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Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice (4e)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/03/2014 00:32:12

‘Halaster’s Lost Apprentice’ is one of the D&D Encounters seasons that nominally ties into the forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. Nominally tied, because the dungeon and lore used in the Encounters are linked to Undermountain, which receives two products in the Fourth Edition line. The season is structured as twelve interlocking encounters and it is advised that a party will complete each encounter in 90 minutes to two hours – so there is a substantial amount of material in this product. The party is ideally five first-level adventurers, and substantive advice and mechanics govern progression and treasure acquisition during the Encounters. This guidance was required for the organised play aspect of the game when it was originally issued, and some gaming tables may find it interesting and fun to play under similar strictures to replicate the experience.
The title excels however, when removed from the organised play structure. All of the Encounters are very straight-forward and could be easily run by a novice DM. As players progress sequentially through the season, they are introduced to the mechanics of Fourth Edition in a purposeful manner. This is not to suggest that this product is only for beginners; quite the opposite in fact. Experienced DMs will find a good skeleton for a short series of adventures, and can add their own flavour, tinker with the opponents, and also with the motivations of the NPCs. Whilst this would require additional investment of time in terms of planning, the results (especially if the DM could blend this with content from the AD&D boxed set ‘Ruins of Undermountain’) would be worthwhile.

The design of the title is clean, with statistics boxes clearly able to be read, and organised with quick reference at the table in mind. The maps are likewise presented in an unambiguous manner, but for full use of these the DM will require set of Dungeon Tiles. All of the artwork is of a high standard, and these elements combined make for an enjoyable and streamlined read.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Undermountain: Halaster's Lost Apprentice (4e)
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Shadowrun: The Assassin's Primer
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
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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Shadowrun: Missions: Chasin' the Wind (5A-01)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2013 23:47:05

Chicago is one name that has a particular resonance to Shadowrun, the infamous Bug City. When this season was announced, I was very excited to see what Catalyst would do with the place after it had been left relatively dormant for a couple of editions. The introductory Mission for the season does feel very much like set-up. No, not a set-up, but rather building the foundation for the rest of the modules. There are really three separate jobs here. They are all very straightforward, with some suggestions for Pushing the Envelope, but I would imagine that the aim is to ease new players and GMs into SR (especially given the new edition). There are relatively few surprises for a solid module and it wouldn’t take too much to prep. On reflection, there are a number of possibilities from this module, and I’m hoping that the story threads are picked up in future modules and expanded. The setting is briefly explained, with heavy stereotyping (the weather is windy and snowy, the meeting place is a Chicago pizza joint) in both the locations and the Johnsons. Again, there is the distinct feeling that this is meant for the new GM and player. The plot does require social, investigative and technical skills (with some Debugging advice if characters don’t have the requisite skills), and unless you Push the Envelope, combat is absent from this ‘run.

However, as an introductory module, it definitely succeeds in whetting one’s appetite for further adventures in the Windy City. The module can be easily completed in a couple of hours if run ‘as-is’.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Missions: Chasin' the Wind (5A-01)
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Shadowrun: Spell Cards, Series 1
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2013 22:13:49

I’m a big fan of cards at the gaming table. As ready-reference items, they are also very transferable and require little book-keeping. I make extensive use of the Paizo magic item decks at my D&D table, and have been casting about for a similar solution for SR5. So, for USD5.99, what do you get?

The file contains fifty-four single-sided cards, colour-coded to the spell type (Combat, Manipulation, Illusion, etc). Each card has the information for the Spell Type, Range, Damage, Duration, and Drain, with a handy page number reference to look up the spell. There is also a very short flavour-text type description of each spell.

The only improvement I would suggest is to make the cards double-sided and include more rules information on the flipside. Many spells have nuanced information such as increasing effect by number of successes and this would be useful. To be honest, I’d want these cards to be a replacement for the Magic section of the core rulebook – becoming quickplay reference. At the moment they aren’t quite up to the job.

