previous editions, but I can forgive that as it was more concerned with explaining the way the world is in 2070 rather than how it got that way. It covers the major players in the corporate world, goes over extraterritoriality (one of the cornerstones of the game world), and the day to day life of the average person.

Character creation has brought back the priority system, with the give and take that it entails. You can still min-max to a degree, but characters seem to be a bit more balanced overall. It introduces a couple of wrinkles from the old version by adding in 'special attribute points' under the metatype heading. These points are spent on things like magic, resonance and edge. the higher up the priority is, the more points you have to spend.

Magic, the matrix and riggers get their own chapter, although riggers seems to be a bit short as it mostly works off the same rules as the matrix, and really only the differences are highlighted in that chapter. Magic got a big boost in this edition, separating out alchemy, spell casting, summoning and rituals all as distinct ways of doing things. I particulary like how rituals are completely distinct from spell casting, and not just a way to cast spells without a visual link like in previous editions. The rituals actually feel like rituals that might take hours to perform. It still allows you to cast those combat spells at a distance, but it also allows for healing and protective circles that last for hours or days without the need to be sustained, and a couple of other neat affects like summoning watchers and homunculus that don't really fit in the regular summoning rules. Alchemy allows you to put a spell into a physical form to be used later, and allows you to prepare ahead of time spells that you want to be able to cast and allowing you to resist drain before going on a run. Adepts are back and receive a decent treatment, but really don't seem to change all that much between editions. Which is a shame, because I'd really like them to get a fuller look than they have in the past. Theoretically they should be able to excel at anything, and the idea of the adept decker just makes me smile, even if he does give up a bit of his magic to get the datajacks.

Combat has changed a bit from 4th edition, with characters getting an action at their initiative on the first pass, then subtracting 10 from the initiative and everyone who still has a positive initiative getting a second/third/etc action. They've added in some changes that can affect your initiative as well. Whenever a character elects to dodge, block or parry they subtract 5 from their initiative but get to roll more dice for defense, for that one action only. You can also reduce init by 10 to add your willpower to your defense rolls for the rest of the combat turn (especially good idea for squishy mages and deckers with decent willpower).

The matrix section brings back the Deckers and decks. Commlinks are now useful, but unable to perform illegal actions like decks can. Netcops have also gotten worse, and every decker and knows that it's just a matter of time before they stomp on you. Luckily, they are more like a fire and forget missile, and once they've bounced you from the matrix they don't bother following up other than forwarding your location to whoever you were trying to hack at the time. This works by giving you an overwatch score that starts as soon as you do something illegal, even if the target didn't notice it. It also goes up over time, and once it hits a certain level they drop the hammer. They hit your deck, possibly frying it, and dump you from the matrix. There's no roll to resist this, it just happens. Technomancers can get this especially bad, as instead of frying their deck they get knocked out or killed by the feedback.

In all, I have to say that I like the new edition of Shadowrun a lot. I'm a not a complete fanboy, and there are parts that irk me, but It's a solid new edition and the publisher seems to be committed to the line and releasing new material.

Pros: Good looking book, solid mechanics and fiction gives a good feel for the universe

Cons: Some organizational issues, history is missing some key points of cannon from previous editions.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to North America
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2014 21:46:25
The Neo-Anarchist’s Guide to North America, is what it says, a guide to the non-Native American nations of North America (in 2050). Just read the opening section that defines the Neo-Anarchist philosophy, the first four paragraphs really tell you everything you need to know (the rest is just wacky economics). It is an interesting look at the early ideas for the United Canadian American States, the Confederated American States, the California Free State and Quebec, some of which have evolved considerably in the last twenty years. It is obviously an early effort but it remains a useful reference for certain sections of North America and an interesting look back to an early era.

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: The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to North America
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Shadowrun: Rigger 3 Revised
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/14/2014 21:45:38
Rigger 3 Revised, is the Shadowrun 3rd big book of vehicles and rigger rules covering everything that drive or flies in detail. While designed for the 3rd edition of the Shadowrun rules much of the general discussion and information is still usable in later versions. The discussion of what vehicles will be like in the Shadowrun future and the expenses (licences, insurance) is an interesting read. There are discussions on the role of riggers, security riggers (who operate building security systems), vehicle design and customization rules and a combined list of 3rd edition vehicles

The general information and ideas are still excellent reference and full of useful data and ideas, unfortunately it is almost totally incompatible with the current edition (or even the 4th edition) of the rules. Still, if your campaign makes wide use of vehicles and drones it may just be worthwhile.

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: Rigger 3 Revised
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Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3
by Rob R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2014 12:47:52
Here's what you get: a holdout, a light pistol, a heavy pistol, 3 machine pistols, 3 SMGs, 5 assault rifles, 6 shotguns, no fewer than 10 sporting rifles, an LMG, an assault cannon, and a flame thrower. Keep in mind, the reason it has so many sporting rifles is because the core book for SR5 doesn't actually have any (at least not billed as such). The damage codes on the sporting rifles are actually pretty impressive; they range from 6P to 13P, though the 13P weapon is only Accuracy 4. Nice in that they have both SR5 and SR20A stats.

