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Shadowrun: Missions: Chasin' the Wind (5A-01)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/01/2013 07:12:04
New ruleset, new Shadowrun Missions series, and this one starts with a bang!

Opening with a scary bit of fiction telling of one 'runner waking up in some nightmare lab (this actually happened to one of my characters...), there's the usual boilerplate on how to run this style of adventure which is of particular use if you are running it at a convention with whoever's come along to play, and then it's on with the action. Well, after a note on the new location: Chicago, still reeling from the aftermath of the troubles some 20 years ago. Bug City Containment Zone and its attendant problems, including a wildly fluctuating mana background count and interference that plagues deckers or indeed any character wanting to communicate other by shouting loudly.

Somewhere in the depths of the Containment Zone there's a lab facility and people - and at least one dragon - are interested in what is in there. In typical Missions style, more than one group is seeking the characters' services to investigate, each with their own agenda and objectives. Accept one, accept several, play one group against another, it's up to the party to decide. As always, there are choices to make. And choices have consequences.

Just to make things a little more... interesting, it is snowing heavily in Chicago today. Just the day to go poking through ruins in search of abandoned laboratories and whatever was in them, neh? The action flows thick and fast, keeping the characters on their toes, and there are interesting contact to be made as well as fights to be had. A thoroughly fun adventure...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Missions: Chasin' the Wind (5A-01)
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Shadowrun: Missions: Season 5 Prep Files
by Steven T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2013 13:18:30
What is there to say? If you're going to run Shadowrun Missions Season Five these files are must haves. I really love the new npcs this season! Super colorful, super interesting. My only complaint is that there needs to be more Shadowrun Fifth Edition material! Weekly releases would be great!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Missions: Season 5 Prep Files
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Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
by Daniel S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/24/2013 19:57:56
Cosmic Patrol is a very different system from what I and other roleplayers have been used to.
The good:
Game sessions are split up into 'scenes', where the GM changes when one ends and the other begins; Hence, there is no prep involved, save for having character sheets for all of the players.

The not so good:
Character creation appears FATE-esque at first glance, but this system doesn't explicitly translate them into game mechanics. Where in FATE a character's aspect that defines them would give them a bonus or penalty, in Cosmic Patrol it is merely a guideline determined by the GM. The book even flat out says that if a player fails a roll, but they -should- succeed, to have them succeed anyway. Well then, why bother rolling?
Speaking of rolling, character creation involves a D4, D6, D8, D10, and D12 per player. All of the dice for players is to roll for stat generation - The players choose the die for each stat to (hopefully) determine what they're really good at. The GM uses a D20 to determine difficulty of rolls to do things like breaking open doors, avoiding hazards, and the players roll the appropriate stat vs the GM to see if they succeed.

Bottom Line:
My main criticism about Cosmic Patrol is that it seems unable to commit on rules-light collaborative storytelling or game mechanics, and in so doing weakens both. If you can look past that, you'll find a delicious gem of 30s-to-50s sci fi pulp with plenty of setting included. And for 5$ you can't go wrong.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Mission: 04-10: Romero and Juliette
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/21/2013 14:03:57
Shadowrun Missions: Romero and Juliette (04-10), part of the Artifacts arc of adventures and is optimized as a Halloween adventure (with a nice sidebar discussing the moods it can be played in). Amusingly, Dark Angel’s music gets a sidebar in the initial scene of the adventure and it ties back to an earlier mission (2010-04 Humanitarian Aid) which could be fun for groups who have played through that. It does assume that the GM will have access to several of the Shadowrun source books (Street Magic is especially important) to run this adventure. It is ideal for anyone who ever wanted to include a zombie uprising in Shadowrun, though some of the parts of the adventure do not interlock as cleanly as I would like.

SM: Romero and Juliette seems like it should be a perfect Halloween adventure for an experienced team of characters, though groups that have been playing through the Artifacts track of the Shadowrun mission will obviously get more out of it. However, unfortunately, there is no star-crossed romance subplot, as the title would imply (it is instead a reference to the famous director of zombie films, I imagine).

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: Mission: 04-10: Romero and Juliette
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Shadowrun: Dark Angel
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/21/2013 14:00:14
Dark Angel, from 1993 (when Shadowrun was moving from 1st to 2nd edition), has the characters hired to find out what happened to an up and coming rocker (the Dark Angel of the title) and get the rights to his music back. Of course, it is not a simple task, soon bringing the characters into conflict with the Yakuza. As an early scenario, it is fairly rigidly structured but it was trying to be more flexible using a decision-tree format but it still strikes me as heavily structured and tends to combat, but not a bad adventure all the same especially if you want to get your group involved in Yakuza politics.

