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BattleTech: NAIS Fourth Succession War Military Atlas, Volume 1
by Jorge S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2015 14:36:40

it's flawed. Page 64 is missing and instead there is a repeated page 60. It goes laike that: 60, 61, 62, 63, 60, 65...



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: NAIS Fourth Succession War Military Atlas, Volume 1
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Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/02/2015 18:52:38

Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh provides background and game data for the wide world of improvements and augmentations availible in the Shadowrun world, everything from soft genetech to hard cyberware and everything in-between. Beside the fact that new toys are just fun, this book provides a wide variety of things to be stolen, hacked or otherwise used as the basis for shadowruns. The editorial quality feels better than the first of the fifth edition books as well. Overall, I would put this book into the needed source material column for a GM and most players will want it for the new toys.


Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh, is the core augmentation handbook for the 5th edition of Shadowrun providing information on cyberware, bioware, chemical, genetic and nano-enhancements. In other words, this product is full of new information but, more importantly, new toys for both players and GMs.


The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections and then moves into the current state of the metaplot, the continuing Cognitive Fragmentation Disorder (CFD) storyline and specifically how they effect cyberware and nanoware. While I appreciate the value of an evolving and changing setting, the CFD storyline does not appeal to me though I did like how it was used especially in the final section of this product.


A section on medical treatment options, framed around some lovely information from DocWagon, both corporate and “unofficial.” With a discussion of treatment for mental health issues, which includes CFD, and a discussion of using such in roleplaying (with appropriate disclaimers and warnings).


Then there are the obligatory positive and negative qualities, mostly tied to cybernetics and several linked to personasofts and BTL use (including Blank Slate, when someone’s original personality has been wiped by excessive use of personasofts). This section concludes with a few new Life Modules for the system from Run Faster.


Next, Cyberware, starting with a history of cyberware, why people use cyberware, and a discussion of the grades of cyberware available. All of that is good background and world information, but it is the part that come next that most people are buying the book for, more cyberware. Long time players will see a lot of familiar things here: move-by-wire systems, cyberskulls and so on, lots of interesting options. The things I really like are the low level cyberware, especially the cosmetic cyberware (light tattoos, led hair, and so on) which really feel like the sorts of things that would be developed for a consumer market and thus add a level of reality to the setting. The rules for the use of skillwires and skillsofts is expanded and clarified opening a whole range of interesting character options (“Oh of course I speak Mandarin/ hang-glide / swing dance. Why do you ask?”). A selection of common packages of cyberware for various purposes (as provided by your friends in the megacorporations) is provided and useful for stock characters.


Then comes Biotech, like the cyberware chapter before it starts with alight history of biotech and then talks about the major players in the biotech industries, which suggests a variety of potential Shadowruns. Then, new bioware, again, a mixture of revisions of older wares and new advances, again with a fair amount of cosmetic options and a variety of interesting symbionts. Though one of my favorite piece of bioware, the trauma dampener, has just become a pain editor and is no longer as fun or as useful as it was in previous editions.


Tangential to biotech but its own section is Genetic modification and Nanotech which rounds out the improvement section. It comes with an in-world debate on the technological possibilities, limits and risks of genetic tampering. Further, since the arrival of CFD on the world stage, using nanoware has become much more suspect and riskier but it can do some amazing things but it is far more limited than it once was. But there are still wide ranges of useful options available especially in the countermeasure department, such as anti-radiation protection, and minor enhancements. The wide range and narrow applicable genetic improvement and focused nanoware provides the tools to build uniquely specialized characters (and to improve existing specialists).


Next, the cheap and dirty options to make yourself faster, stronger, whatever, mostly applied chemistry but also chips and bottled spells. This is a good section especially for street level games as it gets into the dirty edge that these quick fixes provide, cheaply by comparison to permanent ware, but at a potentially deadly cost on the body and mind. Useful rules for customizing and making your own drugs are provided so you can have your own better life through chemistry.


The last section is looking to the future of enhancements and those affected by CFD, so it is full of adventure seeds and interesting world details, including a potential endgame for CFD. Possibly the most useful non-rules section for a games master.


The book ends with pages of master tables for all of the cyber/bio and other wares, from this and all of the other fifth edition Shadowrun books, useful if intimidating.


