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Shadowrun: Howling Shadows
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/12/2016 19:25:55

Shadowrun: Howling Shadows is the latest creature book for Shadowrun and as such provides new beings and new challenges. Worth putting on the ‘pick up if you are a GM list’ as it provides so many useful tools and potential adventure ideas, not nearly so useful for players but still a good read.


Shadowrun: Howling Shadows, is a Core Critter Book for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, so it provides additional information on the strange, wonderful and dangerous creatures out and about in the Sixth World.


The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then it looks into how (meta)humanity and (para)animals interact from pets to the nations that include awaken animals as citizens or even rulers. An interesting section though the viewpoint of the ‘author’ (as it is written in character) is a bit annoying at times.


Then we move to the part important to the core of the game, Untamed Security, which talks about how animals and para-animals are used by corporate security with subsections on how to train animals and how to defeat them. The section ends with a quick guide to how the Big Ten megacorps approach using animals for or with their security.


Next up is mundane animals, alligator, boar, cockroaches and other animals we would recognize along with rules for basic genetic modifications (cloned, luminescent and so on) of such animals. Eight new mentor spirits, from alligator to spider, are included in this section and add some nice options for magical characters.


Following is Paranormal Animals, filled with weird and wonderful creatures from the omnipresent (and omnivorous) devil rat to cerberus hounds and vollying porcupines, a fun variety to bedevil shadowrunners with. My only complaint is that there are only a few illustrations and the descriptions are often short or nonexistent, yes, we can guess what a greater wolverine is like but what does a piasma or peryton look like? We can guess but a proper description, or better yet, illustration, would have been very helpful. A subsection covers beings altered by the HMHVV (Human-MetaHuman Vampiric Virus) which comes in three types and can infect and alter just about any sentient creature, so you have elvish banshee, human vampires, ghouls and so on. Interesting and dangerous foes or possibly friends for those that still possess their intelligence.


For fun and destruction, there is a selection of Toxic Creatures and Mutants that have been changed and empowered by toxic wastes and radiation and even a couple warped by bad juju. Lovely creatures such as Radhounds, radioactive dogs that hunt in packs, and souleater leeches that, well, I will let you work that out. Many of these creatures are scenarios waiting to happen, if your shadowrunners are up to the task, most of these creatures are really dangerous. This also has a section on the awakened creatures infected by HMHVV, so lamia (infected naga), chupacabra (which seem to be genetically engineered creatures deliberately infected) and others are covered here. In this section there are two pieces of art that showed up in the first HMHVV section which is mildly annoying.


Extraplanar Travelers talks about being from the magical metaplanes who visit or have been pulled into our world, they are manifest spirits often of considerable power and alien agenda. Interesting stuff here but using it strikes me as risking really changing the tone from fantasy cyberpunk to high fantasy with high tech trappings. That warning being mentioned, I do like the Chindi, Native American vengeance spirits, and the spirit of a city made manifest, some good plot thread could be spun off from them.


Then come Technocreatures, which are to animals what technomancers are to other people, i.e. animals that can interact in technology in unique and occasionally destructive ways. From data devouring snakes to playful hacking dolphins, fun stuff to disrupt the cozy lives of the technology dependant.


Next there are the Protospapients, creatures of resonance who live in the deep web and munge (consume) code, including the dark dwelling Grue and the Sintax who very presence makes systems vulnerable to exploitation. These are things to use carefully to drive stories not just to make life miserable for characters, which they would be perfect for, but do not be that GM.


Drakes get a more in depth write up, which admits that no one is really sure how the dragons make them but they do, and more rules for playing a drake and more options for drakes. Though they are more likely to show up as NPCs then player characters as it is so expensive to play one.


The final informational section is Building Man’s Best Friend which covers: creating chimeric creatures, that blend traits from multiple creatures, Warforms, which are genetically perfected animals, dogs being especially popular. Along with discussion of augmenting creatures through various technological means. This section concludes with rules for training animals.


The book wraps up with new critter powers, an index to all of the critter power and a guide to where to find the various creatures. Though it seems odd, and a missed opportunity, that we do not get any new qualities related to animals or other things included in this book.


Howling Shadows is a useful resource providing new tools for the GM, and possibly for the players, with a considerable amount of implied adventure ideas.


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



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Howling Shadows
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Mysteries of the Gods (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/11/2016 12:16:23

Mysteries of the Gods: New Cleric Domains and Spells for D&D 5e opens some interesting options for Clerics in 5e with both new Domains and new spells. Each of the new Domains suggests an interesting direct for faith in a world and the spells provide some solid support, if you are pondering what to do with clerics in your game it is well worth looking at.