I’ve tried printing them out in both colour and black-and-white and they have rendered well in both formats (although I like the colour better). I would advise anyone purchasing this product to invest in either some decent cardstock for printing, or become friends with someone who owns a laminator. Either way, you want to extend the life of the printed cards, and the heavier cardstock/laminated options make them feel like better than flimsy paper.

They are a nice product, and I would like to check out further decks for equipment, drones and even vehicles, common NPCs, and paracritters. I could imagine that by investing a range of decks, a GM could easily construct ad hoc encounters by laying out some cards behind the screen. If the NPC and paracritter cards came with Damage Tracks, you could laminate them and use a dry-erase marker to keep wounds. I like this direction, and I’ll be most interested to see where it goes.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Spell Cards, Series 1
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Shadowrun: The Vladivostok Gauntlet
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2013 21:51:21

‘The Vladivostock Gauntlet’ is a welcome addition to the Shadowrun novella line, and follows in the footsteps of classics such as ‘Wolf and Raven’. The writing style is clear and evocative, and is an excellent example of how broad the term ‘success’ is when undertaking (even unwillingly) a run into the shadows. Set in the eponymous city, it follows Yuri as he finds out the cost of ‘doing the right thing’.
The novella feels like a 1980’s action movie with all of the necessary tropes; but has a distinctly Sixth World feel to it. The characters see some development, and the uneven technological levels is handled very nicely. In summary, it was an enjoyable read.

The only two downsides to the product are minor. Firstly, in a book that features werewolves (of a sort) having two minor characters named Garou and Gangrel seems like the author wants to port in as much White Wolf as possible and this was jarring as I read a lot of old World of Darkness source books and fiction. Secondly, there is a game mechanics chapter to the book detailing stats and the like, but you have to visit the Catalyst website to download it (it is admittedly free). One questions why the two items would be disaggregated beyond an attempt to drive traffic to the company site. I would have preferred to see this gaming material make it into the product.

These two detractions aside, I did really enjoy the novella. If another tale of Yuri and Soren was released, I’d certainly invest the time to read it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: The Vladivostok Gauntlet
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Gygax magazine issue #2
Publisher: TSR, Inc.
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/21/2013 00:13:27

I’ll make no secret that I miss both ‘Dragon’ and ‘Dungeon’ magazine in printed format. As mainstays of the hobby, they were my monthly connection with a much larger community, and even to this day, the piles of print magazines have pride of place on my shelf. Gygax magazine serves the dual purpose of becoming ‘Dragon’-like (or as that Draconic?) in appearance, hearkening back to the early issues, but very clearly stands on its own. The layout is fantastic and will appeal to anyone with a love of retro-clones, from the Jeff Easley artwork gloriously adorning the front cover to the typeset of the articles. The articles in here range in tone and content from ‘The evolution from wargaming to role-playing’ (by Ernest Gygax), to articles on collecting (‘A forgotten grimoire and its curse’) and even a rare treat on ordinary characters from none other than Ken St. Andre. I was especially drawn to ‘The hare and the hill giant’ (a short adventure for ‘The One Ring’) which I’ll be converting to use in either MERP or the Decipher version of the game. It closes out with cartoons (what else?) and it’s nice to see the Order of the Stick have the last word once more.

I’ll be sourcing print copies of both current issues (they can have shelf space next to the last issue of ‘Dragon’), and eagerly awaiting the next issue.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gygax magazine issue #2
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KoDT: Tales from the Vault vol. 1
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/21/2013 00:03:44

The first collection of KODT showcases the earliest comic strips from Jolly as the characters are slowly established. I became familiar with the strip during its’ run with ‘Dragon’, so I missed the earlier development. In this volume we’re treated to the formation of the group, B.A.;s experiments with diceless RPGs, unionised players, and the arrival of Sara (who will remain for the rest of the series). Weird Pete runs a few games for the Knights, his style very obviously influenced by the tone of first-edition D&D books. Overall, it is a fine collection, and makes me nostalgic for the pizza-laden gaming sessions of the 90’s as it captures the zeitgeist so well.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
KoDT: Tales from the Vault vol. 1
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Shadowrun: Sprawl Wilds
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/10/2013 23:15:49

