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Shadowrun: Data Trails
by robert l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2015 06:02:24
Ok, first let me set this up by pointing out that 1. The one reviewer who first reviewed this book is a paid reviewer. $$$$ equals "5 star" review where I am not a "paid reviewer". I do not get "$$$" for my review of this product. Overall, I give this product 2 stars.

With that said, lets cover what this book is and what it is not. What this book is not is an upgrade for deckers/technomancers/rigggers. If this is what you want, get "unwired" from either the 4th edition shadowrun section of this site or your friend, GM., ect.. This book was written with the clear assumption that we are using "unwired" 4th edition and the game desingners are going from there. What this book is is a set up for technomancers that will be covers in a follow up book, more pay to pay naturally, its worse than "free to play" but you must understand that this is all suppose to support the questionable "shadowrun chronicles", much in the same way the failed "Defiance" mmo was to follow the tv series and parallel each other, these books are to do the same and this book is the into much like ""shattered souls" which introduced CDF, "gag", into the game world. So this book questionable tries to introduce an answer to the question of what is resonance/dissonance? So to the reader I say yes this book is actually more for technomancer and tries to reintroduce the roles of decker and rigger as defined in the video game "shadowrun chronicles". However, one must realize video games rarely if ever translate cleanly into print game mechanics, it just doesn't work.

So as a bridge, this book serves a purpose as a set piece crossover to a reintroduction to the matrix -ONLY-, not to playing a decker/rigger/technomancer. For that reader, one must continue you wait, and of course pay as well, the writers do not provide the material out of the goodness of their hearts, they have bills to pay as well. My suggestion is if you want to play a decker or rigger, get "unwired" or "rigger black book" form previous editions and save your money from the rehash. If you play a technomancer, stay tuned and keep your wallets handy, they are only starting to milk this cow, thus the 2 star MOO!

Finally to the writers, the book suffers from the same poor proof reading that has plagues this entire series, and to I suggest the following; 1. get a proof reader or for god sake..hire an intern to proof read!! 2 stars..nothing more!!!!

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
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Shadowrun: Data Trails
by Jan K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2015 01:11:41
Dissapointing. We have waited so long for data trails and then ... well... disappointing. To much feels like rewritten from older books, packed in new words with little essential new. With stripping elemental parts.
No real stuff for technomancers. No essential new informations about AIs. Partly it feels like Catalyst has to write this book but doesn't want to.
After the state of Street Grimoire now this. We are back to 4th edition. Thinking of the old paper times when you can't throw an pdf errata here and there or just deliver missing content via an additional ebook.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
by Jacob A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2015 16:17:09
So, great fluff book overall. The quality of bookmarks is a bit annoying though. The new programs and apps are cools. The new gear is awesome, especially for anyone running a street level or low nuyen game. The new complex forms are epically evil. The detail on hosts and such is long over due and well detailed. Nice examples built in. AIs are a bit complex but seems they shouldn't be too unbalanced.

But.... the echoes.... seriously. Did the person that wrote that page ever play or even read SR5? I have had to houserule 4 out of the 8 because they are either too poorly worded to make sense, they apply to rolls/actions that do not exist in 5th edition, or they hold zero purpose.

Overall, good book, except for the 1 page of echoes. Hopeful errata will fix that.

Thing they missed (in book and compared to 4th ed), streams (technomancer traditions), nuyen cost for host machines and apps, viruses/worms and other mass hack rules, writing own programs is hiding in the A.I. section but the time doesn't make a lick of sense when applied to decker.

Supposedly they are making a technomancer book for later this month, which is fine with me, if they would have at least proof read a bit better. I suspect we will also see a small book like Data Havens, similar to how they did Aetherology.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Borrowed Time
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/27/2015 06:29:59
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/05/25/book-review-shadowrun-b-
orrowed-time/

Unlike a lot of tabletop games, Shadowrun has had a ton of fantastic fiction released for it. Whether you’re talking the original Robert N. Charrette trilogy, Tom Dowd’s Burning Bright, or many of the other books that came out of the FASA/TOR deal back in the early days of the game, you were usually guaranteed a good read. That hasn’t always been the case the past few years. The short pieces of fiction are almost always great. Pieces like Neat, Another Rainy Night, Sail Away, Sweet Sister, and The Vladivostok Gauntlet have all been top notch. The latest batch of novels however… let’s say they haven’t been as good as those released in the past. Hell on Water and Fire & Frost were not things I could recommend to anyone, for example. I’ve been afraid to pick up Crimson because I didn’t want to be hit with a third bad Shadowrun novel in a row. I skipped Dark Resonance for this reason as well (But Ashe reviewed it and enjoyed it for what it was, so I’ll probably go back and get that). I was content to stick with older Shadowrun novels for a while, but R.L. King asked me to review Borrowed Time and I agreed to do so. Which brings us to the very article you are reading. Did Borrowed Time continue the streak of bad Shadowrun novels or has the fiction side of the Sixth World started to show signs of its former self?

First off, the protagonist of Borrowed Time is one of my two favorite Jackpointers – Winterhawk. I don’t know why, but I always picture him looking like Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun facially, even though one has a beard and one doesn’t and I know what Winterhawk looks like from SR4e and Shadowrun Returns. Maybe it’s the fact they are somewhat similar personality-wise. It’s not that I think all mages look alike, I swear! I love the idea of an upper class scholary Shadowrunner that is in it more for the knowledge than for a payday, fragging feebs or sticking it to the man. It’s a unique dynamic when so many Shadowrun characters blur together. Oh, another grizzled Orc Street Samurai? Ho hum. Winterhawk has always stood out in personality, style and tone and so I really enjoy when he shows up (or actually leads) a Jackpoint discussion. Because of this, a full novel featuring him made me extremely optimistic for Borrowed Time. Oh, who is my other favorite? It’s Plan 9, but I can’t imagine how a novel involving him… er, her… er, it… er… them(?) would work without potentially ruining the character’s mystique and comedy value.