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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
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BattleTech: Chaos Formed (Book Two of the Chaos Irregulars)
by Trevor R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2015 12:56:06

Excellent novel of short stories, I quite enjoyed it and the premise behind it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Chaos Formed (Book Two of the Chaos Irregulars)
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Sam B. S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2015 18:00:12

Amazing setting! However a little more editing would have gone a long way as a book that sets you back $60 for hard copy really shouldn't have as many spelling errors as this one has.


Also no one likes being told "more info on this in another book you can pay us for!!" Really, info on running your own host and other matrix stuff really ought to have been included in this book instead of Data Trails. It's fairly obnoxious something that fundamental to matrix play was left out.


Other than that, wonderful intro to an older setting that has been vigorously and wonderfully revived for a whole new generation! I'll raise a cup of soycaf to the designers for that!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: DocWagon 19
by Colin O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2015 13:06:24

I am a big fan of Shadowrun and so I really enjoyed this book. Very much liked the different approach to telling the story as well as seeing things from the other side of the fence (Docwagon not the shadows). Might have been a couple of typos but nothing that stopped me enjoying the story.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: DocWagon 19
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Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game
by Dan O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2015 12:39:20

I'm so pleased to find a rules-lite system like this at last!
The hobbling point for the RPG group I play with has always been fashioning characters. In any generation of Dungeons and Dragons character creation takes HOURS if not days of pouring over books not the least to determine complex equations based on scores and how to make those scores deliberately unbalanced.
But the Catalyst system gives you options without making the point of the game to boost your scores. The numbers become less important than the adventure...AND THAT'S HOW RPGS SHOULD BE I THINK!
Roleplaying! It's a little distressing to me how seldom that's actually used in favor of rules lawyering.


My favorite system for a long time was the somewhat obscure Over the Edge which deliberately tried to cut out the chaff of rules in favor of outlining characters quickly but in depth, but that system always had the issue again of lots of arbitrary numbers being thrown around requiring all players access to one book. The Valiant Universe dispenses with this and makes character creation so simple it barely takes up a chapter compared with the rest of the book which is devoted to the Valiant Universe itself.


And what a universe! I used to collect Valiant comics and still pick them up when I can because it's a welcome departure from either the crushing despair of modern comics or their rigid formality. Valiant is a maverick in the genre thanks to presenting different times, different cultures, and different attitudes revolving around the core iconic concept of the 'super hero'.
And the system also reflects that approach with super powers being extremely flexible, granting characters suitably heroic edges but not making them invulnerable.


All in all I'm glad that free RPG day introduced me to this system and this concept of gaming in the Valiant Universe and I'd recommend it to those who are fans of the comics, want a speedy but customizable system to make character creation and breeze and roleplaying deft and entertaining again, and for people who just want a different take on the super hero genre itself.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game
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Shadowrun: Data Trails
by Carl A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2015 19:18:53

I'm really conflicted on what to rate this product. For the price to crunch value, I'd have to say a 2 (maybe even a 1). But I really like the rules for AIs and for that I'd give it a 4 or 5.


I have a major gripe with one thing, though. The terrible excuse for a a table of contents and a complete lack of an Index! The rules for creating an AI starts on page 145, which doesn't even show up in the Table of Contents. Instead, it is buried in a section called "Principles of Insanity". WTF? How are you supposed to know where this is short of memorizing it or looking at every single page?!? If there was a good Index, I'd forgive this, but I have to reduce the rating to a 2 instead.


There is some useful information here, but why is the ToC so terrible? For a premium priced PDF we should get a good ToC AND a good Index. There are apps that will build both of those for you, and this book really needs it.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
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Shadowrun: Wolf & Buffalo
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2015 06:35:44

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/08/24-
/tabletop-review-shadowrun-wolf-buffalo/


Every runner has an origin story; we just rarely ever hear them. Established characters in the Sixth World canon are generally introduced to us after having been veterans of the shadows for many years. It’s rare a character is seen being exposed to the underbelly of the Oligarchy (or Coporatocracy if you want to be blunt) that controls the planet in the 2070s. Even when you and your chummers make their own PCs for Shadowrun, you rarely act out the origins of a character as you might the embrace of your Vampire: The Masquerade PC. Instead, you just whip up the character and the backstory is either told through sessions via flashbacks, story hooks or general PC conversation. That’s what makes Wolf & Buffalo an interesting piece, as you see a character getting exposed to the harsh reality of life in the shadows with no warning whatsoever and how they react to the insanity of it all. It’s a point of view we rarely get, and so even though much of the perspective is, “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? SO MANY BULLETS! BODY COUNT HIGH! NOT A GOOD DAY!” it’s nice to see something other than a jaded snark filled reaction to corporate fueled gloom and doom.