Though, as I have said before in my other reviews of the older adventures, I think Catalyst missed a beat by not providing a conversion document to a more modern version of the Shadowrun rules set.

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: Dark Angel
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Shadowrun: The Vladivostok Gauntlet
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/19/2013 08:15:43
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/09/19/book-review-the-vladivo-
stok-gauntlet-shadowrun/

The Vladivostok Gauntlet is the latest “Enhanced Fiction” release by Catalyst Game Labs for Shadowrun. It’s been a while since he had one of these – a year and a half to be exact with Another Rainy Night. That was a great little short story marred by two problems – way too big of price tag and the fact CGL never followed up with the metaplot potential of Another Rainy Night, instead going with something else entirely different in Storm Front.

The good news is that both problems are taken care of with The Vladivostok Gauntlet. The price tag is only $1.99 while having the same page count as Another Rainy Night. The story is also self-contained without any hints or teasing of a big metaplot shakeup to come. It’s great to see these two problems fixed, although Another Rainy Night, which is the better story, is still overpriced at $4.95.

So what is “Enhanced Fiction?” Well quite simply, you get a short story and then stats for all the major players within. In the case of The Vladivostok Gauntlet, you get the two main characters, the stats for the core generic antagonists and some background information about the area including potentials contacts, places of interest and gear. In this respect, TVG is far superior to the gaming content that came with Another Rainy Night, and it’s also missing the ads for other products, which is always a plus.

The Vladivostok Gauntlet is the story of one Yuri Yehzov. He’s a warehouse janitor with a dark and tormented past. Like a lot of people who have hit the skids, he remembers better days and keeps himself burdened with self-pity and self-loathing. However, in a nice twist, Yuri is so poor his cyberware has stopped function either somewhat or altogether. His wired reflexes are just taking up space in his body, his cybereyes are on the fritz to where he has regular visions and he even has his muscle implants forcibly removed by repo men. OUCH. Alas, the only part of his better days still functioning properly are his cyberears and unfortunately those ears coupled with both a self-destructive streak and a reaction to save a complete stranger from the Russian Mob (and later another group as well) set the wheels rolling for this fast paced “run for your life” story. It’s a fairly pat tale full of tropes, both Sixth World and Noir, but the writing in solid and the events believable, so it’s enjoyable for what it is.

I really liked that someone paid attention to the fact that cyberware can stop working and what happens when it does. This is something I’ve regularly thought about but very few, if any people have paid attention to it canon-wise until now. It helps to make Yuri unique in the world of Shadowrun fiction although I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets it all working again the next time we see him – if we ever do. It’s also great to take a look at a part of the Sixth World that is rarely talked, thought or written about. You get to meet some interesting people and see some pretty strange locations and I found the entire affair very enjoyable. The characters were given a lot of depth, especially considering the brevity of the piece and enterprising GMs now have some new antagonists, locations and plot threads for their game if they want to homebrew an adventure. It’s really well done.

There are only two negative things I can say about The Vladivostok Gauntlet. The first is that it really needed a better editor as a lot of articles are just missing from sentences. Things like “a” and “the” are missing from the narrative, which not only makes the piece feel sloppy but also has the narrator sounding like Boris Badenov in my head. It would work if the piece was meant to be a campy send up of Russians speaking English, but it’s not. The other issue is the cover as the art just looks…weird. The cover is supposed to feature a shapeshifter going from man to wolf form but the proportions are just terrible with the wolf head being the size of the rest of the body. It’s just comically bad. The rest of the cover art is decent, but the shapeshifter is front and center and really detracts from the rest of the visual going on.

All in all, The Vladivostok Gauntlet is a fun read. It’s only two bucks so it won’t break the bank and the price tag shows CGL has learned their lesson after Another Rainy Night. The story is fun, but not something you’ll kick yourself for missing down the road if you don’t pick it up. I enjoyed it for what it is – a short and entertaining look at the Sixth World in Russia and you’ll be happy to know that when you purchase this, you get the story in PDF, mobi and e-pub formats so you can read it in whatever format you prefer most. If you’re looking for a way to kill an hour, there are far worse ways to spend your time than picking up and reading The Vladivostok Gauntlet.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: The Vladivostok Gauntlet
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BattleTech: Technical Readout 3067
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2013 15:23:26
Bought it to add to my Collection of technical readouts. I play every now and again. the pdf means I can carry it easier than having the book all the time.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Technical Readout 3067
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Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
by Franklin H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2013 19:22:43
Wonderful game for the money, I was thrilled with the setting as you can tun your own version of the Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon/Space 1999 settings with the mechanics included.