Mysteries of the Gods: New Cleric Domains and Spells for D&D 5e by Brandes Stoddard and published by Tribality Publishing presents just that, three new domains and eight spells. The layout is clear with thematic color photographs for illustrations.


The Blood Domain draws on the idea of blood as potent force both of life and death, its tricks are mostly combat oriented enhancing both healing and offense. A nice balance and suitable for both heroes and villains.


The Exorcist Domain is much more focus and, as a helpful sidebar note, may not be suitable for all campaigns because of that. Its focus is on driving out possessors and denying the ability of otherworldly creatures to control others and it should be very effective in that role.


The third Domain, Spirit, slightly recasts the Cleric as shaman and mediator with the spirits (rather than a prestress of a god or gods), this domain gains a spirit guardian who protects and aid the Cleric and provides useful ability that are triggered by Channel Divinity. A interesting adaption of the clerical powers to a different aspect of spiritual belief.


Of the eight new spells, four are damaging cantrips, two of which are associated with the new domains (spirit claw for the Spirit Domain and word of censure for Exorcism) which are appropriately flavored, I would live to see a version of song of battle cantrip for the Paladin as it is so well themed. The remains four spells are 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th level and all are strongly in theme with the cleric, especially the Exorcist, righteous accusation which has the optional material component of a scroll detailing the target’s crimes is fantastic. While a few the spells might lean a bit too much towards a Christian vision of the divine for some, I think that framing has always been part of clerical magic in D&D and thus appropriate.


A solid addition to the options for cleric, I would have no problem with allowing any of these in my campaign.


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. Also, Brandes is a friend of mine and one of the players in my original Sea of Stars campaign, but I like to think that did not influence this review.


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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mysteries of the Gods (5E)
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Shadowrun: Market Panic (Campaign Book)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/03/2016 15:55:33

Shadowrun: Market Panic lets you know what is going on with the megacorporation at the top of the business food chain in the Sixth World of Shadowrun. It is an interesting read and has a lot of background material that with work, could be leveraged into interesting game sessions but there is very little support for the actual game of Shadowrun in this book, it is almost entirely background material. While a fascinating read, how much use it will actually be for a campaign depends on how tightly your game is tied into higher level corporate politics.


Shadowrun: Market Panic, is a Shadowrun Campaign Book for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, so what does that mean? It means that this book all about the top tier megacorporations, the movers and shakers in the Shadowrun world.


The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then it looks into what life is like for the average corporate worker via a heavily noted “day in the life” report on a corporate drone. Some interesting perspective on how life is lived among the corporate masses. For the average game masters, this is probably the single most useful section.


Next, Courting Disaster, discusses the Corporate Court that oversees sorting out “disputes” between the major corporations. It gives a brief history of the court and how it has become a major power in its own right even as serving as a tool of the top megacorporations. The current judges each get a brief description but mostly this serves as a framework for the current corporate power struggles.


The rest of the product is looking at the Big Ten megacorporations in detail starting with Ares and ending with Wuxing and each starts with a one page fiction piece that tells you something about the corp followed by their corporate ranking, list of major shareholders and divisions. While each is done in a slightly different format, generally each corporation’s history, corporate culture and current plans and troubles are examined along with a short section on typical runs for and against that megacorp are covered.


These corporate profiles are the bulk of the product, filling more than 170 pages of the 210 of the book. There seems to be some minor editing problems as the information within each profile sometimes conflicts with those presented in others, but arguably some of that can be written off as the idiosyncratic views of the various section presenters. But it is a bit strange to read one section about how Mitsuhama is now number one, pushing down Saeder-Krupp to the number two ranking while the NeoNet section is all about how they are almost number two. It also assumes a fair amount of familiarity of the setting name-dropping people and places with little context that could be confusing to a new arrival to the setting.


Market Panic is an interesting sourcebook but it is essentially all deep background material. Which is interesting reading and all unless you are running a campaign with really high powered characters, the politics between this CEO or that board of directors is really not important. Especially not to the street level shadowrunner trying to earn the money for their next meal. A discussion on how corporate politics affect shadowrunner and runners would have been helpful and made this book more than just an interesting read.


Consider my rating of this to be 3.5, rounded up to 4 for the RPGNow system.