For those of you new to Shadowrun, I’m happy to say that Borrowed Time is exceptionally newcomer friendly. The novel doesn’t bring up plot points, situations or characters you can only understand by having been a fan of the Sixth World for many years and read through multiple supplements and sourcebooks to truly understand what is going on. One of Shadowrun‘s greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses is the constant Metaplot weaved through all the gaming books. For long time fans, it’s wonderful to see this rich tapestry and history unfolding before you. For newcomers it can be intimidating, confusing and extremely annoying, as most books refer to previously released titles or make references to them in a way that the authors assume you’ve read and owned everything put out for Shadowrun in the past few years. This is not the case with Borrowed Time. It’s a very straightforward novel that doesn’t really go in-depth about the Sixth World and how the earth of the 2070s differs from the real life version without dragons, elves and cyberware that we live on today in 2015. So you don’t have to worry about who Dunkelzahn is, the names of all the Megacorps or what a Physical Adept it. Everything is pretty self-explanatory in Borrowed Time, which makes it a great starting point for people who have been interested in Shadowrun but haven’t taken the leap yet. About the only question I could see newcomers having is, “What is a Rigger?” since four different ones show up in the novel, but even someone totally new to Shadowrun will walk away with a basic idea of thinking it is slang for a vehicle driver… which is right in an elementary way. So if you’ve been wary of the sheer amount of back history Shadowrun usually relies on you knowing, worry not, as Borrowed Time will gives you all the basics you need to understand the Sixth World, in addition to being a fun read to boot.

So now, let’s talk plot. As mentioned previously, Borrowed Time is about Winterhawk, who has more or less retired from Shadowrunning. So what brings him back for a mission? Ancient tomes containing mystical secrets? A plot by insect shamans to take over the world? Shutting down an evil corporation? No, nothing no grandiose. This time Winterhawk is doing a run because he has no choice. My favorite mage/scholar has been given a complicated poison that is guaranteed to kill him. The only way to get the antidote is to do the run a particular Mr. Johnson has asked him to complete. Why go to this trouble to make Winterhawk fulfill the mission instead of simply ask? Well, those reasons will unfold as you read the novel. Unfortunately for our protagonist, he has no choice but to comply. To this end, Winterhawk has to assemble a team and engage in a mission that involves extracting an employee from the Shiawase Corporation and having them guide the team to an artifact that Johnson desperately wants to get their mitts on. Of course, no run ever goes as planned, and so Winterhawk sees his team going from Seattle to California to opposite ends of Australia (the only two cities I’ve been to Down Under, in fact!). What’s worse is that the team sees not one, but two betrayals as the novel goes on, a lot of infighting amongst this motley crew, and perhaps the worst possible outcome when the extraction half of the missions occurs. All in all, even for Shadowrun, this particular mission seems to be cursed. Speaking of a cursed mission, the MacGuffin at the heart of it all? Oh man, it’s bad hoodoo. Bad enough that two members of the assembled team don’t make it out alive. I won’t spoil who they are, but I will use this to illustrate the point that this mission isn’t like some high fantasy licensed RPG fiction where everyone comes out unscathed. This is Shadowrun chummers, and although the mortality rate isn’t as high as say, Call of Cthulhu, runs go bad and runners get killed. This book highlights how complex even the simplest of missions (on paper) become.

Characterization is definitely the high point of the novel. Winterhawk of course shines, thanks to being written by his creator, but the supporting cast is really well written too. Within the novel you’ll meet Scuzzy, the socially awkward Decker (only schleps call them hackers) with a heart of gold. There’s Ocelot, an old friend of Winterhawk who is pretty much a white hat and who suffers from some notable issues with claustrophobia. There’s Dreja, the socially conscious Ork Street Samurai who has past issues with Winterhawk and comes on the mission for her own reasons. You have Tiny, another Ork Street Samurai who is nowhere as socially conscious as Dreja but makes up for it with his love of guns. Finally there is Kivuli, a silent but deadly elf. These six make up the core of the team, but other characters will come and go throughout the novel. There are four different Riggers (don’t worry, it’s not a Spinal Tap situation), the extraction target and Thuma, an aboriginal apprentice of magic flitter through the novel. There isn’t a lot of depth to the antagonists of the story save for the one that gets the whole chain of events starts, since they don’t show up very often. This is simply because the book is far more about interpersonal team dynamics and the evolution of the characters than it is protagonists vs. antagonists. Sure, there are some battles interspersed throughout the novel, but this is not an action packed book. The story is a very slow burn. The full team isn’t assembled until a quarter of the way in. You don’t get the big picture as to what all has transpired in-between the lines until sixty percent of the way in. You don’t get to the start of the actual climax until the last ten percent of the book. Again, these are NOT bad things. Think of it more as an adventure that is more role-playing than roll-playing or the difference between a hack and slash dungeon crawl and a narrative driven piece where the action is in the words rather than the combat. I personally prefer my novels to be more character driven and action-driven, so I really enjoyed Borrowed Time for what it was.

