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BattleTech: Alpha Strike Ad Hoc Unit Cards
by Bobby W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/25/2013 12:17:00
I haven't had a chance to play with these cards much or check the data on them with much scrutiny yet. It appears that there are a couple of duplicates in the cards but with different photos so far. The image quality on them is great and it looks like they took time to paint/photoshop all of the mech miniatures instead of the TRO images I've seen on the old record sheets. I like the change as it makes it easier to match up the card to the model.

These cards do not appear to have any protective coating on them so if you're going to use a dry erase marker I think it'd be best to get card protectors for them. They fit into the standard Magic: The Gathering card protectors I had lying around but it was a slightly tight fit, which is good to prevent them from falling out.

Over all I think this was a worthwhile purchase for me.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Alpha Strike Ad Hoc Unit Cards
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Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3
by Edward K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2013 17:52:28
Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Gun H(e)aven 3


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

Item-Gun H(e)aven 3

System-Shadowrun 20th Anniversary edition and 5e

Producer- Catalyst

Price- ~$7

TL;DR- An all around well done supplement for both systems. 93%

Basics-Oi, chummers! It’s time to log onto the shadownet and read about the latest batch of guns to hit the streets of the sixth world. Each of the over 30 guns in this book gets a full page treatment with a picture, stats for 4th and 5th edition, and some fluff from some of the more notable members of the Shadownet.



Mechanics or “Crunch”- I wouldn’t say this is a revolutionary book for mechanics, but its goal is to show off new guns. And, at that it succeeds quite well. The book shows off new guns like cap and ball guns and flamethrowers while giving stats for a lot of weapons. If you’re looking for a good collection of new guns for your game, this is a great addition for Shadowrun. 5/5



Theme/Story or “Fluff”-This part is well done also. Its pretty easy to lose the story of the world when you make a book primarily for numbers, but this book doesn’t do it. Each gun gets a picture which helps with your mental picture of the game. Also, I LOVE the fact that each gun gets a little debate by various players of the shadownet. It really makes me think like I was playing Shadowrun when I read this book. 5/5



Execution/Art- I liked the layout of this book. That was well done. I loved the art in this book. That was AMAZING! What I didn’t like was the price. The book is under 50 pages and it costs about ~7 bucks. I know art is expensive, but this was a bit too much for the book. 4/5



Summary- Honestly, this is a well done splat book for both SR4A and SR5. You might only need one copy per group since you only really need it when you buy your gun. I might complain about price, but I am glad I bought it. If you want to play the man with the gun and to know why your guy has that gun besides some metagame numbers, this is the book for you. 93%

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3
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Shadowrun: Coyotes
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/22/2013 15:56:09
Coyotes provides information about people smugglers in the Shadowrun setting. I admit, this is the first time I have seen the term ‘coyote’ used for people smugglers in a non-derogatory matter, the ‘coyotes’ I read about in the modern world are pretty universally unpleasant people, while here it is just used as a generic term and I think they would have been well served to have found another term to use. That aside, it is a useful resource if there is a lot of traveling in your campaign, not all borders are easy to move across after all.

Shadowrun: Coyotes, is a resource on people smugglers in the Sixth World, how and why they operate, advice on when to use them, pre-generated coyotes, examples checkpoints and a scenario make up this product.

It begins with three pages of fiction, showing a cross-border run from the point of view of the driver, and then moves into a little over six pages discussing how the transporters work and the dangers of their trade (and a pricing guide for GMs). Next there is about eight pages of border security (ranging from very easy to very hard) covering the sorts of guards and the magical, physical and matrix tools they will have at hand. Six operators are provided as examples, ranging from street guides to waterborne smugglers, for the GM.

Lastly, there is a short adventure “Piping Hot” that gives characters a chance to act as transporters themselves. It is a good early adventure for a team and, which a little stage-managed, looks like it could be quite fun to play.

Overall, a good addition to the resources for Shadowrun covering a niche that has often been overlooked.