Neither the Machine Pistols nor the SMGs were really that impressive when I did a side-by-side comparison to those available in SR5 core. The Assault Rifles were actually pretty interesting though, and I imagine the Shotguns and Sporting Rifles are actually worth looking at. The "Vintage" classification seems unnecessary with the "throwback" descriptor in SR5, and... I just can't place the look of an old west revolver in the hands of a runner in 2075. There's even one sporting rifle that is Cap and Ball ammunition, which takes 3 complex actions to load. Why include that?

The art is well done, but the design aesthetics of some of the weapons just look.... lame. or old. A couple of the rifles (admittedly made by the same manufacturer) look nearly identical. Again, the art itself is good, I just don't like what they're depicting. Pretty subjective, but.. I'm just not getting that same futuristic vibe of advanced weaponry when I look at a lot of these as I do from the SR5 book, or older edition splatbooks.

All in all still kinda iffy on it, but if you're a hardcore collector or your character is a gun enthusiast, this is still worth a look. Not sure I'd buy it off a shelf, I would definitely say buy it PDF if you want it. I realize it's not the main Firearms splatbook, but I'm still kinda underwhelmed. Not worthless, but fairly niche, and even then not the best.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3
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Shadowrun: 10 Mercs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/01/2014 11:52:36
10 Mercs looks at ten of the midrange mercenary companies in the Sixth World some famous, some infamous and some new but all interesting and most which can easily spawn plot hooks for characters. It is also very entertaining reading and even the opening fiction is a good read. If you use, or want to use, mercenaries in your Shadowrun campaign this will be a useful resource.

Shadowrun: 10 Mercs, is a good-sized (52-page) product detailing selected mercenaries groups in the Shadowrun setting along with a very brief discussion on the place of mercenaries in the Sixth World. Each mercenary group gets at least one named member fully described and statted out along with at least one standard member of that group with information (and stats) on equipment and vehicles as used by certain of the groups. While all of the information is still fairly current for 5th edition, the extensive statistics would be considerable work to convert, but if done only as needed should be manageable.

Some groups that have been mentioned before, such as the Free Marine Corps, get fully detailed and Picador (who is a frequent commentator ins other files) gets revealed. Some of the groups are obviously designed as opposition (Task Force Magus), others at potential allies (77th Independent Rangers, Bravo Company) but most could go either way depending on the situation and even the potential allies could end up opposed to the Shadowrunner goals. While there are no separate adventure seeds there is enough interesting information on each of the groups to be easily spun into scenarios.

While sizable units of mercenaries may not have a place in every Shadowrun campaign, if you are thinking of including such in yours, you will find this a useful resource and interesting read.

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:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 10 Mercs
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Shadowrun: Cyberpirates!
by Christian S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/29/2013 11:18:15
It's a great book about the piracy in the 6th world. It can also be used for Shadowrun 3rd, 4th and 5th Edition. But the PDF is low but acceptable quality (scanned Book).

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Cyberpirates!
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Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/26/2013 22:00:57
Sim Dreams & Nightmares is a brief guide to the use and abuse of sim sense technology in the Shadowrun setting. Sim Sense and BTL (Better Than Life) chips, and the addiction caused by them, are a major part of the Shadowrun setting so, good to see them get some more detail. However, this product does not provide nearly enough mechanical information, rather just enough for an overview, which may be enough for most games but it creates more questions than it answers.

Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares, is a short piece on sim sense and related technologies (Better Than Life -BTL- chips, moodchips, personasofts) and their place in the Sixth World of Shadowrun. While made for the 4th edition, the background information remains applicable to the setting and the limited additional rules should be easily convertible to 5th.

The discussions of sim sense and its uses (“opiate of the masses”) are interesting. But the really interesting chips are moodchips (choose your emotion) and personasofts (act like someone else with skills to match) and they are not given enough information to properly integrate them into a game as their mechanical effects and limits are not even discussed and they have so much potential as plot hooks and in game devices.

Additional mechanics for addiction as well as new sim and addiction related edges and flaws complete the product along with a complete list of addictive substances (including skillwires now) in Shadowrun along with prices for various sorts of sim programs.

The subject really deserves more space and clearer rules though it does do a good job of providing an insetting look at sim sense, it is lacking the mechanics to back them up properly.

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: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
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Shadowrun: Coyotes
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/26/2013 06:16:25
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/12/26/tabletop-review-shadowr-
un-coyotes/

..and with this, I believe I’ve cleaned up my backlog of reviewables that came in while I was on vacation. Except for White Wolf’s Blood & Smoke: The Strix Chronicle of course. That’s a big one. Anyway, Coyotes is the latest supplement from Catalyst Game Labs. Unlike Gun H(E)aven 3, which was released the same day, I really liked Coyotes, even if the price tage may give you some initial hesitation as to whether you should pick this up or not. Eight bucks for thirty pages of content is a bit high to me, especially for a PDF, but at least there’s actual CONTENT to this piece (all of which is really well done) compared to say 50% blank space, a picture of a gun, line of mechanics and three to four sentences of Jackpoint snark. Best of all, the content in Coyotes is wonderful and you’ll easily get your money’s worth out of this release. Let’s show you why.