Now, no novel is perfect, and as much as I enjoyed this one, I did have a minor issue with the climax of the book. Now this isn’t a spoiler, but obviously Winterhawk’s side won (even though there were fatalities along the way), but even after reading the climax several times, I couldn’t really figure out HOW they won. I couldn’t tell if it was because of causalities suffered on the bad guy’s side, if the host body for SOMETHING wasn’t strong enough and things would have just fizzled out no matter what, if the team’s face (for this situation) managed a critical success negotiation-wise, or if the people he was trying to negotiate with had no intention of helping the main bad guy anyway and he was just deluded into thinking it was. It was never clear which of the following caused the downfall of the antagonists-side, if any, or even a combo of the events, and if I was unsure which is the correct answer to why we didn’t have a massive shakeup in the Shadowrun meta-plot, I’m not sure newcomers will either. This is a minor quibble though, as I have said before, and aside from my confusion on this particular plot point, Borrowed Time is a top notch novel from beginning to end.

So, after a streak of some bad SR novels, Borrowed Time proved that long form Sixth World fiction can be as good as the short stories and novellas Catalyst Game Labs has been putting out for a while. Borrowed Time is a fine read, even if you’re brand new to Shadowrun and might be a better way to get your feet wet than the core 5e rulebook itself. It’s good enough it has me considering whether or not I should pick up Dark Resonance and Crimson, which is a good sign, but I might just wait for Shaken since I have two core rulebooks and a Call of Cthulhu adventure collection that needs to be reviewed. For now though, I’m quite happy with Borrowed Time and I think you will be too, even if you’re relatively unfamiliar with Shadowrun.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Borrowed Time
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BattleTech: Welcome to the Nebula California
by Andrew R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/24/2015 19:40:29
This April Fool's release for BattleTech is fluff-and-crunch-based parody of multiple classic franchises (mainly stuff you'd remember from the 80's and 90's), showing what happens when the Interstellar Explorers of BattleTech are dropped into lawyer-friendly versions of the worlds of D&D, Transformers, and DC and Marvel's worlds of superheroes. It's fairly amusing as far as the writing goes. Nebula California takes the parody factor a step beyond by providing rules for incorporating these crossover-ish elements into games, including rules for transforming 'mechs and superpowered RPG characters, among other things.

It might not ever be used in much of any serious capacity if it ever gets played with, but it's an entertaining read.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Welcome to the Nebula California
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BattleTech: Jihad: Turning Point Dieron
by Andrew B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/22/2015 13:18:07
As a Battletech player going back over 20 years, I have really been enjoying the Turning Points series of e-publications. They offer a nice one page description of a planet with a map of the world. They offer a nice description of the combatants and some special unit abilities for each one. They also offer several good scenarios which fit nicely into the Chaos Campaign rules, which have, themselves, been a very nice addition to Battletech. The storyline for this scenario spans about 10 years, presenting scenarios to describe major events, and leaving some flexible room for you to incorporate other more generic scenarios in between. The storyline here was especially good: a prince is captured and then rescued, a legendary mountain fortress is first besieged, then taken, then re-taken. The epic mountain top finale ends the publication on a "high" note. I would recommend this to any fan of House Kurita, the Ghost Bears, or the Jihad storyline in general. I would have liked a little bit more of a synopsis of the historical actions. Some of the scenario aftermaths left me wondering what "really" happened next. All in all, this was a beautiful production with a compelling story line that could provide hours and hours of replayable Classic Batletech fun. (Now I will have to try it out with Alpha Strike next!)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Jihad: Turning Point Dieron
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BattleTech: Handbook: House Kurita
by Tobias R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/20/2015 08:56:21
The good:
- Layout, illustrations and writing are generally good. (Although one illustration, a pose copy of a somewhat well known photo of Adolf Hitler, was in bad taste.)
- Updates older material for use with a 3067 era game.
- Offers game information as well as background.

The bad:
- Does not rise above the older material, in some cases being directly copy-pasted. This sometimes clashes with the alleged change of perspective from a less than sympathetic outsider (ComStar) to an official Kurita court history.

The ugly and nitpicky:
- The gratuitous false Japanese used in the book is both bad and largely unnecessary.

In conclusion: I would not generally recommend this book at the price of $25, which I paid for the PDF. People who just want general information about House Kurita could get some of the older material (the FASA era Kurita Housebook, which is still available as a PDF, and/or the Draconis Combine Field Manual.)
I would only recommend getting this for people who definitely want 3067-era information and do not own the aforementioned preceding works.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Handbook: House Kurita
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BattleTech: Adventures: Empires Aflame
by Jeff J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/16/2015 14:01:31
Empires Aflame is an incredible little gem of a product.

BattleTech, due to being a game with a rich history in-game and a long lifespan in real life, has always been a fertile ground for asking "What If?" questions...what if Amaris never launched his coup, what it the Clans invaded earlier or later, what if the FedCom kept going in the War of 3039 and countless others. This questions have been wonderful thought exercises for the fans over the years, even spawning entire Alternate Universe written by dedicated fans. One part of this though, is that the writers and owners of BattleTech have never engaged in this aspect of BattleTech in any official work.

Until now.

Empires Aflame takes a group of player characters from the mainline BattleTech universe, and thrusts them into a strange setting, utterly alien, and yet, chillingly familiar. The adventure track has good pacing, and gives the players a unique set of choices to let them affect this new setting dramatically.

If I had any complaints about the adventure track, it would only be that the early portions of the track are on fairly tight rails (but with good reason), and that the player characters involved are effectively "trapped" in the new setting, with no possibility of ever going home (again, this is with good reason though, and does fit the logic and technology of BattleTech).

The real meat of this book though, is the "Empires Aflame" setting. Spanning half the book, a GM chapter regarding this alternate universe walks us through what changed it, how it changed, and where the alternate universe is at this point. For any BattleTech fan, it's an interesting read of "what could have been", and presents a compelling universe to game in. For some people, myself included, this incarnation of BattleTech is a ripe new ground for campaigns, and presents a fantastic way to get people involved in BattleTech without having to brief them on thirty years of built up products and information. In short, it's a GM's playground, and has fun with that fact.