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: Coyotes
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Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
by Andrew R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2013 22:51:35
Looking to run an atompunk campaign using Savage Worlds rules, I picked this up on a whim, hoping to glean a few ideas for a homebrew. I'm so glad I did; the retro-future setting they've created is practically bursting at the seams with great ideas. What's more, the crisp writing -- light, pulpy, humorous but never ridiculous, with a cohesive feel, and obviously put together by people who really love sci fi from the 40's through the 60's -- makes for one of the most pleasing campaign setting reads I've ever encountered. Bubble helmets? Check. Psionically-endowed nefarious Moon Men? Check. Weird science and cool technobabble (I love "fractum embroilment field")? Check. All done with style. Like many good RPG settings, most of the ideas are stolen -- but never feel tacked on.

The setting is laid out in a series of short reports, scientific papers or histories, which jump around topic-wise. The approach was unsettling at first -- where was my giant setting map followed by detailed regional descriptions? Where were my sections on currency, everyday life, government, travel, and a planet-by-planet accounting of adventure locales? As I read on, though, the more I appreciated the way the articles encouraged me to imagine my own version of a living, breathing setting from the inside. Some folks may yearn for more of a "sourcebook" approach, but by relying on well-written "you are there" pieces over lists, I think they've sidestepped one of my common complaints about campaign settings: often, the writers are so intent on giving you details about everything that they don't leave room for your group's stories. Not so here, and it's great stuff.

In the end, I've ported about 90% of what I've read into my SW game, to the point where it really is just a Cosmic Patrol game with a ruleset of my own choosing.

I can't comment about the game system; frankly, I skipped over it for the fluff, and still feel like I got a great deal at $4.99. Other products in this line have lived up to the same high standards.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2013 16:04:17
Gun H(e)aven 3 provides (surprise surprise) more guns for Shadowrun, statted out for both 4th and 5th editions which is useful and also -at times- perplexing. The weapons are primarily small arms, with one each assault cannon, light machine gun and flame-thrower, many of which are the sorts of weapon that would be found in households, not usually the sort of heat runners would pack but that they might be shot by or be forced to use in bad circumstances. All of this is useful in the right circumstances. But what perplexes me about the product is that while it is the same weapon from edition to edition, the availability, cost and legality (!) of many of the guns changes from edition to edition which are part of the same continuity, some explanation would be welcome.

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: Gun H(e)aven 3
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Shadowrun: Montreal 2074
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2013 16:03:19
Montreal 2074 as the Republic of Quebec opens for business, Montreal sees a renaissance as corporate money pours in revitalizing the city and providing Shadowrunners with opportunities. This resource gives some background as to what has happened in Quebec as a whole since the matrix crash 2.0 and what specifically has been going down in Montreal. It gives a good overview of the city, sketches of the major players in the shadowy underworld and ends with nine contacts appropriate to Montreal (while written for the previous edition, the mechanic of the contacts are the only things that would need to be converted for a 5th edition game). While there are a variety of implied adventures in the text, some adventure seeds would have been a nice addition. Overall, a needed resource if you want to run the shadows up Quebec-way even though it could have provided some deeper information beyond the overview for plot hooks and really getting a feel for the shadows of Montreal.

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: Montreal 2074
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Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3
by Maximilian W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/15/2013 17:19:45
First of all, the fact that Gun Heaven 3 can be used with Shadowrun 4.1 and 5 is a very nice touch.

The supplement introduces a lot of rather exotic and/or vintage guns with little real combat efficiency for player characters, although many of them have their uses in the hands of civilians, low-tech gangers and/or third-world fighters. Some of them also have a lot of style for posers, especially the variety of wild-west vintage style revolvers and lever action rifles. On the other hand, there also are a few quite exciting, high-powered guns like the monsoon and the rainforest rifle that could possibly rise the power level of your campaign an will be very attractive to players.

Fluff and crunch are quite good, all in all, the illustrations have very different styles but the quality is generally nice, much better than some of the crude pieces presented in gun heaven 2.

All in all, in my opinion, the PDF is not a real must-have, but quite worth the purchase and may add some nice aspects to your Shadowrun-Universe.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3
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Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3
by Kyle W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/14/2013 23:40:25
Gun Heaven 3 expands the Shadowrun 5th Edition arsenal, and does so in an interesting manner. It pioneers new territory as far as official content we've seen in Shadowrun, and it's got a lot going for it with regards to expanding the capabilities of combatants in 5th Edition campaigns.