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



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Market Panic (Campaign Book)
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By Flame, Storm, and Thorn (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/28/2016 15:44:01

By Flame, Storm, and Thorn: Three Ranger Archetypes for D&D 5e opens some solid options for Rangers in 5e and nicely expands the range of choices for that class. Everything seems well balanced and if you like playing rangers, give this a look.


By Flame, Storm, and Thorn: Three Ranger Archetypes for D&D 5e by Brandes Stoddard and published by Tribality Publishing is just that, three new Ranger archetypes. The layout is clear with thematic color photographs for illustrations.


The Lantern-Bearer, unsurprisingly, uses a lantern both as a weapon and as a focus for magical light that can protect and heal, allowing the ranger to provide support as well as direct combat potential. A nice balance.


While the Stormcloak melds the tempest to the ranger, giving them the ability to ride out (and later briefly ride) storms while bringing the wrath of the storm to their foes in the form of lightning and thunder. Really, it is pretty much what you would expect from the name, not subtle but effective.


Lastly, there is the Thornguard which stretches the rules in interesting ways by giving the ranger the ability to set traps which inflict various temporary status effects and can be enhanced by spending spell slots. Very clever and a nicely builds on the ranger theme as a defender.


A solid addition to the options for rangers, I would have no problem with allowing any of these in my campaign.


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. Also, Brandes is a friend of mine and one of the players in my original Sea of Stars campaign, but I like to think that did not influence this review.


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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
By Flame, Storm, and Thorn (5E)
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Seekers of Fortune
Publisher: Rats in the Rain
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/20/2016 14:18:36

These class option products from Rats in the Rain provides expansion to the new D&D rules, each providing a new background, two new class paths (one of these race specific) and a new full 20-level class. Nice to see people grasping the new OGL with both hands and creating things with it, now let us see how successful they are.


The products are fairly minimalist, two-column layout with art from public domain sources, it is clean and readable if not particularly exciting.


Seekers of Fortune has the Town Crier background, which is a good option for social (or just loud) characters. The new paths are Master Thrower for Fighters and Mountain Defender for dwarven fighters, the Master Thrower does what you would expect and has a set of new throwing weapons (including the caber!) to give them more flexibility, while the Mountain Defender is built around an idea that I frankly find silly, that of the two shield fighter but that being said, it runs with the idea fairly well. The new class is the Harlequin which is a very strange class, having limited spell use, D12 hit dice but no armor and is restricted to simple weapons, and an odd grab bag of powers, not sure what to make of this class but the idea of a battle jester is an amusing one, so I like the concept even if the execution is odd.


Overall, an interesting mix of adaption and innovation, and certainly useful as reference and inspiration even if not all will be useful for every campaign.


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://seaofsta-
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Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Seekers of Fortune
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Warriors of Destiny
Publisher: Rats in the Rain
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/20/2016 14:18:21

These class option products from Rats in the Rain provides expansion to the new D&D rules, each providing a new background, two new class paths (one of these race specific) and a new full 20-level class. Nice to see people grasping the new OGL with both hands and creating things with it, now let us see how successful they are.


The products are fairly minimalist, two-column layout with art from public domain sources, it is clean and readable if not particularly exciting.


Warriors of Destiny provide Tavern Owner as a background, which works, though perhaps it could have been broadened a little to encompass all sort of tavern worker. Druid Lyricist for Bards and Eldritch Archer for elvenkind Rangers only are the new paths, the Lyricist -obviously- blends druidic magic with bardic ways, which has a good tradition in D&D, and has the ability to increase the potency of their ally’s magic which may be a little too powerful, the eldritch archer does pretty much what you would expect but fill a common trope. The new class is the Ninja which is a hybrid of the monk and rogue class but nothing particularly groundbreaking or innovative but it does work as a classic cinematic ninja.


Overall, an interesting mix of adaption and innovation, and certainly useful as reference and inspiration even if not all will be useful for every campaign.


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://seaofsta-
rsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Warriors of Destiny
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Heroes of the Dawn
Publisher: Rats in the Rain
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/20/2016 14:18:00

These class option products from Rats in the Rain provides expansion to the new D&D rules, each providing a new background, two new class paths (one of these race specific) and a new full 20-level class. Nice to see people grasping the new OGL with both hands and creating things with it, now let us see how successful they are.


The products are fairly minimalist, two-column layout with art from public domain sources, it is clean and readable if not particularly exciting.