In addition to the material in the book for this setting, there is even more material you can get from the module author himself on the official forums. On the forums, search for "Let's Talk About "Empires Aflame" here.", and you can get even more material for this awesome setting.

In short, this is a fun module, a fun read, and a cool new toolbox for GMs. Get this module. You won't be disappointed.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Adventures: Empires Aflame
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Shadowrun: Lockdown
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/12/2015 07:46:00
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/05/12/tabletop-review-shadowr-
un-lockdown/

Shadowrun Lockdown is the tabletop tie-in to the new Shadowrun video game, Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown. For those of you finding Shadowrun Chronicles to be too much of a mess to play through, or prefer the tabletop game to video games, this is the probably your best way to experience the storyline. Oddly enough, there are three ways to pick up Lockdown. The first is by purchasing it as a $9.99 add-on to Shadowrun Chronicles through your Steam account. This was, until this weekend, the only way to get Lockdown. $9.99 sounds like a fantastic deal for a Shadowrun PDF, especially since CGL, along with Games Workshop and Onyx Path Publishing, tend to have the highest prices for their digital release. It’s not unusual for a 32-40 page supplement for Shadowrun to cost five bucks, so ten bucks for a full sourcebook – that might be the best deal the game has ever seen. Unfortunately, to get that $9.99 price tag, you do have to buy a $39.99 video game that is almost unplayable at times due to server issues (It’s getting fixed. Honest!). This is why I tend to refuse to buy online only video games, because they eventually shut down or don’t work well from the get-go. In essence, you’re just renting an online RPG, and god forbid it comes with a monthly fee to boot. Anyway, the only other way to get Lockdown is if you splurge for the SEVENTY DOLLAR “RPG SUPER DELUXE PACK” version of Shadowrun Chronicles and holy crap, it’s not worth that price tag. My advice is that, as good as Lockdown is, wait for a Steam sale and by the basic version of Shadowrun Chronicles and get the sourcebook that way. The cost for it will probably be reduced on that sale as well. Your last option is to purchase the book directly through DriveThruRPG.com… for $25. That’s a huge increase from the Steam price, but you also don’t have to buy a forty dollar video game to boot. So $25 for just the book, or $50 for the book and a video game. Again, waiting for a Steam sale is probably your best bet, as you’ll end up getting both for the same price as the DriveThru only options. You probably won’t have to wait long for a sale with the reviews Shadowrun Chronicles has gotten. However, Lockdown is arguably the best release for 5e so far, so it just depends on if you’re willing to play the waiting game or not.

I’ll be honest, I tend to LOVE Shadowrun, but Fifth Edition hasn’t done it for me. Oh, it hasn’t been the mechanics, although I know some people would love to play Edition Wars over that. It hasn’t been the writing. I honestly feel that Shadowrun has the best overall team of writers in the business right now. For me, it’s been the metaplot… which is telling, as it’s usually the best part of Shadowrun. Like a lot of people, I find the current CFD (a nanotech based “disease” where AI takes over carbon based lifeforms) to be terribly done. It has some potential, but quickly became the worst storyline in Shadowrun history. Yes, worse than the Aztlan-Amazonia war… which was something I didn’t think could be possible. Stolen Souls was horrible, and from looking at reviews from people besides myself and fan commentary across the net, my opinion on CFD seems to be the majority (It’s totally okay if you actually like the CFD metaplot though. It’s all opinion. I will not fault someone for liking something I hate or vice versa.) I’ve found it to be so bad I’ve stopped buying/reviewing Shadowrun releases for about a year. I get too many other review requests on a weekly basis, and I’d rather do something that slag on a game I otherwise love (and the poor authors stuck with some bad storylines).

However, Shadowrun is stuck churning out this part of the metaplot because they’ve backed themselves into a corner with it. It was Shadowrun‘s Roman Reigns. They put all their money on this one storyline and when the audience gave it a collective thumbs down, they weren’t really prepared for what that reaction. Unlike the WWE which hotshotted the title to Seth Rollins, CGL decided to run with the ball anyway and see if they could take their feces sandwich and make it the tastiest pile of poop they could. A good writer can’t salvage every bad editorial decision (Behold comics books as a great example), but they can make the bitter pill easier to swallow. Thankfully, CGL has the best collection of fiction writers in the industry right now (except for Fire & Frost and Hell on Water. Those are the exceptions) and that’s exactly what has happened here with Lockdown. This book takes the worst aspect of Shadowrun right now in CFD and even adds the things people have said would make the concept even stupider like going from a third rate cyber Invasion of the Body Snatchers to a third rate cyber Night of the Living Dead (We already have Shedim. We didn’t need nano-zombies). Yet somehow, the entire Lockdown sourcebook not only works, but it works really well. Perhaps it is because Lockdown is extremely isolated and closed off rather than being a world-wide epidemic. Perhaps because it is video-gamey and it’s easier to accept tons of two-dimensional cannon fodder in this. Perhaps it’s just the quality of the writing. Most likely, it is a combination of all things, but for the first time Shadowrun‘s CFD is tolerable. Who knows, this might finally be the catalyst to jettison it from the Metaplot (thank Cthulhu) and actually have me willing to review Shadowrun full time again.

So now, let’s talk Lockdown proper. Like any Shadowrun release. If you’ve played the video game Boston Lockdown, then you have some idea of what you’ll find in this sourcebook. For those who haven’t played the game, Lockdown essentially does to Boston, MA what Bug City did to Chicago, IL. This is a huge game changer for Shadowrun as essentially, the Boston metro area is quarantined with no way in or out. Yes, even runners and Megacorps are finding entry and/or escape extremely hard, but it needs to be. CFD is running amok, there are three powerful dragons in the mix and although there are supply drops, Boston is essentially what you see in a post-apocalyptic game. Granted, if people wanted a post-apocalyptic RPG, they’d be playing something else, but it does work here. More importantly, it still feels like Shadowrun even though you are in an isolated location. You’d be surprised how many runs you can get out of a situation like this.

