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Shadowrun: DocWagon 19
by Colin O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2015 13:06:24

I am a big fan of Shadowrun and so I really enjoyed this book. Very much liked the different approach to telling the story as well as seeing things from the other side of the fence (Docwagon not the shadows). Might have been a couple of typos but nothing that stopped me enjoying the story.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: DocWagon 19
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Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game
by Dan O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2015 12:39:20

I'm so pleased to find a rules-lite system like this at last!
The hobbling point for the RPG group I play with has always been fashioning characters. In any generation of Dungeons and Dragons character creation takes HOURS if not days of pouring over books not the least to determine complex equations based on scores and how to make those scores deliberately unbalanced.
But the Catalyst system gives you options without making the point of the game to boost your scores. The numbers become less important than the adventure...AND THAT'S HOW RPGS SHOULD BE I THINK!
Roleplaying! It's a little distressing to me how seldom that's actually used in favor of rules lawyering.


My favorite system for a long time was the somewhat obscure Over the Edge which deliberately tried to cut out the chaff of rules in favor of outlining characters quickly but in depth, but that system always had the issue again of lots of arbitrary numbers being thrown around requiring all players access to one book. The Valiant Universe dispenses with this and makes character creation so simple it barely takes up a chapter compared with the rest of the book which is devoted to the Valiant Universe itself.


And what a universe! I used to collect Valiant comics and still pick them up when I can because it's a welcome departure from either the crushing despair of modern comics or their rigid formality. Valiant is a maverick in the genre thanks to presenting different times, different cultures, and different attitudes revolving around the core iconic concept of the 'super hero'.
And the system also reflects that approach with super powers being extremely flexible, granting characters suitably heroic edges but not making them invulnerable.


All in all I'm glad that free RPG day introduced me to this system and this concept of gaming in the Valiant Universe and I'd recommend it to those who are fans of the comics, want a speedy but customizable system to make character creation and breeze and roleplaying deft and entertaining again, and for people who just want a different take on the super hero genre itself.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game
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Shadowrun: Data Trails
by Carl A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2015 19:18:53

I'm really conflicted on what to rate this product. For the price to crunch value, I'd have to say a 2 (maybe even a 1). But I really like the rules for AIs and for that I'd give it a 4 or 5.


I have a major gripe with one thing, though. The terrible excuse for a a table of contents and a complete lack of an Index! The rules for creating an AI starts on page 145, which doesn't even show up in the Table of Contents. Instead, it is buried in a section called "Principles of Insanity". WTF? How are you supposed to know where this is short of memorizing it or looking at every single page?!? If there was a good Index, I'd forgive this, but I have to reduce the rating to a 2 instead.


There is some useful information here, but why is the ToC so terrible? For a premium priced PDF we should get a good ToC AND a good Index. There are apps that will build both of those for you, and this book really needs it.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
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Shadowrun: Wolf & Buffalo
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2015 06:35:44

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/08/24-
/tabletop-review-shadowrun-wolf-buffalo/


Every runner has an origin story; we just rarely ever hear them. Established characters in the Sixth World canon are generally introduced to us after having been veterans of the shadows for many years. It’s rare a character is seen being exposed to the underbelly of the Oligarchy (or Coporatocracy if you want to be blunt) that controls the planet in the 2070s. Even when you and your chummers make their own PCs for Shadowrun, you rarely act out the origins of a character as you might the embrace of your Vampire: The Masquerade PC. Instead, you just whip up the character and the backstory is either told through sessions via flashbacks, story hooks or general PC conversation. That’s what makes Wolf & Buffalo an interesting piece, as you see a character getting exposed to the harsh reality of life in the shadows with no warning whatsoever and how they react to the insanity of it all. It’s a point of view we rarely get, and so even though much of the perspective is, “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? SO MANY BULLETS! BODY COUNT HIGH! NOT A GOOD DAY!” it’s nice to see something other than a jaded snark filled reaction to corporate fueled gloom and doom.