Nice job by CGL.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cosmic Patrol: Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Rex B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/13/2013 17:08:48
Another excellent resource from Catalyst and DTRPG!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Bug City
by Ville O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/13/2013 05:07:26
I purchased this pdf so I could keep my print copy from falling apart. The pdf quality, apart from the slightly poor quality scan of the covers, is excellent with crisp text and interior art. The original fold out Chicago city map is also reproduced as an electronic version which is nice and easily printable for gaming use.

While this sourcebook book was originally for Shadowrun's second edition, so the mechanics contained inside are outdated for the latest 5th edition. But I can still find tons of uses for this book. The writing is atmospheric and sets the mood for the mostly destroyed Chicago like no other sourcebook written for Shadowrun. This book actually ranks probably one of the best sourcebooks ever written for the Shadowrun universe in terms of focus and style. The Bug City "sub-setting" is actually culmination of the events of a few previous adventures, like Universal Brotherhood. They're not need to run Bug City but can be combined to a wonderful long story campaign. To this day, I've run more games of Shadowrun in the Bug City than any other locale in the setting. It simply is that good.

4 out of 5 score, comes from the from the lack of print-on-demand option (at the time of writing) and the slightly poor quality scans of the covers. The setting material itself is easily five star material.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Bug City
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Character Conversion Guide
by Andrew W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2013 14:35:36
On the plus side, this is a great little guide for people who want to bring in their old characters. It has a lot of info and guidelines, and it also gives a better idea on the change of power level between the two editions

That said, the major downside of it is that it only really looks at conversions for characters from the core rulebook of fourth edition. This isn't a problem for the most part, and is only expected this early on in the new edition, but in the cases some characters (unique character races, magicians with non-hermetic/shamanic traditions, etc) it can make them seem almost untransferable. Hoping to see this be updated more in the future as new rules come out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Character Conversion Guide
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Shadowrun: Firing Line
by Federico D. G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2013 08:31:45
The adventures proposed are quite good (especially the first one). Nothing excessively original but sufficiently varied and short to be a fast and nice drop in longer running campaigns when the game master didn't have enough time to set-up a run by himself. I would have liked a little bit more political background for the 2nd and 3rd ones: it is quite difficult to understand the present to the players the actions and motivations of all the parties involved. As a whole, 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Firing Line
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/06/2013 19:29:52
As a setting, Shadowrun has been top notch for me since 1988 or 1989. The mixture of cyberpunk and D&D was just the right kind of chocolate and peanut butter for my taste at the time and since. In this latest edition, the game setting is as it ever was, extremely rich and fascinating, made so by a nice assortment of excellent fiction pieces throughout the work, and the general tone of the writing.
As a Rule set, this latest iteration is the most clear and easiest to understand yet. Skills and stats are simple numbers of six sided dice that you add together, looking for fives and sixes and fearing too many ones (more than half is a Glitch, More than half ones with no fives or sixes is a critical glitch.) I really like how this will all come together at the table to make the game faster while retaining the storms of d6 aspect loved by so many.
As a book this looks like it would be very pretty as well. However the layout makes you have to flip back and forth through the book constantly during character creation, and may require a lot of that with out strenuous note taking during game play. It can take three or four page flips to find the item, the skill and the rules in question, and while the index is pretty robust there is at least one term I have not found the definition of, and I have had the book open pretty constantly these two weeks.
The PDF of the book really could use some work. For a book about the far advanced technological future of sixty years hence, it is really kind of backward. Apart from the table of contents, there is no hyperlinking, so the page turning mentioned before is that much more excruciating. And the very pretty layout has no layering whatever, so any prints will drink a ton of ink, the most expensive fluid on the planet apart from horse seed. The last problem with the pdf is the several very pretty pages at the end of panoramic views of several cities and several past covers, all of which show the feel of shadowrun so well, but they are laid out in such a fashion that the default page width on my pdf reader is 23%, which is far too small to read. This last is very trying indeed, and I hope they fix this sooner than later.

In most respects this is a five star book, but for the pdf, it is no more than a three, and more likely a two. On the other hand, it is a twenty dollar pdf of a sixty dollar book, and I suspect most of the difference is spent on dark red ink.