Scattered throughout the book are occasional pieces of fiction. They’re entertaining and set the tone for the section that follows each one. The common character in all of the fiction pieces is a runner named A.J. who shows up as the narrator for actual section of the book later. However, A.J.’s narration section is apparently posthumous so reading fiction featuring him after this point is a little odd. You’ll also notice that the book is not laid out chronologically. This can be a bit odd, especially for those who haven’t picked up the tabletop version of Shadowrun before and just got this with their game purchase. Being a long-time fan of Shadowrun, I knew the score, who everyone was and what was going on, but the layout of the book could have been a LOT more newcomer friendly. Being newcomer-friendly has always a weak spot with CGL’s version of Shadowrun, and so this is no exception. The book does assume you are EXTREMELY familiar with Shadowrun. and especially Fifth Edition which takes place during the 2070s. Again, this is not a problem for longtime tabletop gamers. However, newcomers or those that are only used to the previous video games for the PC, SNES, Sega Genesis and Sega-CD, will probably be quite lost, especially since those games take place during the 2050s and use first and/or second edition Shadowrun rules. It’s okay though. Most of CGL’s version of Shadowrun sourcebooks and supplements take the form of Jackpoint narratives – which is essentially a chat room where runners get together and swap stories, secrets and snark. As such most of the book reads like short inter-connected fiction stories rather than a manual of mechanics and rules. So at least newcomers will get a level of entertainment rather than a bunch of jargon and rules. Those are almost always towards the back of a book, making for easy use in an actual gaming session. So if you’re new to Shadowrun and you like the world and writing style of Lockdown but you feel you are missing something, you are. Considering getting the core rulebook for Shadowrun, Fifth Edition to get a really strong overlay of the Sixth World and the mechanics that run the game. God knows Shadowrun Chronicles doesn’t really play like the tabletop game – which is neither bad nor good. I just don’t want you to think it’s a straight rules-port.

Lockdown begins with “A Runner’s Guide to Boston” which some of you might remember from the truly terrible Boston Adventures PDF, which comes with some versions of Shadowrun Chronicles. I was pretty cruel to that PDF because it did so many things horribly wrong and was littered with typos from beginning to end. Here in Lockdown you get that same section cleaned up, formatter correctly and edited. Yes, there are still a lot of typos and grammatical mistakes in Lockdown. It’s a CGL book and admittedly, they have some of the worst editing in the industry but oh man, is there a night and day difference between Boston Adventures and Lockdown.

Besides the part of “A Runner’s Guide to Boston” that is in both Boston tie-ins, the Lockdown version adds Jackpoint commentary and a lot more content. You get an overview of the Megacorps and how they are dealing with the Boston situation, along with some AA and non-profit organization. There’s also a long section on the local medical scene. This is especially noteworthy due to all the mishaps and carnage going on in Boston at this time. Hopefully you have that platinum Doc Wagon card in Boston chummer. You’ll also get a quick overview of the political mover and shakers in the metro area, a look at what the local dragons like Damon, Celedyr and others are up to, and even the local gang scene, be it small-time thuggery or large scale organization.

I have to say I loved this whole part of the book. It was well written and fun, without a dry or dull moment to be had. More importantly, it was the first time I’ve laughed at out at an official CGL release for Shadowrun. Unless you count the April Fools 2013 release, Rigger 4, which was fantastic. There were two very funny moments to be had in the Jackpoint commentary. Lockdown reminded me of the one thing I miss most about the FASA era of Shadowrun and that was the wonderful sense of humour the game had. CGL’s Shadowrun is closer to Warhammer 40K‘s GRIMDARK in tone and worldview than first and second edition’s scathing satire and dry wit. As much as I enjoy CGL’s take on Shadowrun, things like Lockdown and the Harebrained Schemes 2050 era videogames remind that the Sixth World didn’t use to be pure doom and gloom. Things like Rigger 4 show that the SR4/5e team is capable of some great comedy. It just isn’t something that ever really occurs in an official release anymore. So yes, two laugh out loud moments make the Shadowrun‘s zombie (CFD) apocalypse the funniest release CGL has put out for Shadowrun, and that’s a really odd thing to say when you think about it.

The next section is “Lockdown Timeline” and it’s here where you start to get a semblance of substance regarding what it going on in Boston. In the previous section, things were just hinted at vaguely. Here you get actual names, dates and events. I think Lockdown would have flowed better if this was first, especially for newcomers, who will be lost with the allusions and assumptions. Still, it’s a well written section and vets of Shadowrun will probably appreciate spoilers of events gradually being unfolded. In this way, Lockdown does read like a novel stated in medias res, which is somewhat uncommon for a gaming sourcebook. As the source book goes on, you get more and more concrete data, which allows a GM to share the first part of Lockdown without giving any spoilers while also not having to spend hours setting up the backstory.

From there we getting “Locking the Hub,” which is more Jackpoint commentary but this time it’s on what (lies) the media is telling the general public compared to what runners and the Megacorps know. You get a very detailed look at security around the QZ (Quarantined Zone) with a pretty stark look at how insanely hard it will be to get in or out of Boston once drek goes down. From there you get a rundown of what Miles Lanier(!) knows about the incident and a lot of dirty laundry the Megacorps don’t want the average person (or any person really) to know about. Eight different top top top top top secret projects are named, along with what corporations are to blame for them. Fun stuff. “Who’s Inside” gives you a list of major NPCs that are in the QZ. Dragons, corp heads and even Tommy Talon show up in Boston, although the latter appears to be a bad fake. From there we move to “Street Legends of Boston,” which is ten pages that covers twenty-four+ runners in the QZ for your GM to throw at you, be they ally or antagonist.