Lena is your average young teenage girl in the Sioux Nation. She’s got a dysfunctional family, a government that treats her as a second-class citizen since she’s half Anglo (Remember this is the Sioux Nation. In Shadowrun prejudice runs all ways, be it white, black, troll or ghoul.) and a life she was hoping to improve by joining the SDF (I kept reading it as RDF and I was like, “Veritech rip-offs are in CGL’s OTHER game line.”). Unfortunately the government found a cheap out to excuse her for service, even if they didn’t specifically state her rejection was due to not being pure Native American.


Of course, if Wolf and Buffalo was just about late teen angst and the struggles of growing up half-Lakota, half-white, this would be more a tale for Sherman Alexie or Americo Paredes rather than a writer for Shadowrun. Instead we have to have some sort of Catalyst (no pun intended) that brings Lena into life within the shadows. In this case, it’s a smuggling ring gong wrong, the destruction of her family, attempted rape with a side of murder thrown in and a late awakening to her shamanistic potential. That’s quite a lot to be hit with in a single day – and all before she’s legally old enough to vote, to boot.


The rest of the story basically has Lena blundering around, trying to stay alive as people try to kill her and friends try to help her (and die as a result. Seriously, she’s Clementine from The Walking Dead bad in this regard, but far more likeable). Lena finds herself in over her head with talisman smuggling, “demon” summoning and not one but two totems making their presence (and requests) known to her. The end result is a fast paced story with a higher body count than most full-length Shadowrun novels and a story that shows you just how strange life can be in the Sixth World, not to mention how quickly things can change. One minute you might be the mayor of Seattle, and the next, a highly sophisticated A.I. has taken over your body and you’re dropping your pants in public, defecating on a street performer.


Wolf & Buffalo is a really good story and I enjoyed the chaotic nature of the tale. Sure, the protagonist was in over her head, whined constantly and really only survived because everyone else took a bullet (or ritual knife) for her, but it makes sense. I mean, when you were 17/18, could you process being a channel for ancient spirits to funnel magical energies through while being tasked to recover a sacred artifact to your people and dodge heavy fire? No, you’ll probably piss yourself. So Lena is an extremely believable character. Hell, she’s even likeable in spite of being the type of character who’s usually relegated to the supporting role of a story and who you get really annoyed with – especially when they show up in a summer blockbuster. Thankfully good writing saves the day.


That’s not to say the entire story is without fault. I do feel the climax/ending is very weak. Not only is it very similar to the same ending used in the author’s full length novel Borrowed Time (which is really good and you should purchase it), but it involves not one, but TWO Deus Ex Machinas to get the main character out alive. One alone is acceptable, but weak. TWO, however, did have me roll my eyes and wish for something better. So a great start, but a really weak finish. The end does detract from the overall quality of the story, but it’s still a good read and worth getting if you’re a Shadowrun fan.


Finally, as this is a piece of “Enhanced Fiction,” we get some stat blocks at the end of the book. This is another weak area. I love that the main character got statted and can be used as an NPC in your own adventures. The second character, however, dies in the book, so I don’t see the point of giving them half a page of stats. I’d have given this to one of Lena’s friends that survived (or anyone who survived the story really) as that would be more useful overall. The two stat blocks are the only “crunch” you’ll get in this, so hopefully you’re just looking for a fine short story that allows you to spend some free time in the Sixth World. With a price tag of only three bucks, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth with Wolf & Buffalo.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Wolf & Buffalo
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by Dirk L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2015 16:37:28

This is what a Shadowrun novel should be like.