Heroes of the Dawn gives us the Rat Catcher background, which does not come with a small but vicious dog sadly, but could be a solid background for an urban campaign. The new paths included are the Blade Shaper for Rogues and War Chanter for fighters of the dragonborn or orcish persuasion, the Blade Shaper (not sure on that name) is a rogue with a variant of druidic shapeshifting, which is a quite neat theme, the War Chanter brings inspiring music into the fighter class, which works. The new class included here is the Wilderness Runner which is a mobility based class that gain “blitz damage” which is added to attacks after the character makes a full move, so the class is all about running into fights, there are some interesting ideas here but it seems rather narrow and easy to end up in situations where you would not be able to use your class’ focus.


Overall, an interesting mix of adaption and innovation, and certainly useful as reference and inspiration even if not all will be useful for every campaign.


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://seaofsta-
rsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Dawn
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Shadowrun: Shadow Spells
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2016 09:46:17

Shadow Spells provides additional information about magic in the Shadowrun setting filling in some gaps left by the Street Grimoire. With the niche nature of the new spells and powers and the groups and threats provided, it seems aimed primarily at GMs who should definitely pick this product up if they are running a game that is magically oriented. Players who are focused on the magic side of the game will probably want a copy too.


Shadowrun: Shadow Spells, is an additional resource on magic in the Sixth World of Shadowrun building on the material provided in the Street Grimoire providing new traditions, magical societies, threats, and (unsurprisingly given the title) more spells, ritual and adept powers.


Unlike most 5th edition books, this one is devoid of fiction (though not of in setting commentary) which I find as welcome for a focused source like this one. There are four new traditions, each ending with a paragraph description of an example (and semi-famous) practitioner, they are: Aboriginal, (Ancient) Egyptian, Norse and (my favorite) Psionic.


Next are five magical groups running from gangs to political parties, two get short write up on their most prominent member, these are useful for using as patrons or targets in a campaign. Then we have three threats, which will be used as opposition, one gets a creature (with a new power), the next three NPCs and the last, just a single NPC so they can be dropped into a game with only a little work.


The final section is new spells, around forty of them, including some classics (mob mood), a few that only work on specific types of being (ghouls, vampires), some designed for villain use (inflict disease, rot), and lots of interesting narrow purpose spells. While most of these spells are not general use, when you need them, they will be good to have. Three new rituals are included which seem to have clear use as scenario seeds. Lastly, seventeen new Adept powers, covering increased swimming, performance, and various other fun but unlikely to be seen often options. There is also a box listing the costs of reagents at the end, though I am not sure why.


Overall, a good addition to the resources for Shadowrun providing books hooks for a GM to hang adventures off of and new tools for magically active characters.


Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofsta-
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Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shadow Spells
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Shadowrun: Rigger 5.0
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/05/2016 16:17:05

Shadowrun: Rigger 5.0 provides a wealth of vehicles and drones to expand the mobility (and other) options for riggers and other vehicle oriented characters, but especially riggers. Do you need this book? As a GM, probably, it provides such a depth of additional vehicles and drones that it helps to flesh out the world considerably, if you game uses vehicles at all, put it on your list to acquire. If you are a player, if you are playing a rigger or vehicle oriented charter, you will want to pick this up, otherwise, it can wait. Overall, another solid entry in the sourcebooks for the new Shadowrun. (Now we just need a used vehicle lot for 5th ed.)


Shadowrun: Rigger 5.0, is a Core Rigger Handbook for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, so what does that mean? It means that this book is full of information on riggers, what they do and how they do it, and the vehicles and drones they do it with, in the Shadowrun world.


The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then it looks into what life is like for a rigger including eight views from various riggers about their lives, ranging from Doc Wagon pilot to racer, military rigger to construction operator. It then discusses the various roles that a rigger can fill and a very brief overview of the various vehicles and drones that they can use.


Next, All the Angles, gives some in-game advice on how to get the most out of drones followed by new rules on repairs, electronic warfare and swarms. This is followed by On the Bleeding Edge which provides more positive and negative qualities for those who drive and ride, and new life modules (for that alternate character creation method).


After some more fiction, we get to the part everyone can enjoy, more vehicles: ground vehicles, water vehicles, air vehicles and more drones than you can shake a tire iron at. Ground vehicles range from personal transport to big rigs with a subsection of security/police vehicles, truly something for everyone. Water vehicles range from water ski-like vehicles to motor sailors and luxury yachts (but nothing bigger). The air vehicles section is fairly small but has helicopters, helicopter gunships, t-birds and even a couple of zeppelins.