The longest section in Lockdown is “Inside the QZ: A Wanderer’s Guide.” This takes up nearly fifty pages and is a district by district look at the Boston metropolis, told from the point of view of two characters. It’s an excellent read and by far, the highlight of the book. I do miss the old city guides for games that were so prolific in the 90s, especially the 2e Vampire: The Masquerade “By Night books. This was probably the best look at a single contained area in Shadowrun since titles like Bug City, Tir Tairngire: The Land of Promise and California Free State. I would love to see more city guides for 5e, especially with the writing staff they currently have. A new pure Tir book, a look at the Carribean, parts of France, Bhutan, and so many other places would make for fantastic sourcebooks. Seattle, Denver, Berlin, Hong Kong, London and the like and been kind of done to death. There’s more to Shadowrun then those five cities and this “Wanderer’s Guide is exactly the type of thing I’d like to see more often for the Sixth World. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but it’s a great read, gives you some interesting information about the area, a look at the movers and shakers in the QZ and most importantly, a metric ton of plot threads for a GM to use with their gaming group.

This brings us to the four adventures in this sourcebook. All four work best as a mini campaign with your runners trapped inside Boston during the “epidemic,” but there is no reason why you can’t pick and choose from the collection if you don’t like some of them. The first adventure is “Beantown Bound,” and as you can imagine, it’s about your runners going to Boston. This run is before the Quarantine occurs though. It’s a completely separate mission. It just happens that drek hits the fan while you are in the middle of this mission. “Beantown Bound” makes a great intro adventure to a Boston based campaign and even nets you a nice NPC henchmen/Runner in training or an ally in Knight Errant if you play your cards the right. “Beantown Bound” is laid out nicely, using the Shadowrun MissionsLockdown or played Shadowrun Chronicles, it’ll be a huge swerve to find themselves trapped in the QZ. Even if they have played the video game or read parts of this book, playing a parallel adventure to the events of the game is always fun. Look at Green Ronin’s Dragon Age and how decently that sold.

The next adventure is “Trainyard Troubles.” Here’s you’ll be working for the Megacorp MCT or the mob (depending on how “Beantown Bound” ended), trying to clear out a gang from the trainyards. Unfortunately the gang isn’t a straight forward group of punks with pikes, chains and Ares guns, but what run ever goes as smoothly as planned, am I right? This adventure gives you your first taste of CFD head cases, but it’s also got a single scene that might be a trigger for some gamers. Remember, QZ + CFD = no real laws or rules and so some people get even more depraved that ever. As such the runner can stop or ignore a kidnapper/rapist. The scene is just kind of in there as an aside/sidequest and has no real bearing on the rest of the adventure, so if you’re not comfortable running it, or some of your players might dislike the experience, you can excise it with null sweat. There is also the possibility of running into some CFD sufferers that aren’t so bad for body snatching AIs and a young child in distress…that well, my team murdered pretty quickly because they felt it was obviously a CFD setup. Was it? That’s for them to live with.

Adventure numero three is “Digging Deeper.” This is a set of six “events” that are really short adventures bundled together as one connected piece. There are potentially three more “sequels” that can occur based on your actions. Essentially you break into the MIT&T Containment Zone to retrieve something and after the words gets around of your success, many other organizations are interested in hiring you for very similar missions. Because you’re hitting the same target over and over, there is a lot of room for comedy, and repeat NPCs. We had a lot of fun with this one, but admittedly, we ran parts of it for laughs, almost like a sitcom due to “AGAIN? REALLY? We just took ten steps out of the location.”

The final adventure is “Bringing Down the House.” This is not only the last adventure, but it’s the most important one as your team decides who gets all sorts of damming information about the outbreak (and who caused) it. This means your choice determines what the general populace learns and what Megacorp gets hit badly (if any). Your choices to give the info include Knight Errant (your original hirer), Aegis Cognito, Ares, Aztechnology (boo!), EVO (just as big a boo as Aztech this time around), Horizon, Lone Star, Mitsuhama, Monobe International, Neo Net (another big boo!), Renraku, Saeder-Krupp, Shiawase, Wuxing, and Zeta-Impchem. Obviously, the more evil the company or the more they were behind the events that lead to the QZ, the more they are offering your team for the info. There are a few exceptions to this rule but remember, in Shadowrun if the money is too good to be true, it usually is. My players were torn between Monobe and Mitsuhama. Either choice ensured that two vile companies would get hurt severely (one perhaps destroyed altogether!) and provide the public with a lot of actual knowledge instead of media hype. What can I say, my players are white hats, more or less. In the end, my players went with Monobe since they offered twice as much money (and a special awesome bonus) in addition to ensure an ending as close as possible to “bad guys get theirs.” I’m not trying to influence the vote amongst SR fans to ensure one of these two corps win, but really, these do have the most story potential for the writers, and I’d love to see what they do with the result if either Japancorp wins.

The final section of the book is “Game Information.” If you’ve been waiting for mechanics, stats, gameplay and lists of things, you finally get it here on page 198. You get nearly thirty pages of content, which is pretty good for a Shadowrun book. Personally, I prefer the narrative, but if I didn’t enjoy the mechanics, I’d just buy the only novels from the 90s. In this section you’ll find a lot of info on CFD, although much of it is a rehash from Stolen Souls. There are some very interesting new options that a CFD sufferer can use in-game. We do finally get an answer for two quasi-cures, both of which are interesting. The game still strongly insists you don’t get a PC CFD though, which makes sense as it’s obvious CGL is still trying to work themselves out of the corner they boxed themselves into with Stolen Souls. There are also some new drugs, cyberware, devices, weapons and the like to use in your campaign. Everyone will love the “Crazy-Repller!” There are also discussions on a new dragon oriented ley line around Salem, Noice in the matrix and a trove of NPCs for use in your game. There isn’t a lot for a crunch fan compared to the amount of narrative in Lockdown, but what is here is pretty nice.