Shaken tells a story in the life of PI/vigilante/runner Jimmy Kinkaid, a near-burnout street mage with an attitude, the mentor to match, and the hots for his ally spirit. This alone all but guarantees I like this book. But it's narrated interestingly, the protagonist is appropriately biased, the book does give him is share of sucker-punches - and I really like the narrative flow, even if it may seem a little slow to some. It's not Michael Bay, it's Fargo. It's a voyage through the decrepit, broken world of Jimmy Kinkaid and damn, it's a nice ride.


The best part about this novel - and I'm saying this on top of excellent immersion, well-written characters, and similar world-building - is the fact it is very Noir, very hard-boiled, without neglecting typical tropes and elements of cyberpunk in general and Shadowrun in particular. Jimmy Kincaid is the archetypical Noir protagonist - an anti-hero, a broken, damaged man, struggling as best as he can to stem both the darkness of the world around and the darkness within himself. It also has a detective story, well-executed twists and turns, and a well fleshed out world that is a protagonist in itself (I'm such a sucker for off-hand brand drops), it has an unreachable femme fatale (with a twist that resonates popular fandom jokes without being obnoxious about it - a feat to pull off in itself), well-scaled action scenes and a resolution that, while satisfying for the reader, may not entirely be for the protagonist. Classic.


Now, I've always felt Cyberpunk was more Noir in the digital age than Science Fiction. In Cyberpunk, for all that technology and exotic-hypermodern surface gloss, the heart of the story is deeply human - it's about alienation, about handling the invasion of life by technology, about losing one's self by replacing oneself with technology. It's made of tales of the human condition, much more in the tradition of American Gothic (which largely shares Cyberpunk's neophobia) and Romantic literature than classic Science Fiction with it's libertarian, modernist technophilia that sees technology as the salvation of mankind (Transhumanism would fit the same technological niche Cyberpunk occupies with a more traditional Science Fiction narrative). With its heavily Noir attitude, using most, if not all, classic tropes, and its adherence to classic Noir tales, Shaken (no Job too small) is all I could have asked from a Shadowrun novel, and much more - it could (and would deserve to) stand on its own as a work in Cyberpunk, rather than be considered 'just' a francise book. It's made of the best the world of Shadowrun has to offer, in a way that hasn't been around since the passing of Nigel Findley (in the same way Harebrained Schemes' writing does when at the top of their game).


A great one. If you want to buy any Shadowrun novel to get into this rich and weird world, make it this one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Carl L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2015 11:25:02

I skipped around this book to see if some of the problems I had with 4th Ed. had been addressed. So when I came across the Gear section and saw how they had added even more tedious BS involving the PAN, including how you could change the color of some guns if they were inked to said PAN, honestly I put the tablet down and haven't looked at it since.


I did see something of how they added in benefits for Adepts having Totems, which has been a want for SR fans since 1st Ed., so good on them for that.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
by Martin F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2015 07:33:14

the amount of detail in the book is awesome, but good luck finding it



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
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BattleTech: Experimental Technical Readout: Royal Fantasy
by Johnathan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/03/2015 21:23:07

A solid, funny way to reprint the old Solaris maps and rules for a new generation of players. An excellent free resource.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Experimental Technical Readout: Royal Fantasy
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BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
by John H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/03/2015 05:50:02

This product is being sold on a false pretense that borderlines on being a marketing scheme. You'd think TRO3150 means this product contains new 'Mechs and whatnot. It's really just a recollection of all the individual faction specific 3145 mini-TRO's.


If you already own the TRO3145 collection, you don't need to buy this blatant cash cow product.


I was expecting NEW material for an advancing timeline. What I got was a mirror copy of stuff I already bought in the past.


Bad sportsmanship Catalyst... I expected better from you, but now I know you're no different from the common chattel.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
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Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Cheyenne
by Kent C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2015 13:16:21

Very good supplement to the Shadowrun universe. Looking forward to the rest that are to come out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Cheyenne
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by robert l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2015 16:05:03

all I can say is about this book is..."it's about time". Shadowrun has been going down hill, especially with the launch failure of their collaborative effort with cliffhanger's over shadowrun chronicles as well as the whole, shall we say the less than popular CDF concept. It nice to see that their is some quality left in this game and this book is one of them. An old school "dic" with a modern twist..nice. Overall, its a novel that won't disappoint.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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