In the Sixth World, the term “coyotes” is slang for smugglers. This might throw you for a loop because of the emphasis the game has on Native American folklore and culture. In many NA tribes, the coyote is the symbol of the trickster god. So why use this term for smuggling? Well, it makes sense if you think about a smuggler being a trickster itself. After all, they have to use wits and many a clever scheme to get their cargo to their destination as well as past corporate and government snoops. In this sense the trickster version of coyote is somewhat applicable, at least more so than the animal itself that bears the name. I’m not sure if that is the same train of thought the writers of Shadowrun used to come up with it, but I’d love to see the process. A book showcasing the process for Sixth World slang would in and of itself would be a great read….but I’m going off topic. Let’s talk Coyotes.

Like a lot of supplements for Shadowrun, Coyotes is a multi-faceted piece. You have some short fiction (three pages) to start things off and then it goes into a Jackpoint discussion post. Unlike most supplements of this nature which have the metaplot piece first and the mechanics at the tail end of the book, the crunch and fluff are seamlessly integrated into this release. It’s a bit jarring for those used to the old way these types of pieces were done, especially when you go to flip towards the back for a piece of mechanics and find it’s not there anymore, but it’s well done and if this is the way these pieces are going to be done for Fifth Edition, we’ll all get used to it. Finally, the piece concludes with an adventure, which was a nice little surprise. This is rarely done in Shadowrun supplements, so I loved seeing this at the end of the piece. The adventure, which we’ll look at in depth later on in the review is written with the Shadowrun Missions format, which I loved seeing, as it’s my favorite adventure format, regardless of system/setting because it’s so inviting to GM’s of all skill levels. All in all, you’re getting an amazing amount of content jammed into these thirty pages and I’m really impressed by this release.

“Transporter” is the name of the piece of short fiction that starts this piece off. It’s about a coyote named Tim (Who also appears to be a Rigger BTW) and his unfortunate dealings with a less than professional team of runners. The story is a fine read and makes a great warning for what happens to PCs that think all NPCs are disposable idiots. The story ends a bit abruptly and I’d have liked to learn more about Tim (especially how he gets away with using a “real” name) and Pax, but that’s what sequels are for, right?

The core metaplot content is done in the usual Jackpoint style. The author here is one Timothy Movo, presumably the same Timothy from the previous short story. It’s a great look at the ins and outs of human trafficking (which is mostly what this piece is about, not cargo) and it’s one of the more faceted pieces I’ve seen CGL do on a particular Sixth World profession. You are given examples of what is needed to survive as a coyote, why it’s hard to get out of the job once immersed in it, and the big mistakes people make in the field, which leads to them dying. This section also tries to differentiate between a coyote and a routine smuggler, but it mostly came off as semantics for me.

This piece also covers the various type of situations where PCs might encounter a coyote. Are you in a game where all the PCs work for a specific corporation? There is a section on corporate coyotes. Want to make a Coyote a big NPC contact for your PCs? There is a lot on how to contact and eventually befriend a coyote. There’s a ton of information on border crossings ranging from “very easy” to very hard” along with the types of security, both mundane and magical that you are likely to encounter. These sections really blur the line between metaplot and mechanics, so you would do well to go over this area several times if you plan on making use of it. Of course, where there are descriptions of security measures, there is also commentary on how to get by them, so you’ll want to read that as well, especially if you play Shadowrun rather than run it.

The metaplot bit just kind of tapers off without warning or any real conclusion. It just suddenly goes into six sample NPC coyotes for use with your game and then into the adventure. Three are riggers, one is a guide, one is an adept and one is a technomancer. If you don’t like any of these, at least you’ll come away with an idea for how to design one of your own.

The included adventure is entitled, “Piping Hot” and it’s a one shot adventure designed to introduce new players to the game (or just Fifth Edition). The adventure is for Fifth Edition only, but with some slight modification, I have no doubts it could be played with previous editions of the game. The adventure takes a bit of explaining. The PCs are all unrelated to each other and are called by a Mr. Johnson individually. It seems he needs someone smuggled into Seattle but his usual coyote has up and disappeared. The good news is that the coyote left a set of instructions on how to do the run. The bad news is the runners, all totally new to the concept of human smuggling, are tapped for the job. It SOUNDS simple enough – drive a van into Salish-Shidhe, pick up the client and come on back to Seattle, but when is a run ever as easy as it sounds? The adventure gives characters and players alike a chance to taste the coyote lifestyle and see if it is something that they would be interested in pursuing further. If so, the GM and PC get a chance at exploring a very different aspect of the Sixth World. If not, hey, it was a one-time experience they wouldn’t otherwise get, right? Either way, the adventure is pretty interesting and a nice change of pace.

Overall, Coyotes is a nice purchase that gives you a taste of everything – a fleshed out concept, some short fiction, a full adventure, some Jackpoint material and a decent amount of mechanics (far more than we normally see in a supplement of this type). Basically it has something for everyone. I’m very pleased with Coyotes and can happily recommend it to Shadowrun fans across the board. Definitely pick it up if you haven’t already.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Coyotes
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