Lena is your average young teenage girl in the Sioux Nation. She’s got a dysfunctional family, a government that treats her as a second-class citizen since she’s half Anglo (Remember this is the Sioux Nation. In Shadowrun prejudice runs all ways, be it white, black, troll or ghoul.) and a life she was hoping to improve by joining the SDF (I kept reading it as RDF and I was like, “Veritech rip-offs are in CGL’s OTHER game line.”). Unfortunately the government found a cheap out to excuse her for service, even if they didn’t specifically state her rejection was due to not being pure Native American.


Of course, if Wolf and Buffalo was just about late teen angst and the struggles of growing up half-Lakota, half-white, this would be more a tale for Sherman Alexie or Americo Paredes rather than a writer for Shadowrun. Instead we have to have some sort of Catalyst (no pun intended) that brings Lena into life within the shadows. In this case, it’s a smuggling ring gong wrong, the destruction of her family, attempted rape with a side of murder thrown in and a late awakening to her shamanistic potential. That’s quite a lot to be hit with in a single day – and all before she’s legally old enough to vote, to boot.


The rest of the story basically has Lena blundering around, trying to stay alive as people try to kill her and friends try to help her (and die as a result. Seriously, she’s Clementine from The Walking Dead bad in this regard, but far more likeable). Lena finds herself in over her head with talisman smuggling, “demon” summoning and not one but two totems making their presence (and requests) known to her. The end result is a fast paced story with a higher body count than most full-length Shadowrun novels and a story that shows you just how strange life can be in the Sixth World, not to mention how quickly things can change. One minute you might be the mayor of Seattle, and the next, a highly sophisticated A.I. has taken over your body and you’re dropping your pants in public, defecating on a street performer.


Wolf & Buffalo is a really good story and I enjoyed the chaotic nature of the tale. Sure, the protagonist was in over her head, whined constantly and really only survived because everyone else took a bullet (or ritual knife) for her, but it makes sense. I mean, when you were 17/18, could you process being a channel for ancient spirits to funnel magical energies through while being tasked to recover a sacred artifact to your people and dodge heavy fire? No, you’ll probably piss yourself. So Lena is an extremely believable character. Hell, she’s even likeable in spite of being the type of character who’s usually relegated to the supporting role of a story and who you get really annoyed with – especially when they show up in a summer blockbuster. Thankfully good writing saves the day.


That’s not to say the entire story is without fault. I do feel the climax/ending is very weak. Not only is it very similar to the same ending used in the author’s full length novel Borrowed Time (which is really good and you should purchase it), but it involves not one, but TWO Deus Ex Machinas to get the main character out alive. One alone is acceptable, but weak. TWO, however, did have me roll my eyes and wish for something better. So a great start, but a really weak finish. The end does detract from the overall quality of the story, but it’s still a good read and worth getting if you’re a Shadowrun fan.


Finally, as this is a piece of “Enhanced Fiction,” we get some stat blocks at the end of the book. This is another weak area. I love that the main character got statted and can be used as an NPC in your own adventures. The second character, however, dies in the book, so I don’t see the point of giving them half a page of stats. I’d have given this to one of Lena’s friends that survived (or anyone who survived the story really) as that would be more useful overall. The two stat blocks are the only “crunch” you’ll get in this, so hopefully you’re just looking for a fine short story that allows you to spend some free time in the Sixth World. With a price tag of only three bucks, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth with Wolf & Buffalo.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Wolf & Buffalo
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by Dirk L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2015 16:37:28

This is what a Shadowrun novel should be like.


Shaken tells a story in the life of PI/vigilante/runner Jimmy Kinkaid, a near-burnout street mage with an attitude, the mentor to match, and the hots for his ally spirit. This alone all but guarantees I like this book. But it's narrated interestingly, the protagonist is appropriately biased, the book does give him is share of sucker-punches - and I really like the narrative flow, even if it may seem a little slow to some. It's not Michael Bay, it's Fargo. It's a voyage through the decrepit, broken world of Jimmy Kinkaid and damn, it's a nice ride.