It's a well-done piece, with gorgeous guns throughout. There's even a good old Springfield Model 1855, should one want to go back to black powder weapons, and several other interesting guns. Sporting rifles are added back into 5th Edition, which is, in my opinion, a good thing.

A few weapons in this are archetype breakers, such as the Rain Forest carbine, a solid option for a runner with high Automatics who needs a more solid single shot weapon that hits more like a sniper rifle, and there are interesting historical weapons throughout. It also includes a good glimpse of a civilian weapons catalog, with a chunk of easy to get weapons that would be just as much in place in a homeowner's gun cabinet as in a security guard's hands. Other weapons such as the Monsoon include features and applications that we haven't seen before, even though they were supported in the previous rulesets (it uses six barrels that hold the ammunition, akin to the somewhat famous Metal Storm concept weapon).

For $8, you could go worse than Gun Heaven 3; it's got a lot of new art, the witty banter and fluff with each weapon is good, and it's got a lot of interesting guns. Of course, at the same time, it doesn't really introduce any new rules that are likely to see use in play (unless someone violates the rules of magic and time travels back to the Civil War).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Coyotes
by Kyle W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/14/2013 22:42:22
Coyotes is an interesting piece. It's perhaps more for GM's than for players, but it answers the question of border crossings in Shadowrun nicely, while also providing an adventure and some guidelines for how players can get passage between places.

My main gripe with Coyotes is that it doesn't cover "unofficial" border crossings, like those done through tunnels or using thunderbirds, in very much detail. Fortunately, it gives a good idea of what to expect at border crossings, providing a good framework for roleplaying the events and actually turning crossing the border into a component of an engaging session.

Typesetting and graphics wise, I enjoyed Coyotes. There's a little bit of art repetition from prior works (I recognized one piece from SR4's Runner's Companion), but that's not a deal-breaker given the general high quality of previous works. Each page has the same header art, but it's subdued enough not to be too grating and distracting.

My only caution to people who would buy Coyotes is the price; for a short fiction, bit of fluff, and a short adventure you might do better for $8, but it's still a good product all-in-all, and if you're looking for that crucial travel information there's no better place to look.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Coyotes
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Shadowrun: The Assassin's Primer
by Kevin W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/14/2013 20:23:47
I'm with the "meh" crowd on this one. I was really hoping for more crunch, especially when there was an opportunity for more assassin-specific gear than just one sniper rifle.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: The Assassin's Primer
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Shadowrun: Character Dossier
by Torben E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2013 13:27:38
So, I picked this up for inspiration, hoping to get some good ideas about how to construct good 5th Ed Shadowrun character sheets. Sadly, it turned out just to be an A5 pocketbook without any inspirational page design, intriguing layout or valuable insights into how to structure data for different character archetypes. Pity, given how good Shadowrun products generally are.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Character Dossier
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Shadowrun: Spell Cards, Series 1
by J.R. R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/09/2013 13:34:36
As a convention GM for many years I am always looking for ways to make Shadowrun more new player friendly. Spell cards are one such way. I was very excited when I heard Catalyst was going to be releasing these and bought a copy of the PDF so that I could utilize them at the next convention I work.

This set comes with 54 cards and there are 84 spells in the core rulebook. The cards are clearly laid out with all the information you need to cast them. This includes color coding based on type of spell. They do not provide any help on how to resolve them though, that is left to the GM's memory or the handy page numbers listed on the cards.

The cards are an excellent player aid featuring most of the spells which are likely to be needed during combat time. It includes 14 out of 18 combat spells with the missing 4 being those I see least often on player made characters. There are 12 out of 18 Detection spells, but most of the missing spells are simply the extended versions of other spells making the cards easy to modify to reflect that. The 3, out of 11, health spells which are missing are ones I have never seen used. Eight of the 19 Illusion spells are missing, but again it was primarily area effect spells which were left out. Lastly half of the 18 manipulation spells are missing. In addition to leaving out the area spells they also left out the popular "Magic Fingers" and "Fling" spells. Overall they did a decent job of selecting which spells were included in this set of cards. My biggest complaint on selection is that they left out spells which the sample characters in the core rulebook have.