Next, in the Automated Army, drones! Beginning with who manufactures drones in the Sixth World and then moves into how drones can be modified, it then moves into a catalog of drones from the smallest (mosquito-sized) to massive construction machines and everything in between including a wide range of humanoid drones for work and security uses. Again, something for just about every use.


Building the Perfect Beast provides rules for modifying vehicles from the basics of improving engines and adding weapons and armor to various unusual things, such as secondary propulsion systems (though, oddly, neglecting wheels), ram plates, and much more. Almost any variant that can be imagined can be built, if one has the time, money and skills.


The final rules section is Maximum Pursuit which introduces slightly expanded rules and new maneuvers for the various vehicles types and drones (and passengers!). It adds some complexity but not an excessive amount and if one wants to have vehicles play a more important role in their campaign, it increases in options and, thus, complexity, may be required.


The last section of the book is a compilation of all the vehicle and drone statistics from all of the Shadowrun (5th edition) products so far, seven pages of small type.


Rigger 5.0 is a solid sourcebook but for my tastes, has far more fiction than is needed, space that could have been used for more vehicles and drones (what most people will be buying the product for). The art is generally good but there is a whole set of Dodge vehicles that are given a very distinct set of descriptions and the art does not match that.


Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofsta-
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Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Rigger 5.0
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Weekly Wonders - Coin Magic
Publisher: Necromancers of the Northwest
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/30/2015 07:22:46

Weekly Wonders: Coin Magic provides the magic of money, or at least coins. While a few of the spells are too tied to game mechanics for my tastes there are some good ideas here but also one that could be abused by a clever player (or DM). Good inspiration but be careful in your use of the spells contained within.


Weekly Wonders: Coin Magic is a selection of fifteen new coin-based spells for Pathfinder. Each spell includes just a description, no framing fiction, no colorful descriptions, just the needed game information for each spell.


The spells run from zero-level cantrips (two) to ninth-level (three of these) and most levels in between. They range from way to manipulate coins to ways to turn them into traps or scrying devices or even as a place to store one’s soul. There is even a spell that creates coins out of thin air, though at great cost in time and effort.


A couple of the spells directly reference game mechanics, in the cost of spell components and the price of magic items, which I find infringe on my suspension of disbelief. While one of the coin trap spells seems specifically designed to deny characters the rewards that they have earned which would not make the DM who used it any friends. While the lack of support material in the form of feats, archetypes or items combined with the lack of colorful spell description make this feel like a very bare-bones product. Still, some interesting ideas here that deserve to be adapted and used as the magic of money is a very under-explored area.


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://seaofsta-
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Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Weekly Wonders - Coin Magic
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #1
Publisher: Red Moon Medicine Show
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2015 22:29:49

Vacant Ritual Assembly is an OSR (primarily Lamentations of the Flame Princess) focused ‘zine published by Red Moon Medicine Show. They are done in B&W and provide a mixture of house rules, inspiration, adventures, maps and interviews.


Issue 1 starts with some house rules and recommendations for inspirational reading/ viewing/ listening. Next is the ghoul market, where all sorts of interesting (and occasionally distressing) items are for sale, two of the inhabitants of the market (the Skinsmith, who rebuilds flesh, and Vespero the Antiquarian, a fixer) are described in greater detail. A handout for Vespero’s shop in the market is provided as well. A petty god, Luminari, Lady of the Golden Lamp, gets a brief but evocative description. The adventure locale of the drowned village of Brahnwick is presented with maps of the area and surviving building. An interview with Chris McDowall, author of Into the Odd is included. And it concludes with a map and blank key to Greycandle Manor.


Overall, a good collection on interesting resources and you can sample it inexpensively as it is Pay What You Want.


All of the issues of VRA have interesting and inspirational material, while light on rules they provide a wide range of old school wackiness and adventure which should be usable in any game (though requiring a bit more work to adapt to something like Pathfinder).


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://seaofsta-
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Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #1
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #3
Publisher: Red Moon Medicine Show
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2015 22:26:37

Vacant Ritual Assembly is an OSR (primarily Lamentations of the Flame Princess) focused ‘zine published by Red Moon Medicine Show. They are done in B&W and provide a mixture of house rules, inspiration, adventures, maps and interviews.


