It’s always difficult to write a module review without spoilers, so consider yourself forewarned. ‘Sacrificial Limb’ is an extremely strong follow-up to the first ‘Boardroom Backstabs’ offering (and in my opinion is a superior product). Reminiscent of the SR2 module “Missions’, the characters are approached to undertake undercover work with Knight Errant – by becoming recruits. Obviously, there is a lot more going on than just gathering intel on Knight Errant training methods, tech and evidence of incompetence on the rising megacorp. The proximity of the training grounds to a certain city means that it’s only a matter of game time before bugs start crawling out of the walls; and they don’t disappoint.
The design of the module allows for both a linear experience, and one that could be tailored to become a full-blown campaign, so it represents excellent value for money. The current cover price (USD 8.00) is double the cost of a regular ‘Shadowrun Missions’ module, but has so much more, despite a count of 48 pages. The plot is very straightforward, with opportunities and advice about expanding the scope of the run, developing NPCs and introducing subplots littered throughout all sections. I couldn’t honestly see a GM using all of the material, but the ideas are good enough that you could cross-pollinate into other ‘runs, or design your own ‘side-trek’ style one-shots from them. Additionally, sidebars discuss how to make scenes more challenging, by adding an interesting depth of complexity that will challenge even seasoned groups. There is a mix of both combat and social/investigative scenes, but as you’d imagine, there is a definite lean towards the combat (especially in the later stages of the module once the truth of matter comes to light).
This is a sensible design strategy, as some groups will simply undertake the run, tick the boxes and achieve the goals. Other groups, however, will relish the relative open-ness of the mission parameters, and use of the scene complication sidebars will encourage co-operative and imaginative play.
What had struck me with the last few months of Catalysts’ SR4 offerings is that the quality (including editing) has been steadily rising, and the current pricing schedule is sound. If a GM was to purchase ‘Sacrificial Limb’ and ‘Elven Blood’ they would be set for modules for quite a while (I worked out that my group would take about twenty game sessions to get through all the content in those two books – that’s a year of gaming at my table).
I couldn’t be happier with Catalyst over 2012, the only major complaint I have is a lack of gaming time to enjoy this line more often. If you look over the product list from this year alone, you’ll not be starved for choice.
[5 of 5 Stars!]