The best part about this novel - and I'm saying this on top of excellent immersion, well-written characters, and similar world-building - is the fact it is very Noir, very hard-boiled, without neglecting typical tropes and elements of cyberpunk in general and Shadowrun in particular. Jimmy Kincaid is the archetypical Noir protagonist - an anti-hero, a broken, damaged man, struggling as best as he can to stem both the darkness of the world around and the darkness within himself. It also has a detective story, well-executed twists and turns, and a well fleshed out world that is a protagonist in itself (I'm such a sucker for off-hand brand drops), it has an unreachable femme fatale (with a twist that resonates popular fandom jokes without being obnoxious about it - a feat to pull off in itself), well-scaled action scenes and a resolution that, while satisfying for the reader, may not entirely be for the protagonist. Classic.


Now, I've always felt Cyberpunk was more Noir in the digital age than Science Fiction. In Cyberpunk, for all that technology and exotic-hypermodern surface gloss, the heart of the story is deeply human - it's about alienation, about handling the invasion of life by technology, about losing one's self by replacing oneself with technology. It's made of tales of the human condition, much more in the tradition of American Gothic (which largely shares Cyberpunk's neophobia) and Romantic literature than classic Science Fiction with it's libertarian, modernist technophilia that sees technology as the salvation of mankind (Transhumanism would fit the same technological niche Cyberpunk occupies with a more traditional Science Fiction narrative). With its heavily Noir attitude, using most, if not all, classic tropes, and its adherence to classic Noir tales, Shaken (no Job too small) is all I could have asked from a Shadowrun novel, and much more - it could (and would deserve to) stand on its own as a work in Cyberpunk, rather than be considered 'just' a francise book. It's made of the best the world of Shadowrun has to offer, in a way that hasn't been around since the passing of Nigel Findley (in the same way Harebrained Schemes' writing does when at the top of their game).


A great one. If you want to buy any Shadowrun novel to get into this rich and weird world, make it this one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Carl L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2015 11:25:02

I skipped around this book to see if some of the problems I had with 4th Ed. had been addressed. So when I came across the Gear section and saw how they had added even more tedious BS involving the PAN, including how you could change the color of some guns if they were inked to said PAN, honestly I put the tablet down and haven't looked at it since.


I did see something of how they added in benefits for Adepts having Totems, which has been a want for SR fans since 1st Ed., so good on them for that.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
by Martin F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2015 07:33:14

the amount of detail in the book is awesome, but good luck finding it



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
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BattleTech: Experimental Technical Readout: Royal Fantasy
by Johnathan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/03/2015 21:23:07

A solid, funny way to reprint the old Solaris maps and rules for a new generation of players. An excellent free resource.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Experimental Technical Readout: Royal Fantasy
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BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
by John H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/03/2015 05:50:02

This product is being sold on a false pretense that borderlines on being a marketing scheme. You'd think TRO3150 means this product contains new 'Mechs and whatnot. It's really just a recollection of all the individual faction specific 3145 mini-TRO's.


If you already own the TRO3145 collection, you don't need to buy this blatant cash cow product.


I was expecting NEW material for an advancing timeline. What I got was a mirror copy of stuff I already bought in the past.


Bad sportsmanship Catalyst... I expected better from you, but now I know you're no different from the common chattel.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
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Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Cheyenne
by Kent C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2015 13:16:21

Very good supplement to the Shadowrun universe. Looking forward to the rest that are to come out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Cheyenne
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by robert l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2015 16:05:03

all I can say is about this book is..."it's about time". Shadowrun has been going down hill, especially with the launch failure of their collaborative effort with cliffhanger's over shadowrun chronicles as well as the whole, shall we say the less than popular CDF concept. It nice to see that their is some quality left in this game and this book is one of them. An old school "dic" with a modern twist..nice. Overall, its a novel that won't disappoint.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
by Trevor R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/22/2015 10:13:31

Compared to TRO 3145 there is hardly anything new in the product, you read its description and you're expecting new design's, tech etc.. and it fails badly.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by Roman K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2015 12:49:18

Wow.


