2050 was going to be an easy sell for a nostalgic grognard like myself. Most of my memories are of cutting my teeth on SR2, with an overly large dose of conversion between the SR1 books and modules. I was entering this book with the idea of a trip down memory lane, but there is a lot more to this book.
The basic premise is simple – this is the sourcebook for those folk who want to explore shadowrunning during the year 2050. By the current timeline, that’s about two and half decades ago. What becomes immediately apparent is how much work the respective companies who have worked with SR have put into the setting throughout the publication history. This showcases the roots of the setting and is an excellent yardstick for how different the setting of SR4 is from it’s beginnings.
The book gives an overview of the world at this point in future history, covers the ‘Big Eight’ MNCs, law and order, popular culture (Maria Mecurial, Jet Black, Queen Euphoria all make an appearance), followed by an almanac of three sprawls (Seattle, Chicago and Hong Kong). The rest of the book covers the types of jobs available to runners in 2050 (handy for any timeline, really), and the rules for creating a character for this period (bearing in mind the lack of commlinks, Technomancers and anything more advanced than an Ares Pred II). The nice touch here is that the authors took all of the archetypes from SR1 and gave them an SR4 update. You’ll see little nods like that throughout the whole book, and they are tastefully done – that is, neither cheesy, nor inaccessible to the new reader. Slang, magic and gear round off the book – but the depth of material here is great.
Weighing in at 144 pages, this is a cleverly designed book overall. It is jam-packed full of content from rules to setting information, and the writing style is uniformly excellent. It is very clear that a lot of work went into pulling this book together, and it deserves to become a fan favourite. The art is great throughout with some recycled pieces (which is very appropriate given the topic) and the layout of the book makes it a pleasure to read.
I’d highly recommend the purchase of this supplement just based on the nostalgia factor, but after reading through the book, it is clear that 2050 has so much more to commend it’s purchase. If you’re new to the setting, this might inspire you to check out the back catalogue of material, and pick up a few of the classic modules. Whilst those will require a bit of conversion work, it’s well worth the effort.
[5 of 5 Stars!]