The collection represents a very clever move on the part of Catalyst and comes highly recommend. Firstly, the compilation offers four modules, collected from the convention circuit and made available to all fans at an extremely reasonable price (by current pricing, you'll pay $3.00 per module which is fantastic value). Secondly, the modules come dual-statted, showing both the rules for 'Shadowrun Fourth Edition (20th Anniversary)' and 'Shadowrun Fifth Edition', making the product accessible to players of both editions. The dual-stats are unobtrusive, and Catalyst does a good job (as expected) with layout to make it so.

The four modules offer a wide variety of locales, so each has a very distinct flavour. The break down is as follows:

Manhunt - on the surface, this appears to be an investigation centred around an aquaculture farm in the Barrens, but as we all know there is a lot more to the story than this simple premise. The setting was very interesting, and well-thought-out, and The Barrens were described in very believable terms. It offers a nice balance of investigative and combat scenes, but players who enjoy lateral thinking and in-depth role-playing will find a lot of satisfaction. Another nice touch are the notes which foreshadow to the GM how particular PC actions will influence the outcome.

Carbon Copy - this is tied to the 'Shadowrun Missions' (like the next module) and really you need to know a bit about the backstory to really enjoy this one. That said, it is a solid investigative module with some serious moral choices underpinning the end.

Ashes - set in the Ork Underground against the Proposition 23 Agenda, this is really a survival story set against racial hatred. The terrain can be used to great advantage in this module, as well as the political and religious beliefs of the Underground inhabitants.

Humanitarian Aid - rounding off the compilation is a seriously creepy offering. Ostensibly called to an isolated island for a simple job, the 'runners find a viral outbreak, astral disturbance and a final showdown with a horrifying foe.

I found the balance of module content and locations to be extremely satisfying. Each of the stories has enough to make it stand out form the others in the collection and create a memorable role-playing experience. The overall quality is very high, the artwork consistently good (nice to see some Jeff Laubenstein pieces in this title), and the editing issues which have plagued Fourth Edition releases are absent.

You would be hard pressed to find a collection of modules at a better price, and I'd highly recommend these for both the novice GM (I'd run 'Manhunt' and 'Humanitarian Aid') and veteran GMs (go with any of the modules) alike.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sprawl Wilds
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The Hunters Hunted II
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/23/2013 17:32:09

The original ‘Hunters Hunted’ was one of my favourite oWoD books. Never a fan of ‘Hunter: the Reckoning’, my preference always ran to a gritty game where survival was never assured. The game focused on humans trying to take back their world (albeit there were Numina rules and some fairly overpowered Merits, though). Picking up ‘Hunters Hunted II’ seems like a natural continuation. The writing flows seamlessly, and the mood has been perfectly captured. It’s very easy to see the bleak, lonely existence of the Hunter as portrayed by the many voices throughout the book – and there is a wealth of practical advice for the Storyteller.

The heart of the game lies in playing the Hunt very cleverly, and the developers reward smart players with a new mechanic called ‘Plan Dice’. These are dice (additional to the regular pool) which can be accessed during a Hunt, but are built through the quality of the players Plan. Obviously no plan survives contact with the enemy (the chapter actually begins with this quote), so the characters need every edge they can get. Overall, the mechanic is a nice bit of flavour with in-game benefits that might be the thin red line between victory and defeat in some situations, but I think it is a very reasonable inclusion to the game.