Just... just wow.


I'll explain - any experienced Shadowrun fan will tell you that, by and large, most Shadowrun fiction of old isn't that great. There are some truly fantastic books, but most are actually quite middling at best, with a focus on quantity. This was common in many tabletop RPG houses back in the late 80s and 90s - more books, rather than less books with a higher quality.


This is not one of those books.


To start with, Catalyst have collected and published a truly very high quality set of novels for the new Shadowrun line - fantastic stuff, guys! Keep at it! Better late than never. I'm thoroughly enjoying the past year, even if it's not actually the right year.


Anyways, this is the veritable cherry on top - hardboiled detective fiction (in an urban near-future fantasy world), far more Marlowe than Dresden or even Nigel Findley's (RIP) Dirk Montgomery. And it works, with deep character development, a very well crafted Mary Sue motif that spins around itself to reveal humanity at its flawed core.


Hardboiled, action, a pretty awesome detective story, and great character design, never mind the writing quality (which is superb). This is quite possibly the best Shadowrun novel I've read in my life - a position I once firmly gave to Findley's 2XS.


If you're a Shadowrun fan, go buy and read this.
If you're a detective fiction fan, go buy and read this.
Cyberpunk fan? Like urban fantasy? Yeah, you should probably buy and read this, too.
Heck, want to experience something new? Yeah, probably not the best introduction to the setting, but get it anyway - we'll talk about ironing out the background info post-fact once you're hooked.


Want a smaller sample? Go and snag Neat by the same author - great novella, and it ties into the same locations, characters, and story as this novel. In fact, go get that one either way.


Mr. Zimmerman, I have no idea why CGL have been basically hiding you until relatively recently. I realize that writing novels isn't much of a stable day job, but you should really be doing a lot more of it.


Thanks for a wonderful experience, and keep up the good work. Looking forward to anything else of yours that may hit the market.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
by James C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2015 01:35:55

Buyer beware this is not new material or anything that really advances the storyline. I bought it impulsively without seeing the preview thinking it was going to be unseen units and was greatly dissapointed


In a nutshell it's a compulation of units from the other 3145 sources that didn't already make it into TRO3145. That includes the faction specific PDFs, Field Manuals, Era Reports, and some other sourcebooks.


It also means there is nothing new in here unit wise. However just like the print version of the other 3145 TROs the units in here do get new famous pilot, and variant write ups.


There's also a section on variants of older mech models that I have not seen before.


Overall had the product description and name not been quite as uninformative and or misleading this would actually be a good product.


Finally if you prefer dead tree books to the many PDFs then you'll likely want to pick this up as will compile the until now PDF only units into a print edition at last.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by Joseph J T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/20/2015 20:05:58

Shaken: No Job Too Small is my favorite of the recent batch of Shadowrun fiction. The story of Jimmy Kincaid resonates with both my love of Shadowrun and my love of noir fiction. The character is genre savvy enough that he views his life through a black and white filter on his cybereyes. Little details like that really draw me into a story. It's a very personal story too, and I love learning more about Kincaid. It doesn't skimp on the rest of the world though, and I love the climax too. My favorite thing about Zimmerman's style is that the way he writes, I can see it in game terms too. There were some spots where I was like "Kincaid totally just spent Edge."If you're gonna start with any of the recent Shadowrun novels, start with this one. You won't be disappointed. Mr. Zimmerman is a fine predecessor to the legends of Shadowrun fiction like Nigel Findley. 5/5 would read again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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