So there you go: Lockdown is easily the best gaming release for Shadowrun this year. It’s better than the video game it is a tie-in for (although give Cliffhanger a chance to fix the issues. Had the game been a non-online affair, it would actually be quite nice) and it’s relatively cheap for a CGL sourcebook. Now, is it worth getting the video game and the sourcebook for $50 or should you just get the book on its own? That’s up to you. Again, the Steam summer sale will probably see Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown with a nice discount, so you might want to get it then. No matter what though, you really should get Lockdown if you’re a fan of the current tabletop game. I’d love to see more city books like this in the future.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Lockdown
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Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3 Weapon Cards (SR4A Stats)
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/09/2015 05:55:07
These are a fantastic addition to any Shadowrun game as both a ready-reference for the GM and the players. Given the amount of gear and additional rules that are offered in Shadowrun (a constant in every edition) this is the sort of resource that makes life a little easier. I had been using some hand-written pieces of card to represent weapons looted and purchased during a 'run, but these are far better. The images on the cards are a great asset in a game where your choice of weapon is a statement of style and there is a good variety to the cards.
It would be great to see an annual set of cards released that includes weapons from the publication schedule as an expanding set (or perhaps title specific sets as a bonus with each PDF release) but this is a solid product that will get a lot of use at my table. The price point is excellent and includes 33 guns of varying types. I was surprised to see the Ares Predator was not included - which is the weapon synonymous with the Sixth World - but this is minor consideration.
When added to the Spell Cards these have the potential to make running the game a lot smoother.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Gun H(e)aven 3 Weapon Cards (SR4A Stats)
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Mark M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2015 16:13:34
I do not like the SR5 core rulebook. It is poorly organized, poorly edited, assumes you already know Shadowrun, and is filled with esoteric rules and bolted on mechanics that are unnecessary in a core rulebook. This blog summarizes much of my dislike http://lookrobot.co.uk/2013/10/14/ten-things-hate-shadowrun/-
. A few of my favorites flaws are that to find out what happens when your condition monitor is full you need to look in the character creation rules instead of the combat/damage resolution rules, wireless rules are scattered about the matrix, rigger and equipment sections, and matrix programs add more complexity to an already arbitrarily complex set of custom rules for deckers.

I've never played SR4, but SR5 feels like a big step down from SR3.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Skip W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2015 15:48:23
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition is a mixed bag of amazing new concepts, and refreshed redesigns of previous editions.

I have played Shadowrun for almost 20 years, and I find this to be the most enjoyable edition to play yet. The rules are well thought out. The new designers have a plan for the game, and the power level of Shadowrun has been re-established to the Street Level of 1st/2nd edition.

The rules have been unified (generally) to a dice roll of Attribute+Skill with successes limited by some factor either physical or equipment based.

The book's art is glorious and it is enhanced by the fiction that introduces players to the 6th World. I encourage all players to read, really read the fiction. It's good enough to get you into the mood of the game.

I own a print copy of this book, and this PDF as well. The PDF is well built. The background graphics, foreground graphics, and text are separate layers, so depending on the speed of your device you may turn down the complexity of the display. Links are every where and the table of contents is easy to navigate.

The PDF has been updated with the errata, which is refreshing to see from a publisher. Spelling has been fixed as time has gone on, and other changes have been made too. Pages have even shifted around a bit too, so even if you have owned it for a while, some of the rules have been clarified for newer players.

All in all, I recommend this book. If you are new to the game you might want to try the Digital Tools Box first. It's a good intro and it gives new players a staged intro to the game.

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/125721/Shadowrun-Dig-
ital-Tools-Box

5 Stars because of layout and updates. I would give 4 for the rules, but they are slowly but surely getting erratas.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: DocWagon 19
by robert l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2015 10:45:25
I must admit that this story was better than I thought it would be. While being shorter in length than many other shadowrun books. It does not diminish the fact that it is a good story. The plot was well thought out, compelling and engaging. While the author well detailed his/her story, I could only give it 4 stars because they forgot to put in at the end to add it "I would have gotten away with it if it was not for those mettling kids!!" An old scooby doo reference. Read he story and you will understand. Humor aside, final review; good, well detailed, but short and in too much of a hurry to end it. So the final tally 4 stars, definetly worth the $3.99 compared to other $8.99 shadowrun books of lesser quality!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: DocWagon 19
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BattleTech: Record Sheets: 3085 Project Phoenix
by Joe K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2015 06:14:49
An excellent resource for experienced players and those new to BattleTech. It is great to have the "Unseen" mechs available once again. Full of a lot of good mechs and variants. Really speeds up game set up with filled out mech sheets. Love it, a must have for Battletech players of any era.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Record Sheets: 3085 Project Phoenix
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Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
by Elton R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/03/2015 14:36:22
Ah, Shadowrun. So where does one begin?

In 1986, I was given the Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set (BECMI). In 1990, I encountered the Shadowrun RPG. When you "live and breathe" Dungeons and Dragons, being presented a whole different game that anything else (Shadowrun), it tends to break what you think about games. I was rigidly thinking about classes at the time, but Shadowrun was(n't) the first Skill Based System I encountered. It was the first RPG that didn't advertise that it's different than D&D. Well, of course it was blatantly different -- Urban Fantasy mixed with Cyberpunk -- but what set it apart is the aspect of this review.