Seriously, buy it. It looks fun, it will be fun. Just be warned it will make you want the hardcopy done by the company and not on your own machine.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Firing Line
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/05/2013 06:47:52
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/09/05/tabletop-review-shadowr-
un-firing-line/

Firing Lines is a collection of previous conventions exclusives bundled into one black and white compilation. Not only does this give Shadowrun fans the world over a chance to get adventures that were previously nigh unobtainable, but they get to do it for a fraction of what the dreaded secondary market would charge for them. Now this fact alone should make the adventures a must buy for a Shadowrun collector, but Bull and his team have gone the extra yard yet again. All the adventures contained in Firing Line can be played with both Fourth and Fifth Edition rules, bypassing the usual edition wars whining that comes whenever a new version of any game comes out. Hate Fifth Edition and spend time on the Shadowrun message boards decrying CGL and all who write for them? Good news – you can still cling tightly to your 4e books and get new content for them. Loathe Fourth Edition and all it stands for? Here are another four adventures that you can play with the new rules while waiting for something that ISN’T a reprint to come out for 5e. This idea of dual stat’ing long out of print and/or hard to find adventures was an awesome idea back when CGL did it with Sprawl Wilds in July and I’m glad to see the trend continuing. Will we get anymore collections of old Shadowrun Missions done in this manner? I certainly hope so!

So sure, getting four adventures in one PDF for three bucks a piece is an obviously awesome deal, but of course you also have to consider the quality of the adventures in question. That means we have to do take a look at each one and if they are worth your time because four adventures for twelve bucks is a good deal but four TERRIBLE adventures for twelve bucks is not. First, let’s start with the format. All the adventures in Firing Line are done with the Shadowrun missions format, which I absolutely adore. I think the layout and style of these adventures are the best on the market today, with every possibility and contingency getting covered. Shadowrun Missions are laid out in such a way that even a rookie or inexperienced GM can run one of these with little to no problems. In the hands of an experienced GM, each of these adventures can be easily customized with all the pertinent data in easy to find spots. I’ve been saying this for the past three years but it still holds true, if you want to learn to GM, be it Shadowrun or any other system, grab a few Shadowrun Missions and read them over and over again, seeing how things are laid out, flow and presented. These things are awesome.

Our first adventure in the Firing Line collection is Lost Islands Found. The discovery of a new island has always been one of the biggest bragging rights for explorers and it continues even into our own modern time. In the Sixth World, it gets far more complicated thanks to different borders, magic powers, dragon machinations and more. In this adventure we get MAGICAL islands that will only be around for a brief moment in time before returning to the aether. Now the rush is on to explore, exploit and excavate the islands before time is up. The players are hired to extract a college professor on behalf of the Atlantean Foundation to get him to lead the expedition to these strange islands and also providing bodyguard like support for the exploration team once that first mission is accomplished. At the same time, a crazy group known as the Knights of the Dragon have got it into their heads that these new islands are the home of Dunklezahn’s spiritual remnants. This of course means the Knights of the Dragons are recurring antagonists throughout this adventure and will inevitably make the PCs wants to murder them repeatedly. What players find on the island will remain protected from spoilers, but needless to say, the action is fast and frantic in this one, while also giving a GM a chance to paint a picture of a highly memorable one time location that his or her players can reminisce about for a long time to come.

The second adventure in this collection is Deconstructing Patriots, where we move from Seattle to Manhattan. This adventure really requires a strong knowledge of the events around Crash 2.0, the New Revolution and more. As such, the adventure’s going to be lost on people new to Shadowrun with Fifth Edition but is still playable. It’s an interesting affair to be sure, but probably left best in Fourth Edition and with those that have a long running experience with the metaplot. It also doesn’t help that the adventure suggests you should buy a previously released PDF separate from this one to make it work.

Deconstructing Patriots is a pretty straight forward extraction run. The PCs are hired to nab an Ares employee and then are given a counteroffer by Ares to betray their current employer and give the target back for more money, Now in this regard, Deconstructing Patriots is a very newcomer friendly affair that hits on all the tropes and tenants of a paint by numbers run, including potential betrayal on all sides. If there was a way to have the adventure without all the political/crash backstory required to make the why and hows of this adventure make sense, this would be a great experience for a newcomer. A newer or more casual GM won’t be able to make that happen, but a more experienced one WILL be able to. Perhaps the best thing to do is for a person well versed in Sixth World Lore to take this adventure and use it with people new to Shadowrun and help teach them the basics why shrugging off the metaplot.