As for the cards themselves, I appreciate the color coding, but for a PDF release I would have preferred if they used plain white backgrounds with color highlights instead colored backgrounds to conserve ink. I would also have liked a "back side" for the cards to make them more like real cards. Lastly I am unsure how I feel about it being 1 card to a page. It lets me pick and choose which cards to print, but it makes it that much harder to print (and cut) a full set at home. To those who are reading this and printing at home, print 3 rows of 2 cards per page and you will get playing card sized cards.

For the player who wants a quick reference, these are a worthwhile purchase. They are also useful for the GM who doesn't want, or have the time, to properly explain all the spells to their players, and since its a PDF a GM can easily print out what each player needs. If either of those describe you, then I recommend buying the spell cards. 3/5 stars.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Spell Cards, Series 1
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Shadowrun: Street Legends
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
I may be reviewer tilting this one a little high, but Street Legends does something very unusual that a lot of other NPC collections don't: they situate the NPCs within relationships with other characters. At its strongest, this creates characters that will evoke strong reactions in your players. But it doesn't quite hit the mark every time. Let's break it down.

Street Legends is a collection of 2-4 page descriptions of figures in the Shadowrun universe. Having checked out of Shadowrun early in second edition and only now coming back, I don't have a huge amount of knowledge of the Shadowrun universe or whether any of these people were important in the various novels, computer games, comic books or modules that have come about in the intervening 15-20 years. This makes me the ideal audience for an NPC book. The only fascination I can feel for these characters is strictly based on their utility at the table.

First, there's a nice variety of stat levels. There are characters who are just "at the start" of their shadowrunning career. Most are somewhat more experienced - some are frankly loaded down with magic and resources. None feel like they couldn't be a player character after some effort and time (except for the dragon.)

Second, there's a good variety of origins and statuses, ranging from non-persons who make an effort at erasing everything they do to globally famous celebrities, from privileged origins to run-down blanks. I feel like I get an idea of what sorts of people the player characters are likely to become after I read Street Legends.

Third, there's a good sense of the characters' various backgrounds. Even the characters I don't find compelling (see below) have enough details and information that I get some idea of the things they've done, and from their stats they seem like they could do those things potentially with some help, or perhaps with some exaggeration of the story.

That takes me naturally to the main point of this review, which is that Street Legends at its best speaks clearly through the voice of a character in the Shadowrun universe. One of the conceits of several Shadowrun books is that the information in the book is "presented" on a private Matrix board where various personalities argue, converse and provide each other with intel and stories. The best Street Legends are entries that permit us to learn not only about the character they're talking about, but the character that's "writing" about them. The two rival cat burglars who have written each other's snotty/adoring entries are a perfect example - as is the entry on Puck, which can be summed up as "this guy screwed up and everyone in the world hates him (within the margin of error)". Not only am I attracted to the voice of a character rather than a dry editorial voice, since I already have a Shadowrun corebook, I now have at least one relationship for the character to begin with.

Relationships are the core of cyberpunk (actually they are the core of almost all literature) - a cyberpunk protagonist is crushed between the soulless mechanisms of the world and the human feeling that pushes them to the edge. So it was a real pleasure to find in Street Legends information about love affairs, political causes, rivalries and vendettas. I'd say that a solid 80 percent of the entries in this book have solid relationships that help me see the character through a lens of emotion and put them in an interesting position as a result.

Street Legends doesn't hit the bullseye exactly, though. Some of these characters, while interesting in their own right, don't create actionable gaming material. As an example, the two rival cat burglars create a great dynamic between the two of them, but other than observing it (and probably saying "get a room"), there's not much that player characters can do about it and not many ways that the relationship will affect their game. Instead, what if these two criminals who are obviously obsessed with/into each other have significant others - each of them trying to stop their girl/boyfriend's obsession and clear them off the board. Now we have something where someone can hire a PC to do something about a situation rather than just constantly one-upping each other.