The Storyteller section is par excellence. There are so many good ideas in here, whether you want HH2 as a one-shot, or as a long-running chronicle. The practical considerations of the Hunt are discussed, usually by ‘hunters in the field’ speaking from experience. These include, ‘why attacking the police is stupid’, ‘why you don’t want to be labelled a terrorist’, and lots of material about equipment and misinformation in the game. Social media and the recent craze for vampire fiction were welcome additions, and there is some very intelligent discourse about how a viral video of hunters in action is a vampire’s best weapon. Anecdotes are liberally sprinkled throughout these sections, and could be easily woven into a game as plot hooks, or NPC dialogue.

I can’t speak highly enough of the work the authors have done on this book. At every point, I felt as though I was simply reading an extension of the classic oWoD book – just with some updates for the ‘modern world’. The feel, mood, and theme have been perfectly bottled in this title, and like a fine wine, the ‘Hunters Hunted’ duology has proved that is simply gets better with age.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Hunters Hunted II
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KoDT: Bundle of Trouble vol. 5
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2013 22:54:38

Once again KotD provides the perfectly pitched gaming humour that we have come to expect. In this instalment, the Knights tackle the new FBI-style game 'Men in Hack' and deal with the inevitable fall-out from passing notes with the GM. Woven into the rest of the collection is the ongoing saga as Bob tries to get an even break (and fails), and the party deals with the disastrous results of leaving a Bag of Holding unattended. Brilliant stuff all round, and highly recommended. Can't wait to read the next one in the series.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
KoDT: Bundle of Trouble vol. 5
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2013 20:07:14

Reviewing a core rulebook is always fraught with difficulty; usually because it invites discussion on whether it is 'better' than previous editions. Rather than go into the rules and the mechanical changes in any great depth, this review will focus on the general use and production values of the book.

One of the key questions about a core book is whether it can stand on its' own. We have come to expect over the years that gaming companies will provide an endless supply of expansion books, but in my opinion a game should be playable with only one book. In this, Catalyst delivers.

The designers have been very clever about the content, and made some really intelligent decisions. The book is very well-suited to engaging with a new cadre of SR players. There are very good sections which flesh out the world, give readers an overview of what it is like to live in the Sixth World, and then explain why shadowrunners exist and what they do. It gives a breakdown of how you should approach a shadowrun, the sorts of activities that might be involved in a mission, and what roles exist in the average group. Added to this is a decently detailed section on the corporations. Were I not reviewing this, I would be tempted to skip these chapters (I've been playing for a while), but this would have been a mistake. Even the most veteran player or game master will take away something from these sections.

There is plenty of fiction that serves to reinforce the themes of the book, and illustrate 'how it all works'. A GM can gain a lot of insight into the world simply from this fiction - which shows that the developers understand to to not only produce and display mechanics, but make the world accessible. Shadowrun's greatest strength over the years has been the depth of immersion possible in the world, and this book continues that fine tradition.

The rules are all explained in very easy-to-understand terms. Most of the rolls are broken down into small diagrams, which I can see being very useful for reference purposes. Whilst SR tends towards being a more complex system historically, I don't think the designers have made this edition unnecessarily so.

The artwork is uniformly of a high standard, and most is in full colour, which makes this book a true pleasure to read.

The only two negatives for me are around editing and language, especially if this is something that a new player to the system will pick up. Firstly, more attention should have been paid to grammatical, spelling and layout. There are a enough to be annoying, and I'll be waiting for a second printing before buying my hard copy. Secondly, Shadowrun has a long history of creating in-game words to add colour and flavour to a conversation, and this includes swearing. I see no point to use fol language in the book, especially given that the authors could have used in-game words to add to immersion. This has been a disappointing trend throughout Fourth Edition and seems to now be the staple for the game.

However, this is a great book overall. Generally speaking, I'd recommend it as an entry point to the SR game, especially for the explanatory chapters at the beginning. Veteran players should get equal value from the book, too.

This has definitely kept my interest in the game, and I'll be keen to see where this new edition takes one of my favourite game lines.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
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KoDT: Bundle of Trouble vol. 4
Publisher: Kenzer & Company
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/01/2013 01:14:12

I was introduced to KODT through the printed 'Dragon' magazines, and following their exploits was always the high point of the month. The eternal dilemma was whether to read it as soon as you bought the current issue of 'Dragon' or leave it until last. Now with these bundles, that dilemma is solved.