The third adventure in this collection, Congressional Conspiracies is a direct sequel to Deconstructing Patriots, and so you will run into the same inherent problems for running this adventure with newcomers and especially those for whom Fifth Edition is their first taste of Shadowrun. The adventure does work best as a one-two punch with the previous one too, so there are a lot of limitations in trying to make Congressional Conspiracies a one shot adventure, a throw away affair or anything close to a good choice for new players. It can work, and Cthulhu knows the adventure tries to be extremely inclusive to gamers no matter how they come to this adventure,but it falls a bit short in this regard to me.

With that out of the way, Deconstructing Patriots is a pretty interesting adventure, even if it feels like it was written by Vince Russo. There are so many swerves here ranging from the original missions idea presented to the team being a crash and burn to being hired by the side you were trying to humiliate in the previous adventure. Players might need a scorecard when all is said and done to remember which side they are one and who they have helped but this being a Shadowrun Missionsadventure, the GM actually has one! Players will also be working directing for The Man this time – literally, as their employer is none other than the Director of Strategic Intelligence for the CAS! From then on the PCs will have two missions to complete – although as usual, something isn’t what it seems. At least there’s an homage to the ol’ Fast Food Fight adventure here. Another fun adventure and a great choice to have reprinted, although a very odd choice to have as one of the first playable adventures for Fifth Edition because it’s so intrinsically tied to an older system.

Our final adventure in this collection is Stormcrow Undone and it takes us back to Bogata in the midst of the Amazonia/Aztlan War. Like a lot of Shadowrun fans during the 4e/20AE era I think Catalyst Game Labs devoted far too much time, energy and resources to something very few people actually cared about and that how they ended the war in Storm Front was terrible across the board. So as you can imagine, my reaction to having to revisit one of the lamest aspects of the previous edition’s metaplot didn’t thrill me. Of course, I never got to read or play this adventure when it originally came out, so who knows? It could have turned out to be a bright spot, right? Right?

Well…yes actually. The crux of the adventure has you getting hired by Amazonia to get of the horros that Aztlan is committing. A lot of players (and thus their characters) won’t do pro-Aztlan missions as they are completely evil through and through and while Shadowrunners are supposed to be mercs pure and simple, that tends to be the minority in practice. Mercs with a heart of gold or anti-heroes tends to be how PCs act or view themselves and so anytime an adventure pushes a pro-Aztlan agenda, there is often friction or outright refusal from at least one character in a group. So instead of risking an adventure where players will revolt and thus leaving the GM to scramble, Stormcrow Undone has you definitely in the role of the White Hat here, which helps makes the adventure more accessible to all players, especially newcomers to Shadowrun who might be used to protagonists bring “good guys.” Plus long time Sixth World fans love to see horrible things happen to Aztechnology, so hurrahs all around!

The adventure is a bit convoluted in that your characters first have to get to Columbia, then have to be stuck in a situation where helping Amazonia is their only way out, both of which aren’t things a published adventure should put on a GM, especially in the case of a Shadowrun Missions. A published adventure should never just drop the adventurers a few chapters into the story. Otherwise what’s the point of purchased a published piece instead of writing something for your players on your own? The adventure suggests just kind of waving away the getting there and crux of being stuck there, but players generally bitch and moan about adventures that start off where a huge chunk of story is missing, so my advice is to play out the precursor to all this or at the very least, write up an opening explaining what happened and what went wrong. If you have a more tolerant or less anal tentative group, I will say the “set up” for this adventure is somewhat hilarious.

Stormcrow Undone is one of the better Bogota related adventures out there. Players have to focus on camerawork over out and out violence or corporate espionage, and so it really forces players to change up their usual game plans and strategies. There are a lot of horrors and atrocities to witness here and players will become a target of Aztech’s forces. With everything from a full blown riot down to the usual fire fights, there is still a lot of combat here and even with the awesome Shadowrun Missions layout, the climax of this adventure will test ever a hardy GM with all that is happening at once. It’s a fun experience for everyone involved though, and that’s what counts.

All in all, Firing Line is a nice collection, especially for the price point and doubly so when you remember that these adventures were one time convention exclusives. The adventures aren’t as good as those in Sprawl Wilds and they aren’t as inviting to newcomers, so my advice would be to play that collection first and then move on to Firing Line once the PCs have some Karma under their belt. Now here’s hoping we start to get some Fifth Edition releases that aren’t reprints, am I right?

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Firing Line
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Character Conversion Guide
by Robert C. N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/31/2013 14:09:55
I found this really helpful, since I have a bunch of SR4 characters I love and didn't want to leave behind. This lays it all out in a simple and straightforward manner.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Character Conversion Guide
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