Issue 3 starts with an introduction, table of contents and recommendations for inspirational reading. Most of the material in this issue centers around the wilderness of the Dragon’s Trench area (the history behind which is quite delightful) including several organizations (heroic and villainous), multiple places to explore, new monsters and a full dungeon in the Grand Vespiary. An interview with Rick Saada, programer of the roguelike Castle of the Winds 2 concludes the issue.


The Legend of the Dragon’s Trench provides a lot of potential play either as straight exploration adventure or a major part of a campaign setting. It is a very fun read and many strange ideas to be used or adapted.


All of the issues of VRA have interesting and inspirational material, while light on rules they provide a wide range of old school wackiness and adventure which should be usable in any game (though requiring a bit more work to adapt to something like Pathfinder).


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://seaofsta-
rsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #3
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Vacant Ritual Assembly #2
Publisher: Red Moon Medicine Show
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2015 22:25:48

Vacant Ritual Assembly is an OSR (primarily Lamentations of the Flame Princess) focused ‘zine published by Red Moon Medicine Show. They are done in B&W and provide a mixture of house rules, inspiration, adventures, maps and interviews.


Issue 2 starts with n introduction, table of contents, recommendations for inspirational reading/ viewing/ listening. The resources begin with a table of names, then a simple astrology table for characters. Then we arrive at Dretcher’s Bay, where monster crabs are hunted among underwater ruins and strange creatures prowl, an excellent place for adventure and treachery (with two maps). An article on the Oarsmen and their unique ability to travel along with a random table of woes that drive them on follows. A short adventure, With Thine Eye Beheld, introduces a crazed cyclops-worshiping family cult, appropriately disturbing. Lastly, an interview with Greg Gorgonmilk about his Dolmenwood project wraps up this issue.


Another useful collection of bits and bobs with Dretcher’s Bay useful for either a quick adventure locale or as part of an extended campaign.


All of the issues of VRA have interesting and inspirational material, while light on rules they provide a wide range of old school wackiness and adventure which should be usable in any game (though requiring a bit more work to adapt to something like Pathfinder).


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://seaofsta-
rsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vacant Ritual Assembly #2
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Shadowrun: Hard Targets (Deep Shadows Sourcebook)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2015 20:33:11

Shadowrun: Hard Target provides information about assassins, killers for hire, along with some metaplot advancement and information on Cuba in the Shadowrun setting. It is very specialized toward particular levels and styles of play so it is not universally useful but interesting and has some fun toys. Do you need it? Unless you are running an assassin or Cuba-based game, not really, but it is a good read and a GM will probably eventually add it to their library.


Shadowrun: Hard Target, is a Deep Shadows sourcebook focusing on assassins and other killers, guardians, and Cuba in the Sixth World. Rather an mixed bag of material, Cuba not sitting particularly well with the assassination and killers sections of the product.


As expected, it opens with fiction, followed by an overview of what the book contains. The first section is devoted to supporting the current Shadowrun metaplot, the CFD/Headcase outbreak, and the evolving metafiction of the Sixth World. It is all over the place with information on megacorporate activities and a variety of other power players, there are interesting plot information there but most are too high level except for the most powerful and connected runner teams.


Next is a selection of contracts (as in assassination requests) with comments and, for the other side of the coin, protection needed jobs. Interesting reading and some good adventure seeds there, especially on the protection side. Followed by a brief section on hiring killers, protection and dupes for such jobs. The following section is a collection of famous assassins, guardians and hunters (of killers).


Then we go to Cuba, heart of the Caribbean League, it is the usual package but also seeded through are NPCs complete with connection ratings and what they can provide and how they like to be paid (very useful). In addition there are rules for Caribbean magic, new creatures, new life path modules and even a couple of new vehicles. Overall, very useful for anyone who had wanted to explore the Caribbean League.


A section on the life and business of being a professional assassin, good advice for both players and GMs here, couched in world discussion. But an interesting and amusing read (especially as the signature character for the in-world writeup is by Blackwing, who has been around since 1st edition Shadowrun). Then, what everyone has been waiting for, new toys! Weapons, ammunition (including silver bullets), cyber and bioware, new tools (including disguises), drones and poison are all provided. Nore are character options neglected, with new adept powers, including some for archers, new positive and negative qualities, specialized knowledge skills, and contacts. Truly something for everyone (who wants to kill someone else).


Closing the book is a short bit of advise on running assassination teams, a few new life modules (for those using that character creation systems) and ten adventure hooks building off the information presented earlier. The hooks are very short and will take considerable work to turn into useable adventures.


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



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Hard Targets (Deep Shadows Sourcebook)
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Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
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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