It's great to see that these have not just been digitised, but also have internal links which make reading this so much easier. There are also some added features such as Player Advantage Codes (I'll be on the lookout for these), a Random Flavour Text/Encounter Generator and a full write up of each character's history (which was extremely entertaining, as I'd not seen it before). I'd highly recommend this collection to any gamer - the humour is spot-on, without a single page of worthless content.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
KoDT: Bundle of Trouble vol. 4
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Shadowrun: Euro War Antiques
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/01/2013 01:06:35

EuroWar Antiques will fill a story niche in your SR collection, but individual use and value for the material in this book will vary wildly from group to group. This period of history has not (to my knowledge) been adequately explored by any previous sourcebook, but references to the EuroWars have cropped up in every edition of SR to date.
The book presents a history of the Wars, and the usual insider insights from the JackPoint community, and there is aplenty of fodder here for good character backstory, NPC (and PC) motivations, and the capacity to add real depth to your current Shadowrun stories. Whilst the EuroWars started in 2031 (so they are bordering on ancient history in 2074), there are geopolitical ramifications even for North America. A few of the JackPoint regulars provide the rationale for the book in its’ opening lines, which I thought was a nice touch.

It definitely feels as though there is a lot more here than just 92 pages, and I did have to take this in over a few sittings. The information, whilst very readable, has a lot of substance and subtext. I found myself putting the book down for extended periods just to think about a particular idea, and how I might work it into my current campaign. All of these were story ideas, as the hard mechanics don’t come along until the last part of the book. Speaking of this, fans of MilSpecTech will love the extra gear presented in the latter part of this title. From AK-97's to tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets, there is something here for everyone. I could honestly see a lot of synergies between the material here and the SR4 War! sourcebook. The vehicles and materiel in EuroWar Antiques would find a great home as military surplus on any battlefield; and I know any of my current group would love to own any of the equipment in this book (where they’d house it is a question for another time…).

Overall, this is well worth reading as it gives you a solid appreciation for how much work has gone into creating the Sixth World. Along with the Sixth World Almanac, it fills the great niche of more setting material. As a GM, I can weave in some of these plot elements to help bring the world alive, but my players could just as easily mine this for character backstory.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Euro War Antiques
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Convention Book: Progenitors
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2013 00:51:24

White Wolf is doing a remarkable job of capturing the zeitgeist of ‘Mage: the Ascension’, firstly with ‘New World Order’ and now with ‘Progenitors’. It is challenging to tap into the mood of an out-of-print game, almost pretending that the intervening years did not exist; but the writers have successfully tackled this project.

‘Progenitors’ is blessed by simplicity. By that, I mean that the authors have very astutely chosen a single theme to apply to the Convention and examine their role in the World of Darkness from that theme. The primary them is one of healing, with a subtheme of ethics woven through it. The advantage to selecting this single theme is that the authors can focus purely on this exploration – and they do so with skill, bringing a richness to this Convention.

In this treatment, the Progenitors seek to heal the Union, and the subtleties employed in bringing together disparate Conventions is explored very well through the opening and closing fiction. The style of writing conveys a sense of empathy with these Technocrats, and a reasonableness of purpose that could be adapted by a Storyteller in chronicles where recruitment is a possibility (or objective).

Likewise the Avatar Storm (edit: Dimensional Anomaly) is used to great effect to humanise the experience of both the Progenitors and their closest allies – the Void Engineers. Again, this is part of a great effort by the authors to move away from a depiction centred on mass-cloning mad scientists, and towards a serious exploration of the Convention and how they would operate on a practical and strategic level.

There is a section detailing new gear like grafts and enhancements, as well as materiel from the Pharmacopeia Division, and this is icing. The real substance lies in the descriptions of the Methodologies, the current agendas and a few intriguing mysteries that could easily be used as the basis for entire chronicles.