-- THE THEMES OF SHADOWRUN --
Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Rolemaster, and Palladium -- basically any game that has an alignment mechanic -- is a game of High Fantasy or Morality. The games are set up to be clear cut. Good guys always wear white hats, and bad guys always wear black. In D&D, bad guys tie young maidens to train tracks and good guys always rescue them in the nick of time. You can always tell the White Knight is on the side of Righteousness, and you can always tell that the Black Knight is the side of Wickedness. In D&D, and the games that profess to be better than D&D, everything is black and white, everything is clear cut.

In Shadowrun, you can't tell the white hats from the black because your character is a Shadowrunner. A career criminal that puts fear into the hearts of good company men and women everywhere. You don't live in regular society, you lurk in the shadows, interacting with society when its demanded. And playing a criminal, or a Shadowrunner, you live in a world where not everything is cut black and white. There are no White Knights, and there are no men in Black. Everything is morally gray in a World of low magic, high technology, and low life scum. What counts when you go on a Shadowrun mission is your own wits and your own truth.

-- Basic Conventions --
Shadowrun's basic system depends on cubes, or craps dice, in order to work. When you roll dice in the system, you roll the d6s against a target number, and the number of dice you roll is your attribute rating plus skill rating. It's that simple. It's not about rolling an icosahedron to get a result. It's about rolling your d6s. For Shadowrun 4th Edition, plan on using up to twelve cubes. In 5th Edition, this can get up to twenty-four cubes.

-- Creating Your Character ---
You create a character in 4th Edition by getting 400 build points (the equivalent of using GURPS Character Points) and deciding on a metahuman species. This can be humans, elves, dwarves, orcs (or orks, which the spelling can be orksome), and trolls. Another supplement upgrades the choices to Metahuman Variants, Changlings (of which you can play a "furry"), drakes, vampires, shape changers, nagas, spirits, and Artificial Intelligences.

After that, you purchase qualities -- good or bad -- and then you purchase your attributes. Then you decide the skills. Skills are divided up into active skills, knowledge skills, and language skills. Active skills are what your character can do. Knowledge skills are what your character knows, they also represent hobbies. And language skills are what your character can speak.

After you have your skills figured out, you use the rest of your build points to figure out your resources. Alternatively, of course, you can pick an "archetype." The Archetypes are sample characters to show you what is possible they include:
* A Bounty Hunter
* Combat Mage
* Covert Ops Specialist
* Drone Rigger
* Enforcer
* Face
* Gunslinger (which is an adept)
* Hacker
* Occult Investigator
* Radical Eco-Shaman
* Smuggler
* Sprawl Ganger
* Street Samurai
* Street Shaman
* Technomancer
* Weapon Specialist

After that, a chapter on how the skill system works, then the combat system. Then, as Shadowrun is a game that mixes the Cyberpunk genre with Urban Fantasy (As William Gibson has so pointedly put it: "Except that the admixture of cyberspace and, spare me, *elves*, has always been more than I could bear to think about.") there are like four subsystems you have to be aware of that makes the game work. The first is combat, which is already covered somewhat. Combat, and Combat Gear is expanded upon in Arsenal.

The second is Magic. The rules on Magic, in the chapter called the Awakened World, has set the notion that Shadowrun is a low magic world. There isn't many spells, and they are, in particular, flavorless and generic but they get the job done. Aside from that, most of the chapter is spent on the culture of the Awakened World and how that world is represented by the rule system. Magic is expanded upon in Street Magic.

The third is the Virtual World of the Matrix. In the 2070s, the world has become truly wireless, for Shadowrun to keep up with the wireless technology that we see around us: iPads, iPhones, and iPods are just examples. People depend on Commlinks (and in 5th edition, the newest generation of Cyberdecks) to interact with the Matrix. Here, a little bit on the subculture of the Matrix is revealed, and how players can interact with the matrix as hackers and technomancers. The last are beings able to interact with the Matrix through the powers of their own minds -- although they give up the ability to be magicians because of it. As for programs, Hackers still run programs on the Matrix, as for technomancers -- they use complex forms and sprites to interact with the Matrix. The World of the Matrix is expanded upon in Unwired.

The last subsystem is the Rigging subsystem. In Shadowrun, you require a vehicle control rig in order to control vehicles and drones. If you are a technomancer, you need an echo or two to immerse yourself into the vehicle system. There isn't really a Rigger book for SR4A.

Finally, the Gamemaster is given clues on how to run the system. As characters complete missions (adventures), they are awarded kharma. They then can use karma to improve their characters.

The last bit is on enemies. It's an Awakened World, and a small bestiary containing dragons, vampires, and spirits are presented. Also a number of other beasts are presented -- but a full selection is available in Running Wild, Parabiology, Parabotany, and Parabiology 2.

After that, a whole chapter is presented for Gear, including Cybertechnology and Biotechnology. All of this is expanded on in the books Augmentation, Arsenal, and Attitude. Vehicles and guns are expanded upon in Gun Haven, Used Car Lot, and *This Old Drone.*

-- Conclusion --
This is a game, in my opinion, that should be given to fans of D&D or the d20 System. Shadowrun is a way to ease them into a Cyberpunk future without throwing away some of the conventions that they are used to. Elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons, creatures from our myths and legends -- they are all in there. The game never has been marketed as better than D&D, just different.

Through the game, you are playing a criminal. Orks aren't bad, trolls aren't evil, and elves can work along side them with dwarves. Although you do get the "We elves are better than everyone else, and we make sure everyone knows it!" attitude, its not among the majority of all elves. And although Or'zet allows for Ork Rap, not every Ork is keen on creating their own nation. But it's that these attitudes exist that helps keep the game interesting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
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