This isn't really a unique fault of Street Legends - a lot of NPC books fall into this trap (and, as a friend pointed out on Twitter, virtually all of some classic game settings like Over the Edge). The purpose of an NPC book should be to give me someone that I can use via the corebook to create actionable situations for the player characters. In a game like Shadowrun that means not only that they have interesting action-adventure abilities (since Shadowrun is an action-adventure game), but that they have some problem, flaw, or drawback that requires them to cope with the player characters in some capacity, either as allies, enemies or obstacles. This is especially important for supposedly "mysterious" characters - I actually am much more interested in Puck than in the dang dragon in this book for exactly that reason! A guy that everyone in the world hates is someone who is going to be real interesting in the same room with the player characters because I don't know what the characters will do. A mysterious figure with an unknown agenda? A guy that maybe did something in some other conflict years ago? Well, how can I really care about that? And if I can't, how can the players?

Even when you take this into account, Street Legends actually does much better than a lot of other NPC books - I'd say a solid half of the characters in the book have an immediate need or problem the PCs could pop up on one side or the other of. And I was able to come up with simple ways to improve many of the other NPCs in this fashion because the background and capacities of the characters are presented well.

For example, the first entry in the book, "Agent", is a disinformation guy in a South/Central American war, who has a mysterious cyberarm that the various fictional "contributors" argue about. Since he's a disinformation/psyops guy I have to give him a problem that he can't solve with disinformation - or maybe that he can only make worse with disinformation. Simple - I say that even he doesn't know how he got the cyberarm or where it comes from or why it doesn't interfere with his adept abilities, and everywhere he looks someone is just telling him what he wants to hear. Boom, a perfect reason he needs a bunch of weird magical people with machine guns (PCs) to help him out. And there's plenty of reason them digging around on him might create a lot of problems for him, the PCs, and those surrounding them.

I should note that I have this book in print - every character is vividly realized in a full-length portrait. Even if you're like me and trapped with a group that categorically refuses to play at a table, it's big enough to hold up even in a wide living room and get a good idea of the colors and appearance of the portrait. (I still don't like any dang art in books that are part of a verbal hobby but WHATEVER it's real good okay.)

As I was writing all this up I realized the bottom line is that I think my four stars are right on target. Street Legends is more than solid because of its approach to characterizing NPCs through each other, through trying to connect them to the web of shady relationships and gossip that should make up the world of the PCs as well as the world Catalyst is presenting. In other words, in the future, everyone is just a sum of their Twitter mentions. Let's do this.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Street Legends
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Cory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
Very clean and beautiful book. My only criticism is the layout has a couple jump arounds in character creation, but mechanics and game balances are amazingly well done.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: The Assassin's Primer
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/02/2013 00:00:00
'The Assassin's Primer' is a good document to have at the table for anyone wanting to take this Archetype. At only seventeen pages (including cover), you get
- an overview of the life of the assassin,
- and explanation of assassin stereotypes (from the Desperate, the Psycho, and the Idealist)
- 'Knowledge is Power' which describes the sorts of skills that are necessary and how to use them creatively
- a short section on gear and magic
- general advice and Qualities (and a Negative Quality).

All is told from the viewpoint of an assassin who realises that he has a very short time to live and wants to pass along his knowledge. Interestingly, this is the second SR product I've reviewed this week with a White Wolf connection (the other be 'The Vladivostok Gauntlet'). In this product, the handle of the assassin is Quietus (the signature Discipline of the vampire assassins in Vampire: the Masquerade). Interesting.

So, is it worth it?

The book reads like a long magazine article with some rules at the end, a format that should be fairly familiar to most gamers. It does offer some good advice and would be very handy reading for anyone considering running an assassin-type character in the Sixth World. I question the longevity of usefulness for the product; I can see players reading it once, building a character and then maybe referencing it once or twice again. The Creeds are a mixed bag, and mileage will really vary. However, you could wrap an entire character concept around them, so for that they are useful. The edges they provide are situational, but a clever player can engineer this to their advantage.

It was an enjoyable read, and I can see this document having a role at my table, but mostly during character creation.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: The Assassin's Primer
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