Overall, the authors have captured Ascension’s feel once again, and given Mage fans like me a real treat. As with NWO, I’ll be ordering a print copy for my shelves as well this digital copy – and my collection feels just that bit more complete.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Convention Book: Progenitors
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Shadowrun: Storm Front
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/23/2013 20:39:52

When one door closes…

This phrase sprang to mind after reading one of the best Shadowrun books of this edition. The Shadowrun gameline has always excelled at creating an internally consistent, believable world and love it or hate it, the metaplot has been a big part of constructing an evolving world. This book differs from many SR titles in that almost all of the page count is dedicated to narrative. Each chapter covers a single metaplot point, shows how the issue developed, who the main players are, and the resolution. The sections are styled as JackPoint entries, with each of the ‘Pointers offering some insight, commentary or sarcastic reply to the events. At over 200 pages, this isn’t something you can digest in one sitting. I found that I could read a chapter and then take some time to ruminate and let the content settle in my head before moving on. It is a very dense book, and Catalyst should be congratulated on cramming so much good material into one title.

The main metaplots covered include the Dragon Civil War, the Amazonia/Atzlan War, the recent Seattle election, Denver (and the return of our favourite elf in motley), Ares market problems, the changing nature of the Matrix (including the current status of Dodger), and the state of play for the Japanacorps. I could appreciate the complexity of all of these plots, as I’ve now read almost all of the Fourth Edition releases. This book may be somewhat inaccessible to a newcomer to the setting (I’d recommend that new players read the Rulebook and The Sixth World Almanac to get their bearings).

My recommendation for those who have a cursory understanding of the metaplots is to buy this book and then seek out supplementary titles for the events of interest. In this way, you have all of the main plot points in ‘Storm Front’, but can explore in more detail those plot points likely to make an appearance in your campaign.

My favourite sections in the book covered the Seattle election (including Prop 23) and the Japanacorps chapter. For the first, the election has been the focus of the last season of ‘Missions’, and this provides a lot of plot ideas for ‘runs both during the election and in its’ wake. There is plenty of fodder about the scams, underworld powerplays and political manoeuvring that could be developed by the GM into a full-blown campaign. The Japanacorps section was great as we don’t see Japan covered often in SR supplements. I’d like to see this develop into a separate supplement (or maybe a new ‘Shadowrun Missions’ season set in San Francisco). I can see a lot of parallels between this plot and material from White Wolf’s ‘Kindred of the East’, so I’m breaking out these titles to support any ‘run in ‘Frisco. My least favourite was the Dragon Civil War, mostly due to the content. Pages upon pages are given over to a first-hand account of the final battle between Alamais and Lofwyr, and it does not make for interesting reading. The rest of the chapter was fine, but I skimmed this section with no regrets. Also, not to sound like a broken record, but this does suffer from numerous typos, as with previous titles. Given that there are eight Proof-Readers listed in the credits, this is a glaring oversight (especially considering the price point). These titles are so well developed that these errors really mar the overall experience of reading the product which is otherwise fantastic.

Lastly, ‘Storm Front’ lays the groundwork for Fifth Edition by showing massive changes to the Matrix and the retirement of a legend (but in a way that introduces a new ongoing plot – excellent play!). The changes to the Matrix make me think ‘plus ca change’ (incidentally the name of the opening fiction in second edition, which is a nice link). This is a fantastically written chapter, and it really had me feeling sentimental and nostalgic by the end. I really felt that this book closed the door on an era of Shadowrun, but gave us hope that good things were going to happen in the future.

This should be an auto-include for any fan of the setting. I’m excited to read this wrap-up of Fourth Edition, and even more excited to see what lies ahead. The only reason it doesn’t get one of my five-star ratings is because eight people let down the team. I’ll gladly and enthusiastically revise the rating when I hear about a new copy being made available. Aside form that, I cannot recommend this title highly enough.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Storm Front
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